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Review: The Horned Scarab by Matthew Marchitto

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Published: August 26th, 2016, self-published | Series: #1 of The Investigative Privateers | Length: 145 pages | Genre: Fantasy | Source: I received a copy from the author. | Possible Triggers: Violence

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Summary from Goodreads:

Ghorad-Gha, once magnificent city of clay and bronze, crumbles. Those prosperous few burden the shoulders of the downtrodden. In a city of forgotten glory, the lawless thrive.

A monk turns up dead, and Arn is determined to find out why. Along with his stone skinned companion, Rohqim, they’ll be dragged deep into Ghorad-Gha’s underbelly, where the Horned Scarab reigns.

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ARC Review: By the Icy Wild by Everly Frost

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Published: February 17, 2017 by Ever Realm Books (self-published)  | Series: Book 3 in Mortality series | Length: 282 pages | Genre: YA, dystopian, sci-fi | Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for a review. | Possible Triggers: violence

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Summary from Goodreads:

The threat is far from over. I will live by the icy wild.

Ava Holland is dead. At least, that’s what everyone’s supposed to believe. But Ava is on her way to the northern wilds and hidden within the icy mountains are dangers that nobody dares speak aloud. Meanwhile, Michael is forced to accept Ava’s death while defending his new home against the growing darkness beyond. When a mortality war begins, will anyone survive?

By the Icy Wild is the third book in an action-packed four-book series.

This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the series, Beyond the Ever Reach and Beneath the Guarding Stars.

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Review: Beneath the Guarding Stars by Everly Frost

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Published: November 4th, 2016 by Ever Realm Books  | Series: Book 2 in Mortality Series | Length: 262 pages | Genre: YA, sci-fi, dystopian | Source: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review | Possible Triggers/Problems: Use of offensive terms re: mental illness (no longer an issue; see below)

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Summary from Goodreads:

Fear is quiet. It waits. It waits for me.

Ava and Michael have fought their way to Starsgard, but crossing the border comes with a price and their home country is ravaged by fear and hatred of mortals. They soon discover that peace is an illusion and danger is closer than they feared.

In a world where nobody can be killed, one girl will change it all.

This review contains spoilers for the first book in the series, Beyond the Ever Reach.

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ARC Review: Untitled Beauty by C.E. Wilson

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Published: October 13, 2016; self-published  | Series: Somewhere-in-Between #1 | Length: 151 pages according to Amazon | Genre: YA, dystopian | Source: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon Goodreads

Summary from Amazon:

Eleven. A name. A title. A sentence passed. If you aren’t a Beauty, you’re less than a person. You’re a commodity known as a Potential… and you only have so many chances to qualify as a human being.

In her seventeen years, Eleven has seen the best and worst in humanity. She’s been passed around and abused by the bad. She’s hoped and dreamed for the good. And she’s despaired for the hand she’s been dealt. Now she’s been purchased by a wealthy man who has the ability to improve her life and help her become a Beauty – if she can put up with his erratic and controlling personality for long enough, that is. Complicating things is the appearance of a stunningly beautiful young man with amethyst eyes who treats Eleven to the rarest form of attention for a Potential: kindness.

Does Eleven trust her powerful owner to help her escape this life of servitude and enslavement, or does she gamble everything on the enigmatic young man who seems to offer her more than she could ever imagine possible?

A big thank you as always to C.E. Wilson for sending me an ARC to read and review!

When I found out that C.E. Wilson was starting a new dystopian series, I had to get my hands on it. I love dystopians and I’ve read several of her books in the past and have quite enjoyed all of them.

I’ll start off by saying that there were times where I felt really uncomfortable reading what was happening. At first, I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t really get past that. I didn’t have to put down the book or anything, but I couldn’t get my mind off of how uncomfortable I felt. But then I remembered that making you uncomfortable is kind of the whole point of a dystopian book. It’s supposed to make you think “this isn’t right.” And this book definitely succeeds in doing so. There are a lot of situations that our MC faces that are just really messed up and unfair. With that said, if you have a sensitivity to reading about physical or sexual abuse, this book may be triggering. So keep that in mind when deciding whether or not you want to pick this up.

I did have a little bit of a hard time truly connecting with the main character. It’s kind of difficult to explain though. It wasn’t that she was a bad main character at all. But she’s been raised to believe that because she’s an “Eleven” (you need to be rated a Twenty to be seen as beautiful and worthy of human rights) that she isn’t a person and deserves to be treated like a dog. She’s not happy with that treatment, but she doesn’t have the power to change it and at first doesn’t even really believe that she deserves anything better. The problem I had with connecting with her again wasn’t because she was a bad MC but because she didn’t feel as though she were truly a person deserving of human rights, so it’s kind of difficult to really connect with her on an emotional level. As the book goes on and she starts to believe that being a Potential doesn’t mean she’s not human, it does get a lot easier to connect with her and by the end of the book, I really found myself wanting her to be able to find happiness and get away from the abuse that she’s faced throughout her life.

This is a fairly short book (I read an eARC, but Amazon lists the print version as 151 pages) so there’s not a lot of room for huge character development or a really intricate plot. However, C.E. Wilson does a fantastic job of telling an interesting and compelling story in such a short book. It didn’t feel rushed or like she was trying to cram a 300-page book in half the amount of pages. It felt like a fully fleshed-out novel (albeit one that doesn’t really touch on things that aren’t somehow important to the plot).

All in all, Untitled Beauty was a great dystopian. It had me feeling uncomfortable, but hopeful that things will get better. It had me thankful that there’s someone willing to show our main character kindness even when the world tells him he shouldn’t. It had me truly rooting for a happy ending free of mistreatment and abuse. I’m excited to see where C.E. Wilson takes the series in the next book.


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Review of Revenants: The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman

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Published: December 23rd, 2015 by Moonshine Cove Publishing | Series: N/A | Length: 306 pages | Genre: YA, historical fiction | Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Summary from Goodreads:

ONLY BETSY CAN GET HIM HOME IN TIME; ONLY HE CAN BRING HER BACK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

A grief-stricken candy-striper serving in a VA hospital following her brother’s death in Viet Nam struggles to return home an anonymous veteran of the Great War against the skullduggery of a congressman who not only controls the hospital as part of his small-town fiefdom but knows the name of her veteran. A name if revealed would end his political ambitions and his fifty-year marriage. In its retelling of Odysseus’ journey, Revenants casts a flickering candle upon the charon toll exacted not only from the families of those who fail to return home but of those who do.

First of all, a big thank you to Scott Kauffman for sending me a copy of his book to read and review. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to!

This book centers on Betsy, a young girl who lost her older brother in the Vietnam War and is now attempting to deal with her grief by working at a VA hospital, where she finds a hidden patient who fought in WWI.

This is proving to be a difficult book to review because I have so many mixed thoughts on it.

Overall, it was a good book. The two strongest points I think were that the plot was quite interesting and the characters were really well-written and well-developed. I especially liked the veteran characters because I think Kauffman did a great job making readers aware of the atrocities and injuries that veterans face. You really get a sense of how war affects their lives – both when they’re fighting in the war and when they’re back home to deal with the remnants.

The main problem I had with this and that I think did stop me from enjoying it as much as I would have was the mystery and suspense aspect of the book. Reading the synopsis, I felt like learning about this mysterious hidden patient was going to have me on the edge of my seat, frantically flipping pages, trying to figure out who he was before it was too late. But I didn’t feel that way about him. Maybe I’m terrible for thinking this way (let’s face it, I probably am), but because the patient was described as being SO close to dying, I just didn’t care if he got home to his family at all. I kind of felt like there was no point because, by the time he got reunited with them, he would die. Just as I was starting to feel invested in the mystery, we found out who he was and what his connection to this evil congressman was. So as the mystery started, it promptly ended.

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This brings me to another thing. The congressman was not nearly as threatening as I had hoped for. Again, the synopsis made it seem like it was super important for Betsy to keep her investigating secretive because if the congressman found it, it was game over. But in the book, every time the idea of the congressman founding out was brought up, it wasn’t in a “Betsy, you’re in danger” kind of way, but rather in a “the congressman will move the patient somewhere we can’t find him” way. This brings me back to the issue of not really caring if the patient got home – I didn’t, so I also didn’t care if the congressman sent him somewhere. He was sleazy for sure, but he missed the personality that would have truly made him feel like a villain.

Other than those things, though, this was a quite good book. There were some errors (my favorite: Betsy being called sweat pea instead of the much more endearing term, sweet pea), but I personally didn’t care all that much.

Like I mentioned, the characters were really great. I liked seeing Betsy’s development especially. We see her go from this very grief-stricken, depressed teenage girl to someone who is throwing herself into research that she’s not even sure will turn up any actual information, all to help get this man home to his family (if he even has any living family). There was definitely a lot of character development with her that I enjoyed watching.

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I also liked the few flashback scenes we got with Betsy and her brother, Nate. I actually kind of wish there had been more, just because I love reading about sibling relationships and I’m greedy haha Seeing the relationship they shared was nice and it helped you as a reader to understand just how devastating his death was for her.

One more thing that I really liked was how the book hints at the political corruption and greed that often is behind wars. It doesn’t delve into it much, but the veterans in the hospital make some comments about it. Even if it was just a few passing comments here and there, I still liked that it was brought up.

Just a quick note with a few trigger warnings for anyone who may need them. This obviously deals with some tough and violent topics. If you’re upset by violence or by war, I’d reconsider picking this up. Because a lot of the characters are veterans or people who lost family members in the war, there’s also mental health topics that are touched on, including suicide. So again, if that’s something that may be upsetting or triggering for you, reconsider reading this.

All in all, Scott Kauffman did a good job of crafting a believable and interesting novel that touches on the effects war has on soldiers. Where the book fell short was in its mystery and suspense regarding the patient that’s been hidden away in the hospital’s attic. This is still a good historical fiction novel though and if it sounds like something you might enjoy, I’d recommend giving it a try.


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Review of The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

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Published: June 12th, 2016, self-published | Series: N/A | Length: 276 pages | Genre: YA, contemporary, romance | Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Summary from Goodreads:

“You’re off-limits, so why can’t I stop thinking about you?”

Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.

But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.

Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed.

Well, I have a new book to add to my favorites. And a new book boyfriend. Life is good.

I received a copy of this book from the author, Lora Richardson, to read and review and well, I couldn’t be happier that I did.

I believe this is Lora’s second book and I’m definitely going to add her other book to my TBR and be on the lookout for any future releases from her because this was just a fantastic book that I enjoyed from start to finish.

Fay is spending the summer with her aunt, uncle, and cousins because her parents are going on a service trip to try to rekindle their marriage before they decide whether or not they should get a divorce. In the past, Fay has spent about a week with her aunt and uncle during the summer, but now that she’s here for a much longer time, she’s getting to see aspects of her family that she didn’t know existed. It’s pretty tough at times and Malcolm ends up being her way to escape it, but she and Malcolm also spend the whole time aware that at the end of the summer, they’ll have to say goodbye.

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The characters in this story are phenomenal. With the exception of maybe Malcolm, they’re all really realistic. It wasn’t that Malcolm seemed fake or one-dimensional, he just didn’t seem to really have any flaws (which honestly was fine by me because I loved him regardless and he still felt real).

Fay is a great main character. Richardson did a great job of making her a very realistic teenager. She’s silly at times but knows she has responsibilities which she does her best to manage, and she’s neither completely mature or immature. She’s strong and bold a lot of the times, but still vulnerable at others. She’s a very well-developed lead.

Nothing made me happier than seeing Fay and Malcolm develop their relationship. I liked Malcolm pretty much from the first page he was introduced. He’s just incredibly understanding, supportive, and respectful. Because Fay isn’t supposed to associate with the Dearings, it does take a little bit of perseverance on his part to get her to talk to him, but even when he was kind of pestering her, he was still respectful of her boundaries and wishes. He says flat out that if she really doesn’t want him around that he’ll leave her alone. He’s charming and determined without being overbearing.

There were so many scenes that had me smiling at how freaking adorable these two are together. Seeing them going swimming or having a picnic or literally anything was really sweet and, like I said, had me smiling. I really liked the relationship between them because I feel it was a good depiction of what a healthy relationship is. They’re very open with each other and tell each other their feelings, not only about the other person but also about how they see the relationship moving forward, how fast or slow they want to move, etc. It was great to see a relationship depicted that had such good communication, especially since so many authors use miscommunication as a plot device or a way to create conflict.

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This book isn’t without its tough moments, though. As is mentioned in the blurb, Fay’s family isn’t exactly what she thought it was. And as she spends her summer with them, things get pretty intense. I do want to warn you that if alcoholism or abuse is a tough subject for you, you may want to avoid this one. But this brings me back to Malcolm because when things get hard for Fay, he’s always really supportive of her and he’s there for when she needs him.

All in all, this was a fantastic book that I am so, so, so happy to have gotten the chance to read. Malcolm and Fay are a fantastic couple and I loved reading about them. I was devastated when the book ended because I was not ready to say goodbye to them. If you’re looking for a good YA romance/contemporary, I can’t recommend this one enough. It’ll have you smiling, crying, and wishing for a relationship like Fay and Malcolm’s. You won’t want to say goodbye to these characters. Like I mentioned, this has become one of my favorite books and I’ll be recommending this to everyone for quite awhile. 🙂


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Review of The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen by J. Lynn Else

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Published: August 15th, 2013, self-pubbed | Series: #1 in The Forgotten | Length: 556 pages | Genre: YA, historical fiction | Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Summary from Goodreads:

Ankhesenamun grew up a princess and became queen at age 13. Her husband, the famed King Tut, was 9. They were expected to restore Egypt to its former glory and renounce their family. They were forced to leave their home, abandon their god, and change their names. But how can these two lead a nation when they have lost all that they once were?

Ankhesenamun must also deal with a secret of the heart and of a man who has captured it. He is a person being hunted as an “Aten follower” by powerful men who wish to destroy monotheistic worship. Yet is it Aten he is worshipping or another god that long ago brought the Egyptian lands to its knees…

And there is one more thing that Ankhesenamun must keep secret – there is a young girl who was never supposed to have survived the fall of Akhenaten City, a daughter she bore that carries the blood of “the heretic” in her veins. There are people who will stop at nothing to find this daughter of Ankhesenamun’s and end the line of “the heretic king” once and for all.

Ankhesenamun will do what she must for the good of her people and those she loves. But will it be enough to survive the most terrible of all fates – being erased from the walls of time? Being forgotten…

First of all, I want to give a big thank you to J. Lynn Else for being kind enough to send me a copy to review.

To quickly give an overview of the book: the story follows Ankhesenamun, or An, who was King Tut’s wife and sister. She was also the daughter of the previous Pharoah. We get to see her grow up and become the Queen alongside King Tut. We see her go through a lot.

For some reason, this book took me forever to get through. I spent between 2-3 weeks on it, if I remember correctly. I’m not really sure why though. As I’ll mention briefly, I did find the beginning a bit slow or confusing at times, but I still was enjoying this book overall. I think my reading slump of August has continued into September, unfortunately, and it’s made it difficult for me to fully get into the book and to finish it in a reasonable amount of time.

The first thing I’ll say is that the chapters in the first half of this book were so long. My Kindle was telling me that every chapter was going to take 45 minutes to read. They could have been shorter, especially since a lot of the chapters were broken up into smaller sections. Why not just have each one of those sections be a chapter?

The book was also a bit confusing at times, especially when it came to people’s names. This could just be cultural ignorance on my part because I’m not used to the names used in Ancient Egypt. But a lot of people were named very similar names and there were a couple of characters who were referred to by a couple different names. It took me awhile to be able to distinguish between all the different characters. There is a list of characters at the beginning of the book which may have helped with my confusion if I had actually used it… but unfortunately, reading an eBook makes it difficult to switch back and forth between the list in the beginning and the page you’re currently reading.

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I have to say, though… I loved getting to see Ancient Egypt. I find that setting incredibly interesting but I don’t read a lot of books set in Ancient Egypt. I would have liked to actually see more of what life was like for an average citizen, but I also loved seeing what life was like as royalty. So I can’t complain too much about that.

I give the author a lot of credit for the amount of research that went into this. It is so, so evident that she spent a ton of time researching Ancient Egypt and this family in particular. I can’t imagine how time-consuming all of it was.

For me, this story didn’t pick up and become really interesting until after An’s father died and Tut becomes Pharoah. (Sorry if you think this is a spoiler, but come on. History, people.) An’s thrust into a much more prominent role and the story becomes less of her telling us what’s happening to her family and more of her actually experiencing things. The ending was especially phenomenal. It was action-packed and filled with suspense that kept me wanting to keep reading and reading.

One of my absolute favorite things was getting to see An and Tut together. They have such a great friendship that then makes way for a romantic relationship once Tut becomes Pharoah. And despite the love triangle between An, Tut, and another guy, I really did like the relationship between An and Tut. Romance aside, you can tell that they both really care about each other. They have some tough spots here and there as any two people do, but I was just so interested in their relationship.

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This actually brings me to a couple more complaints… Firstly, I did think the love triangle was really unnecessary. I’m actually someone who enjoys most love triangles, but this one just didn’t make sense to me. It seemed like it was there just to cause problems and inner turmoil for An. And honestly, with the life she had, I think she had enough conflict without the love triangle.

The other thing that I didn’t like so much was that An and Tut sometimes seemed way too mature for their age. There are scenes where An is around 9 years old and she’s just so reflective and talking about the value of love and respect and all these things that I just can’t imagine any 9-year-old thinking that deeply about. Maybe her childhood and her position in her society did make her more mature, but it still didn’t seem completely realistic.

I thoroughly enjoyed the aspects of religion that were in the book. Ancient Egyptian polytheism is represented here (as is their brief time of monotheism, since that was led by An’s family) and there are actually some elements from more modern and mainstream religions thrown into it as well. It was incredibly interesting to see all of these different religious elements co-existing in the same story.

Some things that happen in the book are really hard to read about. While Else doesn’t go into too much detail, there are scenes of abuse, including sexual abuse towards a child. Even though it’s “normal” considering the time period, it could still be quite triggering for some people so I wanted to make sure you’re all aware of that.

Overall, this is a pretty solid book, but one that definitely has its flaws. If you’re someone who enjoys reading about Ancient Egypt or you’re perhaps looking to learn more about what life may have been like (for royalty at least), you may want to take a look at this book. I’m glad to have read it and it has sparked an interest for me in King Tut and his life and family.


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