Thunderhead (Arc of the Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Review –

Holy cow, what just happened and when does the next book come out?

As the second installment in Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe series, Thunderhead takes us back to the post-mortal utopia, which is watched over by the benevolent, all-knowing artificial intelligence known as the Thunderhead and where death only comes by the flawed, bloody hand of the Scythedom. But since Rowan and Citra’s last appearance at the conclave, the Scythedom’s political arena has only grown more fractured and dangerous—especially since murdered scythes have started turning up across the country.

Citra, now ordained as junior Scythe Anastasia, continues to glean with respect and compassion. Meanwhile, Rowan has donned a black robe and has given himself the name Scythe Lucifer, living as a vigilante and slaying corrupt scythes. Yet no matter the approach, each character soon learns that there are things in their world far worse than death.

As the Thunderhead watches the scythes tear themselves, each other and perhaps the rest of the planet apart with their nearly unrestricted power, all it can do is find loopholes in the laws and hint at possible solutions. And as its omniscient frustration mounts, the Thunderhead threatens to crack wide open in retaliation.

“Shusterman’s writing in Thunderhead is never predictable, and his skillful control of the narrative is as strong as it was in his Printz Honor-winning Scythe. The addition of the normally placid Thunderhead’s frustrated journal entries interspersed between these chapters is as intriguing as the stories behind the Scythedom’s bloodstains.” a book page.com

The ending was so shocking but not unexpected because even though Thunderhead knew everything that was happening (almost) he could do nothing to stop it and that’s why he melted down and cut everyone off, except for one person and I won’t say who in case you haven’t read this five star follow-up to Scythe. The next book, called The Toll, comes out late this year or early 2020. It’s just mean of Mr. Shusterman to keep us waiting so long!!!!!!

Five stars!

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Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: August 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

He told me to ‘settle, girl.’
He asked if ‘something was wrong with me?’
He said I was an ‘easy target.’
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

Review –

I just finished listening to my first “read” by Tijan. I saw it recommended on an Instagram feed and saw it was available in the Audible Romance Package so I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did!

Summer had a one night stand with her step brother Kevin. Kevin is a GIANT douche. (I wanted to strangler his most of the time)I was more than a little irritated with Summer because she watched him parade girls in and out of his life, cheating on them and using them. But, she was somehow convinced she would be different. You can guess how that turned out…

Kevin’s fraternity brother Caden runs into Summer a few times and they strike up an odd friendship. I liked this aspect of the story. Weeks go by of them just hanging out and doing normal stuff-watching TV, studying, going bowling. To me, THIS is how a real relationship begins. Caden is not a fan of Kevin (WOOHOO!!!) and the 2 have come to blows before.

Because the story is told only from Summer’s point of view, you never really know whats up with Caden. He has a bit of a reputation at the school for being standoffish and ‘above’ everyone else. I was always curious about what was going on in his head. I think it adds to the tension of the story. As Summer is starting to have feelings for him, you really have no idea how he feels. And, as we already established, Summer doesn’t exactly have good skills at reading people.

I loved that Summer didn’t change who she was either. She is kind of weird and a bit scattered at times. She didn’t want to change her appearance or be a person she wasn’t. She kind of just embraced her personality. She admitted to being dull in high school and she didn’t want to be that any more; However, she didn’t have to change her personality or who she was in order to be ‘not dull’. It was refreshing to read a college aged character who wasn’t so debilitatingly self-conscious and desperate to be someone she isn’t.

I did get a bit irritated at the back and forth romance. She has feelings for Kevin, then she doesn’t, then she does. Then she loves Caden, he tells her she doesn’t love him. It’s so NA but it really gets kind of old after a while. You just want to say “enough already”!

It’s classified as NA (New Adult) and I would also say it is “soft smut” because of the sexual situations and the implied sex happenings. Just goes to show that an author doesn’t have to use explicit sex to make a scene hot and steamy!

Loved the story and will be reading more from this author.

 

 

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

Book Description:

Published: January 2, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

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 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.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.

Review –

I love love love Holly Black, with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown being one of my favorite books.

When Jude Duarte was seven, she watched Madoc, general to the high king of Elfhame, slaughter her parents. Madoc then dragged Jude and her two sisters off to Faerie, where he raised them as his own. Ten years later, Jude remains an outcast who is cruelly bullied by the other children of Faerie—the king’s youngest son, Prince Cardan, chief among them. Jude dreams of becoming a member of the High Court and the power that it confers, so when the opportunity arises for her to enter into the service of one of Cardan’s brothers, she seizes it, inadvertently placing herself at the center of a bloody coup and endangering the lives of everyone she loves. First in a trilogy, this spellbinding fantasy  reflects on the cost of ambition and explores the bomb-strewn border between love and hate. There are beautifully described landscapes, fully developed supporting characters, and a beguiling, tough-as-nails heroine, plus an intricate, intelligent plot that crescendos to a jaw-dropping third-act twist.  I can’t wait to read The Wicked King!

Five stars.

 

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: April 17, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

From New York Times Bestselling author Penelope Douglascomes a new forbidden love story…

JORDAN

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

Review –

I’ve been saving this book to read this month because I am a Birthday Girl too. Oh, not like Jordan, I was just lucky enough to be born on the 17th of this month.

Anyway, I LOVED this book. It is a taboo, forbidden romance with a large age gap. It involved Jordan, nineteen, her boyfriend Cole, also nineteen and his father Pike, who is thirty-eight. Because of circumstances the teens have to move into Pike’s house while they save money to get another place of their own. There is immediate sexual chemistry between Pike and Jordan and the story is told in their dual POV.

Pike fights hard against the attraction and temptation of Jordan because of what people will think but more importantly of how it would affect his son. Jordan fights too but when Cole cheats on her, she sees it as the perfect chance to see what would happen if she gave in.

Eventually they both give in and start sleeping together and Cole finds out and there is a separation. I’m not going to give away the ending but know that I cried a bucket load of tears. AND, the epilogue …!

This book is Five Stars and if you love a good forbidden romance, this one should be on the top of your TBR list.

 

The Boy and His Ribbon (The Ribbon Duet #1) by Pepper Winters

Book Description:

Published: April 1, 2018 

Format: E-Book/OverDrive

What do you do when you meet your soul mate? No wait…that’s too easy. What do you do when you meet your soul mate and have to spend a lifetime loving him in secret?
I’ll tell you what you do.
You lie.”

REN

Ren was eight when he learned that love doesn’t exist–that the one person who was supposed to adore him only cared how much he was worth.
His mother sold him and for two years, he lived in terror.
But then…he ran.
He thought he’d run on his own. Turned out, he took something of theirs by accident and it became the one thing he never wanted and the only thing he ever needed.

DELLA

I was young when I fell in love with him, when he switched from my world to my everything.
My parents bought him for cheap labour, just like they had with many other kids, and he had the scars to prove it.
At the start, he hated me, and I could understand why.
For years he was my worst enemy, fiercest protector, and dearest friend.
But by the end…he loved me.
The only problem was, he loved me in an entirely different way to the way I loved him.
And slowly, my secret drove us apart.

A True Coming Of Age Story.

Review –

This is the story of Ren and Della through the span of ten years. How they met, what they faced, how they protected each other. Every low and every up. Every hope and every despair. Every moment of innocent joy and every lust filled thoughts.

Told in dual POV with Della writing her story for a school assignment it had an enthralling quality.

But, you have to go into this story with an open mind. You have to believe in something that’s hardly believable. Don’t shy away. Don’t be picky and think it’s just impossible. Just go with the flow and let the story lull you into its depth.

The reader witnesses  Ren going from a young boy to a man and Della from baby to young woman. All this through incredibly harsh circumstances. It’s about taboo feelings and angst that sometimes has no place to go. 

 It ends on a cliffhanger or rather an open ending or an ending that you want to change and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi

Book Description:

Published: March 6, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

Review –

The book picks off immediately off the last novel, and though the first seventy-five percent of the novel moves at a slow, turtle crawl, I actually understood the importance of the slow pace. Through the first seventy-five percent of the novel, Juliette scrambles around helplessly in confusion, adjusting to her new authority and workload. It would be awfully weird if Juliette seamlessly transitioned to an insane girl from the asylum that somehow managed to destroy the Supreme Commander of North America to a serious, responsible leader. She is so incredibly new to this crazy, tangled world that’s overflowing with treachery, politics, and issues. Being Supreme Commander is more than just fighting against rebellious forces constantly. It involves the intriguing, dark relationships between the most powerful leaders around the world. You can’t just waltz into one of the world’s most powerful positions and expect everything to be blood and glory. Instead, it’s a slow, sweet burn of painful deception and lies—-a wicked game played between the world’s most significant leaders.

Another thing that I particularly enjoyed about this novel was the reality check. In the first three books, Warner and Juliette have undeniable chemistry and quickly become infatuated with each other, but once that infatuation burns out, it’s time for the two sides of the relationship to truly understand each other. Finally, we get to see a more realistic side of Warner and Juliette’s relationship. They realize that besides the events that occurred in the pats month, they really don’t know much about each other. At times, it was indescribably painful to witness their conflicts, but at the same time, I relished them. After all the lustrous flirtations between the two of them in the past few novels, it was nice to see the other side of things. Love isn’t always going to be a smooth ride of infatuation and flirtations; you’re going to have to make an effort to know who this person is and what they stand for.

Finally, I loved the plot twist at the end. Even though I almost guessed it in the first few pages, the anticipation is slowly but steadily built up until the climax where everything comes crashing down. I LOVED it. Honestly, the cliffhanger puts all other cliffhangers to shame. I don’t want to say much, but reading the ending was probably one of those moments where everything that happened in the novel earlier is tied together beautifully into one giant package of astonishment.

Overall, this novel was fantastic, and I’m excited to see what the next two novels have in store for Juliette!

This series has mesmerizing covers and I love them all.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Description:

Published: November 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Review –

Heartless is a prequel to Lewis Carroll’s 1863 classic Alice in Wonderland, being the history of one of the most recognizable characters in fiction; The Queen of Hearts. Set in the kingdom of Hearts, a world of talking animals, animate furniture and occasional bouts of unpredictable magic, the story follows Lady Catherine Pinkerton, the seventeen year old daughter of the Marquess of Rockturtle Cove.

Cath begins the book as sweet, naïve and rather overly sheltered, not to mention very much under her parent’s’ thumb (one reason for my lady’s initial exasperation), however seeing her change, grow and evolve through circumstances is truly a pleasure. Meyer seems to have a gift for character depiction since this is a book where even the minor players turn out to be more than they appear, and as for Catherine rarely have I seen an author write character development in such a pure sense, i.e. taking a character from one place at the start of the book, and showing how they journey to a very different place at the end of it.

I liked how the King of Hearts, despite being cast almost immediately in the role of an unwanted potential husband is neither sadistic nor lecherous. He is simply good natured, foolish, ineffective and not overly endowed in the brain department. While this makes him of course completely out of the question as a match for Catherine, it also makes her position a more unique one than a lot of characters facing forced marriages in modern fiction, since it’s one thing to wish to avoid a vile suitor at all costs, quite another to have to reject an innocent but dim-witted one.

The  character I did feel slightly short-changed by was Jest, the court joker and very obvious love interest. Dashing, clever, accomplished at everything from magic tricks to music and of course hopelessly smitten with Catherine (he even has golden eyes). While Meyer does undoubtedly reveal enough hidden truths about Jest to make him play an interesting part in the plot, I did feel that he was a bit too idealised. 

The final conclusion is a very apt end to the story, employing prophecy, destiny and character revelations. If you know the story of the Queen of Hearts then you know that this story will not end well, BUT you keeping hoping …

Despite its at times slow pace and its rather too obvious Joker I did very much enjoy Heartless. Take a large serving of Lewis Carroll, add a table-spoon of Jane Austin, season with a bit of Gaiman like twisted fairy tales and a likable, if rather sheltered protagonist and you have something sweet, fluffy and delicious on the outside, but with a dark, and troubled centre within.

Loved it!

 

The Dazzling Heights (the Thousandth Floor #2) by Katharine McGee

Book Description:

Published: August 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

All that glitters is not gold.

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

Review –

I love it when an author begins a sequel right where the preceding book leaves off and Katharine McGee did not disappoint.

Just like its predecessor, The Dazzling Heights is a character-driven story. The character developments are definitely something I really look forward to. I want to see how the characters moved on and if they learned anything from the incident. Avery was a character I liked in the first book. However, I’m not sure if I liked Avery in The Dazzling Heights. All her storyline focused on her relationship with Atlas. I was actually expecting more for Avery’s character development. I have to say though that Avery became more exciting toward the end of the book. Finally, some drama from Avery. 

Leda is the character I strongly disliked  the most at the end of the first book. At the beginning of this book, my feelings didn’t change. I still hated her. She was truly sly and cunning in order to get what she wanted. Although I have to say that I wasn’t expecting the development with Leda. While she didn’t become a completely different person, there was a lot of changes in her. I think having Watt by her side helped her a lot in realising what she did wrong in the first book.

Watt is still the same Watt in The Thousandth Floor. In this book you’d meet him a lot because he spent a lot of time with Leda – which leads to him developing feelings for her. I have to say that this new romantic development was totally fine. The transitions from “enemy” to romantic interest was done really well.

Rylin was my favourite girl in the first book. The scholarship was something I didn’t expect to happen. To have her in the same school with the others had drama written all over it. One of the biggest question I had for her was how was her relationship Cord going to be? Are they going to be friends again? Did Cord hate her? I really want them to be together. Aaaand I wasn’t disappointed! I liked how their relationship was played out in this book. I knew it would be impossible for them to get back together right away given the ending of the first book. I really liked Cord as a character I wish we got his POV in the next book.

One of the things I wished for this book was more Marielle. I was hoping that Marielle would play a bigger role in this book, but no! We got a new character instead. For me, Calliope was a very welcome addition to the story. She brought new dramas and excitement to the story. Although I have to say that with her being in love with Atlas, there were SO MANY mentions of Atlas which made me wish there was an Atlas POV.  Beyond Atlas, her backstory was very sad and helped you to understand where she was coming from. I wasn’t sure how to feel about her in the middle of the book, but at the end, I liked Calliope. Despite her con-artist activities there were many instances in the book where you got to see the real Calliope. I’m really excited on how she’s going to be in the next book.

Love this YA series!

Killer by Nature by Jan Smith

Book Description:

Published: November 30, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Are we born evil, or do we have evil thrust upon us? This is the eternal question of nature vs nurture at the centre of Killer by Nature, a brand-new psychological thriller from Audible Originals.

Dr. Diane Buckley, a talented freelance forensic psychologist, is drafted in to examine a grisly murder – a body found in a children’s playground. The murder carries all the hallmarks of one of her most famous incarcerated clients, ‘The Playground Killer’ (aka Alfred Dinklage). In a series of intimate 1:1 sessions, Buckley has to race against time to unpick the facts and delve into Dinklage’s often manipulative, complicated mind to understand his past whilst striving to prevent further murders…as someone out there will stop at nothing to complete Dinklage’s work.

Fully dramatized, with an immersive SFX soundscape, Killer by Nature features an all-star cast, including Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge), Rob-James Collier (Downton Abbey), Thomas Turgoose (This is England), Angela Griffin (Cutting It) and Will Mellor (No Offence).

Length: 4 hours 31 minutes.

Review –

I didn’t like the SFX sound and felt it really didn’t enhance the experience and  the actors were okay but a lot of times talked over each other which was distracting.

The storyline was good, although, I wish it had stuck to one and not have subplots to muck up things.

My favorite part was the ending because I did not see that coming!

All in all, a short audio mystery is always a good way to kill a few hours.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Book Description:

Published: January 2, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Review –

The title character, Anna Fox, is thirty-eight  and lives alone in a costly house in uptown Manhattan. We soon learn why she is so often peering out her window. She is agoraphobic and has not left home in nearly a year, but she delights in spying on her neighbors. Otherwise, Anna drinks a LOT of wine, mostly Merlot, and watches countless black-and-white movie classics — “Gaslight,” “Rebecca,” “Strangers on a Train” and “Spellbound” are among her favorites.

Anna’s husband has left her and taken their 8-year-old daughter with him. She talks to them by phone and vainly begs him to return. She’s a child psychologist and still advises a few patients by email, but mostly she is alone with her wine, her movies and her cat. She also has a tenant, a handsome carpenter who lives in her basement. His presence injects a bit of “will they or won’t they?” excitement into the story, but mostly she is content to spy on her neighbors.

Then, Ethan Russell, a boy of 16 who lives across the street, arrives bearing a gift from his mother. He is a good-looking, friendly lad: “He looks like a boy I once knew, once kissed — summer camp in Maine, a quarter century ago. I like him.” Anna meets Ethan’s parents, Paul and Jane, and Finn’s plot kicks in.

The Russells are a troubled family. Ethan hints that his father is violent toward his wife and son. Anna uses her binoculars to learn more, and one day sees what she believes is an act of violence. She calls the police, who investigate and find no problem. They think Anna’s wine consumption — two or three bottles a day — along with the many prescription drugs she consumes, have impaired her judgment. (Anna cherishes George Bernard Shaw’s quip that alcohol is the “anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”) She continues to spy on the Russells, and dark deeds soon unfold.

Although Finn’s plot must not be revealed, it’s fair to say that his characters are rarely who or what they first appear to be. And that his story ends with a series of mind-boggling surprises. The Woman in the Window is first-rate entertainment that is finally a moving portrait of a woman fighting to preserve her sanity

I  only gave it four stars because it was slow in places and almost drove me to start drinking Merlot!!!!