Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Of River and RaynnFrom Goodreads: They found me when I was five; a little girl sitting on a bench in Grand Central Station, soaking wet, asking about the rain.

I remembered nothing about how I got there, or who my parents were. I couldn’t even remember my name. I was tagged, labeled and doomed to cycle through state care for the next twelve years; moving from one family to another. They all rejected me as the dreams began to come, the memories began to return, and things around me began to explode.

Now my mind is full of a world of shadows, things that my heart pleads with me to be true, that I hope are only fantasy. That the disturbing past I see is not mine.

When I sleep I hear whispers of magic, and of evil queens, and a world that exists alongside our own. Things that could never be. But, there is one thing I know to be true. That there was a boy who was torn from me. A boy that I know means more to me than a brother, or than a lover. But what he is to me, I am not sure. I hear him cry for me in my dreams, I hear people call him The Catalyst.

I know I need to find him.

I wouldn’t have tried, if I would have known that finding River would have made all my dreams turn into a haunting reality.

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I have been waiting with bated breath for the release of this novel for a while now, as Rebecca Ethington’s interactive website, riverandraynn.com, piqued my interest way back in June, involving me in the story even before the novel even released. Ethington’s unique way of bringing the story to life captivated me from the get go, and this new wave of interactive storytelling is definitely something I’d like to see more authors begin emulating. Told through a series of videos, journal entries, and social media updates, potential readers were given a glimpse into the world of River and Raynn, the main characters in the novel—a story that, until today, hadn’t actually released yet. This allowed readers like me to meet the characters as Ethington envisioned them, hearing their voices and seeing their emotions and expressions as I viewed cryptic portions of their story.  It also allowed me to actually interact with both River and Raynn via social media… and I fell in love. With River. With Raynn. With the dark nature of the story. This—this interaction—is what bringing a story to life is all about, and I truly loved the novel before I ever opened it thanks to Ethington’s ingenious interactive website. I nearly popped through the roof when River responded to a tweet I sent my followers about how much I loved him. And while I know the story itself is fiction and the characters are actors, the interactiveness of the site and the actors portraying the characters blew my mind and had me continually coming back for more. So. you can image that when I received an ARC of this fabulous novel a few days ago, I tore into it immediately.

I’m extremely excited to note that Ethington’s captivating interactive storytelling moves seamlessly from the web to the pages of her novel, and going into the story I already felt connected to the characters. Yet, one does not need to take part in the interactive website in order to understand it—the web interactions are completely optional and everything you need to know is in the book, but if you want an experience like no other, I highly suggest you visit the interactive site, too. For me, it made having River and Raynn’s story in front of me, in book format, an added bonus, and I love how it is told through alternating first person narratives from River and Raynn—just like the interactive site.

But rest assured, even with all the information online leading up to this fabulous book’s release, I was still surprised by events in the novel as it indeed went in a completely different direction than I expected it to, and lovers of fantasy novels and world building are going to absolutely adore the parallel world that Ethington creates as the story unfolds. Truthfully, I’m not really a fan of fantasy or otherworlds, I’m more of a contemporary paranormal lover myself, but I was floored by the revelations and events Ethington creates in this novel, and all I can say is, you need to read it.

With magical ties, great evil, a fantastical world, a smidgen of romance, and many dire, dark circumstances, this novel is a gem that is sure to leave you wanting more. The characters are realistic and well written, and living their story alongside them is both harrowing and exhilarating at the same time. I really, really enjoyed the novel, and I am excited for more to come–especially as the interactive journey continues with more in-depth videos to come with deeper insight into each chapter of the novel! Four and a half stars.

4.5 stars

I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

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Meet my book boyfriend, River:

Watch the official trailer:



Illusions of FateFrom Goodreads: Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

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This novel pulled me in from the get go with its alluring magic and snarky, realistic characters. I absolutely adored it, and I am really hoping that there will be more novels set in this world. While a stand-alone, I’d love some companion novels or, better yet, a sequel. But, as it is, perfection abounds. If you’re a lover of Downton Abbey and all things paranormal, then this is definitely the novel for you. Similar to the hidden world of Harry Potter, White’s archaic world gives an old-world, realistic feeling to readers, and it exists exactly how I expect the early 1900s to have existed in Europe, but with a catch. Unbeknownst to the populace, the upper class possess magical traits, passed down through their lineage, adding an air of mystery and intrigue to this novel as the plot unfolds. And I loved every moment of it!

Jessamin is a wonderful, snarky, quick-witted character, and I just loved her interactions with my dear swoonworthy Finn. While utterly infuriating, Finn is indeed the epitome of the perfect man, and I really enjoyed getting to know him, as well as watching his and Jessamin’s love grow. Jessamin is a strong character, set in her ways, full of pride, and it was amazing to watch her carry on, especially once she was pulled into the magical war between Finn and Lord Downpike—a despicable man we just love to hate.

I have to admit that White had me on pins and needles as the novel progressed, especially near the end then the other show seemed to drop and I feared the worst. Thankfully, White does tie the end up with a nice bow, leaving readers exhaling in relief—and in my opinion, White also leaves the ending open enough that there could be more to come, should she choose to write it. And as I said, I hope she does. Five amazing stars!

5 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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Heir of FireFrom Goodreads: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

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This novel, like the others in the series, in indeed very, very good, but it’s also extremely long. Even with series that I absolutely adore, there sometimes comes a time when reading that I tend to zone out a bit, and I’m sorry to say that that did happen with Maas’ third novel, Heir of Fire. Whereas the other novels tend to be a bit more action packed and, let’s face it, shorter, this novel is nearly 600 pages and there is a bit more down time than I personally can handle in a 600 pager. Don’t get me wrong, the novel is fantastic, but there were a few points in the middle where I personally felt like it was just dragging along. Thankfully, Maas would come in a spruce it up a bit with a fight scene or some other tidbit that would throw me right back into the pages with a vengeance, so the downtime was few and far between, but enough that it sticks out in my mind.

Heir of Fire follows four different stories at the same time, all including a new cast of characters to love, which was tons of fun. We are given an indepth look at events in both Adarlan and Wendlyn, following Chaol and newcomer Aiedan as they placate the King of Adarlan, Dorian and newcomer Sorcha as they work together to protect Dorian’s secret, Celaena and newcomer Rowan as he teaches Celaena how to harness her powers, and newcomer Mannon Blackbeak, an iron witch intent on fulfilling her duties to the King of Adarlan before retaking her homeland. I have to say, that out of all of them, Manon’s story was the most interesting to me. It is with Manon that we are introduced to the Wyvern, beasts I liken to a dragonish creature, similar to the black fell beast—sometimes known as a Hell-Hawk or Nazgûl-bird—we see the Witch-King of Angmar and his comrades ride in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As the witch covens fight to tame the Wyverns, Manon seeks to win the games with her coven of 13 in order to lead the vast witch army—a group of cutthroat women who despise the other covens. Though I will admit that some of Manon’s story did feel like it could be cut out—I certainly didn’t need all the background information that was provided—readers will walk away knowing Manon and the Iron Witches quite well, and I am extremely interested to see what happens when Manon meets Celaena as some foreshadowing is at play that has me wondering just where Manon’s loyalties will lie.

Celaena’s story paints her in a much weaker light throughout this novel. In fact, all the characters are painted as weak as this novel unfolds. Chaol is not the same, unable to speak his mind to his best friend Dorian, and even Dorian seeks solace in the most surprising of places. I guess that at some point the strong characters must be portrayed as weak in order for growth to happen, as well as for the plot to thicken, but I found myself losing patience with them as the story unfolded as they continually backed down throughout the novel.

The end, however, was a wake-up slap to the face, and suddenly everyone we love, and I do mean everyone, is in danger, leaving me on pins and needles for the next installment, though I see that right now this series is slated for six novels, and we’ll only be at number four with the next—I do hope Maas picks up the pace in the next segment. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases today.

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12081764From Goodreads: Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.

As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.

To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.

Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.

Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.

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This is a very well written novel that takes place in two planes, or worlds, if you will.  The beginning half of the novel centers around Amber and her life on the human plane as she gets ready for graduation and taking the next steps in her life.  Thomas fleshes out her characters, Amber and Gabriel, during this time, making the reader fall in love with them as we get to know them on a deep level.  Having grown up together in foster care, watching them thrive and fall in love was extremely gratifying, and I really enjoyed their characters.  I especially love Gabriel. He’s a great male lead and Thomas does such a great job making him believable and real, just like she does with Amber. I loved both leads very much, though Gabe steals the show, in my opinion.

Now, whereas this novel begins on the human plane, it ends of the Estilorian plane, giving equal time to both “worlds,” though they’re not technically separate worlds, from what I understand.  It’s more like equal existences in an alternate reality, if I understand correctly.  But, regardless, the world building is epic! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Estilorian place, and while I don’t necessarily understand everything about the plane because I’m not really scientific, I’ve believe I have good enough sense of it all based on what Thomas reveals through Ini-herit and the other characters during the transition period of the novel, and from the prequel, The Prophecy, as well.

The ending of Becoming was a little rough for me as I was convinced that Thomas was going to do something drastic to the characters, and I nearly threw the book across the room in tears.  However, rest assured, Thomas doesn’t do anything to the plot that isn’t needed, though that probably don’t assuage potential reader fears… just know the end it perfect.

I’m very excited to read the next novel in this series because I liked Amber’s sisters, but didn’t feel I learned enough about them individually as this novel focuses mainly on Amber.  But, I believe Thomas has written this series to follow a different sister in each novel while still flowing in sequence, which is awesome! I first was introduced to this type of serial style by Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental series, which follows a different brother in each book, yet spurring on the overall plot, and it’s an epic way to tell a story. Amber’s had her turn, and while we’ll still learn about her in the next segment, the focus will move to Olivia, which makes me really excited because she intrigues me. Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.



18043896From Goodreads: Nidad Reik, the last mundane king of Verneece has fallen to the treachery of the sorcerers who once served him. Now the usurpers have gathered from the four corners of the kingdom to divide the spoils of victory. Among those in attendance are the Puppeteer and his ward, the Fortune Teller; the Sword Prince and his latest trollop; the Lady of Perfumes and her guards and lovers; finally, there is the fearsome Stonegrinder, master of earth and stone. The night is filled with feasting, entertainment .and gaming. In the wee hours of a long, winter night there is also murder.

The survivors look upon each other with suspicion of treachery. Who committed the murders and why? Or is there an outside agency moving against them to lay claim to their victory?

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“Set in the Blackstone universe, the history of Verneece before the coming of Queen Spiral is revealed” in this novella by Jason Beineke, a prequel to the Blackstone series.  This imaginative fantasy series expounds on sorcery and world dominance, but for those of you who haven’t yet read the masterful Blackstone novels, then I highly suggest you begin with this novella, especially if you’re intrigued by world building, sorcery, and fantasy—this series is not one to be missed!

Complete with engaging characters able to bend the elements and wills of others, readers are introduced to a band of strong and able sorcerers come to divide the spoils of the conquered Verneece.  Although a tad vulgar and disturbing in places—drinking wine from a skull makes me shudder—this novella truly sets the scene for the murders and betrayal that takes place between the pages, and continues throughout the series, as the gifted magicians begin to suspect and fight amongst themselves.  Showing the vast corruption that pervaded the land prior to the seizing of power by Queen Spiral, a vicious queen readers will get to know in more depth in Drawing the Circle, this novella gives readers a taste of what is to come with its imaginative world, deceptive characters, and jarring situations.  It’s a great read that I enjoyed very much, though I do wish it was longer.  However, a longer read would defeat the purpose, as this novella is meant to whet the appetite for more, and that is exactly what it does.  Had the characters been a little more pleasant, I do believe their plight and overall fate would have left me feeling bereft.  As it is, however, these vile characters gain no sympathy from me.  Three stars.

3 stars



et cetera
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