BOOK REVIEW: Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

BOOK REVIEW: Garden of Thorns by Amber MitchellGarden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.

Let me start of by saying that overall this book was a ton of fun. The beginning (the first 30%) was SO GOOD. Seriously, I had no doubt I was going to rate this 5 stars. It was immediately gripping – I felt for the heroine so much and my heart just ached for her. Unfortunately it lost a bit of momentum for me – mostly because the heroine did WAY too much thinking about the love interest was amidst all the more important things going on. Regardless, the plot was really fun and I still recommend the book! 

Basically Rose is the ‘star performer’ of the Garden – a traveling burlesque full of girls who’ve been kidnapped/captured and forced into the rouse. It’s horribly sad and quite graphic how everything is written (in no way is it romanticized or glorified – but be aware.) The garden master keeps the girls in line by harming the ‘wilted’ girls – girls who are raised alongside of the performer girls. 

Anyway, after a horrific tragedy that I won’t mention, Rose realizes she must escape so that she can find a way to free the rest of the girls. During a performance in front of the emperor, she ends up taking someone hostage – not realizing he’s the ex prince and leader of a powerful rebellion. 

That all happens within the first few chapters so the book starts off VERY intense. 

Some of the highlights for me were the magic system (totally unique and looks super cool in my head) AND the book takes place in a fantasy nation that I believe was inspired by a mix of Japanese and Chinese cultures (I’m not an expert and I could be wrong but according to the terminology/descriptions, this is what it seemed like.) And Rayce, the former crown prince, was pretty much wonderful all around.

*Minor spoilers below – nothing big*

Rose ends up joining the rebellion, mostly because she wants to convince them to help rescue her friends. Things get pretty interesting as they are sent on missions. The pacing was really great all around. I also loved the fact that Rose’s secret was obvious and the author didn’t try to make it a big reveal. It was never meant to be a plot twist – she lets the reader piece it together it in Rose’s thoughts without a major ‘aha’ moment.

Let me be clear… this is a fantasy romance. It is the main focus (at least it is a semi slow burn). I’m not really one to complain about that if it’s done well – and even though I loved Rose as a character, I got reaaaally tired of her overanalyzing her feelings towards Rayce. Even amidst major scenes, she was thinking about him WAY too much. It didn’t even really line up with her character because she wasn’t petty or whiny at all. Some writing advice I received myself was to not ‘think too much for your reader’ and I believe this is what was happening here.

The whole ‘garden’ aspect was so unique (and heartbreaking). Mitchell’s storytelling was phenomenal and she definitely knows how to break your heart. While there were several creative elements, the main plot line wasn’t exactly anything new after the last 50% but I still enjoyed it. I’m glad I read it and I’d totally read another book by Amber Mitchell.

A Special Welcome To Our Newest Star-Crossed Lady!

Hi Guys!

I hope all is well. As you all know, my posts have been far and few between-It’s been torture for me to know I am reading all these amazing books but am just TOO TIRED to write the reviews they all deserve. But, as you all ALSO know, here soon it will all be worth it-Our baby girl is due March 28th and I couldn’t be more excited-so just stick with me guys, I WILL be back!

But this post isn’t about me…it’s about an amazing reviewer I met on Goodreads last year! Her name is Brittney and she is one of the sweetest, most sincere girls I’ve ever met. We text almost every day and she never ceases to make me laugh-even on my worst days. Her reviews are fun, thoughtful, and you can really tell just how much she loves reading all the books we know and love-and then some! Her passion shines through, both in person and on her reviews, and I couldn’t be happier that she wanted to contribute to making this blog the best it can be.

As you can see on her bio, she loves losing herself in the fantasy world-princes and castles and snarky men….I mean, it’s like she’s my long lost sister! But, even better than that, she LOVES a good bad boy. Seriously. More than once I will make her read a favorite series of mine that she has yet to devour, and I’ll think she will choose my guy…but almost always she picks that damned bad boy that I forget even exists….she’s quirky like that. 😛

So, without further adieu, I introduce the beautiful, Brittney!! I think you are all going to ADORE her.

Until another time, my lovelies <3

Chelsea

BOOK REVIEW – Death, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2) by Darynda Jones

BOOK REVIEW –  Death, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2) by Darynda JonesDeath, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2)
by Darynda Jones
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

***Spoilers from Death and the Girl Next Door***

The normal part of Lorelei MacAlister's life didn't just slip away quietly the day Jared Kovach came to town. Nope. The normal part of her life shattered. It exploded. It burst into a gazillion shards of fleeting light.

It went out with a bang.
Goodbye normal.
Hello dark and eerie.

While her best friend, Brooklyn, is focusing all of her energy on helping Lorelei hone her abilities, Lorelei is dealing with the reality that Satan's second in command has taken up residence inside her body. Oh, and the fact that she has a crush on the Angel of Death. But what a beautiful death it is. If those weren't bad enough, something sinister has come to town and it wants nothing more than to hear Lorelei's dying breath as it strangles it out of her. Thank goodness the gang has a supernatural champion. But what happens when the only being who can save them switches sides midstream? How can a group of misfits capture one of the most powerful beings ever created? And will they find out how to bring Jared back to them before it's too late?

Review:

***Spoilers from Death and the Girl Next Door***

With sarcasm, intriguing characters, a wonderful pace and some twists and turns, Death, Doom, and Detention made for a pleasant second installment.  While I still didn’t care for some of the characters *cough Glitch and the twins cough*, and I was saddened that Jared didn’t fill the pages nearly enough, it was still a fun book to read!

My vision blurred as hot tears pooled between my lashes.  I gazed straight ahead.  “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I whispered to myself.

This time around, Lorelei was struggling.  Bad.  First, she had Satan’s second in command, Mal as she refers to it lol, inside her body.  Second,  her bestie Brooklyn was making her practice her abilities at every single chance she could get.  And third, the one boy she was madly in love with, Jared aka The Angel of Death, turned their relationship into just a friendship.  At the request of her grandparents.  And while I loved what a huge role her grandparents played in the books, they were definitely hurting Lorelei with their decision.  It felt as though life couldn’t be worse.  Or could it?  Wellll, it did get worse.  Because there seemed to something hunting Lorelei, and someone switched sides midstream *break my heart won’t you!*.  

“I’m sorry I woke you up,” I said to him as my lids drifted down.
“You didn’t.” he looked out into the darkness.  “Something else did.”

With all of those pressing issues, there was a lot more action in this book!  And I’m grateful that there was more going on, because we didn’t get to spend as much time with Jared.  Oh, this made me heartbroken, because I loved him.  I wanted moments filled with chemistry and kisses, so I felt frustrated at times.  And it didn’t help that I could care less about Glitch or the twins.  When they were on the pages, I just wanted to scream give me Jared instead!  What can I say?  I get super attached to characters I love.  

I felt a sprinkle then, a drop of rain, and I knew everything I’d ever known was about to change.

Thankfully I enjoyed Lorelei, Brooklyn and Cameron, and we spent lots of time with them!  With new presences, a new ability, and a lot of unknowns, they constantly had to count on one another.  It was fun watching their trust and respect for each other grow.  Strong friendships for the win!  There’s also an element of who’s bad and who’s good thrown in throughout the book.  It didn’t feel as though they were safe around anyone.  Even the kids they went to high school with.  So I was always on edge wondering what was going to happen next.  So while yes, it was a fun book, I definitely struggled at times.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the final book flows a little bit differently, because I am nervous and excited to see how this series wraps up!

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
death and the girl next door darynda jones
Death and the Girl Next Door #1
Reviews:

Jen
death, doom and detention darynda jones
Death, Doom and Detention #2
Reviews:
Jen
death and the girl he loves darynda jones
Death, and the Girl He Loves #3

FRIDAY STARS – Your Weekly Must Knows 03/10/17

Friday Stars.13
Life:

This last week, the weather has been all over the place.  Typical Northern Nevada lol.  On Monday, I sent my oldest to school in snow clothes.  And by Wednesday, he didn’t even need a jacket.  It is so gorgeous right now!  While the upper 60’s doesn’t sound warm to this California native, it’s amazing how hot it feels!  Since we’re about a mile high, the moment you step outside you can feel the sun penetrating your face and body.  It’s the best feeling ever.  So the 60’s here, feels like the 70’s did back in California.  I’m so thankful we get to have a little reprieve from jackets and boots for now!  Here’s hoping you all got a reprieve from winter too!

And just a heads up, I may be skipping next Fridays post.  I’m going in for surgery next Tuesday, and my healing is kind of an unknown variable.  I’ve had previous problems with anesthesia and bleeding issues (technically I shouldn’t even be here after the birth of my 1st son), so there will be two doctors working on me in the operating room and I’ve been told to take it easy when I get released from the hospital.  I’m super excited because this surgery is supposed to eliminate chronic pain and complications I currently live with daily.  So while I am very nervous, mainly I’m beyond ecstatic!  I may disappear for a few days, or even a week or so, but I’ll be back before you know it!!

In case you aren’t familiar with our Friday Star Posts, we like to take a look at what’s happened around here in the last week, what’s coming up that we are excited about and anything else that we may have to share!

♥ Enjoy!

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Just Finished and Loved:

There weren’t any books, that I read in the last week, where I loved every single tiny detail. But here’s one that I truly enjoyed:

4 Stars:
Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1) by Darynda Jones → Jen’s Review

 

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Reading Next:

Death, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2) by Darynda Jones

The 2nd book in the trilogy.  In the first book, Death and the Girl Next Door, Ten years ago, Lorelei’s parents disappeared without a trace. Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home. For Lorelei, life goes on.
High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be. Until the day the school’s designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night. Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school. Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity. What does Jared know about her parents? Why does Cameron tell Jared he can’t have Lorelei? And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real?

 

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Upcoming Releases:

The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die #4) by Danielle Paige

The final book!  In the first book, Dorothy Must Die, I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a road of yellow brick—but even that’s crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. And—Dorothy must die.

 

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Hunted (Hunted #1) by Maegan Spooner

Though Yeva grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory–a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

 

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Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L. Demeter

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST
Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.
A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE
Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…
Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

 

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You can check out the rest of the books that we can’t wait to be released → HERE

 

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Sales:

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5 Stars!
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review

4.5 Stars!
Chelsea’s Review

4 Stars!
Laura’s Review
   

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Anna’s Review

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Chelsea’s Review

5 Stars!
Anna’s Review
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review

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Chelsea’s Review

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Laura’s Review

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Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review

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Cheslea’s Review

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Chelsea’s Review
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Chelsea’s Review

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Anna’s Review

5 Stars!
Chelsea’s Review

5 Stars!
Anna’s Review

5 Stars!
Anna’s Review

5 Stars!
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review

5 Stars!
Chelsea’s Review

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Chelsea’s Review

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Cheslea’s Review

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Chelsea’s Review
 
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BOOK REVIEW – Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1) by Darynda Jones

BOOK REVIEW – Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1) by Darynda JonesDeath and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1)
by Darynda Jones
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Ten years ago, Lorelei's parents disappeared without a trace. Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home. For Lorelei, life goes on.

High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be. Until the day the school's designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night. Things get even more complicated when a new guy―terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach―comes to school. Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity. What does Jared know about her parents? Why does Cameron tell Jared he can't have Lorelei? And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real? Thrilling, sassy, sexy, and inventive, Darynda Jones's first foray into the world of teens will leave readers eager for the next installment.

Review:

Death and the Girl Next Door was so much fun and a quick read.  The story-line was easy to follow, and within those first few chapters I knew some of the characters and I would get along just fabulously.  There was  a wonderful mix of personalities, and I loved how many of them had sarcasm as their form of humor.  While I had a few hangups with some of the people, and not wanting info dragged out longer than should need be, Death and the Girl Next Door was still exactly what this paranormal lover was looking for.

Nothing would ever be fine again.

Lorelei has had visions for as long as she could remember and it would occur, at times, when she touched someone.  The visions would be a peak into that person’s life, whether it was a glimpse into their past or their future.  There were also times when the visions didn’t make any sense at all.  But regardless, I loved how she accepted that this was just a part of who she was.  And her two best friends, Brooklyn and Glitch, did too.

“Oh my god,” Brooklyn said.  She swung her surprised look at me.  “Just what did you two talk about this morning?”
I beamed, not daring to breathe as he walked towards us. “Oh, you know, the usual.  School.  The weather.  How many children we want.”
I expected Brooklyn to at least giggle, but apparently her current state of shock had immobilized her vocal cords.  What I hadn’t expected, however, was the faint laughter from Jared.  He lowered his eyes like before, as though embarrassed by what someone had said.  As if embarrassed by what I’d said.  No way could he have heard me.  Not from that far away.

But things started to get weird when the class loner Cameron, who they’ve known since grade school, started appearing everywhere Lorelei was.  Including outside her house all night long.  Creepy!  And then things become even stranger when we met the new hot guy at school, Jared.  Jared had a lot mystery surrounding him from just his name (I was like uhhh really, that’s how you’re going to play it?! Lol) to how he made Lorelei feel.  So when push comes to shove, and Lorelei’s whole world explodes on a city street, things got a lot more interesting!

He leaned forward and whispered in my ear.  His warm breath sent shivers cascading over my body.  “You intoxicate me, Lorelei McAlister.  You will be my downfall.”

I absolutely loved Lorelei.  So I was happy to struggle right along with her, with not only trying to figure out what some people were, but also who was good and who was bad.  Because while she’d always known Cameron, he acted a little psychotic lately.  And while she didn’t know anything about Jared, he made her heart do crazy things and I wanted him around just as much as she did.  So be warned, there was a little bit of insta-love going on in this book.  But regardless, I loved both of those boys!  Cameron and Jared were broody, grumpy, held on to their secrets extremely tight and I just wanted to learn everything about them.  And don’t worry, there wasn’t a love triangle at all.

“…..My desires are a bit more…self-serving.” he said with a wry gleam.  “So, no, Lorelei, I should not be here.  In a thousand different ways, I shouldn’t be here.”

Normally friends can fade into the dark when supernatural elements get involved, but thankfully Brooklyn and Glitch got to learn right along with Lorelei.  Btw, I loved Brooklyn.  She was funny, warm and I saw a lot potential for a possible future love interest for her.  But Glitch? *shrugs*  He never won me over, I never connected with him and I just didn’t care about him.  I’m sorry Glitch.  Another thing I never connected with were the twins, Ashlee and Sydnee, and I didn’t get Lorelei’s hatred towards Brooke – those were people they all went to school with.  But even with my issues towards not understanding feelings or not caring about certain characters, it was still so easy to become lost in their world.  I absolutely adored this book, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series goes!  Plus I can’t wait to spend more time with Jared so I can fall even harder for him, and Cameron too!

PS Yes, I know I didn’t talk a lot about what happened in the story, but but but spoilers.  It’s hard to say anything without giving everything away. 😉

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
death and the girl next door darynda jones
Death and the Girl Next Door #1
Reviews:

Jen
death, doom and detention darynda jones
Death, Doom and Detention #2
Reviews:
Jen
death and the girl he loves darynda jones
Death, and the Girl He Loves #3
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