Review

Vicarious

(Vicarious #1)

Paula Stokes

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5 ★ – Intense, Twisted and Mind-blowing!
Published by Tor Teen August 16. 2016
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Sci-fi, Thriller
Pages: Hardcover 336
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Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, work as high-tech stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you—for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.

DAMN.. That was one intense and wickedly awesome ride!!! I binged this duology and LOVED every moment. I honestly don’t even know where to begin.! My mind is still reeling and I’m seriously having a hard time moving on…

Vicarious is haunting, riveting, and absolutely fantastic. Paula Stokes not only manages to keep you guessing and on the edge, but she also excels in creating complicated, but lovable characters. Winter, Gideon, Jesse…they’re damaged to some extent, but that’s what makes them so real for me. No one is perfect and we all have our own demons to fight.

Winter is such a wonderful heroine and my heart ached so much for her. She thinks she’s broken and undeserving of love and affection so she’s always guarded and slow to trust. What she doesn’t realize is just how strong she really is and that she’s capable of so much more than she believes. Despite living through some of the most horrific and traumatic life situations, Winter keeps on fighting for what she wants and challenges herself. She’s resilient, focused and determined. She’s so kickass and she doesn’t even know it.

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Throughout Vicarious (and Ferocious too), my heart raced so fast I thought it would burst out of my chest. The plot is thrilling, action-packed and full of twist that will completely blow your mind! I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but Stokes surely knows how to keep you on your toes. The mystery, the secrets, the drama, the action, the slow burn romance (yes! there’s a little romance and it’s so sweet) had me flipping the pages way past my bed time. And that ending … WOW!!! That totally took me by surprise. Wish I could say more than that, but my lips are sealed. Just trust me, you’d want to experience everything for yourself.

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As a fair warning, Vicarious does deal with a very sensitive issue that was quite difficult to read at times. Winter and her sister, Rose, experienced extremely horrible situations so there are many parts that are dark, heart-breaking, and just really sad. Stokes doesn’t shy away from showing you the worst and it does get ugly, but she does it in a way that is genuine and respectful.

I’m so utterly in LOVE with this series and I honestly can’t recommend it enough!

Follow / Connect with Paula Stokes: Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Sincerely Karen Jo

First Lines Fridays

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I saw a blog post by Kristi of Confessions of a YA Reader for First Lines Fridays which is hosted by Wandering Words. Such a fun idea so I thought why not!?

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?
  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
Copy and paste the text and banner (or make your own!) above for your own First Lines Fridays posts.  Make sure to comment your first lines below so that other people can check them out!

Here goes!

Emma Larsen had been known to cry over animal shelter commercials and ads about starving children, so it came as a shock to remain dry-eyed when her mother died. The ambulance came and went, leaving behind the empty wheelchair and pink empty rooms that suddenly felt even larger without Evangeline’s oversized presence. Emma drifted numbly through the aftermath and the clearing up and the funeral arrangements. She answered condolence cards every night until she could no longer keep her eyes open and, more from force of habit than anything else, rose each morning in the silvery dawn hours to pull weeds in her kitchen garden.

Now scroll down…

 

 

 

 

Keep going….

 

 

 

 

Just a little bit More….

 

 

 

 

And some more….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bell of Eternity (Celtic Legends #2)

by Martina Boone

Expected Publication: September 25, 2017 by Mayfair Publishing

Love beyond time, an island castle in Cornwall, a cast of delightful characters, dangerous secrets, and a handsome kilt-wearing chef make the perfect recipe for new romance from the award-winning author of Compulsion and Lake of Destiny.

Emma Larsen put her life on hold after the accident that left her famous mother paralyzed and cost a man his life. For four long years, Treave Nancarrow, the deceased man’s son, has often been the only friend Emma had to lean on. But when he suddenly proposes marriage after her mother’s funeral, Emma can’t help being dismayed. She’s already trying to decide between transforming her home cooking hobby into a profession or going back to college. She can’t afford to jump from one commitment to another before she’s had a chance to find out what she really wants. Still, when Treave begs her to accompany him to a wedding at his family’s castle in Cornwall so he can show her how compatible they would be, how can she refuse?

She falls in love with the romantic Cornish coast, a world rich with legends, hauntings, and ancient superstitions—like the one about the ghostly bell that tolls only when a pair of lovers are destined to be together forever. When a tragedy rocks the small community and everyone pitches in to help, though, Treave seems like a different person—one Emma begins to fear. Then, too, there’s Brando MacLaren, the handsome, kilt-wearing Scotsman who shows her the possibility of a love she never dared believe in and makes her feel adventurous and alive. But Brando has his own healing to do. He also has a secret, one he’s keeping from her. Can Emma afford to trust him with her heart? Can she trust either one of the men? An ancient Cornish legend might help guide her choice between them—if she can find the courage to trust her instincts and believe in herself.

A timeless, modern romance set in a magical castle in Cornwall, filled with food, small town warmth, heart, and intrigue. Perfect for fans of Poldark, Nora Roberts, Susanna Kearsley, Sarah Addison Allen, Susan Wiggs, and Debbie Macomber

I LOVED Lake of Destiny so I’m really excited to be reading this. I’m about 40% into the book and so far it’s really good.

Sincerely Karen Jo

Book Tag

Happy FriYaY!!! Thank You Kathryn from nosestuckinabookblog for tagging me on this book tag. I rarely ever do book tags because I’m always so busy, but I want to try and do more of them. So here goes!

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Would You Rather…

1. READ ONLY TRILOGIES OR A STAND ALONE?

I think I would have to pick trilogies. I like stand alone books too, but I just love being able to spend time with characters for a long time even if I get sad when the series finally ends.

2. READ ONLY FEMALE OR MALE AUTHORS?

I don’t think I can pick. Some of my favorite books/series are written by both.

3. SHOP AT BARNES & NOBLE OR AMAZON?

Definitely Amazon because I’m a prime member, they have great deals, and amazing customer service (I’ve had some mishaps with deliveries and they always fix it). It’s the most convenient for me too because I sometimes don’t have time to go to an actual bookstore. I do love Bookoutlet.com. They used to be way cheaper about 2 years ago, but their prices are still pretty decent and they have some awesome sales. Black Friday always get so crazy!

4. ALL BOOKS BECOME MOVIES OR TV SHOWS?

As much as I love movies, I would have to say TV shows. I probably won’t watch it every week because I’m impatient a lot of times. Like I said I love being able to spend time with characters and live in their world as long as possible, so I would be binge-watching for sure.

5. READ 5 PAGES PER DAY OR 5 BOOKS PER WEEK?

5 books per week. I used to be able to read 4-5 books before… But my work and life is just sooo busy now. I really miss those days.

6. BE A PROFESSIONAL REVIEWER OR AUTHOR?

I’ve dreamed about being an author. But I’m kind of a perfectionist and would probably never finish a book. Plus I’m shy and a bit insecure, so I wouldn’t do so well with criticisms. It’s even difficult for me to write my reviews sometimes… I’m just too hard on myself. Is it good enough? Do I sound silly? Does what I’m writing make sense? It kind of sounds like someone else’s review so what do I do? OMG this review sounds like my other review…. Blahhhh! I pretty much go through these before I post a review. I don’t consider myself a professional reviewer cause I don’t think I’m that great at it. I just really like to talk about what I love or did not like about the books I read.

7. ONLY READ YOUR TOP 20 FAVORITE BOOKS OVER AND OVER OR ALWAYS READ NEW ONES THAT YOU HAVEN’T READ BEFORE?

I definitely have some auto buy authors, but I love reading new ones for sure. I love discovering indie authors and trying to step out of my comfort zone.

8. BE A LIBRARIAN OR BOOK SELLER?

Hmm… probably a book seller if I can have my own book store.

9. ONLY READ YOUR FAVORITE GENRE OR EVERY GENRE EXCEPT YOUR FAVORITE?

Obviously my favorite genre cause that’s what I love.

10. ONLY READ PHYSICAL BOOKS OR E-BOOKS?

Absolutely have to be only physical books! E-books are convenient but there’s nothing like being able to hold your books.

That was a fun tag! I can’t wait to read yours so…

I’m tagging Mellanie of Noshelfcontroll

Melissa of MelissasBookworld

Des of Des’ Random Thoughts

And of course anyone else who wants to do the tag. Thanks for reading and hope you have a wonderful day!

Sincerely Karen Jo

Review

Hickville Redemption

(Hickville High #3)

Mary Karlik

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4.5  – Fantastic Teen Mystery
Published by GPK Publication July 16, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Pages: Kindle 256
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A 30 year old mystery…
A 15 year old sleuth.

Freshman Mackenzie Quinn wants nothing to do with the mysterious death of Cassidy Jones. But when her crush, Braden McGuire, declares he’s determined to uncover the truth, she is drawn into the cold case. The problem is her dad is the number one suspect. Things look pretty hopeless until her best friend, Travis Barns, loans her the secret diary of Cassidy Jones. His only stipulation is that she not share it with anybody else. But when her jealous boyfriend finds and exposes the diary, secrets come to life that could ruin MacKenzie’s whole family.

Can she find a way to clear her father’s name and atone for her own mistakes before it’s too late?

I didn’t expect to love this as much as I do. Hickville Redemption by Mary Karlik is a fun and exciting read. I haven’t read the others in the series and I don’t think you have to in order to read this one. Actually, I think this book is absolutely fantastic as a standalone. I swooned, I laughed, I cried… Those pretty much seals the deal for me.

The story started out a bit slow, but once I got into it, I honestly could not stop reading. There’s plenty of intrigue, drama, mystery and excitement. I love Karlick’s writing style. It’s simple and easy to read, but definitely not lackluster. I could easily picture myself as a character in the story piecing together clues to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of Cassidy Jones. And I loved it. I thought the mystery part was really interesting – not mind bending holy cow that was super awesome, but pretty darn good. I enjoyed the drama too. It felt realistic and reminded me so much of my high school days.

I immediately fell in love Kenzie. Teenage me and probably a little of the adult me can relate to her in so many ways. She’s an introvert and takes a while to warm up to people. She feels uncomfortable in group settings so she doesn’t talk much – yup totally teenage me and at times adult me too. She prefers to observe and listen rather than participate – yup that is so me. I definitely felt for her and could sympathize with her whenever she was thrown into situations she didn’t want to be in. BUT, even though she’s shy, she doesn’t let that stop her from doing the things she loves. She also doesn’t think that her quiet personality is something that needs to be fixed or that she’s a puzzle that needs to be solved – I loved that about her.

Travis is kind and sweet and absolutely adorable. He’s caring and considerate. I love how protective he is of Kenzie, but still gives her space… he’s just an overall good guy. But I have to mention that while I was reading, he frustrated me a little. Not in the bad way though. In Tagalog there’s a word “gigil” and that’s exactly how I felt. I guess it’s like – oh he’s so cute and I totally understand his reasons for doing or not doing something… heck that’s also the reason why he’s so lovable and really I respect him I do, but at the same time I want to pinch him and push him to act differently then maybe this would happen and that won’t happen and…

And that got me really thinking… I love drama in books. When it makes sense and flows well with the story, then by all means give me! Travis and Kenzie together equals awesome friendship, amazing chemistry, swoony kisses, and crazy drama! I also really LOVED the parts when Kenzie would read Cassidy’s diary. It was heartbreaking, but that definitely made the story more intriguing. The only part that really irks me is the ending… it felt rushed. There was all this build-up so I was expecting something drastic at the end, but it just finished in a not so exciting way.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hickville Redemption and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun YA mystery with an intriguing storyline, relatable characters, realistic drama, and sweet romance.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author and Xpresso Book Tours via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Follow / Connect with Mary Karlik: Website/ InstagramTwitter / Facebook

Thanks for reading lovelies!

Sincerely Karen Jo

Book Birthday

Happiest Book Birthday to Ferocious by Paula Stokes!

Ferocious

(Vicarious #2)

Paula Stokes

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Published by Tor Teen August 15, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult, Sci-fi, Contemporary
Pages: Hardcover 352
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Paula Stokes returns to the world of Vicarious in this sequel, a high-action psychological thriller with a protagonist out for vengeance.

When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter―finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.

Things get increasingly dangerous once Winter arrives in Seoul. Aided by her friends Jesse and Sebastian, Winter attempts to infiltrate an international corporation to get close to her target, a nefarious businessman named Kyung. But keeping her last remaining loved ones out of the line of fire proves difficult, and when all seems to be lost, Winter must face one last devastating decision: is revenge worth sacrificing everything for? Or can she find a spark of hope in the darkness that threatens to engulf her?

I just finished Vicarious yesterday and absolutely LOVE it! I don’t have a review written just yet because I couldn’t sleep without continuing the series. I’m halfway done with Ferocious and it’s even better. Vicarious is absolutely a 5 star read for me and with how AHHHMAAZING everything is going so far with Ferocious, I have a very good feeling it’s going to be 5+ stars.

I fell in love with Paula Stokes’ writing last year when I read Girl Against the Universe. That one is cute, adorable and a lot of fun. Vicarious and Ferocious is definitely not cute or adorable, but the storytelling is as captivating as GATU. And let me just say one more thing… I’m now on a mission to read everything Paula writes!

Sincerely Karen Jo

 

Review

The Crowns of Croswald

(The Croswald Series #1)

D.E. Night

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5★ – Magical and Mesmerizing
Published by Stories Untold Press July 21, 2017
Genre(s): Fantasy, Middle-Grade, Adventure
Pages: Kindle Edition 320
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In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…
For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

D.E. Night’s debut novel, The Crowns of Croswald, is a beautifully written fantasy story full of exciting adventure, magical creatures, and engaging characters. While some parts felt familiar and reminiscent of Harry Potter, I thought the author does wonderfully at creating a world that is different and a story that is unique in its own magnificent way.

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The description of the world in this book is just amazing – breathtakingly rich and so detailed that I felt like I was in Croswald myself. I don’t want to give you more than that because you need to experience it for yourself… But even if I did, I just don’t think there are enough words to describe how beautiful the world is… Just know that Croswald is whimsical, fascinating and undeniably one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to.

Night’s writing is gorgeous and captivating. She creates just enough intrigue and mystery to pull you in until you’re completely drawn to the story and the characters. I was absolutely entertained and mesmerized that I didn’t even realize when I was almost done with the book. The plot is fast-paced, thrilling and filled with fun surprises and hilarious mishaps that kept me turning the pages. I love the characters in this book. They’re quirky, witty and full of spunk. I adore Ivy with all my heart and can’t wait to find out more about her and her friends. While this book is written for the middle-age group, I definitely think anyone who loves adventure and magic would enjoy it. I most certainly did!

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Full of charming creatures, magical potions, secret doors, enchanted objects, delicious pies, badass characters, and a crazy evil villain, Night without a doubt has crafted one marvelous adventure for readers of all ages. Her writing is impressive and moving. The world building is exquisite and enchanting. The story is creative, intriguing and comes to life so effortlessly. The Crowns of Croswald is such a fun delightful debut novel. I cannot wait to continue Ivy’s adventure and be part of this world again.

If you’re looking for a fantastic exciting new series, then I absolutely recommend you pick this up ASAP. I’m positive you’ll enjoy this book and gobble it up like a delicious blueberry pie.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author and publisher in exchange for a fair review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Follow / Connect D.E. Night: Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Thanks for reading and hope you have a magical day!

Sincerely Karen Jo

Review

Mr. 60%

Clete Barrett Smith

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2.75 / 3★ – Not Bad, But Not Amazing
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers August 22, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: Hardcover 192
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Matt Nolan is the high school drug dealer, deadbeat, and soon-to-be dropout according to everyone at his school. His vice principal is counting down the days until Mr. 60% (aka Matt) finally flunks out and is no longer his problem. What no one knows is the only reason Matt sells drugs is to take care of his uncle Jack, who is dying of cancer.
Meet Amanda. The overly cheerful social outcast whose optimism makes Matt want to hurl. Stuck as partners during an after-school club (mandatory for Matt), it’s only a matter of time until Amanda discovers Matt’s secret. But Amanda is used to dealing with heartbreak, and she’s determined to help Matt find a way to give life 100 percent.

I had such high expectations for this book. The title, Mr. 60%, was the first thing that got my attention. Then I read the premise – it sounded interesting, gritty, and heart-wrenching. I couldn’t wait to finally get into it and was seriously looking forward to “ALL THE FEELS.” Sadly… I ended up having a lot of mixed feelings. There were some good things about this book, but it just didn’t WOW me like I thought it would.

My main problem with this book is the characters. I had such a difficult time connecting with the characters. I like Amanda a lot in the beginning. She’s an outcast, but always so happy and bubbly. She doesn’t let anything or anyone stop her from doing what she loves. Even when she’s rejected and hurt, she still finds a way to keep going. I admired that about her. BUT halfway through… there was just something off about her. I can’t pinpoint what it was, but she came off maybe way too optimistic? I did like Matt but I just didn’t care all that much about him. I don’t know why… I mean I feel like I should. His life is such a big mess. Everyone thinks he won’t succeed. He has to resort to selling drugs just to keep up with bills and medical expenses. Then there’s his uncle, Jack, whose condition is never going to get better and you know the worst is coming at any moment. It’s completely depressing and I’m such an emotional person I should have felt “IT.” I can watch a show halfway through or know nothing about it, but when I see a heartbreaking situation where the characters are crying… I almost always will tear up. This type of stories hit me hard… BUT UGHHHHH this one didn’t.

The plot had potential.. a lot of it, but it just kind of felt flat for me. Cancer is a very sensitive issue. Like I said, I was hoping for that FEELS and barely got any. The writing was just okay for me. I did like that the book was easy to read. I breezed through it in less than 24 hours and couldn’t put it down. That’s a good thing… I think. Or maybe, I just kept going because I was looking for something more. It also felt like the storytelling was missing something. I don’t know… I’m honestly kicking myself right now because I can’t wrap my mind around why this book did not work for me. Oh and that ending…don’t even get me started. It felt rushed and unfinished. I thought there was an epilogue or something, but nope. It was seriously so frustrating.

As disappointing as this was for me, there were a few things I did really like – the relationships, the humor, and the title. I like Matt’s relationship with Jack and I thought it was really admirable what Matt was doing for his uncle. They bickered a lot, but you can tell how deeply they cared about each other. I also really like that Matt and Amanda stayed friends throughout the story. I’m usually all for romance and thought Matt and Amanda are just great for each other, but it’s nice to see boy-girl platonic relationships cause YES boys and girls do not always have to have romantic feelings for each other. Boys and girls can be best friends and just that. I also really enjoyed the sense of humor in this book. The bantering between Matt, Jack and Amanda was refreshing, amusing and endearing. That was definitely a big plus! And the title… I just really love the title. Matt is called “Mr. 60%” for a reason… it’s quite sad really, but I thought it was pretty clever.

Overall, I don’t dislike this book, but it definitely did not work for me. I think that Mr. 60% by Clete Barrett Smith is a decent story with the potential to be amazing and is probably that to other readers, but it just felt dull for me. Maybe I just went into this expecting to feel something and when I didn’t, I ended up being so disappointed that I couldn’t relate to the characters and story anymore. At least I didn’t DNF it and some parts were entertaining.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sincerely Karen Jo