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BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Run Away With Me (Come Back to Me #3) by Mila Gray

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Run Away With Me (Come Back to Me #3) by Mila Gray

Run Away With Me was a beautiful story that I fell madly in love with. So check out my 4.5 Star Review below and enter a fabulous giveaway to win all three of Mila Gray’s books (I’ve loved every single one of her books btw!). Enjoy!

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Run Away With Me (Come Back to Me #3) by Mila GrayRun Away With Me (Come Back to Me #3)
by Mila Gray
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Emerson Lowe and popular ice-hockey player Jake McCallister have been best friends since third grade but as their friendship starts to morph into something more a terrible event occurs that heralds the end of innocence for both of them.

Within a week, Jake’s living on the other side of the country and Emerson is left alone to pick up the pieces of her life in a small town determined to paint her as a liar.

Seven years later, Emerson is still living on the beautiful Pacific West island of Bainbridge, helping run her family’s business. The last thing she needs is Jake turning up, bringing with him old memories and opening up old wounds. But Jake—even better looking than Emerson remembers—seems determined to revive their friendship no matter how much Emerson tries to push him away.

Forced to work alongside him for the summer Emerson can’t help but fall for Jake, and soon they’re in the midst of a passionate romance that neither of them wants to end.

But both Emerson and Jake know that if they’re to have any kind of future they must first confront the past—a past that most people want to stay buried.

Review:

Mila Gray has become one of my favorite authors because her books contain emotional stories and the characters always find a way into my heart.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that each time I pick up one of her books that I’ll laugh, cry, sigh and fall in love.  And that’s exactly what happened when I read this friends to lovers romance.  Run Away With Me was a beautiful story that was filled with hope, friendship, family and love.  

I look up and meet Jake’s eyes. A hot sun rises in my chest. I quickly smother it to ash. – Em

Emerson Lowe and Jake McCallister had been best of friends since third grade.  But just when their friendship started to turn into more, something horrific happened – trigger warning for View Spoiler ».  It left Em’s life in shambles and Jake moved away with his family.  He left right when she needed him the most.  Yet seven years later, he came back.  And that’s where the story begins.  I loved that all of Em’s hurt, betrayal and pain was laid out on the table for us to see.  And I understood why she was cold and distant to Jake.  But Jake was beyond persistent and he wasn’t going to leave her ever again.

I’ve prayed for other things too. Lots of things. The universe never listened. My prayers were never answered.
Until now.
Jake came back. – Em

As the story unfolded, we slowly got glimpses into their past.  We got to see how they were the bestest of friends.  And we watched as their friendship started to turn into something more.  Those moments were so sweet and adorable.  But then we also got to witness the horror unfold, along with the aftermath.  And that gutted me to the core.  But having those moments from their past, interlaced throughout the story, added so much depth to who Em and Jake were.  It was beautifully and seamlessly done, and it helped me feel as though I knew the both of them inside out.

As stupid as it sounds, even when she was six years old and I was seven and we were playing Star Wars in my backyard I never wanted to play Luke. I always wanted to be Han to her Leia. – Jake

Run Away With Me was told in alternating views between Em and Jake.  And while it felt a little jarring it first, I ended up loving how it was told.  It was if I was right there with them, feeling everything that they were feeling.  And while Em felt like a bff, I loved listening and watching everything Jake did.  I fell incredibly hard for him.  He was such a kind hearted, good man who was also at times fierce and protective.  So of course I found myself rooting for everything I had for Em to accept the friendship Jake was offering to her.

“I wanted to, you know,”he says quietly.
“Wanted to what?”I ask, my voice hoarse.
“Come back.”

While there were so many moments that had me laughing and sighing out loud, this book does have a strong emotional side to it too.  I found my heart shattered again and again.  There were quite a few times that I found myself sobbing, and I just couldn’t stop.  And once I got to that point, it felt as though my emotions were always on the edge, waiting to tumble-down into an abyss.  But then something would happen that would pull me back into the light and my heart would beat with joy again.  This is definitely an emotional book, that was also filled with drama and angst, and I loved every minute of it!

“You remember you said you didn’t want to be friends?” he says.
I nod, unable to find my voice.
He licks his lips and swallows. “Well, I don’t want to be friends with you either . I want more.” He’s looking directly in my eyes as he speaks.
Slowly, I let out the breath I’m holding. Everything inside me is vibrating as if my body is a note on a piano that’s just been struck.
“And I think you do too,” he says next.
My breath becomes jagged and uneven.
“Tell me if I’m wrong.”

Run Away With Me was a touching story that I absolutely loved.  It was rounded out with fabulous friends and a home life and parents that also pulled at my heart.  So if you love a sexy friends to lovers romance, or a story that will pull at your heartstrings, then definitely give Run Away With Me or Mila Gray’s other books a try.  I hope you love them just as much as I do!

PS Each of these books can be read as a standalone.

*ARC kindly provided by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

Excerpt:
I hear a voice behind me.

‘Need some help with that?’

I spin around.

It takes a couple of seconds for my brain to confirm that it’s actually him. That it’s actually Jake McCallister standing in front of me and not a hallucination. My heart does this fierce smash and rebound against my ribs as though it’s been violently woken from hibernation. I draw in a breath so big it feels like my lungs might explode, as if all that air is filling a vacuum and I’ll never be able to let it out again.

I hate this feeling. Hate the way the adrenaline floods my blood stream and tears sting my eyes. Hate the way my body reacts in a thousand contradictory ways at the sight of him, as though someone has plugged me into a wrong socket and fried all my synapses.

I have an impulse to throw myself at him but I’m not sure if it’s because I want to hug him or beat the living crap out of him. I drop the kayak, my hands fisting automatically at my sides.

I watch the smile on his lips fade when he notices the set of my jaw. His expression had started off wary but now I see him swallow and press his lips together, something he always does when he’s nervous.

I take note of that and at the same time notice a dozen other tiny, insignificant, monumental details about this new old Jake. I see the faded white scar on his chin—the one I gave him and the new scar cutting across his eyebrow. Then there’s his height – we were always the same height but now he’s tall. . . much taller than me. His dark brown hair is the same, though – unruly, untamed, falling in his eyes. He’s looking at me with the same mix of uncertainty that he looked at me the very last time I saw him.

I glance away, down at the sand. My whole body is shaking and I can’t seem to get it under control.

‘Em?’ I hear him say.

My head flies up before I can stop it. No one calls me that any more. His voice is deeper, mellower. The inflection though when he says my name is still just the same… and instantly something inside me starts coming undone. Jake always used to say my name like it belonged to him, and only him.

About Mila Gray:

Mila Gray is the pen name for Sarah Alderson, author of Hunting Lila, Losing Lila, The Sound, Fated and Out of Control.

Originally from London she has lived in Bali for the last four years with her husband and daughter.

As well as writing young adult fiction under the name Sarah Alderson and adult fiction under the name Mila Gray, she also writes screenplays.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

Giveaway:

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BOOK REVIEW: Everless by Sara Holland

BOOK REVIEW: Everless by Sara HollandEverless by Sara Holland
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

Oh, I loved this. Full of mystery, intrigue, and… well, more mystery.

The plot was super fun and unique, and for the life of me, I couldn’t predict a thing. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a page-turner here. I’m pretty sure I read the whole thing in almost 24 hours – I seriously couldn’t set it down after the 20% mark.

Really quick – a big thank you to the publisher for providing me with an arc!

In a world where time is bound to blood, and people exchange blood/time currency to live, we follow Jules, the protagonist, as she makes the difficult decision to return to work at Everless, an estate owned by one of the most powerful families in the kingdom (and dangerous, I might add.) Jules and her father previously worked there, but due to a nasty accident and threats from one of the Everless sons, Jules father was determined to keep her from ever going back.

But now she needs the money.

Sooooo Jules returns and works as a servant, though she is quickly noticed by the two sons she knew as a child. All the while, she discovers some big secrets about her past and why she was really kept away from the Everless estate. Craziness ensues when the Queen arrives. Jules’s father shows up and begs her to run away and stay far away from the Queen. BUT WHY?! So basically, we have a very confused Jules who keeps finding tidbits about her past and how its woven through a mysterious history linking back to when time was originally bound to blood iron. Which probably makes no sense without reading. Just roll with it.

Anyway, I can’t say anything else without giving up some major secrets, but I recommend going in blind. There are so many twists and turns, and wowzah, a major plot twist. I did NOT see it coming, and I always see them coming. I’m not even sure if I’m particularly happy with the direction, but I don’t care because the concept was SO COOL. My only complaint is the magic system, while it was SO AMAZING, also felt a bit muddy at times, and the book was a *touch* slow in the beginning. Whatever, I don’t even care because I loved it overall.

Basically, all the stars for the crazy cool, totally original tale. One of the most unique magic system’s I’ve ever seen. And if you’re wondering about romance? Literally, anything I say will be a spoiler, but it was fairly minimal – but a really interesting set up for the sequel. I typically have to have a *smidge* of feels or someone to root for romantically, and you’ll definitely feel that way here, so don’t worry. And if you’re someone who prefers romance to be minimal and not take over the plot, well… check. You’ll be pleased as well.

Needless to say, I’m ready for book two…

 

BOOK REVIEW: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

BOOK REVIEW: Renegades by Marissa MeyerRenegades (Renegades #1)
by Marissa Meyer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

This was SO fun! I went into it not knowing anything about the story itself, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Think of it as a superhero mashup told from opposing side POVs in a totally unique way. I was worried that with the overcrowded superhero media these days, the constant similar retellings and such, that this one wouldn’t stand on its own.

It totally did. Super fun and unique, while still throwing nods at other stories.

Before I say anything else, a big thank you to the publishers for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Basically, this is a world where prodigies (people with special abilities) used to be oppressed, but a man named Ace Anarchy rose up and fought for their freedom & acceptance. Except, the age of Ace turned into a villainous era, where villain gangs broke out and terrorized the citizens. So in turn, “good” heroes rose up to fight them, called the ‘Renegades’. They overthrew the Anarchists and took control.

So you here you have it – the Anarchists (those who survived living underground) and the Renegades.

“One cannot be brave who has no fear.”

I don’t want to spoil much, but we open up into what DOES look like a typical superhero origin story. We witness Nova’s family and how they meet their end, in which young Nova, who idolized the Renegades, realizes they never came to help her family after promising to protect them. But guess who did? Uncle Ace.

Now, Nova lives with the Anarchists underground. Her alias is the ‘Nightmare’, and she’s able to put people to sleep with a single touch. While carrying out a plan to take out the Council (the original leaders of the Renegades), Nova is stopped by a boy who calls himself the ‘Sentinel’. After a heated battle between the two, Nova barely escapes, wondering who the heck he is, because she’s never seen him or heard of him from the Renegades.

A lone hero? Perhaps.

Enter Adrian (aka smol).

Adrian is the son of an original Renegade – his mother, who was murdered when he was young. Now, he lives with his adopted dads – the two heads of the Council (aka the most worshipped Renegades). They adopted him (and here I cry because it’s so sweet) and he grew up within the Renegade headquarters. He’s brilliant and has a super cool ability which I won’t spoil. But he also has a secret that no one in the Renegades knows about.

He’s the Sentinal.

And when he fought the ‘Nightmare’ (he has no idea who she is underneath her mask), she utters a phrase that tells him she might know who his mother’s murderer is. So Adrian sets out to find her, while Nova sets plots in place to take out the Renegades for good. I’m going to stop there and leave the rest of the book as a surprise. Trust me, just dive in!

As I mentioned before, this is like a mashup of all your favorite superhero movies, but at the same time, the story is totally unique and so are the characters. I didn’t feel like I was reading another origin story or watching a movie I’ve seen a thousand times. This was SO fun, twisty, and fast paced. And visual. Meyer is so insanely creative – we saw that in her Lunar Chronicles series that I loved – and I would argue that this might even be stronger (though no one can replace Thorne.) All the prodigies have crazy cool powers – ones that I would have NEVER thought of. The whole plot is brilliant.

My only complaint is that we don’t get resolution for the one thing I craved, though it will certainly be in the sequel(s). I neeeeeded to see how that played out. Oh well, whatever. I’m hooked, Marissa. You got me.

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca RossThe Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Oooh man. This has some of the loveliest, most visual writing I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Like… every sentence…. every paragraph… was crafted so perfectly. I feel so inspired.

I feel like 90% of the time I come across pretty writing though, the plot is a bit lost. The good news? That isn’t the case here. Rebecca Ross managed to create an utterly enchanting world and a rich, unique storyline that had me turning pages nonstop.

Brienna is a lovely, relatable MC who is taken to Magnolia House (think of it as a small, specialized boarding school) to grow up and study ‘passions’. Normally, you have to have a certain skillset to attend such a place, but Brienna’s grandfather manages to convince the headmaster to accept her, after sharing her father’s true identity (except Brienna is kept in the dark on this matter.)Anyway, passions fall into five categories: art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge. Except Brienna can’t seem to master any of them. She knows she wasn’t admitted because of her skill, and that it had something to do with her heritage.

Anyway, she forms a bit of a… bond with one of the professors, but when the time comes for the students to leave with a patron, Brienna isn’t chosen. Feeling rejected, the headmaster offers her a deal with a mysterious lord. Meanwhile, she sees memories of someone she believes to be her ancestor but is afraid to confide in anyone.

I can’t say much more, but things get interesting as we learn of Brienna’s real heritage and how it ties in with the dilapidated kingdom in the north. She winds up in a plot to retake her homeland and thus mystery, intrigue, magic, and romance ensues! (I will say this. Romance isn’t the focus, but I was definitely sitting there most of the book thinking… JUST KISS DAMMIT. But don’t go into this just for the romance – it is definitely a slow burn subplot.)

Anyway, this was SO close to a five-star read. The only thing holding me back was I felt like things were resolved so easily in the last 30%. Like there wasn’t quiiiite enough conflict and everything kinda falls into place? And while I loved every minute with Brienna, I felt like the pacing in the middle lagged just a *touch*.

But nonetheless, I still REALLY enjoyed it and I highly recommend the read. Right now, it feels like a standalone, but my gosh I would love for another book in this world. I really can’t brag enough about how fun of a read it was, and how immersed I was in the world.

BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW:  The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

I see why people call Holly Black ‘Queen of the Faeries’. Hoooly wow. What a delightfully dark, twisty novel.

If you know anything about me, I’m all about the court politics & intrigue, villains & anti-heroes, and schemes within plots within schemes. This book had my name written ALL over it.

Okay so here’s the basic rundown without giving away too much. Jude and Taryn are twins. Vivi is their older sister. It turns out, Vivi’s real father, Madoc, is fae. When the girls are young, he comes for Vivi, kills their parents, and sees Jude and Taryn as his responsibilities since their mother was his… ex. To put it lightly. He whisks them away to Faerie to be raised alongside his family. Having grown up with Madoc as the only father they knew, Taryn and Jude have come to love him like a father, while Vivi promises to always hate him for what he did.

Being the general’s daughters, Jude and her sisters are raised alongside the High King’s sons and daughters. Each sibling has their own group of friends, spies, etc.

Enter Cardan.

Cardan is the youngest prince, and on the surface, the cruelest. Anyone who gets in his way, annoys him, or disrespect him, ends up paying dearly. Jude hates him with a passion, to say the least. He has that whole ‘school bully’ syndrome and is impossibly arrogant (all the makings of a delicious prince, amirite?)

Jude just wants to belong. Unlike her sister, she loves the land of Faerie. She wants to belong. Her dream is to become a knight. She wants a position of power that will earn her freedom and respect. But after being bullied and harassed by Cardan and his lackeys, Jude is fed up.

“My good intentions evaporate on the wind. My blood is on fire, boiling in my veins. I do not have much power, but here is what I have – I can force his hand. Cardan might want to hurt me, but I can make him want to hurt me worse.”

So we have a bit of a prank war, but a life-threatening one. Jude stops trying to control her temper, and she starts fighting back. She gets in a few good swings at Cardan, which royally pisses him off in the most delightful way. It catches the attention of the rest of the royal family, including Prince Dain. He meets Jude in secret and offers her a position of power if she spies for him. Dain is the chosen son, the one that will inherit the crown via his father’s favor.

So Jude accepts his offer and becomes part of his ‘Court of Shadows’.

Political games insue. Jude gets in over her head. (Or does she?)

I don’t want to say more than that, but that’s the general idea of the opening. Only, it becomes so much more. Jude discovers secrets within secrets about the court, and with the coronation coming up, things get especially intense. Not to mention, her twin sister says she has a secret lover but she refuses to reveal his identity.

When shit hits the fan, oh man, it gets SO good. The ending was phenomenal, and the sequel is set up to be AMAZING and I dont know how I’m going to wait… *screams into the void*

That. Epilogue.

Help.

Bah, ok. Anyway… Jude is a fantastic main character. She’s cunning, witty, and so supremely dark. Perhaps darker than Cardan himself at times. She’s complex (so is everyone else) and relatable and easily has one of the strongest voices I’ve come across in a YA novel. I loved how complicated things get with her sisters and Madoc’s family, and how buried some of the secrets are. Oh man. What a cool (and awful) family dynamic. I also looooved how vivid the royal family is. Of course, Cardan is my favorite, because I am utterly helpless when it comes to characters like him. Is there ever something between him and Jude, you ask? I admit nothing, but if you could pass me your fan…

Ugh, and the world. Holly Black’s writing is lush in every way imaginable, and she excels in bringing such a fantastical world to life. None of it felt made up. She doesn’t shy away from anything dark, either. This isn’t a pretty fairie land, folks. Here be monsters.

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