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BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY – ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network #1) by Mary Ting

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY - ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network #1) by Mary Ting

I loved every single minute of ISAN and it’s going down as one of my favorite books from this year! So check out my 5 Star Review below and enter a fabulous giveaway. Enjoy!

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY – ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network #1) by Mary TingISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network #1)
by Mary Ting
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads




Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.

Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum, Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.

While on a training mission, she is abducted by a rebel group led by Rhett and told that not only does she have a history with him, but her entire past is a lie perpetuated by ISAN to ensure her compliance. Unsure of who to trust, Ava must decide if her strangely familiar and handsome captor is her enemy or her savior—and time is running out.


ISAN was an explosion of action and emotion and I loved every single moment of it!  From that very first page, this book had me in it’s grip.  I was addicted to the story and the characters, which made it impossible for me to put this book down.  So if you’re a fan of dystopian, kick ass girls and a sprinkling of romance then you have to check out this book!  Or even if you liked the Bourne movies (one of my favorite movies!), then you’ll probably enjoy this story as much as I did.  ISAN is definitely going on my favorites list and I can’t recommend it enough!

My destiny had been set. They owned me. They would use me. I had no choice.

Right from the start we got brought into Ava’s world.  As the story progressed, so did our understanding of everything.  It all unfolded beautifully, but be patient because there were things even Ava didn’t understand.  And we got to learn right along with her. Ava had found herself in juvenile detention when she was given a chance to join ISAN.  ISAN was a secret organization that trained girls without much of a future, let alone any family, into killers. ISAN also used experimental drug on them to enhance their abilities.  The girls constantly found themselves training with either simulations or tests. And their training was intense, page turning, and made me forget to breathe.  I was completely consumed with what they were doing.  But Ava started to question if ISAN was the better option.  She was their killing machine and there was no way out.

I’m not giving up. This isn’t over. His words echoed in my mind.
Sniper haunted me while awake and in my dreams.  My gut told me something wasn’t right. And the
what ifs nagged at me. I shoved Sniper out of my mind.

I loved Ava with my whole heart and soul!  She could be so selfless and I loved how smart she was.  And I was impressed that she was able to see the bigger picture during their training and missions.  She was born to be a leader. So Ava quickly earned my respect and her plight easily made me connect to her.  But Ava was special since she could see a map in her head, no matter where they were.  And as I started to have a firm grasp on the world Ava lived in, things started to happen.  Strange messages from someone named Sniper started to appear on her TAB and a comment from a higher up made her pause.  He acted as though she had done something in the past, yet Ava had no recollection of it. I felt as lost and confused as Ava during those moments, but I loved every single minute of it!

None of my planning mattered. When the door slid open, Rhett stood as if he knew I would be there. His eyes roamed intensely over my body, causing me to blush, and then landed on my hand with the syringe.
Wearing an irresistibly sexy smirk, he planted his hands on either side of the doorway, muscles flexing, blocking me.
“Going somewhere?”

While out on a mission, Ava got abducted by Rhett.  Rhett claimed he had a past with Ava, yet she had no clue what he was talking about.  And while Ava questioned what she felt towards Rhett, I loved what little bit I knew about him.  Rhett was protective and intense, but he continuously made me laugh and smile.  And at the same time, my heart hurt so horribly for him.  Rhett was tortured since Ava didn’t remember him. I even found myself with tears in my eyes during a few of those moments.  But I kept holding out hope that Ava’s heart would find her way back to Rhett.

Without thinking, I reached for his hand and stood next to him under the night sky, under the stars and the moon. The universe joined us in a mesmerizing moment of awe. Nothing mattered. I drifted to another place and time where Rhett and I were a real couple, and I was not an assassin, but a simple girl.

So while Ava had created friendships back at ISAN, she also found herself trying to figure out how she fit in with Rhett and his crew.  Well, if she even did.  Ozzie was one of Rhett’s friends and he made me laugh so much.  He was definitely one of my favorites! Ozzie added so much light, humor and the friendship he tried to establish with Ava warmed me to the tip of my toes.  He was such an adorable guy! But back at ISAN she had Brooke and Tamara who were her friends. I have a huge guess about Brooke, but time will tell!! And while Ava and I adored both Brooke and Tamara, things happened with Rhett that made her second guess everything.

“….I’ll tell you this, no one in this world loves you as much as I do.” – Rhett to Ava

There is SO much more that I want to say and it’s going to kill me!  But ISAN was the hugest surprise ever. I hoped that I would like this book, but I had no clue that I would fall head over heels in love with this story!  So if you love action packed stories, strong friendships, being in the dark at times, kick ass girls, a boy with a tortured heart and a little bit of romance mixed in then definitely pick up this book.  I am so excited to see what will happens next.  It ended at a perfect spot, but my heart is begging for that next book to be released asap!!

PS I don’t care how hot Mitch was, I never liked him.  Ha!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by Xpresso Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*


Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

About Mary Ting:

International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter



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BOOK REVIEW – A Bridge Through Time (Thistle & Hive #1) by Jennae Vale

BOOK REVIEW – A Bridge Through Time (Thistle & Hive #1) by Jennae ValeA Bridge Through Time (Thistle & Hive #1)
by Jennae Vale
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


Ashley Moore's life in San Francisco has hit a few snags, not the least of which involves sightings of a mystery man around every corner. Is she losing her mind or does he really exist? Her search for this grey-eyed stranger leads her to Scotland. There she meets a witch with a secret, a vindictive English knight who is bent on revenge, and she crosses a fog shrouded bridge into the arms of a 16th century Highlander.

Cailin MacBayne is no stranger to beautiful women, but has always managed to stay one step ahead of commitment. That all comes to an end when he meets Ashley. He doesn't care where this beautiful, yet unusual lass came from, he's just happy to have found her. Ashley cannot resist the handsome Scot and finds herself falling hopelessly in love. In the process, a secret is revealed, a battle is waged and Ashley must ultimately decide whether to return to her own time or give up her 21st century life to stay with the love she has found in the past.


A Bridge Through Time was completely enchanting!  While I don’t have a lot of experience in time travel books and I’ve never read a Highlander book, I easily found myself addicted to the story.  Especially since there was a sprinkling of magic here and there. This book was so much fun and I’m excited to try more books by Jennae Vale!

Ashley realized she was staring at him again, as if he were an apparition, and shook her head impatiently. “It’s nothing really. My name is Ashley, by the way.”
She held out her hand, but instead of shaking it, he merely held it gently in his much larger one. He looked as confused as Ashley felt.
“I’m pleased to meet ye, Ashley Bytheway. I am Cailin MacBayne of the Clan MacKenzie, at yer service.” He lifted her hand to his lips and softly kissed it.

Ashley Moore kept seeing a man appear, that no one else could see.  He was Scottish, oh so hot and she felt this strange pull to him. With nothing keeping her in San Francisco, besides a best friend, she travelled to Scotland in hopes of finding her mystery man.  She thought that she could be crazy, but her gut led her to Glendaloch, which was the most charming town ever. And so were its townspeople, especially Edna. I loved how there always seemed to be more going on in that little town than her or I could ever grasp.  It felt as if there was a magical element in the air, which was a lot of fun. But one day, Ashley found herself face to face with her mystery man, Cailin MacBayne.  Plus a whole lot more than she ever could have bargained for.

She smiled up at him and her beauty nearly made his knees buckle. He pulled her close and his lips met hers, in a kiss that said everything he believed they were both thinking and feeling. He was the first one to pull away, albeit unwillingly.
“Good night, Ashley, love,” he murmured. He pressed another brief kiss against her forehead and slipped out the door, before he could talk himself into staying.

Ashley and Cailin met each other in a bang of action.  After a life and death situation, and just being together for a few days, they easily formed a strong bond.  Underneath that bond they had the most amazing sexual chemistry and it left me breathless.  But it wasn’t all lust and chemistry because a friendship started between them that warmed my heart.  They fit together so seamlessly, it was almost as though they had always been meant for each other.  With Ashley being brave, resourceful, selfless and having the hugest heart ever, she complimented Cailin perfectly.  Cailin was also brave but his ability to make Ashley laugh and captivate everyone’s attention made it hard for Ashley to remember that she should go back home.

He hadn’t wanted to stop kissing her and would likely have taken it much further if they hadn’t been interrupted by the impending storm. Much further than he should. She was a lady, and it was his sworn duty to protect her, even from himself. No matter what his body was telling him, Cailin was determined to treat her with the respect she deserved.

But Ashley was uncertain of her surroundings.  Cailin had never heard of America and the way he lived seemed so archaic.  Castles, knights, and ladies filled the pages and unbeknownst to her, Ashley had somehow stumbled back into the 16th Century.  I loved taking in the sights and their ways of life.  But most of all I loved that anytime Ashley and Cailin were together I found myself with butterflies.  They had everything from adorable to sexy moments together. It was the perfect mix and oh so addicting!

Desperately, she reached for the belt holding his plaid in place, unbuckled it and sent the plaid sailing to the floor.
“Mmm… that’s convenient,” Ashley murmured breathlessly, as her eyes travelled the length of his completely naked body.
“Aye, ‘tis convenient, indeed,” he said with a wry grin.

There were so many of the side characters that added charm to this book.  I found myself loving Cailin’s siblings, Cormac and Irene.  And Irene’s husband, Robert. I even adored Helene, who was a servant in the castle, and I found myself just as invested in her love story.  I loved how welcoming they all were to Ashley. And that over time they felt like an extended family to her. But not everything was all fun and happiness.  A war was brewing from old grudges and it seemed as though it could not be avoided. While I was nervous for everyone’s fate, Ashley had the biggest decision in front of her.  To stay here with Cailin, and her newly created family, or to go back to the 21st century.

“I’ll give ye all the time ye need, but be warned, I’m going tae do my best tae convince ye tae stay.” Cailin leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips, caressing her cheek. His eyes never left hers, as he twirled a stray curl of her hair around his finger. “I’ll not make it easy for ye, lass.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to,” she smiled.

A Bridge Through Time was so much fun.  The writing was easy to devour, the characters all captivated my attention and I’m excited to see a lot of them in future books.  So if you adore romance stories that encompass multiple time periods, and has characters that easily find their way into your heart, then definitely take a look at A Bridge Through Time!

Our Most Anticipated Releases For May

We love talking about books that we can’t wait to read! And that includes the ones that haven’t been released yet. So around the first day of every month, we’ll share with you the books coming out that we’re the most excited about. There’s a link to Goodreads in case you want to add them to your tbr too! So here are the books we are counting down until they are released in May.


Releases 5/01 – Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts (JEN’S REVIEW)


Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.



Releases 5/01 – ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network #1) by Mary Ting (JEN’S REVIEW)




Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.

Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum, Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.

While on a training mission, she is abducted by a rebel group led by Rhett and told that not only does she have a history with him, but her entire past is a lie perpetuated by ISAN to ensure her compliance. Unsure of who to trust, Ava must decide if her strangely familiar and handsome captor is her enemy or her savior—and time is running out.


Releases 5/01 – Caught Up in a Cowboy (Cowboys of Creedence #1) by Jennie Marts (JEN’S REVIEW)


This cowboy plays to win

Rockford James was raised as a tried and true cowboy in a town crazy about ice hockey. Rock is as hot on the ice as he is on a horse, and the NHL snapped him up. Now, injuries have temporarily benched him. Body and pride wounded, he returns to his hometown ranch to find that a lot has changed. The one thing that hasn’t? His feelings for high school sweetheart and girl-next-door Quinn Rivers.

Quinn had no choice but to get over Rock after he left. Teenaged and heartbroken, she had a rebound one night stand that ended in single motherhood. Now that Rock’s back—and clamoring for a second chance—Quinn will do anything to avoid getting caught up in this oh-so-tempting cowboy..


Releases 5/01 – A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J Maas


Narrated by Feyre and Rhysand, this bridges the events in A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming novels in the series.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.


Releases 5/15 – War Storm (Red Queen #4) by Victoria Aveyard


The #1 New York Times bestselling Red Queen series comes to a stunning conclusion in War Storm.


Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all . . . starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolish everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power . . . for all will be tested, but not all will survive.



Releases 5/22 – Hot Asset (21 Wall Street #1) by Lauren Layne


Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.


Releases 5/22 – Furyborn (The Empirium Trilogy #1) by Claire Legrand (Arielle’s Review)


When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.


Releases 5/27 – Moonlight And Midtown (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum 1.5) by Christina Bauer


***An interim novella between WOLVES AND ROSES and SHIFTERS AND GLYPHS***

After battling werewolves and evil aunties, Bryar Rose is ready to enjoy her new life. No more crazy aunties. Her curse is toast. And Bry’s new man, Knox, is literally a dream come true. Best of all, Bry will soon attend a regular high school. Forget those sketchy tutors! To get ready, Bry is dedicating the rest of her summer to some serious back-to-school shopping with her best friend, Elle. It’s a blast, except for one thing:

Mysterious strangers are following Bry across Manhattan.

All these stalkers have oddly familiar scents and an uncanny ability to slip into the shadows whenever Bry tries to confront them. Even worse, their presence is making Knox act crazy with a capital C.

But Bry’s having none of it. Enough of her life has already been ruined by secrets. With Elle’s help, Bry plans to confront these strangers, find out what they want, and send them packing. Trouble is, the truth about their identity won’t be so easy to manage, especially when Bry finds out how these stalkers could change her future with Knox…and not for the better.


Releases 5/29 – Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West


Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.


Releases 5/29 – Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber (Arielle’s Review)


Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.


So these are the books we can’t wait to be released this month! Are you excited about any of these releases too? Or is there a book we missed that we should definitely check out? Let us know. ♥

BLOG TOUR+REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

BLOG TOUR+REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

The Ember Quartet is one of my absolute favorite series of all time-with strong characters (I think I was a goner the moment I met Elias), an addicting and brutal story line, and an emotional force so strong you can hardly breathe, it's no wonder that the world goes crazy when Sabaa releases each of her installments. There's a sort of frenzy that can't be replicated when the Emberlings get wind that the next release is on the horizon. I am so honored to partner with Penguin Teen during their re-read tour. I have posted my original review [in all it's fangirl glory], explained why you MUST start this series if you haven't already, really emphasized some of my favorite quotes, and did a bookstagram post with the beautiful new paperback editions Penguin Teen blessed me with. Below you can find the rest of the tour, so follow along! I hope everyone finds some enjoyment out of this obsessive Ember testament that shouts my love from a mountain (har har) with each neurotic word, picture, and quote. And, as we all now know-THE WAIT FOR REAPER BEGINS!

BLOG TOUR+REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
by Sabaa Tahir
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Duty first, unto death.

You can’t see me. I can’t see you. But let me just tell you what I’m doing. I’m silently screaming. I’m cursing myself for not reading this book sooner, because I was nervous. I’m internally fangirling even though I finished this almost 24 hours ago. And most prominently? I am on my knees. I am bowing down to this author. And I am eternally fucking grateful for this absolute masterpiece. If I could, I’d give it a gazillion stars.

Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after.

Epic. Thrilling. Brutal. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sit still. This story was so gripping, so addicting, so mesmerizing that I was a prisoner held under it’s intoxicating spell. It hooked me with it’s razor sharp claws, bleeding me out like a stuck pig. It clawed all my sanity away until I was a raging lunatic…

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And I didn’t want to be anywhere else but nuzzled up within these extremely deep and painfully appealing pages.

“Please,” I say. “It was a mistake.”
She leans in close, her lips inches from mine, those dead eyes lit, for just a moment with terrifying fury.
“Stupid girl,” she whispers. “Haven’t you learned? I don’t abide mistakes.”

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This review won’t be long. It won’t be coherent. It will obviously be in short, abrupt sentences. Have you ever read a book that was just sooooo perfect that you felt inadequate as you tried to write your review? That’s me. I just…I can’t find the words. I’m so rarely speechless-my reviews border on crazy, because they are so long it feels as if it takes twenty minutes to read them and eternities to write them. But here, now, in this moment where I could put my crazy to good use…I’m coming up blank. And I just Do. Not. Know. What. To. Say.

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”

I am determined, though, to at least say what was so utterly compelling about this story, to me. What made it shoot to an absolute favorite and kept my stomach perpetually churning. For once, the romance wasn’t what made the story for me. I loved it, yes, but it was so much more than that. It was about family and friendship, love and loss, war and betrayal…making decisions that no one at their age should have to. It touched deeply on the subjects no one dare go, yet the author made them so alluring, so mesmerizing, that you just couldn’t look away. There was beauty in it’s depravity, almost like a gorgeously woven spider web, crafted to capture and constrict it’s prey. Even now I am breathless as I reminisce about what happened and what all our main characters had to go through.

Death supplants everything. Friendship, love, loyalty. The good memories I have of these men-of helpless laughter, of bets won and pranks hatched-they are stolen away. All I can remember are the worst things, the darkest things.

And here we are, right at the core of the story where all the addiction comes into play: The characters. You name ‘em, I likely loved ‘em. From the villains to the main leads, I adored them all-but for very different reasons. It’s no secret that I admire the main male lead and his counterpart in almost every book-sue me, I like boys-and even as I was a psycho fangirl for our beautiful Elias, I could actually, for once, see past just him.

Sometimes, I talk to those I’ve killed. In my head, I hear them whisper back-not accusations, but their hopes, their wants. I wish they would curse me instead. It’s worse, somehow, to hear all that would have been had I not killed them.

There was Helene, his best, most cherished friend. Dear God I loved her and their friendship. It struck a chord deep within me and I shipped them so hard. The tears, heartache, and struggle were real. I wouldn’t care if they ended up together-hey, it is what it is-she rocks (Even though I want him with Laia Lalalalala). There was Dex, there was Zak, there was Markus, Cook, Izzi, there were so many more that surrounded our leads and I never disliked any of them-They only added to the story, whereas normally I’m like ‘Shoo! Be gone!’ But not once did I feel this way. All of their turmoil and struggles gripped my heart like a vice, and I was captured in their snare.

Monster, murderer, devil. Dark, vile creature. I hate you. I hate you.

And I’m sorry, I just have to-Elias gave tormented and tortured a whole new name. He was the face of what it feels like to be unloved, cast aside, despised…with only his platoon and his best friend, Helene, beside him. His voice is very powerful, drawing you in immediately, curious to learn more about his story and what has driven him to such misery. I am not going to lie: There is a whole lot of fangirl being held back right now, and it’s really costing me something. But just know-He is perfect. He is loyal. He would do anything for the greater good even as he is facing the most disgusting trials known to man. He is good. He is kind. And he is stuck in a world where he feels he doesn’t belong-he is a leaf in the wind, and all he craves, what he’d sell his very life for, is freedom….freedom of body, mind, and soul. My heart aches for him even now. And I was an absolute mess as I went through each and every new phase with him….I don’t think I could breathe past chapter two when we first meet him.

I’ve never seen her before, because if I had, I’d remember. Despite the heavy silver cuffs and high, painful-looking bun that mark all of Blackcliff’s drudges, nothing about her says slave. Her black dress fits her like a glove, sliding over every curve in a way that makes more than one head turn. Her full lips and fine, straight nose would be the envy of most girls, Scholar or not. I stare at her, realize I’m staring, tell myself to stop staring, and then keep staring. My breath falters, and my body, traitor that it is, tugs me forward until there are only inches between us.

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(I realize I broke the Suicide Squad theme, but come onnnn, how perfect is this??)

And boy oh boy, Elias and Laia are the epitome of Star Crossed Lovers. Whoops…did I reference my blog in comparison to the book? Yeah, well, this is why I read, people. This story, this beautifully constructed forbidden romance…it’s what my favorite books are made of. I will touch lightly on this and then I will move on: THERE IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE, SQUARE, PENTAGON-there is nothing. There is lust. There is attraction. There is curiosity and exploration…but nothing is stronger than a life long friendship forged from cruelty. The main story is about Laia and Elias, and it never once implies otherwise. I wanted to make that clear. And, on top of all that, this story doesn’t center around the romance…but leaves you gasping for more.

“I don’t know what happened to you,” I say. “I don’t know who my father was or why you hate him so much. But I know my death won’t free you. It won’t give you peace. You’re not View Spoiler » Because I’d rather die than become like you. I’d rather die than live with no mercy, no honor, no soul.”

Barbaric, depraved, devastating. Artfully crafted, deserving every bit of the hype, and almost understated in it’s severity. It made me crazy, it stole every bit of spare time I had even when I should have been doing something else, and it’s all I could think about when I wasn’t able to be reading it. I wish for more words to express my utter, undying love for this story, but they aren’t coming to me. I want to say more and I want to leave it as it is. Like I said, it’s making me crazy I can’t say more, but this is where it ends. I loved it. I devoured it. I needed it like oxygen, gulping it in deep, greedy breaths. I need book two….but now I wait. But, for once, it will be worth it. It’s totally worth the wait. Elias…..until we meet again, soldier.

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Why you should read it right now:

The Ember series only gets better and better with each new installment-Sabaa raises the stakes to spine-tingling measures, causing you so much grief you almost burst into tears…only to immediately offer your soul for the next installment (wait, is it only me who has sold her soul and many other body parts for the chance to get her hands on the next copy??) even though you swore your heart just couldn’t take it anymore. With lush, vivid story-telling we are left breathless with the intricate layering of each character’s story arc. Just when we think one character is in the clear, or another begins to look a little murky, Sabaa bursts through that barrier and shows you just how little you actually know about each and every plot twist and character. Think your (MY) boy is safe? EH. WRONG (Actually, I think she has something against my beautiful, loyal, amazing [ahemmmm, moving on], flawed hero). Think Laia is going to do the right thing? EH! Wrong again. Think you know what Helene will do when faced with duty, honor, and loyalty? Nope. No way. So, you see, even though we all would love to think we know what’s about to happen, we’re all basically wrong :P.  And I truly hope that if you haven’t given this series a chance, or even stopped reading it for some reason, that you’ll give it a chance. Words are woven so intricately and seamlessly around every heartbeat, moment, BREATH that there is no way you won’t, at the very least, find solace in this author’s amazingly talented writing. So go forth, have fun…and dive into a world that’s as brutal as it is unputdownable. That is to say-it will steal your soul. Yeah, I said it-sad, but true.

Purchase Links:

An Ember in the Ashes

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A Torch Against the Night

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A Reaper at the Gates

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Bookstagram picture (Find us here):

Amazing quotes that I think put emphasis on Sabaa’s truly impeccable and beautiful writing (ie why I fell in love):

“That day, I thought my world was ending. In a way, I was right. Now it’s time to remake my world. Time to redo my ending. I put my hand to my armlet. This time, I will not falter.”

“Death supplants everything. Friendship, love, loyalty.”

“All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.”

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”

“The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.”

“I’d rather die than live with no mercy, no honor, no soul.” 

“Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don’t let it control you. Don’t let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.”

“It will get better. You’ll never forget them, not even after years. But one day, you’ll go a whole minute without feeling the pain. Then an hour. A day. That’s all you can ask for, really.”

“Once, I’d have wanted that. I’d have wanted someone to tell me what to do, to fix everything. Once, I’d have wanted to be saved.” 

“The best lies come from the truth.”

“Elias is here, before me, warm and beautiful and broken. He’s a Martial. A Mask. But not here. Not tonight, in this room. Here, now, he is just Elias and I am just Laia, and we are, both of us, drowning.”

Did I mention there are so many more?? I literally have to stop  myself. Luckily I used quite a few in my review 😛

A little about our amazing, EVIL favorite author:

Sabaa Tahir is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes and its sequel, A Torch Against the Night. She grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


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And follow the tour HERE!

April 30 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture
May 1 – My Friends are Fiction – Review
May 2 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures
May 3 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
May 4 – ButterMyBooks – Review
May 5 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture
May 7 – PaperTrailYa – Reasons to Start Reading The Series
May 8 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram
May 9 – A Perfection Called Books – Reasons to Start Reading The Series
May 10 – ABibliophilesbkm – Creative Instagram Picture + Observations Blog Post
May 11 – The Young Folks – Reasons to start reading the series with GIFS
May 12 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture
May 14 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture
May 15 – My Friends are Fiction – Review
May 16 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures
May 17 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Favorite Moments In The Series + Hopes For Book 3
May 18 – ButterMyBooks – Helene Aesthetic
May 19 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture
May 21 – PaperTrailYa – Theories About Book Three
May 22 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram
May 23 – A Perfection Called Books – Helene Appreciation Post 
May 24 – ABibliophilesbkm – The character’s choices, consequences, and expectations
May 25 – The Young Folks – Author Interview
May 26 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture
May 28 – Fiction Fare – Reasons Why You Should Be Reading The Series
May 29 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Post
May 30 – That’s Normal – Catch Up + Book Three Predictions + Fan Art
May 31 – Bibliophile Gathering – Favorite Moments From Book 2
June 1 – The Fandom – Fan Casting
June 2 – The Eater of Books! – 100 Thoughts I had While Reading Book Two
June 4 – PageTravels – Creative Bookstagram Picture
June 5 – My Friends are Fiction – Reasons to Read the Series
June 6 – YA Books Central – Graphic Pictures
June 7 – Star-crossed Book Blog – Elias Appreciation Post 
June 8 – ButterMyBooks – What to do after reading the book
June 9 – Icey Books – Creative Instagram Picture
June 11 – PaperTrailYa – Theories About Book Three
June 12 – The Book Feels – Review + Creative Cover Instagram
June 13 – A Perfection Called Books – How our lives will never be the same
June 14 – ABibliophilesbkm – Creative Instagram Post + Character’s Playlist
June 15 – The Young Folks – What to read after you’ve finished REAPER AT THE GATES
June 16 – @DarkFaerieTales – Creative Instagram Picture
June 18 – Fiction Fare – Books To Tide You Over While You Wait For The Next Book
June 19 – Book Is Glee – Creative Instagram Post
June 20 – That’s Normal – Review + What To Read Next
June 21 – Bibliophile Gathering –  Favorite Character Appreciation Post
June 22 – The Fandom – 5 Most Important Moments in the series so far
June 23 – The Eater of Books! – Top Ten Reasons to Stan Laia

Monthly Wrap-Up – April


During our Monthly Wrap-Up, we’ll take a look at what has happened around here in the last month. That’ll include what’s happened in my life, what the three of us have read, any other posts we may have had, giveaways still going on, our most popular Instagram posts, books that I’ve added to my ever-growing TBR and updates on my Reading Challenges.

♥ Enjoy!

I’m not sure if you’ve heard but Arielle had her baby girl on April 10th.  She is the most beautiful, little girl ever!  Chelsea and I are so happy for Arielle and her husband! ♥♥♥

Jen’s Life:

Some of my highlights from April were –

We finally took our littles to their first real baseball game.  It seemed fitting since they play it at least five days a week, ha!  They had so much fun cheering on the Reno Aces.  We lucked out too, it was a gorgeous day in the mid 70’s and the boys got to watch the Aces win the game.  It was the perfect day!
I celebrated my birthday on April 10th….also the same day Arielle had her little girl.  My day was filled with take-out Mexican food and cheesecake – my favorite food ever!  My five year old was sick, so we ended up just celebrating it with the four of us at home.  But that following weekend we got to have again Mexican food and cheesecake with all my family that lives here.  Best week ever!
Last month I learned how to give my bestie shots so she doesn’t go into early labor.  She’s only 18 weeks pregnant but I’ll give her a shot every week until she hits 37 weeks in September.  I was super nervous because the needle is a little more than 1 1/2″ long and the nurse had told me to “just pretend you’re throwing a dart into her“.  WHAT?!  But it was a lot better than I ever could have imaged…..besides the prep work which takes a long time since the medicine is so thick.  But regardless, I can do it so that’s what matters, yay!



What Arielle, Chelsea & Jen Read:

5 Stars:
Glitter and Sparkle (Glitter and Sparkle #1) by Shari L. Tapscott
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

4.5 Stars:
The Shadow Weave (Spell Weaver #2) by Annette Marie
Shine and Shimmer (Glitter and Sparkle #2) by Shari L. Tapscott
Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

4 Stars:
Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got No Body (Page Turners #1) by Jennie Marts
The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima

3.5 Stars:
Unmaking Hunter Kennedy by Anne Eliot




Our Favorite Books of the Month:

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren (Arielle’s Choice)
Seriously, please read this book. It’s such a sweet story of two young people that are soul mates who have connected over books and words and who find their way back to each other even after tragedy rips them apart. I really think it would be impossible to be disappointed.



To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (Chelsea’s Choice)
Guys. I adored this book. And the writing-it was seriously out of this world. Savage. Unrelenting-the most vicious kind of poetry. If I could write, and, believe me, the last few books I’ve read have made me pine for it so, this is exactly how I’d want to write.






Glitter and Sparkle (Glitter and Sparkle #1) by Shari L. Tapscott (Jen’s Choice)
Glitter and Sparkle was the cutest book ever!  If you’re a fan of Cookie O’Gorman, or even the feelings you got while watching the movie Clueless, then you definitely have to give this one a try!




Other Posts:

Our Most Anticipated Releases For April
TRAILER – Moonlight Seduction (de Vincent #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
TOP TEN TUESDAY – Books We Loved but Will Never Re-Read
TOP TEN TUESDAY – Books That Take Place In Another Country




We thought it would be fun to share Chelsea & Jen’s most popular posts for April. And they are….


Books Added To Jen’s TBR This Month:


Reading Challenges:

This is the first year I’ve EVER joined a Reading Challenge. I went through Nicole’s huge list of reading challenges – check it out here – and found three that sounded absolutely perfect for me. Here’s where I am so far….

Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge
Status: 9
Goal: 16-20



Beat The Backlist
Team Book Bard!
Status: 8
Goal: 15-20


Library Love Challenge
Status: 0
Goal: 12 books

I actually read two books this month from the library, but their reviews are scheduled for next month.  So next month. 🙂


So that was ourApril. Did you read any of the same books that we did? Or share the same favorite book as us? If not, then what was your favorite book? Or have you read any of the books I just added to my TBR?

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful April too. And cheers to May fabulous for all of us!

**We linked this post to March Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up Link-Up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction**

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