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BOOK REVIEW: SERPENT & DOVE (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

BOOK REVIEW: SERPENT & DOVE (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby MahurinSerpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1)
by Shelby Mahurin
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Review:

This book has a plot that I never knew I needed. I mean marriages of convenience do interest me but this kind?!?!? Sworn enemies getting married to each other even though one half doesn’t actually know the other half is a sworn enemy!?!?! Drool-worthy, let me tell you.

Initial thoughts about this book:
-Loved the magic system. I LOVE when magic has balance and can’t be flung about all willy-nilly and this particular system has balance in a way that I’ve never seen done before. The witch literally has to give something up (could be her sight, could be a broken finger, could be a memory) in exchange for the magic coming to life. It seemed to me that the thing the person gives up is about equal to the magic being done, too, which makes even more sense.

-OMG LOU. AND COCO. For anyone who has read this yet, does Lou not remind you of the early assassin version of Celaena Sardothian?!?!?! She dresses up and pretends to be other people to trick literally anyone and steal from them, she’s got a FILTHY mouth which is hilarious especially when she’s trying to embarrass Reid, and she’s just an all around bad ass. I loved her so, so much. I also loved her friendship with Coco, and Coco in general. Great example of female friendship in YA and she was also an all around bad ass, duh.

-REID. Do I really even need to explain myself here? He’s a grump. And so innocent. Kinda like Jamie from Outlander. He may know how to kiss and how to rile Lou up but does that mean he knows anything else about women? Nope. Lol. It was fun watching Lou teach him. And of course he’s really such a sweetheart underneath the gruff exterior (surprise, surprise). Their slow and gradual romance was uhhhh *chef kiss* perfect.

The story here was riveting from the very beginning. It’s the witches pitted again the Chasseurs, a holy order or men sword to rid the earth of witches and protect the people. What surprised me was how truly vicious the witches could be. Yes, some of them like Lou and Coco were hiding in plain sight and wouldn’t hurt a human if they didn’t have to but there were several scenes where the witches attacked and just started killing innocent people. I think at this point I’ve just read too many books where magic and witches are a lot less violet and gruesome as all that. It definitely made things seem more desperate between the two though and of course made things more interesting when Lou was trying to get Reid to understand that just because some witches are horrible creatures, that it doesn’t mean they all are. It’s that delicious gray area of life that makes morals so complicated. 

Anwayyyy after that freakin kind-of-sort-of cliffhanger I am DYING to get my hands on the next book! So glad I picked this one up.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen for allowing me to read this eARC early in exchange for an honest review!

BOOK REVIEW: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW: Call It What You Want by Brigid KemmererCall It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father's failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they're both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they've built. But when Maegan learns of Rob's plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship . . .

In her compulsively readable storytelling, Brigid Kemmerer pens another captivating, heartfelt novel that asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Review:

Call It What You Want was a beautifully, emotional story.  If you’re looking for something that will consume you, pull your emotions every which way and will stay with you for a long time to come, then definitely pick this one up.  I easily became obsessed with Rob and Maegan’s lives.  And I’m so happy I fell madly in love with another book by Brigid Kemmerer.

We were from two different worlds once: popular boy and nerdy girl. We’re still from two different worlds: cop’s daughter and criminal’s son.

This story started off with an emotional bang and we get brought right into Rob’s life.  His dad betrayed his family in multiple ways and he and his mother were left with the damage and fall out from it all.  There was no escaping it and I could feel Rob’s heart bleeding from the pages.  And in the next chapter we were dropped right into Maegan’s world.  Her sister came home from college pregnant, and if that wasn’t enough to push the tension in her house through the roof, Maegan did something that labeled her a cheater at school.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Maybe . . . we can start over.”
His eyes search my face. “Fine.” He puts out a hand like a businessman. “Rob Lachlan. Non-slacker.”
“Maegan Day.” I shake his hand. Most boys at school shake hands with the passivity of a trained cocker spaniel, but Rob’s fingers close around mine securely. I can feel the strength in his grip. I have to swallow. “Overly judgmental.”

Rob and Maegan had both been branded at their school.  They became outcasts and their classmates had no problem saying horrible things to their faces.  They were both drowning in their own problems and pain, and it felt like they were both so alone.  So when Rob and Maegan got partnered together in math class, to work on a project, I had so much hope.  But right from the start they got off on the wrong foot and were completely awkward around each other.

I pull a slip of loose-leaf out of my binder and write a quick note to him.
Are you okay
When I slide it on top of his notebook, he stares at the words for the longest time.
I wish I could crawl inside his head and figure him out. Then he gives me a brief nod, folds the note in half, and tucks it into his backpack.
And then, for the rest of the period, he keeps his eyes focused forward and never once turns to look at me.

But as they met more and more, they started to talk with each.  When Rob gave little peaks of his life to Maegan, my eyes would sting with tears.  His world was pain and I hurt so bad listening to him.  But Maegan’s world was extremely emotional too.  Even just a family dinner at her house was a mine field.  The tension was horrific and drama and emotions were always running high.  Rob and Maegan both wanted to escape their houses and who they were.  So when they were next to each other, not even talking, it seemed like they felt a little less alone.

I don’t deserve her friendship. I don’t deserve kindness. Not from anyone.
But her fingers were so warm on mine. The air so quiet between us. The beginning of trust.
Then her friends showed up.
We know who he is.

If you’re a sucker for tortured characters, you’re going to love Rob.  His thoughts were dark, deep and brutally honest.  I quickly connected and was consumed by Rob.  But I desperately wanted to protect him since he was so immersed with his hurt and it felt suffocating at times.  And when obstacles were thrown in his path, I just wanted him to find some happiness or peace.  He deserved it and I hoped he’d find that with Maegan, while also helping her with her pain.

“One mistake doesn’t define you.”
She sniffs and carefully swipes at her eyes. “You’re going to wreck all of Sam’s handiwork.”
That makes me smile. I want to touch her so badly that my hand aches , but I still can’t tell if she feels the same way, or if she’s saying these things out of kindness.

On top of Meagan and Rob, there were two side characters I became attached to also.  Samantha, was Maegan’s sister, and I I loved watching their relationship play out.  And Owen, who seemed like a possible friend to Rob.  Watching both of those relationships transform added so much depth to this story, especially since Samantha and Owen shined so brightly.  So YES, I definitely recommend this book.  If you love YA, emotional stories and deep characters then definitely pick this one up!

BOOK REVIEW: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

BOOK REVIEW: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-BrokaIf I'm Being Honest by Emily Wibberley
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.

It’s hardly an uncommon thought here. Cameron Bright is a bitch … If every glare I earned, or didn’t earn but received nonetheless, bother me, I’d drown in the judgment.

If I’m Being Honest, the second book from Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, is a very loose retelling of The Taming of the Shrew/10 Things I Hate About You. Cameron is a mix of the Bianca and Kat characters and I suppose Brendan is somewhat like Patrick, but really, it is very loosely related. This retelling really focuses on a popular girl, a nerdy gaming boy and a whole cast of side characters.

I just want to start off by saying I love Cameron Bright. She is one of my favorite MC in YA books, all genres. She says exactly what she’s thinking to almost everyone (except her dad, but more on that later), and has no problem with people seeing her as a bitch. She has several close friends and is well-known around school. However, being from a lower social economic family than many of her classmates, Cameron strives to be the best at anything she does and controls what she can, as not everything in her life, especially her family life, does she even have an ounce of control.

After an unfortunate incident at a party involving Andrew and Paige, Cameron is desperate to show the school, and Andrew, that she is indeed not a bitch and goes out of her way to make up for past incidents. This starts with Paige, the girl who was part of the incident at the party, and her brother, Brendan.

As you can probably guess, as Cameron begins to hang out with Paige’s friends (and Brendan), her priorities in life start to shift. She begins to see other possibilities for her future, which she struggles to accept. She also struggles to balance her old life and this new one she is creating, and it ends up creating more conflict in life, even as she’s trying so hard to help and be nicer to everyone. Of course, she stumbles and reverts back to her natural tendencies, but Cameron never apologizes for being herself or realizing there are areas she could improve.

I don’t remove my hand. I follow him into the market, wondering for the second time what this is to him. He was just talking about going over to another girl’s house, I remind myself. But the way my hand feels in his, I’m having a really, really hard time convincing myself this isn’t a date.

I’m really happy how slowly Brendan and Cameron’s relationship came together. There were a lot of wonderful small moments that built into something beautiful. I especially loved their bonding after his father speaking to him about his grades. It really showed how both of them felt compelled to go a certain way in life due to family expectations, even if it wasn’t what they wanted at all. And speaking of families, my heart broke for Cameron regarding the relationship with her parents. Cameron is so desperate for any scrap of attention for her father, who knowingly and cruelly denies her. In her anger, Cameron often takes it out on her mother, who is battling her own issues. It’s heartbreaking all around and I was happy to see the seriousness of it juxtaposed with the rest of this happy book.


Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely liked it more than Always Never Yours. As I said before, I absolutely adored Cameron and liked so many of the other side characters. I was a little disappointed there wasn’t a lot of resolution with Cameron and her “popular” friends at the end, but sometimes that’s how life is I guess. If you are looking for a funny and cute YA contemporary with not-quite-enemies-but-not-friends to lovers theme, this is a book for you.

“I’ve been trying this week not to pressure you into anything you didn’t want. But I’ve known what I want for a long time. Don’t ever doubt this, Cameron. I’m crazy about you. You, with your fierce intelligence and extraordinary talent. You, with your uncompromising opinions. And I want you to know it. I’m desperate for you to know it.”

BLOGIVERSARY + GIVEAWAY: Our Fiercest BBFs

the fiercest

The month of August marks our 5 year blogiversary! And we’re celebrating by talking about some of our newer book boyfriends and having three giveaways!  Three people will each win a book of their choice up to $20 USD on Book Depository!  Our posts will be about our Fiercest BBfs, our Kindest BBFs, our Favorite Female Heroines, our Darkest BBFs and our Most Tortured BBFs……are you so excited?! Because we are!

Today we’re talking about Our Fiercest BBFs! If you haven’t met any of them, we highly recommend you do! And don’t forget to enter our fabulous giveaways below!


The Star-Crossed Ladies


Prinz Soren from Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian
* Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

After the events of Ash Princess, things are not any easier for my darling Prinz Soren. To say he’s been through a lot is being kind, but he continues to fight for what he believes is right and just alongside Theo and co. Soren continues to defy the way his father raised him and wants to help those who have been wronged by the corrupt people in power of the world. He knows others do not trust him thanks to his family lineage, but again and again, Soren lets his actions show the kind of man that his and his ultimate desire to help others.

 
 

fiercest_chelsea

Jamie from Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon
*Review * Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

“I can bear pain, myself,” he said softly, “but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.”

 

Kulti from Kulti by Mariana Zapata
* Review * Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

“I haven’t done a single thing in my life to deserve you, schnecke, but I will never give up on you, and I won’t let you give up on me.”

 

Fiske from Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
*Review * Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

“I don’t belong to you.” I repeated the words I said to him that night he pulled the stitches from my arm.

“Yes, you do.” He pulled the hair back out of my face so he could look at me. “Like I belong to you.”

 


fiercest_jen

Jack from Sunset Rising (Sunset Rising #1) by S.M. McEachern
*Review * Amazon * Goodreads *

Jack was protective, smart, fierce, loving and honest.  What he was willing to do and sacrifice to help Sunny, oh my heart.  I loved Jack with my whole heart and soul.  

He picked up my hands from the table, held them in his, and looked at me with his intense blue eyes. “I’ll do everything in my power to keep you safe.”

 

 

Jessie from Bad Influence by Charleigh Rose
*Review * Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

Jessie was the ultimate bad boy who was seductive, charming and hot as fuck. *fans face*  Allie tried her hardest to fight it, but this is Jessie Shepard we’re talking about.  There was no escaping him.  So when he started showing up where Allie always seemed to be, I was obsessed.  He knew what he wanted and I loved watching him take control.

He moves toward me, and instinctively I step backwards until my back is flush with the door. “I want you. And I’m sick of playing this game.”
I swallow hard, feeling the warmth of his skin without even touching him. “That’s not why you’re here,” I say, calling his bluff. 
“No,” he admits. “But it definitely sweetens the deal.”
“You had your chance. The offer’s expired.”
“Is that so?” he asks, moving closer. “And what’s changed?” He pinches my chin between his finger and thumb and tilts it up so I’m forced to meet his gaze. 
“Everything.” I don’t know why my voice comes out as more of a whisper.

 

 

Carson from Darker Water (Once and Forever #1) by Lauren Stewart
*Review * Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

I. Loved. Carson.  If you love alpha males then you have to meet Carson.  He was addictive, seductive, powerful and charming without any effort at all. His words and actions had me melting into a puddle.

 

“If I turn around now things are going to escalate, Lane.” I spoke with my eyes closed, my hands clutching the countertop. “So what would you say if I asked you how far you wanted to go with this?”
“I’d say, ‘Why are you asking me questions when you should be fucking me?’”

 

 

 

 

Reiner from Kulti by Mariana Zapata
* Review * Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

“What would I gain from telling you the first moment I realized you were meant to be mine? Nothing. You’re supposed to protect what you love, Sal. You taught me that. I didn’t wake up one day and know I didn’t want to live without your horrible temper. I saw so much of me in you at first, but you aren’t like me at all. You’re you, and I will go to my grave before I let anyone change any part of you. I know that without a doubt in my mind. This,” he pointed between us. “This is what matters.” 

 

 
 

Merik from The Witchlands Series by Susan Dennard
* Review * Amazon * Book Depository * Goodreads *

Take the god’s gift. Become the Fury.

It was time to become the monster Merik had been all along. No more numbed distance. No more fighting the Nihar temper. Only vicious, hungry heat.

One for the sake of many; vengeance for those he’d lost.


 
 

Giveaway:

Three people will each win a book of their choice, up to $20 USD, on Book Depository!

We have one on Twitter, you can see it here.

We have another on Instagram, you can see it here.

And below is our third giveaway. Wishing you all lots of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Monthly Wrap-Up – August

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 four of us have read, any other posts we may have had, giveaways still going on, our most popular Instagram posts, and books that I’ve added to my ever-growing TBR.

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

♥ Enjoy!

Jen’s Life:

Some of my highlights from the summer were:

We did a 9 day staycation before our kiddos went back to school.  We did tons of hiking, bike rides, beach time and my favorite was going on a new hike that led us to teaching our littles to jump off of the rocks into the lake.  You can see some of the pictures here, here and here.
✮ We celebrated tons of birthday and anniversaries this month!  It was my Aunt’s birthday, my Mom’s birthday, then my parent’s wedding anniversary, my Grandma’s birthday, my wedding anniversary and then my husband’s birthday.  We had soooooo many parties every weekend lol.  I think I’m officially ready to take a break from cake and icecream!

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What Arielle, Cassie, Chelsea & Jen Read:

5 Stars:
Kulti by Mariana Zapata
The Last Hope (The Raging Ones #2) by Krista and Becca Ritchie
Kulti by Mariana Zapata

4 Stars:
Mine by Courtney Cole
Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack
✮ She’s the Worst by Lauren Spieller

3.5 Stars:
Coral by Sara Ella
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark

 

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Our Favorite Books of the Month:

Kulti by Mariana Zapata (Chelsea’s Choice)
And this, ladies and Gents, is how you obliterate a reading slump.

 

 

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The Last Hope (The Raging Ones #2) by Krista and Becca Ritchie (Arielle’s Choice)
Honestly the best part of this series, unique plot aside, is always going to be the characters. I can say that about any of their books, actually. They always take the time to curate this characters that anyone can find similarities with. They sink their hooks into your soul and never leave.

 
 
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Mine by Courtney Cole (Cassie’s Choice)
I seriously finished it in a few hours over two sittings. I couldn’t put it down.

 

 

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Other Posts:

COVER REVEAL: Broken Knight (All Saints High #2) by LJ Shen

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Giveaways:

✮ $50 Amazon giftcard – Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack
✮ Win (1) of (2) finished copies of SHE’S THE WORST by Lauren Spieller (US Only) – She’s the Worst by Lauren Spieller

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Instagram:

We thought it would be fun to share our most popular posts for August. And they were….

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Star-Crossed Book Blog (@starcrossedbookblog) on

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Star-Crossed Book Blog (@starcrossedbookblog) on

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Star-Crossed Book Blog (@starcrossedbookblog) on

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Star-Crossed Book Blog (@starcrossedbookblog) on

 

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Books Added To Jen’s TBR This Month:

I just keep adding books to my tbr lol…..

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So that was our August! 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 August too. And cheers to September being fabulous for all of us!

 

 

 

 

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