Novella Thursday: Maelyn

MaelynMaelyn (The Nine Princesses Novella)

By Anita Valle

Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

Amazon’s summary:

Maelyn was not born a princess. The king found her as a child, the lone survivor of a poor village slaughtered by the Red Fever. Suddenly she became a princess of Runa Realm, the first of nine orphans adopted by the king.

By her eighteenth year, Maelyn rules over Runa and a family of nine sisters. But some call the princesses frauds and impostors, a handful of urchins raised into royalty. Even Uncle Jarrod, the High King of Grunwold, seems determined to prove that Maelyn no longer deserves to be a princess. With a family losing faith in her, and a kingdom growing dangerously hostile, even Maelyn begins to wonder if she is truly a real princess. And if her riches will turn to rags once again….

The Nine Princesses Novellas is a series that chronicles the adventures of an unconventional family of princesses, the struggles they face in a kingdom often hostile to their humble origins, and the day-to-day dramas of nine young women whose personalities often clash like swords. Fans of Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale would enjoy this young-adult series. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

My Review:

This was a cute story.  It is geared towards a younger audience and I have to say that is a refreshing change.  Some of the things I have read I think do I really want my daughter reading this?  This time I can say yes to that question.

The nine princesses come from all across the land each being adopted by the king and queen who could not have their own children.  Maelyn is the oldest and it has fallen on her to be queen since both her parents are now gone.  This is a struggle since a lot of the kingdom, including her Uncle Jarrod the High King of Grunwold, does not believe they are real princesses, but impostors. She has to deal with her eight sisters who all have very different personalities.  Then there is the book miser, who still holds a grudge against a child.  He won’t take money for his books but trade and trading for Maelyn is nearly impossible.  All she wants is something new to read.

For reason unknown to anyone the servants have been dismissed from the castle.  The royal messenger has recently died of red fever and Willow his adopted brother has come ask to take his place. After a series of mishaps he finally brings Maelyn a new book, which delights her.  Willow loves to read as well and Maelyn and him form a friendship.

The ending is left open, so I hope as we learn about the other princesses and their stories some of the gaps get filled in.

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Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

HexHallHex Hall

By Rachel Hawkins

Facebook

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Indibound

Summary:

Sophie Mercer is sent to Hecate Hall, “a reformatory institution for Prodigium adolescents”, after doing a love spell that went terribly wrong.  (She did it for a classmate and she was only trying to help.  No one will ever forget that prom.)  In this series most supernatural beings were created when the angels that refused to take sides in the war between God and Lucifer were cast out of heaven.  Those supernatural beings are called Prodigium.  Sophie knows she’s a witch but since she has grown up outside prodigium society she doesn’t know the basics of being a witch.  This proves to be a problem when she comes up against Hex Hall’s mean girl’s clique.  They want her to join their dark coven and they aren’t playing nice.

When members of the coven start turning up drained of blood Sophie’s roommate and new best friend Jenna, the only vampire on campus, is the only suspect.  Sophie has to navigate the world of mean girls and her own heritage to uncover the truth and clear Jenna’s name.  She also has to confront who she is and what it means to be Sophie Mercer.

My Review:

I guess it’s fitting that my next reviews are about a school since it’s fall.  I binged on these books.  (That hasn’t happened since the Hush Hush series.)  I finished this one and went on to number two and then number three.  I had to know what happened.  You’ll want to know what happens.  I can promise you that.

I really liked this book.  Sophie is fun and I found myself laughing out loud at some of her sarcastic comments.  She also said holy hell weasel many times and I’ve decided that I love that.  That fact that she has confidence in herself even when she’s questioning who she is makes her a worthy main character.  She may not always make the right decisions but she tries to do as little harm to those around her as possible.  That’s probably because her magic usually goes wrong and she knows it.

The camaraderie between Sophie and Jenna is special.  They have a true friendship.  Sophie doesn’t doubt Jenna’s innocence when it looks as though a vampire is draining members of Sophie’s coven.  Even when things get bad and Jenna is sent to the Council Sophie believes in her.  Jenna wasn’t what I would have expected.  She isn’t a tag a long character.  She is more of a peppy partner than a follow the leader sidekick.

The mean girls, especially Elodie are trying to increase their power.  A member of their coven died the previous year and Elodie is determined to recruit Sophie so that they will have a fourth dark witch.  They need a fourth so that they can achieve the goal of raising a demon.  They want to do this so they can use it’s power.  Part of the charm of reading this was that I just kept saying “you don’t want to go in there” where the mean girls were concerned.  I think the author used this situation to her advantage.  The entire time Sophie hears the rumors or talks to the means girls about it I could only think this is going to end badly.

This is a true adventure, not just the entire series but in this book alone.   So many questions are answered and so many more came to mind.  For example we only get to find out who Sophie’s father is.  We don’t get to meet him until book two.  Speaking of parents, I think it was great that Sophie had such a great relationship with her mother Grace.  So often in YA parents are more ideas than characters.  I found the relationship between Sophie and Grace to be heartwarming.  Grace is an actual character in his series.  She’s lied to Sophie all of her life about who she is but even that isn’t enough to sever the love Sophie has for her.

Sophie’s lack of knowledge about her personal history leads to an unbelievable showdown.  She finds out the hard way who she is and what it really means to be a prodigium.  She also knows she can’t have a normal life the way she is.  Hex Hall was a great book and a great series.  I really enjoyed watching Sophie navigate her Hex Hall experience and her feeling for Archer Cross.  Book Two is Demon Glass and my review will post on September 9th.

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PG-13: Death and violence.  I believe I mentioned a showdown.

A Different Princess: Space Princess

A Different Princess Space PrincessA Different Princess: Space Princess

Author: Amy Potter

Illustrator: Linda Sheppard

Kindle

Barnes and Noble

Amazon Summary:

 Amy likes to be a princess, but not only a princess. She likes to be a different princess each night. Her magic unicorn Huggy brings her to dream worlds where they have a lot of fun.

Viola’s Review:  I want to be a space princess too.  I liked her shoes and Huggy.

Mommy:  What did she do for the planets?

Viola: She got them water and plants and sun so they could all be better.

Jessica’s Review:

I liked that this book taught about sharing and how everyone is different.  It made for a cute new bedtime story.  We will definitely be looking into the A Different Princess books

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Flash Gold

flash goldFlash Gold

By Lindsay Buroker

There are three stories in the Flash Gold Chronicles so far.

Flash Gold

Hunted

Peacemaker

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Summary:  Kali McAlister just wants to win a race.  The thousand dollar prize will get her out of Moose Hollow forever.  The only problem is that every criminal in North America is trying to capture her due to the five thousand dollar bounty on her head.  Some very powerful people want what her late father was working on and they’re willing to kill to get it.

*If this sounds good check out our review of Lady of Devices*

Review:   This story takes place in the Yukon and since it’s summer I was happy to read about winter.  To be honest I’m usually happy to read about winter.  I really liked this story.  It was well done and I really felt like I was part of the race.  There is a scene that takes place as they are speeding across a frozen lake that’s thrilling.

Right from the beginning you can see that Kali McAlister is a unique person with unique gifts.  Her partner is unique too.  Cedar has several extraordinary talents that make Kali curious.  He shows up just when she needs someone the most.  I don’t want to say any more about Cedar.  I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

Kali is a fantastic character.  Even though she is just eighteen she’s been through a lot.  Her mother was a “witch” and her father was a tinker so she’s considered a half breed.  The town mostly hates her they even try to sabotage her sled during the race.  Her only real friend in town is Nelly.  Nelly owns the town’s adult establishment- Nelly’s Good-Time Girls.  Everyone else treats her badly.  Kali is up against the world.  It’s a very good thing she’s smart and handy with her tinkering.  It’s also a good thing that Nelly meets Cedar and sends him to Kali’s shop.

This story has everything that good steampunk should.  Well developed characters, wild adventure, modified rifles, mechanical dogs and spur-of-the-moment explosives.  This novella is well worth the couple of hours it takes to read it.  Even if you don’t know anything about steampunk you’ll love this grand adventure.  I can’t wait to start the next one.

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PG-13  Violence.  It involves Cedar and his talents.  I’m not saying anymore.

Yellow Crocus By Laila Ibrahim

Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus: A Novel

By Laila Ibrahim

Book Summary:

Moments after her birth to the mistress of a sprawling Virginia plantation, Lisbeth Wainwright is entrusted to Mattie, an enslaved wet nurse. From then on, Mattie serves as Lisbeth’s stand-in mother, nursing her, singing her to sleep, and soothing her in the night. And yet mothering Lisbeth tears Mattie away from her own baby, Samuel, who lives in the slave quarters. Growing up under Mattie’s tender care, Lisbeth adopts her traditions of prayer, singing, eating black-eyed peas, and hunting for yellow crocuses in the spring. As the years pass, Lisbeth is drawn back into the white world, earning a growing awareness of the inequality of her and Mattie’s stations. She struggles to reconcile her love for Mattie with her parents’ expectations for her future, intent on keeping the best of both worlds-until a terrible betrayal forces her to choose once and for all. Yellow Crocus is a compelling novel of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.

My Review: 

This was a truly remarkable story.  I wish I could go over every detail, but I don’t want to give anything away.  As I watched Lisbeth grow up going from a naive girl to a woman who truly stood up for her beliefs. I felt proud of her.  It takes a horrific scene for her to realize that this is NOT the life she wants. She doesn’t condone her parent’s beliefs.  The sacrifice she made turned out to not be a sacrifice for her.  It was her path in life.

The story of Mattie rips your heart out, but at the same time shows the love she had in her heart.  The risk Mattie takes makes your heart stop. She was a strong woman who took control of her life and ended up a free woman.

This book made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think.  The ending was perfect.  It was wonderfully written and I highly recommend it.

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Original background image by Petr Kratochvil at publicdomainimages.net

Novella Thursday: Hereafter

Hereafter B&N - Jennifer SnyderHereafter

by: Jennifer Snyder

Kindle

Barnes and Noble

The Reaper Novellas: Paperback

Good Reads Summary: 

In Death I could finally see the importance of Life…

After being forced to become a Reaper Council member and being torn away from the one she loves, Rowan Harper must learn to accept her altered Fate as well as her death and move on. A task easier said than done, especially when witnessing those you love suffer in the wake of your death.

When an unlikely alli provides information that could change everything, Rowan sets out on a journey through Purgatory with her beloved by her side and a nonchalant Tracker to learn the true meaning of the word sacrifice. Another task which seems easier said than done, especially with the threat of Purgatory’s ability to corrupt your soul the longer you’re in its grip looming above their heads.

**This book is the second in the Reaper Series.  Check out our review of Touch.**Also if this book sounds good check out our review of Ember.**

Jessica’s Summary: 

This is the continuation of Touch last weeks Novella Thursday.  It picks up were Touched left off.  Rowan is dead and on the Reaper Counsel.  In between Counsel appointments she can go anywhere except to another Reaper. So it’s been some time since she has seen Jet.  She spends time at her house and her father is pretty bad off.  He has turned into an alcoholic and is in the process of packing up the house to move.

There are parts of this book that I liked and parts that I didn’t like.  After one of the counsel meetings Rowan is left behind with Evelyn and she answers some of her questions which leads Rowan to purgatory to find her mother.  Jet’s role is smaller in this book, but she finally meets up with him at their “place” and he agrees to take her to purgatory even though he knows it means they will no longer be together.

As Rowan and Jet, along with their tracker, travel threw her mother’s scenes in purgatory I can’t help but feel what a terrible life her mother most have lived and part of me wondered why she didn’t commit suicide a lot sooner then she did.  The ghosts she saw in her life were not pleasant I can see why for her it was not an honor it is implied it is for other families.

I also had a hard time with the ending.  I realize it raps it up in a neat little bow and for those of us that love a happy ending you do get it.  But come on rewinding time.  The dead being able to come back to life.  I think that was just a little to much for me.

Overall it was okay.  I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it.

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PG-13 due to use of alcohol and some of the scenes in purgatory.

Starling by Lesley Livingston

 

StarlingStarling (Starling Saga)

By Lesley Livingston

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Barnes and Nobel

Indiebound: Pre Order Descendant

Goodreads Summary: Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name—the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason’s world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn’s identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason’s family—with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods—is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.

Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston’s epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.

 

Lynn’s Review: This book combined some of my favorite things; storms, trees, and mythology.  You don’t need any knowledge of mythology to enjoy this book.  You don’t even need an interest in mythology to enjoy this book.  Explanations are seamlessly given for all of the mythology references.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love it when books are smart.  This is one smart book and Mason is a smart girl.

Mason’s life is torn apart by a storm.  Her life of fencing, studying, and having a crush on the school’s fencing superstar comes to an end during that storm.  Being billionaire Gunnar Starling’s little princess has kept Mason safe from a great many things such as betrayal.  That doesn’t last but with the help of new friends it looks like she may just find her way.

Fennrys having amnesia was a fun twist.  He would have been overpowering if he had remembered who he was and what he was capable of.  This way, by the time he remembers, he’s playing catch up and left scrambling to save Mason (who, by the way, is completely capable of saving herself).

A character who surprised me was Heather.  I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of her.  Is she a prophet? A seer? A fairy?  What do you call someone who can see people’s true love?  I was all ready to hate her as the “mean girl” of this story but as it turns out she couldn’t be further from mean girl territory.   She even covers for Mason and Fennrys.

We read a lot of books so when I come across something that stands out I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops.  This is one such book.  It has monsters!  It has goddesses!  It has talk of Ragnarok!  It could even end up on my list for best books I read this year.  I have every intention of buying Descendant when it comes out on August 27th.  I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

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PG   Violence. Mason and Fennrys are saving the world after all.

Novella Thursday: Touch

Touch (1)

Touch

By Jennifer Snyder 

Kindle  $.99

Barnes and Noble: $.99

The Reaper Novellas: Paperback $ 8.54

Amazon’s summary:

Seventeen-year-old Rowan Harper knows her life is forever changed the moment her schizophrenic mother commits suicide. What Rowan doesn’t realize is how much her mother’s choice altered her own fate. It’s not until after meeting Jet, a sapphire-eyed dead boy, Rowan begins to learn of her new destiny as becoming her mother’s replacement for something she never knew existed.

*If this book sounds good check out our Ember review.*

Jessica’s Review:

Rowan’s life has suddenly taken a turn for the worst.  When her Mother kills herself and her father retreats into himself she is left all alone.  After a tragic accident Rowan suddenly sees Jet, Reaper #142.  Her discovery of why she can see him and the mysterious crows that are hanging around change the course of everything.

This was a true novella.  I will definitely be reading the next one in the series to find out what happens.  Rowan is an interesting character and in the future books I hope to learn how her family became so high ranking in the after world, and Jet the mysterious Reaper boy left us with just enough to want more.

I read it in about 4 hours and that is with cooking dinner, eating, and playing with kids.  So if you’re looking for something to keep you occupied on a car ride this is the book to do it.

Rating: 4

PG

Lynn’s Review:

I really liked it.  It was different.  The characters were engaging and the plot was simple.  My only complaint was that EVERYTHING went wrong for Rowan.  There isn’t a single bright spot anywhere in this novella so be warned.  There was also a bonus story after the novella.  It’s the story of how Jet became a Reaper.  It’was excellent but again everything that can go wrong does.  I’ve already downloaded the second in the series Hereafter and I’m excited to read it.

Four Stars

PG-13  This novella is jam packed with death.

The Ruth Valley Missing

The Ruth Valley MissingThe Ruth Valley Missing
By Amber West
Kindle Price: $2.99

Amazon’s summary:  Jameson Quinn is sick of trying to find herself in the big city. After a gallery opening ends in a trip to the ER and an argument with her self-involved boyfriend, she decides to take off for the peace and quiet of a small town — Ruth Valley.

The small town has everything Brooklyn lacked: simple people, peaceful surroundings, and a feeling of safety. Jameson even finds the perfect house to rent from the town’s most eligible bachelor, Sheriff Jack. Life is finally headed in a promising direction.

But something isn’t right. A young man is mysteriously injured, then disappears — and Jameson finds he isn’t the only person to suddenly vanish. The suspicious behavior of an abrasive nun and a creepy priest set her off on an investigation of what’s really happening. Will she figure out the secrets of Ruth Valley before she’s the next to go missing?

My Review:  Although I found this book predictable. It was  good. It grabbed me right away and I found myself having a hard time putting it down. I did however find my self questioning a lot of what was happening, and the four major plot points I figured out pretty early, which lets be honest kind of kills the suspense. While the story itself did make me cringe on some level.

Jameson is trying to get away from the crazy life of a big city and ends up in the craziest small town you could ever find. James is a strong character and I liked her from the start. She of course takes chances that she shouldn’t, and doesn’t listen to what she is being told.  Isn’t that the way it is in every mystery?!  I did question a little what made her pick Ruth Valley and why she was not working in her chosen field of Psychiatry.  She hits the nail on the head when she calls Father Mike the creepy priest. It made me question him right from the beginning, and with good reason. The whole time I was thinking “please don’t let Jack be involved”, but knowing eventually as the sheriff of this small town and the only male within a certain age range, that he was going to be a part of it somehow. The Nuns were scary and I wondered what was going to happen every time they came around. Being raised in a Catholic family and having been around plenty of Nun, I can honestly say I have never run across any Nun like them.

This was a quick read. If your not one to  easily figure out plot twists you might enjoy it.

Rating: 3

PG-13 due to content I don’t want to reveal, but is defiantly not for the faint of heart.

Novella Thursday: Claiming the Vampire

Blood and Absinthe 2Novella Thursday Duel Review

Claiming the Vampire (Blood and Absinthe Book 3)

By Chloe Hart

Amazon: 2.99

Barnes and Noble: 2.99

Amazon Summary: Fae princess Jessica Greenwood has never questioned that her duty to her people comes before her own wishes. To avert a war between dimensions, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a stranger–the Dark Fae prince. Then she meets the mysterious vampire Hawk, who challenges all her beliefs and tempts her with a longing she’s never even imagined.

Now Jessica is caught between duty and desire. With the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance, how will she choose?

Lynn’s Review:

This story read like a movie not a book and I think that was the problem for me.  It was capable of so much more.  It was all there and it was wasted in favor of long sex passages.  I get that sex sells but to sacrifice the story for it?  It made me sad.  The story had potential and I had been excited to read it.

I wanted more of the court and more about Kel and Mary.  The story of both queens was interesting too.  It was a lesson about seeing people for what they really are and not siding with them simply because they have the same goals that you do.  Jessica’s mother knows the truth about what Kel’s mother is really up to but she doesn’t care and in my opinion is in denial.

Jessica had backbone even in her weakest moments.  Even when she’s admiring the sharp points of her arrows and how easily one could kill her.  She could have walked away and left the mess for someone else to clean up, but she doesn’t because she wants to do the best thing for her people.

Stars: 2

NC-17

Jessica’s Review:

What do I say?  This wasn’t my favorite book ever.  The story line was unique and if it was expanded I think I would have enjoyed it, instead I found myself skipping all the unnecessary sex scenes to get to the plot.  Jessica was a strong woman, a warrior and for the most part a well developed character.  Hawk was thrown into a situation years ago that could have severely changed the way he was, but he held on to certain standards and his family was the most important thing.

I would have liked to know more about the fae court.  I had a vested interest in the story it intrigued me, but unfortunately I didn’t get me wish. The things I was looking forward to were just sort of looked over.

I felt like Kel and Mary were just thrown in, and I wanted to know more about how they met, how Kel helped her.

Unfortunately it’s just not a book I would recommend, but there is so much potential.

Stars: 2

NC-17