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BOOK REVIEW: Bad Girl Reputation by Elle Kennedy (Avalon Bay #2)

BOOK REVIEW: Bad Girl Reputation by Elle Kennedy (Avalon Bay #2)Bad Girl Reputation (Avalon Bay #2)
by Elle Kennedy
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When former bad girl Genevieve West returns home for her mother’s funeral, she’s prepared to keep her distance from her ex-boyfriend, Evan Hartley. Their history is rife with turbulence. And passion. A heck of a lot of passion... which she’s trying desperately to forget.

But it’s impossible not to run into Evan in the small coastal town where they once ran wild. And the moment she sees her gorgeous ex again, it’s clear to Gen that Evan is still as unruly, sexy, and irresistible as ever. This time around, however, she’s resolved to walk a new path. No more partying. No more foolish mistakes. Her plan is to temporarily remain in town to help her father run his business, but the second he finds somebody else, she’s out of there.

Evan has other ideas. He knows they can be good together, but he just has to convince Genevieve of that, even if it means turning over a new leaf himself. But can a bad reputation ever truly be shed? Do second chances really work? Genevieve and Evan are about to find out.

Bestselling author Elle Kennedy returns to Avalon Bay in this sexy second chance story about two exes who can't stay away from each other, Bad Girl Reputation.

“You look good, Gen.” He’s doing it again. The dare in his eyes, the implications in his gaze. “Time away agreed with you.

The little shit. It isn’t fair. I hate him, even as my fingers make contact with his chest and slide down the front of his shirt.

After the somewhat slow burn romance of Mac and Cooper from the first Avalon Bay book (Good Girl Complex), it was quite a change of pace to have immediate fireworks with Gen and Evan in the second book in the series, Bad Girl Reputation.

Gen has returned to town after disappearing and leaving a broken-hearted Evan. So when she returns to help with her family, Evan is elated and ready to pick up where they left off. However, Gen has turned over a new leaf and despite her lingering feelings, she’s not ready to fully commit to jumping back into life with Evan.

It’s suddenly occurs to me that I’ve spent so much time trying to convince myself I was for real, I missed when other people started to believe it.

When Evan isn’t busy trying to win Gen back, he’s learning how to run a business with Cooper and his uncle, as well as testing with waters with his mom (behind Cooper’s back before). Cooper and Mac make a handful of appearances and it was great catching up with them and seeing how things are progressing with the hotel renovation. And don’t worry, Daisy is still an important characters still too!

He and I have been through a lot with each other this past year. Finding one reason or another to be at odds. It’s exhausting, honestly. And lonely. Nights like this remind me that whatever else happens, it’s just the two of us.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, but it didn’t quite reach the levels of Good Girl Complex. I really did love Gen. She was complicated, funny and so strong. I really wish the “love triangle” had been stronger – there really wasn’t any moment of doubt Gen wasn’t going to end up with Evan. I do like Evan, but I found his immaturity tough to deal with at times. The dinner-date was one of the biggest cringe moments I can remember reading in a long time. At least that was early on and he showed growth, but whew that was hard.

There’s a a few great additions to the Avalon Bay crew and I’m curious who steps up to be the leads in the next one. I love all these characters in Avalon Bay and will keep visiting back here.  

“Don’t do that,” he rasps in my ear.

“What?”

“Remember.”

 

BOOK REVIEW: Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy (Avalon Bay #1)

BOOK REVIEW: Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy (Avalon Bay #1)Good Girl Complex (Avalon Bay #1)
by Elle Kennedy
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

She does everything right. So what could go wrong?

Mackenzie "Mac" Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It's exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents' insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.

Mac's had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.

Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn't just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he's been keeping from her threatens the only place she's ever felt at home.

“Yeah, real wild night you’re having,” I drawl, gesturing at her glass of water. “Someone’s got a good girl complex, huh?”

“I’m dying to find out how insulting me is going to win you this bet.”

“Stick around a find out.”

Good Girl Complex literally came out of nowhere and surprised me in all the best ways possible. I struggle to find (and love) contemporary romance books. I’ve had a handful launch their way into my favorites, but so, so many have been 3 stars or less. I’m so happy this one was a winner and has made excited to read more of Elle Kennedy.

Every time he texts me, I say this will be the last time, then I hold my breath, type a reply, hit send, and wait for my next fix.

Why do I do this to myself? 

There are two main reasons this book works for me: Cooper and Mac. (And by honorable mention – Daisy!). Mac, the good girl freshman who is dating a douchebag. Cooper, the bad boy local who is determined to get revenge on said douchebag by stealing his girlfriend. Of course, sparks fly and suddenly the revenge plan doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

While the major plot points aren’t exactly a surprise, the story works so well because of the characters and the off-the-charts chemistry between Mac and Coop. Mac is a strong but mild girl when we meet her, but with Cooper’s support, she becomes so strong and resilient. She’s funny and smart and vulnerable and I couldn’t help but root for her the whole time.

Cooper is so stubborn, witty and has buckets of charisma. Even when he’s making poor decisions, you can’t help but root for him too. He didn’t have the best childhood and while it is so different from Mac’s, it’s really sweet seeing them bond over it. And as difficult as they can be, his group of friends/family is a great touch. I want to be friends with all them.

I’m not fucking anyone else. I don’t want you fucking anyone else. If anyone looks at you funny, I’m breaking their face. How’s that work?”

It isn’t exactly poetry, but it might the most romantic thing a guy’s ever said to me.

This was literally my first Elle Kennedy book and I can’t wait for more. I’m really excited to continue with this series and even try some of her older stuff to see if I love that too. But at the end of the day, I really feel like this book is going to hold a special place in my heart. The push-pull between Cooper and Mac is one of my favorites I’ve ever read and I have no doubt this is going to become a comfort read for me.

Cooper Hartley walks into a room and I lose my whole damn mind. I hate it. I love it.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Castles in their Bones (Castles in their Bones #1) by Laura Sebastian

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Castles in their Bones (Castles in their Bones #1) by Laura Sebastian

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Castles in their Bones (Castles in their Bones #1) by Laura SebastianCastles in their Bones (Castles in their Bones #1)
by Laura Sebastian
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the CASTLES IN THEIR BONES by Laura Sebastian Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my review below and make sure to enter the giveaway!

********

“Like Mama always says,” Beatriz murmurs. “We’re three stars of the same constellation. Distance won’t change that.”

I REALLY like Castles in their Bones, the newest series from Ash Princes author Laura Sebastian. It’s essentially three stories smushed together in a single book, with threads weaving the stories together. It’s definitely has shades of Three Dark Crowns, but the sisters are working together instead of against each other. There’s so many twists and turns, y’all aren’t ready.

“You wish to appear smaller?” she asks, shaking her head. You are a queen. Why shouldn’t you take up every bit of space you deserve?”

As I mentioned above (and in the book synopsis) the story follows three triplet princesses: Daphne, Sophia and Beatriz. On their their 16th birthday they are sent to rival countries to marry princes and secure their country’s relations at their behest. However, thanks to their mother’s training since they were young, they are lethal and skilled and ready to bring down each of the countries so they can be ruled as one. Naturally, things are not as simple as that and the plan becomes complicated as each girl settles into her role and meets new allies and enemies.

It shouldn’t matter what he believes in, it shouldn’t make her heart beat faster, it shouldn’t let her forget, even for a second, who she is and why she is here. But it does, and that makes it dangerous.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of because as I mentioned before, there’s essentially three independent stories going on (with small things keeping them intwined). I really liked all three of the sisters. When I was reading Three Dark Crowns, I definitely had my favorite sister, but I really couldn’t pick a favorite from these three. They all had great things about them, and while their stories ebbed and flowed with excitement, I truly was rooting for all of them.

As for the side characters, I loved getting to know Leopold, Bairre, Pasquale, Nico and Ambrose. They each brought something great to the table, even if they all aren’t necessarily the *good guys.* There’s plenty of other side characters too, but I can’t say I was as much of a fan of them or their actions. I enjoyed each of the romances for the girls, but I don’t want to say more due to spoilers. None if it is too deep, but it was really lovely watching each of them feel something for someone other than their sisters.

The world-building was really unique, as was the magic system. I can’t say I’ve really read anything else that is even close to star magic. For lack of a better word, it was really magical ha. Each country felt really unique and realistic, especially when it came to the star magic rules.

And how about the ending, hmm? Well let’s just say I audibly gasped and put my hand over my mouth. I know it’s fade to black and there’s a chance (I don’t care what the epilogue says) that what we are told happened didn’t necessarily. Until we get book two, I refuse to believe it *plugs ears and closes eyes.* If Sebastian really did do THAT, then WOW. That was really bold. But I remain in denial/optimistic for now.

Please grab this book right now! It released on February 1, so no excuses! Yes, sometimes it gets a bit confusing jumping between the stories and keeping track of all the characters, but it is so worth it. The way the stories were threaded was incredibly well done and the book really kept my attention. I am anxiously awaiting the follow up to this one and seeing what comes next for these three girls who really need a hug and a vacation.

“It’s always easier to love people who need us than people we need, I think. Being needed makes one powerful. Needing, though, makes vulnerable.”

 Other Reviews:

Enchanting…filled with captivating court intrigue and espionage.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A page-turner that brilliantly blends magic, romance, and adventure. A twist ending leaves readers reeling but ready for the second installment in the planned trilogy.” –Booklist

“Sebastian excels at world building…and a few tantalizing open threads certainly warrant interest in the future two volumes in this trilogy.” –The Bulletin

“An extravagantly built series starter” –Publishers Weekly

About Laura:

Laura Sebastian grew up in South Florida and attended Savannah  College of Art and Design. She now lives and writes in London, England, with her two dogs, Neville and Circe. Laura is the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series: Ash PrincessLady Smoke, and Ember Queen, as well as Half Sick of Shadows, her first novel for adults. To learn more about Laura and her books, follow @sebastian_lk on Twitter.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Giveaway:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of CASTLES IN THEIR BONES, US Only.

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BOOK REVIEW: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (The Last Finestra #1)

BOOK REVIEW: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (The Last Finestra #1)This Vicious Grace (The Last Finestra #1)
by Emily Thiede
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

Emily Thiede's exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  1. Choose a Fonte.
  2. Do not kill them.
  3. Aplify their magic to save everyone and everything on Saverio—or become the first to die.

Forgive me if this review is a wonky, as I’m trying to shake off the rust. It’s been a minute since I wrote a review (family life and work really suck up all of my time and energy), but as soon as I finished this book I knew it was time to get back at it.

This Vicious Grace was the first book finished book of the year for me and what I imagine will be one of my favorites. It was a breath of fresh air in the YA fantasy realm, where I feel I’ve gotten much more picky and have a hard time being impressed. The fact that was by a debut author makes it even more surprising (and better)!

From the very first lines, I knew there was something about this book. The Finestra, Alessa, was mourning her third Fonte, who she had accidentally killed with her powers. As a chosen Finestra, her calling is to amplify a Fonte’s (partner) powers, in so to ward off a deadly attack on their country. Alessa’s touch is deadly to almost everyone else, and because of this, she is incredibly lonely. She is essentially royalty, but she is not respected or loved, and with a third Fonte’s death, support is waning for her.

She’d give anything for a hand to hold. Or a hug. She would kill for a hug. Literally.

After an attempt is made on her life and her guards help her attacker escape, Alessa decides to make some changes. It is during a trip out of to the seedier parts of her city that she meets Dante. Dante, with his tough exterior and slightly less tough interior, eventually agrees to be Alessa’s bodyguard until it’s time for her to take her next Fonte and face the evils headed to test them.

And for the first time in an incredibly long time, Alessa is no longer lonely. She is making connections and remembering how to feel again. Slowly, her personality comes out and she grows into her role as Finestra. Alessa’s growth as a character was really lovely to read. Her struggles, her vulnerabilities further solidified just how strong and caring she is. This really shines as we meet a host of side characters and I couldn’t believe how much I came to enjoy them as I got to know them.

“I can’t blame anyone for keeping their distance.”

He gave her a level stare. “Then let them walk around you.”

There’s some twists and turns as the final battle nears and I found myself desperate to get to the end. I needed to know who was going to be OK and who wouldn’t be so lucky. It honestly reminded me a lot of Mockingjay – a battle leaves a lot of scars (physically and emotionally) and sacrifices can have a lot of unintended consequences. I think the author really scraped the surface of the fallout from the main battle and set up the next book quite well.

“You’re the hero. I’m just asking a girl to hold my hand.”

Sorry I’m getting vague here, but I don’t want to spoil anything. But if you’re looking for a unique world, a slow-ish burn romance, a soft yet fierce MC, a snarky and tortured main boy, lovable side characters and a found family trope, then you’re in the right place. I’m super excited to see what happens next. I truly hope this isn’t another series where I loved the first book and am totally disappointed by the sequel. I know only time will tell. But overall I was a huge fan of Alessa, Dante, all their friends and of this book as a whole. I know I’m writing this book review in January and it doesn’t even come out until June, but don’t sleep on this book.

BOOK REVIEW: Unchosen by Katharyn Blair

BOOK REVIEW: Unchosen by Katharyn BlairUnchosen (Katharyn Blair)
by Katharyn Blair
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.

The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.

The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.

Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.

When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.

The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.

But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.

Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning.

Thank you Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

We lived in a world that predicted our doom at least twice a week. We had shows about it; people stood on street corners, screeching about the end. We were so ready for the fall of mankind. But, when it actually came—we didn’t see it coming.

Unchosen, by Katharyn Blair, was a super pleasant surprise, and I mean that in the best way possible. While the synopsis had made it sound like it was everything I wanted in a book, I was scared the execution wouldn’t live up. But I am so happy to write that it absolutely did for me.

Unchosen is a standalone novel, focusing on Charlotte Holloway. Charlotte is the middle child, with her older sister Harlow being a badass leader of a group of survivors. Vanessa, the youngest child, is a talented gymnast and is also the Chosen One, who supposedly, according to legend, can end the curse that has spread through humanity.

I’m not usually the biggest zombie book fan, though I certainly don’t shy away from them if it sounds interesting enough. I liked how different this book is. The zombies aren’t totally mindless, and the way it’s spread—through eye contact—was totally unique. So while it is a dystopian book in some senses, it’s also partially a pirate book, as after being taken as prisoner, Charlotte begins an adventure on the open seas trying to keep her secret while figuring out how to save those she loves.

“And you can stop calling me princess, you know.”

“You would prefer ‘Chosen One’?” he asks. His eyes are sunset-tinted in the glow of the fire, and they bore into me. It’s a joke, but it’s also not.

There’s a lot of wonderful characters in this book, but I definitely attached to those who Charlotte teams up with once she is captured and is trying to find her way back to her family. But I especially loved Seth, the defacto leader of this group of pirates. I loved how serious he was, but then a light or caring side would show up and sweep me off my feet.

“So, I’ll just ask, then,” he murmurs. I’ve never heard his voice this soft before. It’s like fingertips threading through my hair. It’s the heat of a fire on freezing skin. He leans in, and I shut my eyes as his breath slips over the dip in my shoulder.

“Please, Charlotte.” His beg is no more than a whisper. “Never…never do that again.”

This book was so many things: scary, funny, emotional and thrilling. It had so many wonderful characters, was well-paced and totally intriguing. I had a hard time putting it down and loved how everything came together at the end.

You will not choose my end, for this heart is mine.

TW: Death, Gore, death of a child (off page but mentioned), language

 

 

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