ARC Review: Ride On by Gwen Cole

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

35804615Ride On by Gwen Cole
Release date: May 22nd, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Young adult, dystopian
Format: eBook

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The law can’t help her. But one outlaw can.

In the near post-apocalyptic future, the skies are always gray and people are constantly searching for the sun. For teenage outlaw Seph, it’s the only world he’s ever known. With his horse, his favorite pistol, and his knowledge for survival passed down from his dead father, Seph knows it’s safer to be alone. But after a run-in with a local gang that call themselves the Lawmen, and having been wrongly accused of murder, Seph teams up with Avery—a determined girl whose twin brother has been taken by the same gang.

After living in a small, rundown town her whole life, Avery knows nothing of the Wild—the lands controlled by nobody where travel is risky. With Seph’s help, they track down her brother but quickly find the tables have turned and they are now the ones being hunted. With rumors of mysterious dangers to the south and a safe sanctuary to the west, they’ve only got one option, but getting there won’t be easy with the Lawmen on their trail. The only thing that matters in the Wild is how fast your trigger hand is, but Seph doesn’t know if his will be fast enough to save them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gwen Cole’s debut novel, Cold Summer, and couldn’t wait to start this one. I nearly missed it on NetGalley and consider myself quite lucky to have been able to read it early. This is a book that you really need to read! It was full of surprises, action and drama.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I went into it. The cover isn’t that imaginative (this book deserves better) made me think it would be a straight up Western (no, I didn’t read the description which clearly stated that it was based in a “near post-apocalyptic future”). However, the book was so much more as it was a wonderful blend of the two genres…dark, moody and dangerous. I was automatically hooked from the first page. I particularly enjoyed the gunfights (you’ll be unable to stop reading) and how the chapters alternated between characters, providing a unique glimpse into Cole’s dystopian world.

What I loved most were the characters, something I think Cole does very well. They were so real and I felt deeply connected with the book’s leads, Steph and Avery. Here, like in her debut, Cole is able to craft complex characters. Nothing is straightforward, black or white. The characters have to make difficult choices and are often haunted by the things that they have done. Oh, and there is a romance, but it was honestly adorable. A nice little addition that didn’t take over the entire story. It felt organic and natural, not forced and instant like so many romances seem to be in YA.

Another standout aspect of Ride On was the setting. The world was slowly revealed as the book progressed and not fully laid out in the first chapter. Nothing was just given away and there certainly were no information dumps. Like the characters, everything felt like it was explained at the right time. The book wonderfully walked the fine line between descriptive passages and oversharing. As a result, the world truly came to life for me. I could see myself riding a horse in a grey and dusty world or opposing riders chasing after me through a dilapidated town made out of scrap metal and mismatched pieces of wood. My imagination ran wild with this story and I absolutely enjoyed every second of it!

Cole has honestly become one of my favourite new authors. I can’t wait to see what she releases next!


About the Author

1080169Gwen Cole grew up in upstate New York and then moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college. Instead she played bass guitar in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She enjoys large jigsaw puzzles, playing Xbox and softball, and watching movies. Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.

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Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

34726469Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Release date: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Format: eBook

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OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

The cover is what initially pulled me in. LOOK AT IT! Dark, mysterious, badass female warrior. How could I not want to read it? I without even reading its description requested it on NetGalley. Once I was approved I started it right away. I was beyond excited but the first chapter worried me. It was a bit slow and I felt disconnected from it. However, I didn’t let it stop me and I’m so happy that I pushed on because it surprised me in so many ways.

The book is heavily inspired and influenced by Viking mythology. From that alone the reader should be prepared for scenes of violence and this book has tons of them! But don’t let that turn you off because it has a fantastic balance between scenes featuring violence and beautifully written passages that deeply explore human emotions and bonds. This is what I think the author did best. I cheered when the book’s protagonist Eelyn went into battle. She was fierce and treated her enemies without mercy. I felt like I was right there swinging an axe alongside her, blood spraying everywhere…it was exhilarating! This types of scenes were placed in between scenes where the author examined Eelyn’s emotional state. She starts out in so much pain, her anger eating away at her. It hurt my heart but the development…it was so well done. It was gradual and not without a few bumps along the way. It felt honest and true to real life.

I loved how this is a standalone novel. So many books now belong to a trilogy or series, which is great, but sometimes that’s bit of a commitment. However, standalones also come with their own pitfalls. They are sometimes rushes and with too convenient endings. This book was well paced and ended in a satisfying way that didn’t feel like the author was just trying to end it. This is most definitely a book that all fantasy lovers need to read! And…..it looks like a companion novel will be released in 2019!!!!! *jumps up and down* I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

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About the Author

16640489Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

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Blog Tour: With Love, Ella by Alexa Randolph

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WLEWith Love, Ella by Alexa Randolph
Release date: December 12th, 2017
Genres: Adult fiction, contemporary

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Ella Chambers is basking in her success as a sought-after New York party planner when she gets her dream job: planning her own wedding to her long-time boyfriend Daniel Collins, a professional football player.

Sadly, amid planning her own nuptials, Ella gets some devastating news that turns her life inside out. Will she and her fiancé finally make it down the aisle, or will tragedy get in the way?


Book Excerpt:

Ella looked around at the surprise location.

“The beach? I didn’t bring a swimsuit.”

Daniel laughed. “Don’t worry babe, you won’t need one. We aren’t going swimming.”

They walked from the car to beach laughing and stealing kisses the whole time. Ella had stopped in her tracks suddenly with Daniel right behind her.

“Oh Daniel, this is beautiful. I can’t believe you did this for me.”

Ella look around to see a beautifully set table with a light pink tablecloth, and pink and white rose petals scattered on the table and on the sand by their table. There were little floating candles on the table. It looked magical. Ella had tears in her eyes. Daniel was always thinking about her and going out of his way for her. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was. She was blown away, but still, In the back of her mind, she was nervous about his reaction to her news.

“You are truly one of a kind, Daniel Collins. This means so much to me,” Ella said through the tears.

Daniel pulled her to him and kissed her before pulling out her seat and pushing her in. He took off the tops of the food containers at their seat and poured the wine.

“This food smells and looks amazing,” Ella said. “Well, it’s your favorite meal from the club.” “Who can resist Scott’s spaghetti and meatballs?” “No one with taste.”

They spent the rest of dinner catching up and enjoying each other’s company. Ella noticed that Daniel was starting to get fidgety and had a nervous energy. She held his hand and smiled at him. He kissed her hand and held them tight.

“Ella, you have always been my best friend and for the past six years, I have been lucky enough to call you the love of my life. We may fight at times, but I know that I could never be without you by my side. Words could never describe how much you mean to me. You are the reason I wake up in the morning and the reason I never want to go to sleep at night. When I think about my future the only thing that I know for sure is how much I need you in it. You are my everything.”

He grabbed a box out of his pocket and got down on one knee. He looked her right in the eyes and said, “Will you do the honor of making me the happiest guy in the world and be my wife?” Ella was shocked. She shouldn’t have been surprised, as this had been a long time coming. But still, she didn’t think it would happen now when her life had just fallen apart. Tears formed in Ella’s eyes.

“I…uh…I need a minute.” Ella said before slipping her heels off and taking off down the beach.

Daniel couldn’t even think straight. He had no idea what had happened. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. They were supposed to be on their way back to their house to make passionate “we are engaged” sex, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen.

Ella kept running down the beach until she couldn’t anymore. She knew she had to tell him what was wrong, but she hadn’t wanted to ruin the night, but it looked like either way it was ruined. She wanted to say yes, but she still had to come out with her news first. She decided to go back and hope he wouldn’t hate her. She walked back toward the table as slow as possible, trying to think of how to say it. She got back to the table and saw Daniel with his head in his hands.

“Um, Daniel? Can I talk to you for a minute?” Ella asked. Daniel looked up with tears in his eyes.

“Are we breaking up?”

“I hope not, but it depends on if you can handle what I have to say.”


About the Author:

Alexa_Alexa Randolph is a professional events planner, just like her main character, Ella Chambers, in her debut novel, With Love, Ella. “I loved getting to know the characters and seeing their relationships unfold,” Alexa says of her women’s fiction novel. “My heart hurt when theirs did, and I felt like I was a part of their world.” When she’s not planning and overseeing all the little details required to ensure an event is a success, Alexa focuses on her own passion: writing. You can find her typing away at the keyboard, crafting romantic short stories or dreaming up characters and plots. Or you may catch her writing sweet little notes on beautiful cards to her family and friends. Not surprisingly, Alexa also loves to read the types of stories she writes, and is especially fond of John Greene and romance novelist Nicholas Sparks. Alexa is a 2016 graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communications.

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Giveaway:

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. It is open to residents of the United States and Canada only. One winner will receive a signed copy of With Love, Ella. Good luck!

Blog Tour: Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

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SSSuitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey
Release date: April 17th, 2018
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genres: Historical fiction, romance, young adult

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Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this cheeky Regency romance from the author of Love, Lies and Spiesand Duels & Deception.

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .


Book Excerpt:

The young gentleman hooked her hand and with little fuss tucked it in place as if he took the arm of young ladies every day—which she supposed he did, being as he had been in London for the Season. Oh dear, and now he was walking. Imogene tried to match his pace, saw him look over with a friendly smile and then, suddenly, their gait was in harmony. The awkwardness of their promenade disappeared and Imogene sighed in relief—and then worried that he had heard it.

But if he had, Benjamin Steeple showed no sign, merely led them to the blanket by the moat. Jasper trotted happily in their wake. He assisted Emily as she gracefully reclined beside the basket. 

“Yes, I believe the old castle was built in the Elizabethan era.” Emily returned to the question at hand, glancing toward Imogene for a sign.

Imogene nodded and Emily smiled. “Yes, Elizabethan.” It was a brilliant smile, well executed: spontaneous, friendly and slightly sassy. 

Imogene thought Emily had pulled it off with great aplomb but when she looked to see how it was received, she noted that Mr. Benjamin was not looking in Emily’s direction. He was still studying the ruin. 

With a shake of his head, Mr. Benjamin turned to face them; silence reigned for eons—perhaps a moment or two—and then Emily and Benjamin Steeple began to speak at the same time.

Laughing at their folly, Emily indicated that Mr. Benjamin should go ahead.

“I apologize, again, for disturbing you. I will leave you to your…” he glanced at the basket. “To your al fresco meal.”

“Oh no, Mr. Steeple, don’t go. There is no need.” Emily sounded amused. “It is just a spot of tea… without the tea, to see us through until dinner. We have plenty to spare if you would care to join us.”

Mr. Benjamin’s brow folded for the merest second and then he nodded. “Thank you. So very kind, however, before I do, I might take a wander around this fine building.” He looked over his shoulder almost wistfully.

“Of course.” Imogene surprised Emily by answering before her. Imogene wanted to say more, though—warn him about the decay and less than steady walls. And it would seem that Emily had forgotten about the danger, for her friend silently gestured toward the castle with a bright smile.

Taking full advantage of the offer, Benjamin Steeple swiveled and quickly crossed the old cobbled courtyard to the crumbling great hall.

“Emily,” Imogene whispered, “warn him—about the hazards.”

With a jerk of realization, Emily called, “Stop, Mr. Steeple, please. The floor is weak in the center and the wall rickety. Best go round the other way. Yes, there is a path that goes around the back…” Emily snorted a laugh and dropped her voice. “Well, I guess he found it.” Benjamin Steeple had disappeared around the corner of the south tower with a casual wave, Jasper scurrying after him. “Methinks the gentleman likes your… ruins.”


About the Author:

CindyWhenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Suitors and Sabotage is her third novel.

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Giveaway:

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. It is open to residents of the United States and Canada only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Suitors and Sabotage. Good luck!

 

Blogging Update…

December Wrap UpHello everyone! I’ve been pretty absent lately and haven’t been posting here or on social media. Life has been pretty hectic lately and I’ve sadly not had time to post. Between work, family commitments and pregnancy I’ve been exhausted and under the weather. It breaks my heart that there just hasn’t been time to post here. I started this blog over 2 years ago and have worked very hard to ensure that I posted often. I’ve met so many wonderful people through blogging…it’s been a wonderful experience!

Basically, I’m going to be taking another extended break. I may post every so often as a read and have time but I do plan on returning to blogging in a few months once things calm down a bit. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your love and support!

I will still be posting about books on Twitter and Goodreads, so feel free to follow me there.