The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner

The-Labyrinth-Wall-Cover

Araina’s isolated teenage life is forever altered when she witnesses a man emerge through a rippling wall into the dark labyrinth she calls home. As a result of the stranger’s arrival, Araina’s Creators have unleashed a series of magical attacks using the labyrinth against its inhabitants. Now Araina must decide if she will trust potentially deceitful allies in order to reach safety on the other side of the labyrinth wall.

You don’t understand how hard it is for me to write this review. I had the pleasure of meeting and doing an interview with the author (Emilyann Girdner) and she is just so SWEET (check out part 1 of the interview here and part 2 here)! I loved meeting her and I was so excited to read her book… until I wasn’t.

Please don’t take all I said as your own thoughts. I am 100% in the minority of people who didn’t like this. I’m actually the only person who’s given this a 1 star review on goodreads. So PLEASE don’t let me review keep you from reading the book. These are just my personal opinions and I understand not everyone will feel this way. Also, no matter how I feel about the book, I still loved meeting her and she’s still awesome!

Now that we’re through that and I feel free to be completely honest, let’s get to the review.

This was probably one of my least favorite books ever. I’m sorry if that’s harsh, but at least I’m being honest. I really WANTED to like this. I really did. But I just couldn’t. I hated almost every minute of reading this and it was a struggle to finish. If it wasn’t for a readathon I did as I read this book, I probably would’ve given up. But I persevered and I finished it.

From the beginning, I just couldn’t get into the setting. It confused me so much and, even after finishing the book, I still don’t understand what happened or why. I feel like the setting is kinda a rip-off of The Maze Runner. I don’t understand why the people were in the Labyrinth or how they got into that weird pool thing or where this castle thing is or… *sighs* this just confuses my brain.

The Characters were… interesting. And by interesting, I mean I pretty much hated them all. I couldn’t find a character that I even SLIGHTLY liked. And, if you’ve been reading my reviews for awhile now, you’ve probably caught on that characters make or break a story for me. So, this story really broke cause of these characters. If I had liked the characters, it probably would have made the book bearable.

The storyline was sloppy and so, so confusing. I don’t really know what was supposed to be happening or why. I can’t even explain my confusion. Like there was this weird dog guy who only spoke in riddles and I can’t even find the purpose of them introducing him, except to make the book longer and to include more unneeded conflict.

As for cleanliness, there are a few minor curse words that I remember. It has been awhile since I read the book, so I can’t give you an exact number, but I do remember at least a few. But there is no suggestive content.

In the end, I will not be reading this book again. I’ll be keeping it because I have a nice personalized copy, but I won’t be picking it or the sequel up. I might try another Emilyann Girdner book if I got the opportunity, but I just can’t do this series.

-Lilian-

 

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Belle Epoque

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

This book was such a cover-buy for me. I saw it on Book Outlet and I knew I had to have it. So I placed an order and I got the book and I placed it on my shelf and I didn’t pick it up for a long time. Finally, I picked it up and read it in April (If you can’t tell, my review game is way off).

Overall, the book was very quick and light. It had a slow beginning, but once you get into it, it’s really easy to zoom through the book. I loved it, but not enough to give it a full 5 stars. I’d probably give it 4 stars. I don’t know why, but something was just missing. I don’t honestly know what it is, but there was just something missing in the story.

I did really love all the characters, though. Maude and Isabelle were both so relatable. The end is satisfying enough, but I would also like a sequel cause I’d like to continue this story. Yet, I also like it as a standalone. I’m conflicted, if you can’t tell. I’m sure in a few years I’ll probably come back and read it again. Plus, I really loved learning more about the time period in Paris and I’d really love to read more books set in this era.

As for cleanliness, there was one use of the D word. There is some drinking, but nothing outside the time period.

I definitely do recommend this if you’re looking for something quick and light!

-Lilian-

The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn

The Darkest Lie

“The mother I knew would never do those things.
But maybe I never knew her after all.

Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.

As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death surface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, but all the views mentioned are my own.

Oh, this book. Judging from the description, I should’ve known I would hate it, but yet I still signed up for the blog tour and excitedly awaited my copy to arrive. Now, look at me. I had to drop out of the blog tour because I just couldn’t give this book a good review.

This book and story started off well, and I believe it could have been done tastefully while still having been a great thriller. But, instead this book was written kinda childishly and full of content that I didn’t appreciate.

I hate mysteries and thrillers that have completely underwhelming endings. I was hoping this book would be different, but it wasn’t. It built up to a huge, dramatic ending and then BAM it’s over and you’re wondering what happened to the action. The book was pretty predictable, so I kinda assumed it would be an underwhelming ending, but I was still hoping for the best anyway.

With mysteries and thrillers, I have a hard time relating to any of the characters, cause I always assume they’ll end up being a villain. This book really wasn’t different, but I found 1 character I liked throughout it. Can you guess what happened? That character turned out to be the antagonist.

This book is not clean at all. A lot of sexual innuendo. A lot of immature teen boys with sex references. A lot of cursing. If you’re looking for a good thriller, I would probably look elsewhere, but that’s my opinion. Maybe this book just isn’t for me. Who knows? I am still going to read more Pintip Dunn books, however, because I really want to give her another chance. I already own Forget Tomorrow, and I’m hoping to get around to it soon. Hopefully I’ll like it better!

Are you planning to read The Darkest Lie when it’s released? What mysteries and thrillers do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

-Lilian-

 

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

You’re looking at one of my new favorite books. I loved this book from beginning to end, and I’m so glad I stumbled upon it. I ended up reading it slower than I was planning, but I’m very glad I did, because I feel like I absorbed it and understood it much better than I would have had I devoured it in a few sittings.

I think my favorite part of this book was the writing. Evelyn’s writing is phenomenal. Her descriptions were particularly amazing, and overall it made me feel as if I was in the story. Evelyn is also amazing at character development. The characters grew and developed naturally throughout the story, and I’m so glad it didn’t feel forced.

This book is beautiful, inside and out (seriously, the hardcover is magnificent). I loved the whole story. The mix of magic and ancient Russia was beautiful. I would’ve loved to be in the book so I could experience it all.

I loved all the characters. I loved Vika from the beginning, and I fell in love with Nikolai straight away. But then came PASHA. Ahh, my heart can’t bear to choose between Nikolai and Pasha. I love them both in separate ways<3

I did feel like the romance between Nikolai and Vika felt a little forced. They really didn’t have much of an attraction other than they were both enchanters, and I would’ve liked to see them naturally grow closer instead of suddenly being thrown together. But by the end, I felt like they were much better suited for each other as they had grown.

The chapters were also a bit lengthy at times. But not any worse than normal YA books. I just hate long chapters, cause it makes me feel like I can’t just stop in the middle of it. So I read a lot slower cause I have to make sure I have time and I’m in the mood. But this is a rabbit trail. Oops!

This book was almost all the way clean! It had a few uses of the D word, but nothing overwhelming. Overall, it’s cleaner than most other YA fantasy books.

In the end, this is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, and I’m very excited for the second book!

-Lilian-

 

 

 

Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer

Remember to Forget close up

In Remember to Forget from Watty Award-winning author Ashley Royer, Levi has refused to speak since the tragic death of his girlfriend, Delia, and can’t seem to come out of his depression and hindering self-doubt. Desperate to make some positive change in Levi’s life, his mother sends him to live with his father in Maine. Though the idea of moving from Australia to America seems completely daunting, Levi passively accepts his fate, but once he lands faces personal struggles and self-doubt at the same time he and his dad battle through resentment and misunderstanding. And then, while at therapy, Levi meets Delilah, a girl who eerily reminds him of someone he lost.

I don’t even know what to think about this book. I absolutely despised the beginning. Levi was so freaking annoying, I couldn’t handle it. Ask my family and my goodreads friends, and they’ll tell you how much I talked about how I didn’t want to read it. But, I finally pushed through and got through the book. The second half was better, I’ll admit. Levi wasn’t AS annoying. I still don’t love him, but I hate him less.

I feel like the portrayal of losing someone you love wasn’t super accurate. I’ve never lost a boyfriend or even best friend, like Levi did. But I have lost my father, and I’ve felt grief, and I feel like the portrayal of grief wasn’t as accurate as it could have been. I totally know and understand that everyone grieves differently, and I’m not saying grief like Levi’s isn’t possible, but I do think, in my personal opinion, that the grief Levia was facing and his attitude and character in general was poorly written and unaccurate.

I do think this book had some good writing and moments, specifically in the second half. So, my feelings for this book are very mixed. I’m very unattached to any characters and I don’t think I’ll ever reread it, but there were some good moments and I must commend Ashley Royer for writing and publishing a book at 17! I can say I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. It’s kinda one of those ‘in-between’ books.

As far as I remember, this book was clean!

-Lilian-

 

Macbeth #killingit by Courtney Carbone

Macbeth

Macbeth, one of the greatest stories ever told . . . in texts?!
 
Imagine: What if that tragic couple, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, had smartphones? A classic is reborn in this fun and funny adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays!
 
A prophecy from three witches.
A social-climbing couple committing a murder most foul.
A cover-up that spins way out of control.

 and h8. The classics just got a whole lot more interesting. 😉

tl;dr A Shakespeare play told through its characters texting with emojis, posting photos, checking in at locations, and updating their relationship statuses. The perfect gift for hip theater lovers and teens.

A glossary and cast of characters are included for those who need it. For example: tl;dr means too long; didn’t read.

By the way, for those of you who somehow know nothing about Macbeth, this book was also written by William Shakespeare.

This book is the definition of a short-read. I read this last month in a few hours. I was super sick and yucky, I needed something easy for me to understand. And I just happened to have this book lying around, so I picked it up and I was done with it pretty quickly.

I really did enjoy the book, and it makes me want to read the original. But I tried reading Romeo and Juliet last year and I couldn’t get more than a few pages in, so I may need a simplified version of Macbeth. Since this book is so short, they cram a lot in it at once, and it can get kinda confusing. My main struggle with this book was it had SO many characters. I kept getting them all confused with each other, I couldn’t keep them all clear.

I really do love the modern take on these Shakespearean classics, and I feel they set a good base for my generation and possibly generations to come to grow a love for Shakespeare. I mean, after reading this one book, I already want to read some Shakespeare. I can’t imagine how many others probably feel the same way after reading this. And this could totally be used as an outline for reading the original, considering I’ll probably get confused many, many times.

I’m also planning on reading the rest of the series! They have YOLO Juliet, A Midsummer Night #nofilter, srsly Hamlet, and the newest addition Scrooge #worstgiftever!

It did have a little language and a little suggestive content, but most of it was told in the form of modern abbreviations. It wasn’t overwhelming at all.

What do you think about retellings of classics like this?

-Lilian-

Seven of Seven by Scott Ralph

seven of seven

A boy wakes up on the shores of an unknown river, his face bruised, his body starving, and his memory gone. He doesn’t know his own reflection in the water. His hands, however, have been marked with an indelible symbol that he immediately recognizes. This clue starts the boy on a quest across oceans and continents in search of the symbol’s meaning. Unraveling the mystery of his marks may be the one thing that will lead him to his own origins. The journey to discover the answer is a daunting one, and the boy finds himself and his companions battling tribal warlords, slave traders and The British East India Company in this adventure set in the world of the 18th century.

Wow, I loved this way more than I was expecting. I mean, I didn’t know what to expect, because I forgot what it was about when I started reading it. But I did really enjoy this unique story. I thought it was a sci-fi novella, and I didn’t expect the history aspect.

This book is the first in a series of nine novellas, but I’m sad cause the the rest of the novellas were never published. But I’m actually friends with the author IRL, so I’ll have to ask him if he plans on continuing the series! But I really hope he does. I feel like, as a full book, this would be especially great for middle-grade readers!

I really enjoyed the writing in this book. It was clean and fresh and kept you interested throughout the whole story.

There were a few parts I didn’t like, but they all revolve around this being a novella. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, because the book was too short. But I didn’t hate the characters, either. And I found the plot was a little messy, but if it were a longer story, I felt like I would understand more. If the rest of the novellas were published and I had read them, then I think I wouldn’t have these problems. Overall, I think this story would be even better as a full-length novel, and I hope the author turns it into one someday.

This book is totally clean for any age, but I feel like middle-grade readers would enjoy it most!

Check out this book on Gooodreads HERE!

-Lilian-

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

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It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

(You can check out my review of Snow Like Ashes here)

WHY did I wait so long to read this gorgeous book?! I loved Snow Like Ashes, yet I didn’t buy Ice Like Fire when it first came out. I bought it in January and STILL put it off and didn’t start it until March. I regret that so much, and I know I’m going to be preordering Frost Like Night so I can have it as soon as it comes out.

So I read a couple reviews of the book on Goodreads and I was very surprised to see so many negative reviews! I mean, I can slightly understand why they don’t like the book, but I can’t understand WHY they don’t like the book?!

So I absolutely loved the character development in the first novel, and I felt this one really lacked that. I mean, I guess you got to know Meira a little more, and you got to know her thoughts and struggles about being herself or being a queen. But, other than that I felt a lack of character development. I also felt an increase in characters. It had been awhile since I read Snow Like Ashes, but I still remembered a good chunk of it and I didn’t feel like re-reading it. But I totally forgot who like half the characters were! Some that were minor in the first book became major in this one. I eventually got all the characters straightened out (I think), but I totally recommend, if its your first time reading the series, to read them both back to back so you don’t forget anyone!

But the characters were quite possibly my favorite part of the whole book! Since the beginning, I’ve taken an immediate liking to Meira and Theron (OTP), and they’ve still stayed my favorite characters through the series!

I did love how this book was interesting from beginning to end. I was really looking for a book to grab me out of my mini-slump I was in, and this one did just that! It hooked me from beginning to end. It was full of action and really set the scene for what will hopefully be an epic finale. September 20th (Frost Like Night’s release date) can’t come soon enough!

I also love how quotable this series is. Seriously. So many of my favorite book quotes come from this series!! Here’s a few:

“That’s why literature is so fascinating. It’s always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things for a hundred different people. It’s never the same thing twice.” -Snow Like Ashes

“Even the strongest blizzard starts with a single snowflake.” -Snow Like Ashes

“Loving her was easy, a skill he had picked up methodically until one day he did it without thought.” -Ice Like Fire

As for cleanliness… It wasn’t too bad. The language was a little more than in the first book (especially with Mather), but it wasn’t overwhelming. The sexual content has still stayed surprisingly low, and I’m really happy about that. This is one of the cleanest YA fantasy-type series I’ve ever read, and it makes me very happy to see YA books that aren’t filled with inappropriate content.

Have you read Ice Like Fire? Do you plan on it? Let me know in the comments below!

-Lilian-

 

 

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Ughhhh ahhhh ughhhh ahhh whaaaa ughhh ahhh uh. Those are my thoughts while reading this giant book. I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t really expect much, but it still was somehow different than what I wasn’t expecting.

I’ll stop it with the riddles now.

This is the story of Elphaba. That iconic wicked witch of the west in a land called Oz. When I first heard of the musical about a year ago, I was intrigued. Then I learned that its based off of a BOOK?! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Alas, I finally did read it, even if it took me what felt like forever to read.

So, you’re probably expecting a book about why Elphaba is green, why she’s wicked, and why she wants the shoes. Instead, you get a book about Elphaba’s stupid family, people contemplating the difference between animals and Animals, some deaths, and Elphaba going crazy.

Even with all its imperfections, this book is still pretty enjoyable. I loved Gregory Maguire’s writing. In the end, he pulled things together and ended it in a satisfying way that I liked. I don’t even know how to describe it. But it was good.

I thought that the book would have a lot more of Glinda in it, but I was surprised to see Glinda wasn’t in half the book. But I did really connect to Elphaba a lot more than I was expecting. I’m more of a Glinda personality, but I can see parts of Elphaba in me, too.

I enjoyed trying to find where the songs from the musical would fit into the book. I haven’t seen the musical, yet, but I listen to the music often, and I think I’m a bigger fan of the musical than the book.

I agree with lots of the goodreads reviews I read: Maguire was trying way too hard to make this an adult book. There are many unnecessary sexual scenes, foul words, and just overall inappropriateness. So much could have been easily left out, and you’d have the same story. Or at least it could have had less detail. I had heard there as sexual stuff in the book, but I didn’t realize to what extent it goes to. From the very beginning, inappropriateness is prominent. It eases in the last 3/4 of the book, but by then I’m already “scarred” by what I’ve read. This book is not kid-friendly, and I do not recommend it to young teens and under. Even for an older teen like me (I’m 16) , it can be too much. Some skimming may be necessary and probably recommended.

Overall, this was an enjoyable but not great book. I’ll probably skim it in the future, and I will be continuing on with the series eventually (cause I already own the second book).

-Lilian-

Three Wishes by Lisa T. Bergren

I received a beta-copy to read and review. This does not affect my review in any way.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. BECAUSE YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT.

Zara Ruiz is a normal California girl on the verge of graduating high school and thinking about her dawning future. But when dusk brings a shattering loss—and she discovers a priceless object in the shallows of a tide pool—she is thrust a hundred-and-eighty years into the past. There she meets handsome ranchero Javier de la Ventura—who has big dreams and bigger secrets—along with his enchanting family, in a land that is at once familiar, and yet utterly foreign.

Between cattle rustlers, pirates and a growing call for statehood, it is not a peaceful time to be a Mexican settler in young Alta California. But it is in that time and place that Zara must decide if she can find what she longs for most in the past, or if her heart’s THREE WISHES can only be resolved in the present.

This is it, River Tribe. We’ve been waiting for this book since the second it was announced, and it’s finally here.

I was so happy to have received an e-copy to beta read last month. When I read it, I knew you were all going to love it. Plus, I’ve heard the ending I originally read was cut, because it was too big of a cliffhanger. So count yourselves lucky that you didn’t have the giant cliffhanger to end with like I did!

So onto my review.

I was so very worried to start Three Wishes. I am such a mega-fan of the original series, and I had such high expectations for this book that I was scared Three Wishes would fall short. But, I’d have to say it didn’t.

Zara is such a head-strong, determined protagonist. She faces every situation with an admirable spirit, and she’s a great role-model.

Javier is a pretty great guy. There are a few stereotypical qualities about him, but I couldn’t help but like him in the end. I don’t love him yet, but I might love him in the next book. I think he has some good in him, it’s just hidden under some angst.

Zara and Javier remind me a lot of Gabriella and Marcello from the original River of Time books. Fans of them from the originals should love Zara and Javier’s relationship.

I loved Lisa’s writing, like always. This book was so beautifully written. It has many quotable lines and the story is artistically created.

This book isn’t perfect, though. I do feel there was just… something missing. I’m not sure what, and I’m hoping whatever it is, it’s in the second book. But this is still such an enjoyable book, I can’t help but give it 5 stars. It’s not better than the originals, though, in my opinion.

Have you read Three Wishes yet? Do you plan on it? Let me know in the comments below!

-Lilian-