Review: Grisha Trilogy

shadowandboneSeries: Grisha Trilogy

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Read via: Purchased, Purchased, and Library

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Shadow and Bone

I had purchased this and the second book ages ago, but it was Lauren DeStefano’s tweets about Ruin and Rising that finally convinced me to start reading the series. This book was a fantastic start. I loved the mythology and the world that Leigh Bardugo has created. It felt very fresh and different. I enjoyed Alina from the start, and I think her development throughout the book is wonderful. She definitely displays a great mix of strength and vulnerability. The Darkling was probably my favorite character. I loved him, and I was just as intrigued with him as Alina was. Mal is the only character I was not sure about. I liked the back story especially the childhood friendship between him and Alina, but I was not a big fan of him otherwise. He lacked spark for me. However, all the secondary characters were excellent. Genya was especially brilliant, and she quickly became a favorite. While all of the characters were fabulous, I also absolutely adored the ending of this book. It was completely unexpected, and it changed all of my expectations for the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Siege and Storm

Once again I quickly found myself surprised. I expected the “on the run” plot to last longer. However, I loved the introduction of Sturmhond, and while I was not surprised by the reveal, I enjoyed it immensely. In addition to Sturmhond, we meet Tamar and Tolya. Both of them are fun and truly add to the series. I continue to not be Mal’s biggest fan, and again I found myself rather entranced by the Darkling (wrong of me, I know), but he definitely makes some disastrous choices which affect his likability. Overall, I thought this book was much faster paced than Shadow and Bone. Plus, it incorporates a variety of great settings and some fantastic new characters. Often castle politics/political intrigue can become tedious or frustrating, however, I thought such scenes were addressed really well here and kept me interested.  The climax at the end was shattering. My heart was broken completely as everything fell apart.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ruin and Rising

Despite all of the horrors they are facing as the series comes to an end, the characters truly shined here. Everyone grows and shows such depth, and I greatly appreciated the beautiful friendship that the group shares. After being somewhat less present in Siege and Storm, Genya plays a larger role here which I loved. Nikolai remains hilarious and charming, but he also experiences some truly life-changing moments. Even Zoya has grown on me, and I found her to be marvelous throughout this book. Also, I came to like Mal particularly during the last half of the book. Harshaw and Misha were certainly my favorite new characters. Poor Alina faces impossible choice after impossible choice, but somehow she becomes an even stronger, more beautiful character.

Like with Siege and Storm, this book is fast paced and often seems to take the unexpected route. I especially appreciated the fact that nothing was black or white. This idea is evident throughout the series, but it is definitely more noticeable here. Alina may be the “hero” of the story, however, even she cannot be classified consistently as good. Similarly, the Darkling has made undeniably evil decisions, but he is not all bad. Books that allow their characters to operate in shades of gray are infinitely better for it as it is a more accurate representation of real life.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Grisha trilogy is one of the best fantasy series I have read in some time. Leigh Bardugo has created a fascinating, original world populated by an incredibly diverse, intelligent group of characters. While I was not always a fan of the romance, I immensely enjoyed all of the other elements. Happily, I found Ruin and Rising to be a well planned, strong conclusion, and, in the end, I would highly recommend this series.

Review: The Bone Season

boneseasonTitle: The Bone Season

Series: The Bone Season #1

Author: Samantha Shannon

Read via: Borrowed from Alleluialu

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

It’s truly astounding that this is a debut. The plot is so incredibly original and intricate, and I cannot wait to see how the series plays out. It definitely took me a while to get to this one, and I might not have if Alleluialu hadn’t let me borrow her copy. However, I’m really glad she convinced me as this was a fascinating book filled with some remarkable characters and brilliant world building.

Warden is the classic dark and brooding male with a mysterious past. Even after finishing the book it still feels like we don’t know a lot about his history, but the hints and few details we get are certainly intriguing. I also think his development throughout the story was awesome, and I enjoyed the dynamic between him and Paige. Despite all of the supernatural elements, Paige also felt delightfully human. I sympathized with her, admired her, but she could also frustrate me with some of her choices. I loved the complexity of her situation, and found her story to be heartbreaking. Her boss, Jaxon, was also extremely complicated. There is no way to classify him as “good” or “evil” and I absolutely loved that. The conflicted relationship between him and Paige was a marvelous subplot. Nashira was another highlight as I felt she was a fabulous, freaky, and honestly terrifying villain. My favorite characters though were probably two of the supporting characters. I adored Nick. I fell in love with him from the start, and I could not have predicted how his story played out. I also really liked Liss. So many of the moments with her broke my heart. Julian, Seb, and Michael were also amazing. A group of great depth and emotion. I was very impressed with the wide array and individuality displayed in such a large cast of characters.

My one main fault with The Bone Season would be the pacing. The first two-thirds of the book is rather slow. There’s a lot of world building/mythology explained which, while interesting, can become tedious. Also, at first I found it hard to keep track of all the different types of voyants (really wish there was a handy chart or pamphlet!). The last third of the book, however, was packed with intense, edge-of-your-seat action. All of the various plotlines crash together, and I thought it was amazing.

Overall, The Bone Season started out slow, but the well-rounded, intense characters and original world kept me intrigued until the action picked up. I have very high hopes for the next book in the series, and I would definitely recommend this one. I’m not sure whether this is “officially” categorized as young adult or adult, but I think it leans more towards the latter. Though it is definitely a great crossover book between the two genres.

Cover: 3
Plot: 4
Writing: 3.5
Personally: 4

Overall: 3.6 out of 5

Reread Lately #1

Just brief thoughts on books I’ve read for the second (or third or fourth…) time.

meanttobeMeant to Be

Lauren Morrill

“Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy…” 

This was the second time I’ve read Meant to Be, and I found it to be just as funny and heartwarming as I remembered. The romance is adorable and I love the setting!

Originally read: 8/31/12 – 4 stars – Original Review
Reread: 6/11/14 – 4 stars

 

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour amyrogerepicdetour

Morgan Matson

“The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.”

I thought I’d read this at least one other time, but if I did I forgot to change it on Goodreads. Either way, I fell in love with this book all over again, and possibly, even more than the last time. I especially appreciated all of the supporting characters so much more this time around, and apparently, I loved Roger more (did not remember this but I guess we had a rough start).

Originally read: 4/21/11 – 4 stars – Original Review
Reread: 5/28/14 – 4.5 stars

breakingbeautifulBreaking Beautiful

Jennifer Shaw Wolf

As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.” 

This is the only book I reread recently that I feel like I didn’t love quite as much. I remembered loving this book when I read it, but it didn’t quite capture me so much this time. It was still good, but maybe I’d built it up too much in my memory.

Originally read: 11/11/11 – 4 stars – Original Review
Reread: 5/13/14 – 3.5 stars

Possible Upcoming Rereads

Perfect Chaos by Linea & Cinda Johnson
The O’Malley series by Dee Henderson
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

Review: Falling Kingdoms

fallingkingdomsTitle: Falling Kingdoms

Series: Falling Kingdoms #1

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Read via: Purchased

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

I had been lusting after this book for ages, and I splurged on it as a post-Christmas present for myself. After staring at the gorgeous cover for a time, I finally got a chance to read this. Sadly, I found myself to be quite disappointed in it. I’m not sure if my disappointment was due to the high expectations I had for this, but either way I wish I could have loved it.

The characters are the biggest issue I had in this book. There are a lot of characters, and I’m not sure why, but I found it quite hard to keep everyone straight initially. Normally, I don’t have such trouble, so I don’t really understand why I had it here. The jumping between narratives was also difficult to follow at times. Then there are the four main characters. Initially, I felt a lot of sympathy for Magnus, and I was fascinated with his story. However, by the end, I hated him, and I’m not sure he can be adequately redeemed. Jonas, I feel, was never as well-developed as the others, and his swiftly shifting opinions and loyalties annoyed me. I was actually very interested in Lucia, but I despised her attitude during the battle. Ironically, I couldn’t stand Cleo at the start of the book, but by the end, she was one of the only characters I was even somewhat invested in. Sadly, my favorite character and the one I thought to be the most interesting died before the story was over.

The storylines that thread together this story were quite interesting. I liked the mythology of the Kindred and the Watchers, and the way the author weaves magic into the story was awesome. However, there are a lot of elements of the plot that either did not make sense or just frustrated me. One of the weirdest things in the book was Cleo being in love with a boy and it is later revealed that her sister was in love with this boy’s father….It does not seem that Cleo and her sister are that far apart in age, so I just found this to be completely strange. Also, Cleo’s love felt like insta-love to me. Then there’s Cleo’s delightful, repeating abduction scenes. You would think this girl would gain some sense after the first time, but, no, that is not the case.

Overall, I found Falling Kingdoms to be sadly lacking. The book has some potential, but it is quickly lost amongst unbelievable love stories, ever-changing loyalties, and hard to like characters. Although I am somewhat curious how Morgan Rhodes will resolve things in the next book, I’m not sure if I am interested enough to continue. I’m very much a character reader, and, in Falling Kingdoms, the characters who showed the most promise are dead. I find it very hard to remain invested in a story when I despise the main characters. Sadly, this is not a book I will be recommending.

Cover: 4
Plot: 3
Writing: 2.5
Personally: 2.5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Review: Cracked Up to Be

Teenage girl (14-16) lying on bleacherTitle: Cracked Up to Be

Author: Courtney Summers

Read via: Purchased (E-book & Paperback, it’s that good)

When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Warning: I’m reviewing possibly my favorite book of all time right now, expect lovestruck rambling and minor spoilers! 

Cracked Up to Be and I go way back. I read this book shortly after it was published in 2008 (I’m young that’s a long time for me!), and I fell in love. Courtney Summers creates a heartbreaking, raw, and fascinating story that is impossible to put down. I have probably read this book more times than any other, and I am so excited to finally be giving it a proper review here on PD.

These characters are easily some of the best I have read. Everyone is so well-rounded and they are always doing unexpected things. Take Becky, for example, one would easily expect her to be that clueless, ruthless mean girl, but, in the end, there is so much more to her than that. I do not know why Becky was the first to come to my mind, but the girl does fascinate me. Parker, however, has remained my favorite character throughout my many re-readings. She is horrible to everyone. Truly awful sometimes and I can definitely understand why she might be hard to like, but I get her. I relate to her so much, and I can completely comprehend why she acts the way she does. Plus, there is that post-Bailey stuff that makes me want to cry like a baby every time. Then, of course, there are the boys. Two equally amazing guys, which is odd considering the circumstances. Chris is the “ex.” I am in love with him. That does not happen in contemporaries, unless the author is planning for the two to get back together. Jake is the new guy, and he becomes truly good friends with Chris. I know you’re telling me this must be a dream or something, but really it happens. These characters feel so real. They are not just the popular stereotypes that dominant YA fiction.

Courtney Summers also knows how to keep a reader hooked. At the start of the book, we know pieces of Parker’s back story, and as the plot unfolds we see glimpses of the party where everything went bad. Jake also helps us to get more information as he is constantly trying to determine what makes Parker tick. Plus, Becky and Chris are always good with throwing out a clue or two. It’s not until the end, however, that we get to see and understand the enormity of Parker’s secrets.

Overall, Cracked Up to Be is a book I will recommend again and again. Like her later books, Courtney Summers creates a story filled with raw emotions and characters that could exist in the real world. Cracked Up to Be put Courtney Summers on my “authors whose books I must read” list, and this book continues to have an enormous impact on me every time I read it. Also, you may need a few tissues.

Cover: 5
Plot: 5
Writing: 5
Personally: 5

Overall: 5 out of 5

Review: Cracked Up to Be

Teenage girl (14-16) lying on bleacherTitle: Cracked Up to Be

Author: Courtney Summers

Read via: Purchased (E-book & Paperback, it’s that good)

When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Warning: I’m reviewing possibly my favorite book of all time right now, expect lovestruck rambling and minor spoilers! 

Cracked Up to Be and I go way back. I read this book shortly after it was published in 2008 (I’m young that’s a long time for me!), and I fell in love. Courtney Summers creates a heartbreaking, raw, and fascinating story that is impossible to put down. I have probably read this book more times than any other, and I am so excited to finally be giving it a proper review here on PD.

These characters are easily some of the best I have read. Everyone is so well-rounded and they are always doing unexpected things. Take Becky, for example, one would easily expect her to be that clueless, ruthless mean girl, but, in the end, there is so much more to her than that. I do not know why Becky was the first to come to my mind, but the girl does fascinate me. Parker, however, has remained my favorite character throughout my many re-readings. She is horrible to everyone. Truly awful sometimes and I can definitely understand why she might be hard to like, but I get her. I relate to her so much, and I can completely comprehend why she acts the way she does. Plus, there is that post-Bailey stuff that makes me want to cry like a baby every time. Then, of course, there are the boys. Two equally amazing guys, which is odd considering the circumstances. Chris is the “ex.” I am in love with him. That does not happen in contemporaries, unless the author is planning for the two to get back together. Jake is the new guy, and he becomes truly good friends with Chris. I know you’re telling me this must be a dream or something, but really it happens. These characters feel so real. They are not just the popular stereotypes that dominant YA fiction.

Courtney Summers also knows how to keep a reader hooked. At the start of the book, we know pieces of Parker’s back story, and as the plot unfolds we see glimpses of the party where everything went bad. Jake also helps us to get more information as he is constantly trying to determine what makes Parker tick. Plus, Becky and Chris are always good with throwing out a clue or two. It’s not until the end, however, that we get to see and understand the enormity of Parker’s secrets.

Overall, Cracked Up to Be is a book I will recommend again and again. Like her later books, Courtney Summers creates a story filled with raw emotions and characters that could exist in the real world. Cracked Up to Be put Courtney Summers on my “authors whose books I must read” list, and this book continues to have an enormous impact on me every time I read it. Also, you may need a few tissues.

Cover: 5
Plot: 5
Writing: 5
Personally: 5

Overall: 5 out of 5

Review: Meant To Be

Title: Meant to Be

Author: Lauren Morrill

Read via: Net Galley

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.
It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).
But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Initially, the summary for this sounded interesting, and the cover is gorgeous. I thought this would be a fun, quick read, but I must admit, I did not expect to enjoy it quite so much. I fell in love with Julia and Jason! They were absolutely fabulous, and I completely enjoyed the dynamic and banter between them.

Julia is very much the good girl. She’s intelligent, a romantic, and a rule follower. Perhaps this is not always a good thing, which is why it helps her to be paired up with Jason. Jason is the class clown, carefree, but he truly has a good heart. He spends much of the book forcing Julia out of her comfort zone. Sometimes this results in awkwardness, but most of the time he really forces her to experience life. Mark was the most frustrating character, and often I just wanted him to go away. I did not completely hate him, but he did get in the way.

This book is entertaining, full of heart, and perfectly romantic. The crazy twists and turns mirror the craziness of one of the Shakespeare plays that Julia is so fond of. There are many instances of mistaken identity, teenage angst, grand gestures of romance, and foolish schemes. All of these things make for a truly wonderful story. At times I was laughing out loud as Julia became caught up in Jason’s crazy adventures, but there were also moments that broke my heart.

Overall, I thought this was a fabulous contemporary romance. It’s mainly lighthearted, but it contains just enough drama to keep things interesting. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good romance. Full of delightful characters and many laughs, this is the perfect book to pull you out of your winter blues.

Cover: 4
Plot: 3.5
Writing: 4.5
Personally: 4

Overall: 4 out of 5

Review: Meant To Be

Title: Meant to Be

Author: Lauren Morrill

Read via: Net Galley

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.
It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).
But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Initially, the summary for this sounded interesting, and the cover is gorgeous. I thought this would be a fun, quick read, but I must admit, I did not expect to enjoy it quite so much. I fell in love with Julia and Jason! They were absolutely fabulous, and I completely enjoyed the dynamic and banter between them.

Julia is very much the good girl. She’s intelligent, a romantic, and a rule follower. Perhaps this is not always a good thing, which is why it helps her to be paired up with Jason. Jason is the class clown, carefree, but he truly has a good heart. He spends much of the book forcing Julia out of her comfort zone. Sometimes this results in awkwardness, but most of the time he really forces her to experience life. Mark was the most frustrating character, and often I just wanted him to go away. I did not completely hate him, but he did get in the way.

This book is entertaining, full of heart, and perfectly romantic. The crazy twists and turns mirror the craziness of one of the Shakespeare plays that Julia is so fond of. There are many instances of mistaken identity, teenage angst, grand gestures of romance, and foolish schemes. All of these things make for a truly wonderful story. At times I was laughing out loud as Julia became caught up in Jason’s crazy adventures, but there were also moments that broke my heart.

Overall, I thought this was a fabulous contemporary romance. It’s mainly lighthearted, but it contains just enough drama to keep things interesting. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good romance. Full of delightful characters and many laughs, this is the perfect book to pull you out of your winter blues.

Cover: 4
Plot: 3.5
Writing: 4.5
Personally: 4

Overall: 4 out of 5

Review: Pushing the Limits

Title: Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry

Read via: eARC from Publisher via Net Galley

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again

It’s hard to think of where to start with this review, because I am still so caught up in the story. I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first read the summary about six months ago, so I was so excited when the publisher asked if I would review it. Pushing the Limits did not disappoint. In fact, it completely blew me away. I thought I had the plot figured out going in, but I was wonderfully surprised that it did not play out how I expected.

Poor Echo. She’s had the most miserable life for the past few years, and it’s impossible not to feel sorry for her. At the same time, however, she is ultimately such a strong character that I must admire her as well. Noah drove me crazy sometimes with his impulsiveness, but I respected the reasoning behind his choices. Both characters have such complex and well-developed back stories, and I loved the variety of supporting characters, all of whom had great depth. The relationship between Echo and Noah develops naturally, but explodes into something that is so much more than just friendship. Sparks certainly do fly between the two of them.

I love the edge of mystery that played out through the book. I was continually making guesses as to what really happened with Echo that night, and if Noah’s brothers were actually in danger. It was fascinating and compelling with both plotlines weaving together quite naturally. The fact that this book tackles and actually deals with some heavy issues- mental illness, foster care- was impressive.

Overall, what can I say? I am head-0ver-heels in love with this book, and I would highly, highly recommend it. It reminds me somewhat of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles or an edgier (much edgier) Sarah Dessen story. This was so worth the read; I will definitely be buying it as soon as possible. Katie McGarry is an author to watch!

Cover: 3
Writing: 5
Plot: 5
Personally: 4.5

Overall: 4.3 out of 5

Review: Spectral

Title: Spectral

Author: Shannon Duffy

Read via: eARC provided by Tribute Books

Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.
As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.

The stunning cover is what initially caught my attention with this book, however, the summary is what made me really want to read it. It sounded absolutely intriguing! I love stories of magic, and the summary mentioned the word gyspies (even as a comparison, I was fascinated). I was very excited when I was offered the chance to review this for Tribute Books, and I jumped at the chance. I will admit that Spectral did not quite live up to my expectations, but it was an enjoyable read.

Jewel is a sympathetic character from the start. She has been moved around her entire life, and has never had the opportunity to make any type of actual friends. There is one bright spot in her world, her younger brother. I am a sucker for good sibling bonds, and this one does not disappoint. Jayden is an adorable little boy, and I loved the fact that Jewel was always willing to put him first. No matter what was happening to her, she always thought about what effect it would have on him. The relationship between the two of them was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book. I was also a big fan of Jewel’s first new friend, Taylor. I enjoyed her as a character, and I wish that I’d had the chance to get to know her better. Despite the fact that the relationship between Taylor and Jewel did not feel adequately developed, I did enjoy reading about the friendship they shared. Jewel’s two love interests, however, were low spots in the story for me. Both boys lacked any depth. Chase was just this knight-in-shining-armor, golden boy, and Roman was the mysterious “bad boy”. They were very cliched roles, and their respective interests in Jewel felt alarmingly like cases of insta-love.

The story started off a little slow for me, but the action begins to pick up about a quarter of the way through. By the halfway point, I will admit that I was completely sucked into the story. The mythology of the Spectral was intriguing, although I felt the reveal was rather anticlimatic. I appreciated the way the author took the idea of witches and added her own spin to it. The mystery element was a bit predictable, but I liked seeing the way things played out. I would like to go more in-depth about my appreciation for certain character twists, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Overall, this book was a little bit disappointing. Witches remain one of my favorite supernatural creatures, so perhaps my expectations of stories containing them are just higher than stories with other supernatural beings. I did like the basic idea of the story, but the way it was executed was, at times, underwhelming. The romantic elements of the book were definitely my least favorite parts, since they felt unrealistic. I will say that this is a fun, exciting story though, and I think it was worth the read.

Cover: 3.5
Plot: 3
Writing: 3
Personally: 3

Overall: 3.1 out of 5

Buy It: Kindle // Nook
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