Review of The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

THeFixerThe Fixer
By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: July 7th 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.

My Thoughts:
I have been a fan of Barnes’ books from before I blogged so anytime I see her name I know I’ll want to read whatever her book is regardless of subject matter. Her books aren’t generally my typical genre but I think she has such a fun, fast paced writing style that always has the ability to addict me.

For me, the main draw to this particular book were the characters. I thought that on a whole the main cast was so complex and well rounded. I will say that I had an emotional response to this story and to the main character especially. Tess’ grandfather was dealing with memory loss. My grandfather passed away recently and he was suffering from frontal lobe memory loss. It was so hard to watch (even from a distance) as he forgot how to speak so I could totally relate and empathize to Tess and her desire to stick with him and hide the truth. I think that this similarity between my life and Tess’ really got me off to a great start with relating and connecting to the main character. I immediately liked her and felt for her.

I of course adored Tess’ grandfather and each scene he was in broke my heart. I was incredibly moved at times and I think enough time had passed since my own loss that it was therapeutic in a way. We also get to know Tess’ sister Ivy fairly well as the story progressed. I found it incredibly interesting watching the two sisters work out their relationship problems. Ivy was a very interesting character because of her political clout and ability to get things done.

As you can tell a good portion of this book focused on family relationships. I really loved that and found that the growth between the sisters was really a highlight for me. I have an older sister so I can relate to Tess here as well. Granted, my sister and I aren’t estranged but it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine what it might feel like.

There’s something about posh academy life that has always been appealing to read about so Hardwicke Academy and all the students captured my interest. Barnes played into some of the common stereo-types but I felt it was done quite well. Tess won me over yet again by standing up to bullies and being such a loyal friend.

Notice I’m not highlighting much about a romance- that’s because there really wasn’t one to speak of. This novel focused on those other relationships and the mystery and action side of things. Barne’s knows how to write an intense scene. Sections of the book flew by since I couldn’t stop reading. I was also unable to really predict exactly what would happen so that’s always a plus.

Final Thoughts:
I’m honestly not huge into political thrillers (I don’t think) but this book completely captured my interest…that says a lot about Barnes’ writing and characters. The Fixer had wonderful action, intrigue, relationship development and heart.

Review of Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen

LionHeartLion Heart
By: A.C. Gaughen
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince’s clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this series as a whole and felt that this last book was fulfilling to the fans yet stuck to the author’s vision. I was very pleased in how the story played out and felt that Lion Heart was a strong ending to an amazing series. I loved that it took the Robin Hood story I knew and flipped it on its head.

When starting this one it did take me about thirty pages to get immersed again in Scarlet’s voice and point of view. The author used ‘was’ and ‘were’ incorrectly for Scarlet’s speech and it really distracted me. I understood the reasoning behind the decision but it was still hard to read for me. It tended to pull  me out of the story for the first few chapters but after time it got easier.

I feared this ending would hurt my heart and was actually pretty scared to start it reading the book. I was (happily) surprised that it didn’t pain me as much to read as expected. All the characters were still true to themselves and I felt that Scarlet was as amazing as always. She has had such a rough story but I felt that Gaughen had her grow and become such an impressive character.

The relationship between Rob and Scar was beautifully developed and though I loved their scenes together I was never as into the two of them as most fans which saddens me. I’m not sure where they fell short but they aren’t the driving force for me with these books. I love the world and twist on Robin Hood as well as the strong historical feel and setting. I adored this element (besides the improper grammar!)

Final Thoughts:
Anyone that is a fan of retellings, historical fiction, kick-ass heroines and just all around epicness should check out the Scarlet series. Each book is equally strong and beautifully executed.

Review of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824A Court of Thorns and Roses
By: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 5th 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

The Story:
I have been a fan of Maas since reading Throne of Glass and have felt that each book has gotten better as the series progressed. I had some high hopes and expectations for ACOTAR and let me tell you…I was a tad nervous for the first 100 pages. There had been so much hype and the folks that have read it prior to me all said it was so magical and wonderful. My worry was misplaced- ACOTAR turned out to be completely beautiful, epic and wonderfully written.

I love anything to do with the Fae so Sarah J. Maas taking them on-I was immediately sold. Then knowing that it was also a retelling of sorts of my favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast…let’s just say this book had been on my most wanted list. Maas created such a rich world that incorporated traditional Fae lore interwoven with her own rich creativity. I loved the mention of various Fae and that they are ruled by a High Lord, seven for each court.

The story started with Feyre’s home town and her struggle to upkeep a promise to her mother and keep her father and two sisters fed. Because of this she had been forced into the role of a huntress and provider. I thought that Maas created a very vivid town and home life for Feyre though not many pages were spent there. Once we cross over to the lands inhabited by the Fae I felt that the descriptions became even brighter and more vivid.

As I said before the story was slower in the beginning but after a certain point it became impossible to stop reading. I became addicted to this book and felt it painful to put it down to sleep. The action and stakes were raised and things became tense. Since I was aware that this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast I was able to see where the story was going at places but I enjoyed seeing the parallels and found that this aspect enriched my reading experience. I felt that Maas was very clever in her presentation and incorporated that romantic yet tragic feel of Beauty and the Beast seamlessly with the Fae. Really, it was beautifully done and captured my imagination and heart.

The Characters:
It was a slow burn for me to really connect with Feyre but once I did she became a favorite. I felt she was realistic and though I found her family-life a slower portion of the book I did feel that her reactions especially in feeling she’d abandoned them to be admirable. I loved that she was a complex character that suffered from her guilt. She pushed herself to take actions for the better good that struck war to her soul. I thought her internal monologue and torment was wonderfully done.

The Fae in ACOTAR were done so brilliantly. I absolutely loved the description of the Sureil was exquisite,

A face that looked like it had been crafted from dried, weather-worn bone, its skin either forgotten or discarded, a lipless mouth and too-long teeth held by blackened gums, slitted holes for nostrils, and eyes…eyes that were nothing more than swirling pits of milky white– the white of death, the white of sickness, the white of clean-picked corpses.

Isn’t that so creepy yet beautifully morbid? Many times I have found descriptions of the Fae to veer on the silly side but not so with Maas’ creatures. They were often the stuff of nightmares…but the beautiful ones, the High Fae, were something else altogether. Tamlin, Lucian and Rhysand- oh my. Each was unique, beautiful and complex. I could read so much more about each one of these characters. I’d love to read about their lives prior to ACOTAR (wishing for novellas).

And the main villain…perfectly and delightfully evil. Very little was mentioned or explored about the villain’s past or motivations but it worked very well for me. I totally bought this villain’s evil streak and feared for the characters as they were forced to interact with this person (don’t want to give anything away with gender).

Final Thoughts:
Though A Court of Thorns and Roses started on the slow side for me as the storyline picked up I became absolutely addicted and unable to tear myself away from Feyre’s story. I am thoroughly in love with these characters and know that the wait until the next book will be unbearable. Maas successfully incorporated the heart of Beauty and the Beast into a modern story depicting the Fae.

Review of Soulprint by Megan Miranda

SoulprintCoverSoulprint
By: Megan Miranda
Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.

My Thoughts:
I loved the idea behind Soulprint– that a soul is reborn over and over carrying with it personality traits and perhaps violent intentions. Because of this June has been locked up for the crimes of the person her soul belonged to prior to her. What a creepy and fantastic storyline! It reminded me a bit of Minority Report and provoked a lot of thought for me.

Miranda created a realistic situation in some regards, though I did have some problems with logistics. I kept questioning motives as I read but by the end my questions were addressed. Reading that summary I expected June’s crimes to be brutal and horrifying…I was a tad disappointed and underwhelmed with her criminal nature. My morbid brain went much darker places than this story went I was let down a small amount. The idea was so strong and fantastic I felt that the actual crime and issues Alina dealt with were underwhelming to say the least.

Once I was able to drop my personal expectations and allow myself to get immersed in the story the author wanted to tell I really did enjoy this book. I felt that it was well thought out and though some execution felt a tad rocky it was always tied up in the end. The pacing was fast for the most part and the action scenes were wonderfully vivid and incredibly easy to visualize. I could see this being made into a film successfully.

The characters were likeable and not a single character was one dimensional or strictly good or bad. I loved getting to know each of them more and felt that Alina was a wonderful lead. I loved that she took matters into her own hands and had flaws and weaknesses. There was a small amount of romance but it was second to the storyline which was a nice change of pace from the books I’ve been reading recently.

Final Thoughts:
Soulprint had a really wonderful story-line that encouraged thought and contemplation. My expectations going in were a bit darker than the reality of this book but I still enjoyed it because of the action sequences and strong lead character.

Giveaway- The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

TheStartofMeandYouToday I’m giving one of you the chance to win an ARC of The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. This book isn’t my typical genre but I’ve heard so many amazing things about Emery Lord I wanted to give it a go and expand my horizons.

Well, I started it yesterday and there’s a sideline to the story that really hit home for me. I’ve dealt with some loss in my life recently and the book was bringing up some of this grief for me. I’m not ready to go there yet so I’ve put this one aside for now. I figured I’d try again later on but instead of hoarding the ARC I would give someone else a chance to read it (and hopefully love it).

I want to thank Bloomsbury for sending me this ARC and also for their understanding on why I can’t review this one right now. I hope that whoever wins this loves it, talks about it and possibly reviews it.

About the book:

The Start of Me and You
By: Emery Lord
Release Date: March 31st 2015

Giveaway:

This is a US only giveaway due to shipping costs-I’m so sorry my INT friends you can enter this for a pre-order and if you win I’ll let you choose this book as well. No cheating! I’ll be checking entries and discount anyone that seems iffy. The winner will have 48hrs to respond to my email with their address.

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