Review of The Hummingbird Heart by AG Howard

30331979The Hummingbird Heart
By: AG Howard
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Format: E-ARC
Source: Author

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Set 19 years after The Architect of Song.

Shortly after escaping a circus tragedy, young Italian orphan, Willow Antoniette, seeks refuge at The Manor of Diversions holiday resort in England born of a ghost story. For eleven years, she’s raised alongside the children of the resort’s owners: Julian, his twin brother, Nick, and their younger sister Emilia. Now that Willow is of marriable age, she’s determined to escape finishing school along with everyone’s efforts to make her a proper lady. The only man she wants to spend her life with is Julian, after all. Yet how can she tell him, when he thinks of her as nothing but a friend?

As a machinist and engineer, Julian Thornton prefers a governable life. He can’t allow his ever-deepening attraction for Willow to distract from his amusement park plans to lure a younger, wealthier clientele to their family’s resort. In hopes to escape Willow and find investors, Julian sets off on a transatlantic ocean liner headed for the St. Louis World’s Fair, unaware Willow has secretly stowed away on the same ship.

A tiny, mute orphan named Newton and a pair of haunted Italian shoes bring Willow and Julian face to face on deck. Forced to work together to solve the mystery of Newton and his vindictive, ghostly companion, Julian and Willow can no longer fight their untapped passions. However, time to admit their true feelings is running out, for the ghost and her murderer have enlisted them as unsuspecting pawns in a karmic game of cat-and-mouse that could cost all of them their lives.

My Thoughts:
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of AG Howard so when I was offered a copy to read I jumped on it. I adore Howard’s characters and they always have such great chemistry. This book takes place 19 years after The Architect of Song and once again it deals with a ghost story. I love the bits of mystery woven into the story and I have a feeling that as we read more and more in this series we’ll see how each book is interwoven more than we even think.

The characters in THH were so beautifully done. The two main characters, Willow and Julian, were well rounded and whew-they had chemistry! This book had lots of kissing (yay!!) along with a great mystery. The pacing was quick and it was a fast read. And, look at that cover. Swoon.

The side characters were wonderful too; especially little Newton. I grew very attached to him and I’m excited to think we’ll see him in the next book (I hope!). Julian’s twin brother, Nick, wasn’t in this book all that much but I’m intrigued to learn more about his storyline. I didn’t love his actions but with Julian as his brother and his parents being who they are I know there’s got to be a great side to him. I’m eager to read about it. Emilia was also intriguing and I loved the little bits of her book we get to read. Really, I could read a book about each of these characters happily.

The storyline was really creative and I didn’t predict all the outcomes which is always fun. Howard has such a skill at creating an atmosphere in her books. You can feel the magic in the air as you read and I just love her descriptions, especially her character’s clothing. Howard adds little details that paint things so clearly in your mind’s eye. Her character’s clothing choices and style really help to help you understand her character’s personalities.

Final Thoughts:
The Hummingbird Heart was yet another gorgeous book by Howard. Once again she delivers addicting writing, character chemistry and an atmosphere that keeps you enthralled. I highly recommend this romantic ghost story!

I know some of you will ask- do I have to read The Architect of Song first? I really think you could read these out of order but you will be spoiled on a bit and I think reading them in publishing order allows for the stories to build on each other.

 

 

Review of Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

DaughteroftheBurningCityDaughter of the Burning City
By: Amanda Foody
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

My Thoughts:
I went into reading Daughter of the Burning City with no real knowledge of what it would be about. I have this habit of not bothering to read the summary prior to reading. The cover and title were enough to sell me on this one and it ended up that I loved the storyline and felt this was a very original story with wonderfully unique characters set in a living, moving festival.

We follow the story from Sorina’s point of view. The book was written in first person (my fave) so we see her world and the Gomorrah Festival from her eyes. Sorina was a very likeable main character and I could easily relate to the dedication she felt to her family and role in the festival. I appreciated how determined she was to protect those she loves. I loved that she fought through her own fear and insecurity to push herself to help others and work to finding the killer. Her magical ability- to create illusions- was beautifully written and executed. I loved that she had a very unique characteristic about her (which you’ll have to read the book to find out about).

The way magical abilities were approached in general was really wonderful. I loved that we got to see a range of jinx/spell types. The festival itself and Gomorrah- whish was an always moving city- was a character all itself. I loved all the different aspects and people populating this world. It was fascinating. You have so many unusual characters and each area of the city (upworld, downworld, etc) was described beautifully. I could really visualize the people and places. The world outside of Gomorrah was much foggier though. We really didn’t have a full knowledge of the outer happenings of the world but it worked for me since, to me, it felt that we had about the same knowledge as Sorina. Any details we get of that world outside of Gomorrah was as Sorina learned about it.

As the summary says- there was a forbidden romance. I shipped it very much and really loved the chemistry the characters had with one another. Luca was such an incredibly loveable character! I only wish there was a novella from his point of view. His magical ability was so gruesome and wonderfully morbid. That’s the thing with this book- Sorina had a really innocent, almost sweetness about her, but there are aspects of the book that are really dark.

This book never felt like an overly heavy read even though some of it was a bit on the sad, darker side. I did find the pacing to be slower (I’d say more on par with Laini Taylor’s work) but I think that was also me savoring the writing and world. I looked forward each night to picking this book up to read (always a great sign).

Final Thoughts:
Daughter of the Burning City was a beautifully constructed story full of original characters, magic, love and dedication to family.

DotBC

Blog Tour- Review of To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough + Giveaway

tocatchakillerTo Catch a Killer
By: Sheryl Scarborough
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
I am more and more into young adult thrillers and mysteries and To Catch a Killer was an excellent one. We follow Erin, who had an awful past. She witnessed her mother’s murder at 2 years old and since then she’s been famous for her surviving the tragic event. People in town look at her differently and her mother’s best friend, Rachel, Erin’s guardian refuses to talk to her about her mom or the past.

I found this to really give Erin a unique perspective and have her character stand out. I can’t imagine not knowing about my past and losing my mother at such a young age. Because of this Erin has an intense interest in forensics and spends her spare time bonding with her biology teacher and reading her Uncle Victor’s books about being in the FBI. Many times when a character tries their hand at forensics it comes off sort of cheesy and unrealistic. In this book, it’s done very well. I found it to be pretty believable and I honestly learned a thing or two. Each chapter has a quote from Victor’s book. These had some really interesting details I’d not ever heard. Like this one,

5o percent of human DNA is identical to the DNA of a banana (page 265 in the print arc)

I don’t know if I’ll ever look at a banana the same way. Honestly, Victor was my favorite character and I loved that Scarborough added those little quotes at the start of each chapter.

Some elements of the mystery were fairly obvious to me but it really didn’t take away from the story telling. I felt that it wasn’t obvious to the characters who the big bad was so I wasn’t frustrated that Erin wasn’t seeing blatantly obvious hints. Though this was a murder mystery there was a sweet romance that I felt was pretty realistic to high school. Yep, there’s some insta-love but it seemed pretty spot on to what I’d experienced as a teen. That constant drive to see your crush and the ever present thoughts of them.

The supporting cast of characters were well developed and I felt that they were easy to like. I felt they all had understandable motivations and Erin’s gal pals were very realistically portrayed. Journey, the love interest and basketball star, wasn’t my favorite at first but I’ll admit, the further I read the more I enjoyed him. He really grew on me and he was so much more complex than I expected at the start of the book.

Final Thoughts:
To Catch a Killer was a fast paced and entertaining murder mystery. I felt that the big reveal was a bit anti climatic but it was still really well done and a fun read. The forensic details were really well executed and I learned a thing or two.

Giveaway

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents. The publisher is providing the giveaway prize and winner will have 48hrs to respond to email with their address information.
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Review of Starfall by Melissa Landers

StarfallStarfall (Starflight #2)
By: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 7th
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics—she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first book, Starflight, so I was so excited to see that Landers was writing a companion book. All the same characters are in this story but this time we are reading from the point of views of Kane and Cassia. The events of this novel take place after what happened in Starflight and I loved seeing some of the after effects woven into this new storyline.

I always found the relationship between Kane and Cassia to be intriguing and knew there was much more to them than what we saw (with them as side characters) in the first book. I was so happy to see them as the center of this story. Cassia is an exiled princess and this book sets her back on her home planet. I loved that with this princess angle the story sort of felt like a sci fi/fantasy because her and Kane come from different social classes (star-crossed love), and an evil king set out to do anything to seek revenge.

Landers has a way with character chemistry and tension. She builds up the feelings between characters it’s tangible for the reader. That’s my favorite aspect of her writing and she didn’t let me down in Starfall. Not only does this book have romance but a great rebellion story. I wasn’t exactly sure how Landers would get these characters out of some of the situations they found themselves in so this was a page turner. I couldn’t stop reading because I was so eager to find out what would happen next.

StarfallIG

Final Thoughts:
I recommend these books to anyone that loves science fiction and quirky casts of characters. You could pick up and read either book first but I think publishing order (Starflight then Starfall) so that you don’t come across character spoilers.

Review of Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes

crystalstormCrystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5)
By: Morgan Rhodes
Release Date: December 13th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.

In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

My Thoughts:
GASP. The ending of this one- cruel Rhodes, cruel. For some reason I was under the impression this was the last book of the series as I read this. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA. But I’ll just say that thinking that and watching how things at the end of this were going down I was nearly hyperventilating.

I didn’t reread before diving into this and that worked just fine for me. Rhodes did a great job of bringing me back into the story and characters. Things from the prior books easily came back to me and I was easily immersed in the story. The writing was fast paced even in slower parts. A good amount of this book centered on slower elements like characters aligning and conversing. things do progress and I was never bored.

We get to follow multiple point of views again from many characters (as always). I’m partial to Magnus (who isn’t) and I wasn’t disappointed by his story line though I could always use more pages about him. I love how his character has changed and grown over the course of the series. His interactions and relationships are so interesting and I love that we always find out tiny bits about him and his past. I love how all these enemies had to band together for a common cause. You can sense the tension between them in their uneasy alliance.

Cleo and Magnus. *sigh* gah, they kill me but I love every minute of it. I admit these two are my favorites and I look forward to their chapters.

Lucia has grated on me in the past but I actually started liking her in this book (!!) I hope that this continues in the next book. Her path started to head in a direction I didn’t predict so that excites me. I’ll admit I have absolutely no clue where any of the character’s stories will end up.

crystalstormig

Final Thoughts:
Of course if you are reading this series you must read this one too. Each of these books get better as they go…I might have preferred Frozen Tides a smidgen but I just love where the characters are going. I need the next book asap.