Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney Review and Giveaway!

Black Dawn
Mallory McCartney
Published by: Clean Reads Publishing
Publication date: February 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult

The end of an Empire. The rise of a Queen.”

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life that is until two mysterious, and dare I say handsome soldiers show up at her apartment doorstep and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Coming from the magical and ravaged world of Kiero, Emory is brought back not realizing that both men are darkly woven in her past. Discovering she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line Emory is thrown into Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne. With both lives clashing Emory uncovers hidden secrets from her past, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble


Review: 

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s pretty short at less than 200 pages so with the length and quick pace it was a pretty fast read for me. The premise really intrigued me because it’s basically every young girl’s fantasy, lol. A young woman in her 20’s is swept away with two hulking handsome strangers to a world where she is supposedly the princess and needs to help save the entire world? Uh-yes please! 

Emory was a very likable protagonist to me. She wasn’t some dim witted girl who trusted a guy just because he was smoking hot. She also wasn’t a bitter spinster who was jaded to the world and refused to believe what was right before her. I also really liked Memphis and Brokk, with each posessing a hint of vulnerability and loads of charm to make loving each one easy.

I would say the only thing that I didn’t love in this book was how often the POVs changed and that sometimes I forgot who I was reading about. Other than that I really enjoyed this book and would read more from this author based on my experience with Black Dawn. 

Rating:


Author Bio:

Mallory McCartney currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their two dachshunds Link and Lola. Black Dawn is her debut novel, the first in a series. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found dog grooming, book shopping and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Scythe of Darkness by Dawn Husted

Title: Scythe of Darkness
Author: Dawn Husted
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook, ARC provided by author
Description
(Source: Amazon):

 

For Mia Hieskety, surviving high school meant focusing on exams and avoiding stupid parties. After breaking up with the only boyfriend she ever had, dating was off the agenda. That is, until Thanatos came along. Inexplicably drawn to Thanatos, she’s determined to find out who he is and why he insists on wearing gloves to school. Something is off about him. And it’s as if she can feel him when he’s near. Without warning, she’s thrust into a sinister world and discovers a truth that she never expected. When a supernatural connection puts Mia’s life at risk, she doesn’t know who to trust—especially Thanatos. But what if she’s in love with him?”


Okay, so first I need to apologize to the Author. The author so generously provided me with this book as an ARC, but with my recent health problems I have gotten so far behind all my posts and reviews. I’ve actually read about 12 books and haven’t written a single review in the last month about them because I’ve been feeling so sick. I do not see this changing for at least another month, so please bear with me if you follow my blog. I may have a little announcement in the next few weeks 😉 . 

Review:

Alright, onto the book. Scythe of Darkness is about Mia, a teenage girl who was abducted (and escaped) when she was a little girl. Mia is a relatively normal girl, despite her traumatic past. Mia runs into (literally) a boy named Thanatos with whom she shares an immediate and intense connection with. As you can probably tell from that last sentence, this is an insta-love story. It’s well done, but if you’re not into that you should know now. 🙂 Shortly after meeting Thanatos Mia’s world is turned upside down. Thanatos and his family are not what they seem and Mia discovers that she has been the center of a sinister play for power for years. 

The book itself was well written and kept a pace that moved quickly, but not rushed. I really enjoyed the writing style and the development of Mia and Thanatos. I’m hoping for even more character development from Mia’s character in the next book, because that ending left room for a lot of growth from Mia!

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:

That. Ending. 😱😱😱😱😱


Chance at Redemption by Samatha Harris Book Tour and Giveaway


Title: Chance at Redemption
Author: Samatha Harris
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Description (Source: Amazon):

Gwen Stevens had a privileged life until her father spoke three little words that turned her world upside down. “You’re cut off.”
Broke and desperate, Gwen is forced to accept a waitressing job, but this glimmer of hope has a price. As if being a cocktail waitress isn’t bad enough, she has to do it in a dive bar called The Den, and her bad luck doesn’t stop there. She also needs to deal with the new owner, a blue-eyed, self-righteous ass determined to make her life miserable.

Liam Sinclair walked away from the entitlement and obligation his family planned for him, vowing to make his own way in the world…

Adjusting to life as a new business owner, Liam has experienced more than his fair share of setbacks. When his only waitress breaks her leg, his sister takes it upon herself to hire a replacement—a spoiled, self-indulgent hothead with too much makeup and more than enough attitude. Gwen represents the world he’s trying to escape, a world of excess and greed that he was never cut out for.

Appearances can be deceiving, and first impressions aren’t always right…

Despite their apparent differences, the tension between them turns to a fiery passion that neither of them can resist. Together they find balance and learn to appreciate the simpler things in life. But Gwen soon discovers that old habits die hard, and one mistake is all it takes to ruin everything.

Forgiveness must be earned, but even a villain deserves a chance at redemption…


Review:

I think I should note that I have not read the first two books in the Madison Square Series, so I think my view on Gwen is different than people who read the first two and saw her as a “villain”. We learn a diluted version about the kinds of things Gwen did to the other people in the series in the past, but since I wasn’t emotionally invested in the first two couples I think I saw Gwen with a less biased eye. I’ve read reviews stating that they would have liked the book if it would have been anyone but Gwen because they didn’t believe that Gwen deserved redemption, so I’m actually glad that I haven’t read the first two now. 🙂

The story starts right away with Gwen getting “cut off” from her rich dad. Gwen’s internal dialogue is pretty nasty–making fun of a “fat lady”, poor people, etc. What you would expect from a spoiled brat of a twenty-something that has never actually done anything for herself.

After Gwen is cut off she makes some terrible choices, which eventually lead to her landing a job working at Liam Sinclair’s bar. Liam is great, and basically a dream guy. Responsible, sweet, funny, and a heart for helping people. 

The first half of the novel takes place over a period of a few months, which really allowed for a strong and steady connection between Liam and Gwen, thus making the romance more of a slow burn. 

This book was a very enjoyable read for me, capturing my attention immediately and keeping me engaged until the end. Both Liam and Gwen were likable (again, probably because I didn’t read the first two) and I genuinely cared about what happened to their characters. I’m not sure if I will go back and read the first two books, not because I didn’t enjoy the book, but because I am scared I will ruin my love for Gwen, lol. I will definitely read future books from this author though. 

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:
–Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it for anyone who loves a redemption story. 
– If you have Kindle Unlimited, It’s included in the program! If not, I highly suggest you get it. I can’t tell you how many great books I have found through Unlimited. Click below to join!

I received this book as part of my participation in a blog tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The gifting of this ebook did not affect my opinion of it.


Click here to see the rest of the book tour over at Xpresso Blog Tours!


Author Bio:

Samatha “Sam” Harris lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband David and daughter Ava. Born in Florida, she migrated north which most people agree was a little backwards. She has been an artist all of her life, a Tattoo Artist for more than ten years, and a storyteller since she was a kid.
Sam has a slightly unhealthy love for Frank Sinatra, classic movies, and Jazz and Blues music, but her first love will always be reading. From Romance, to Thrillers, to Historical Fiction and everything in between, she loves to become a part of the story. As a writer she tells the stories that she would want to read.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Ensnared by Rita Stradling

Title: Ensnared
Author: Rita Stradling
Genre: NA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Format: eARC provided by NetGalley
Description (Source: NetGalley):

Ensnared by [Stradling, Rita]

A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake. Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five-year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.


Today is Ensnared Release day! It was supposed to be in December, but it was pushed up 🙂
Review:

I did another review on this author back in February of this year (Making Bad Choices) and really enjoy her writing.

Ensnared is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast set in the future. Robots have become a part of everyday life in this new future, where they work as policeman, nurses, and even companions. It’s pretty creepy.  Alainn is a strong protagonist and I like pretty much everything about her. She is 24, which is nice because I like a little older (LOL “older! I’m 30😂😂) characters. She has had time to experience life and see what else is out there before falling in love with Lor. Alainn had been through a horrifying experience when she was only 17, which only strengthened the depth of her character. Overall, Alainn is caring, adventurous, witty, and fun to read.  The romance between Alainn and Lor was more of a slow burn than an inferno, making it more realistic and believable. The love between Alainn and Lor seemed genuine and lasting. There weren’t a lot of sexy scenes, but the few there were were well done. Somewhat graphic, but not vulgar. I would say appropriate for 16+.

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:
–  This was a very quick read and captured my interest within the first chapter. Like the last book I read from her, Making Bad Choices, it is a great book to read if you have an open afternoon and need a book to get your mind off things, without having to concentrate too hard on keeping up with the plot or characters.


TLDR; Well-done retelling of Beauty and the Beast packed with romance, courage, and compassion. I’ll be on the lookout for more from this author.


Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Format: eArc, provided by NetGalley
Description (Source: Amazon):

Defy the Stars by [Gray, Claudia]

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything–including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.”


Overall Assessment:
Defy the Stars is a great read that’s full of action, suspense, and love (both romantic and love of humanity).
The book’s opening line draws you in immediately:

In three weeks, Neomi Vidal will die–here, in this very place. Today is just practice. “

Right away we learn that Noemi is training on a (literal) suicide mission to help save her planet (Genesis) from an Earth 300 years in the future. Earth has depleted the resources available to it and has started to colonize other planets. Genesis attempted to break away from Earth about 30 years prior to the beginning of Defy the Stars, but Earth has recently redoubled it’s effort to reclaim their planetary salvation. The people of Genesis resist, because they know that Earth will ruin Genesis like they did their own planet. 

When a training exercise goes awry, Noemi ends up on an abandoned Earth ship from 30 years ago with a snarky advanced AI (Abel) who is bound to obey her by an unexpected oversight to his programming . Noemi finds that Abel may hold the secret to saving her planet, thus propelling them on an adventure through wormholes, other planets, and finally: Earth. 

It took me a couple chapters to get into it, but once the action starts it’s pretty much non-stop. I really enjoyed the book, save for the last little bit (read more about that below). 


Rating:
 

What I liked:
– Noemi was strong, independent, and skilled. She also knew when to forgo her pride and let someone else take over when needed. This is a big bonus for me in a character, as I find arrogant characters insufferable (*cough* Aelin Ashryver Galathynius *cough*).
– I loved being able to see into Abel’s mind. His revelations at his own transformation were really interesting to read. His growing sense of humor made me chuckle more than once. Abel was hands down my favorite character in this book. 

At some point Abel will have to analyze whether he has developed the capacity for passive aggression.”

^^I’m a queen of passive aggression, so this made me LOL.^^

– Okay, so this one is kind of silly, but I really liked having names in a YA sci-fi that I could actually pronounce. There were a couple names that were more unique, but nothing like some of the high fantasy or dystopian names you see. Adding the comic below, because “Wicker Basket” gets me every time. 😂😂😂

Related image

What I didn’t like:
– Okay, so I got ahead of myself and wrote out this section before I saw that this will be at least a duology….but I’m going to leave it to show how strongly I felt after finishing it, lol. In reality, there were no real cliffhangers (which I don’t mind, as long as I know they will eventually be resolved), but rather a lack of closure. 

The ending. I know a lot of people will really like it, but I hated it. Most of the book was great, but I realized at about 95% completion that there was not enough time to end it in a way I liked. The lack of closure ended on a sour note for me, but the rest of the book was really good. I still recommend it, but cautiously. If you don’t mind an ending where the story isn’t wrapped up all neat and pretty you should definitely read this book. I however, prefer the “wrapped up neat and pretty” kinds. 

–  lol see? strong feelings about it.
– The only other thing that somewhat brought the rating down was the use of a few predictable tropes, but these are found so often in YA and sci-fi that they can be easily looked past. 

Final Thoughts:
– Honestly, I probably would have rated it 3.5/5 stars if it was a standalone. I’m glad it’s not though so I happily give it 4/5 (maybe even closer to 4.5/5) stars. 


Confess by Colleen Hoover

Title: Confess
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Description (Source: Amazon):

Confess

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…”


Overall Assessment:
This is the second Colleen Hoover I have read, and I devoured it in less than 24 hours. I enjoyed the first CoHo book I read (Hopeless), but not enough to want to go read everything she has written. However, Confess changed that. I absolutely adored this book! I’ve actually already finished another one of hers and will be posting that review soon. 🙂

The story starts with Auburn, our female protagonist, speaking with an attorney but the reader isn’t made aware of why until about 1/2 way through the book. It’s clear that the matter Auburn is discussing with the attorney is something that will take a lot more money than Auburn currently has. A defeated Auburn leaves the attorney’s office and notices a help wanted sign on an art studio. She is immediately drawn to the artist in the studio, the enigma that is Owen Gentry. 

Owen Gentry knows Auburn from her past, but neither she nor the reader knows how or why. Seeing her again makes him believe in fate, and he knows that he has to have her. Unfortunately – life, in the form of misunderstandings, loyalty to family, and bad luck interfere Owen and Auburn’s love story. 

As with most CoHo books, this story is told from both of the protagonist’s POV. This is probably one of my favorite things about her books, as I love the in depth look into both the character’s heads. 

Another great thing about this book is that Colleen Hoover had some paintings commissioned just for this book! I love that it adds to the reader’s experience. The art is absolutely beautiful, and I’ll probably be buying a couple prints from her shop. These are a few of the paintings by the very talented Danny O’Connor as supplements to the book. Click on each painting to be brought to Colleen Hoover’s page to purchase the prints. 

     

Rating:

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Contemporary YA
Format: Paperback
Description (Source: Amazon):

Risk everything . . . for love.
What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face . . . or kiss the boy next door? In Everything, Everything, Maddy is a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly is the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


I’ve Read many more books than you. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve read. I’ve read more. Believe me. I’ve had the time.”

Overall Assessment:
What a great first line! Definitely one of my favorite openers into a book. Everything, Everything is about Madeline, a girl who was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID. It pretty much means she’s allergic to everything. The book starts right before Madeline’s 18th birthday. Because of her SCID she is forced to spend her days locked in her specialized house with only her mother and a nurse, Carla, for company. Madeline seems somewhat content in this existence until a new boy, Olly, moves in next door. Madeline’s world shifts in a quick and dramatic way as she gets to know Olly. 

I really enjoyed this book. It’s written in a unique way because the “chapters” are short, and the written entries are supplemented with Madeline’s diagrams, diary entries, pictures, emails, and doodles. The book moved fast and was easy to read. I connected with Madeline and Olly fairly quickly, and enjoyed watching their relationship blossom. 

  

Rating:

 

What I didn’t like:
– A little predictable. I kind of saw the twist coming, but it was still good.  

– The ending felt really rushed! I wish we could have had an epilogue or something to help wrap things up a little. I’m not a fan when a book has a huge reveal at the end and then rushes the conclusion. I would have liked more closure and more info on what happened to Madeline.
– I didn’t like how easily Carla seemed to disregard Madeline’s health. Once I figured out what the plot twist was I understood a little better, but still. 

Final Thoughts:
– Overall it’s a good book and I still recommend it. I’m excited to see the movie! Have you seen the trailer? I’m posting it at the bottom in case you haven’t.


Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Empire of Storms
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audio, via Audible
Narrated by: Elizabeth Evans

As a reminder, I review sequels a little different from other reviews. I am going to hide the description from the main page so you will have to click “Read More” due to potential spoilers from previous books in the description or my review. 

Also, there is some swearing in this review….just be warned. 

See my reviews for the other books in the series here:
–   The Assassin’s Blade
–   Throne of Glass
–   Crown of Midnight
–   Heir of Fire
–   Queen of Shadows —> I didn’t do one on my blog. It was my least favorite book and I would only rate it 3/5 stars. SJM turned Chaol into a complete asshole, which was so out of character for him IMO. I have some other issues with the book, but I’m not getting into them here. 

Rating:

 

Wires and Nerve: Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer

Title: Wires and Nerve: Volume 1
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover (self-purchased)
Description (Source: Amazon):

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new,action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold.When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter, and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Overall Assessment:
I’ve never actually read a graphic novel, so this was a first for me. Not knowing what to expect, it was pretty good. The illustrations weren’t quite what I was picturing (especially Wolf, yikes), but I’m sure we all have our own visions of what each character looks like in our head 🙂 . This is a much lighter book, containing a lot more humor and less serious situations than The Lunar Chronicles. 

Rating:

   

What I liked:
– Iko was great. She kept the sassiness we all love about her. 
–  While the majority of the story revolved around Iko, we still got to see all of our favorite characters from the Lunar Chronicles. I am putting some of my favorite scenes (?is that the correct terminology for Graphic novels, lol?). Iko is seriously awesome at kicking hybrid tail! 

      

What I didn’t:
– The Wolf illustrations irked me.

 

Final Thoughts:
– I know I’m in the minority here, but I’m going to be honest; AI’s and people hooking up skeeves me out a little. Idk, it’s creepy to me. 
– I’ll definitely be picking up the next one when it comes out next year, but I haven’t decided if graphic novels are for me not yet. I’m curious though, for people who do read graphic novels, how does this one compare?


Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audio, via Audible
Narrated by: Elizabeth Evans

As a reminder, I review sequels a little different from other reviews. I am going to hide the description from the main page so you will have to click “Read More” due to potential spoilers from previous books in the description or my review. 

See my reviews for the other books in the series here:
–   The Assassin’s Blade
–   Throne of Glass
–   Crown of Midnight

Rating: