Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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Title: An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Purchased

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Rating: 2 stars

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Review:

No one is more disappointed than me to be writing this review right now. Since early last year I was looking forward to picking up An Enchantement of Ravens. The cover is easily one of the most gorgeous covers ever (duh, Charlie Bowater is an artistic goddess) and the synopsis had me hooked. I was the smallest bit apprehensive because it’s a fantasy standalone and short as heck, but I had faith I would love it anyway. Unfortunately, no. I did not like this at all.

My biggest issue was how under developed the characters and the romance was. Everything was skimmed over, which essentially made the romance an insta-love that made zero sense. I mean, when Rook’s painting was completed and Isobel was missing him, she realized she was in love with him. I’d love to know when on earth that happened. They exchanged looks a few times and she moved his head once to get him at a better angle where there was a physical connection between them. How does that constitute falling in love? What did I miss? For god’s sake, I’ve had a bigger connection with any person I’ve randomly bumped into on a squished rush hour bus than those two had.

Not only that, but I have so many questions about every single character. Everyone was brushed over in the simplest way and we got to know no one. There were so many opportunities to enrich the story with the backstories of the characters and how they tie into the novel itself. But we didn’t get any of that.

If this was any other book, I would have fallen in love with the main male character. Not this time though because we knew nothing about him. Sure, he felt sorrow and we got a sentence as to why. But a sentence isn’t satisfying. I want his backstory. He’s lived for lord knows how many years, surely lots of things have happened in his life.

Another thing that disappointed me was that I was not at all expecting this to be a journey/travel type of novel. Most times I don’t enjoy those and this case was no different especially because everything was skimmed over so quickly.

Last thing, and the thing that probably frustrated me most, was the ending. Of course I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil anything for the people out there who were in my position a year ago and want to read this. BUT OH MY GOD. I AM ANNOYED. SO. SO. ANNOYED.

Overall, this was a novel with so much potential but fell completely flat for me. The opportunity to make this a novel full of fae backstory, romance, and court politics was there. We just didn’t get any of it. It left me bored and not caring about the story or the characters.

About Margaret Rogerson:

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Margaret writes fantasy for young adult readers. She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and when she’s not reading or writing she enjoys drawing, watching documentaries, making pudding, gaming, and exploring the outdoors in search of toads and mushrooms.

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Review: Birth by Donna Russo Morin – Blog Tour

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Title: Birth
Author: Donna Russo Morin
Series: Once, Upon A New Time #1
Publisher: Creativia
Publication Date: February 15, 2019
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Received an copy from the author/Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 2 stars

New worlds don’t appear. They are born from the labor of those who envision them.

Count Witon has grown weary of the constant war between the races. Together with his wife Belamay, and Persky – first of a rare Human / Elf breed – Witon plans to create a new society: a utopia for anyone who longs for peaceful coexistence.

They recruit pilgrims from every city and species; most to success, some to failure. Together, they set off to a small, yet promising island, found by chance in the middle of the churning ocean.

But the journey there is fraught with challenges, and none of them is as dire as the one they face once they reach their destination. Will they have the strength and determination to give Birth to this New Time?

Once, Upon A New Time is a medieval fantasy with a double-edged sword: one of blood, the other of lust.

Review:

For me, fantasy novels are either the best thing I’ve ever read or I’m just not into it. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.

I did love the bravery of Witon to strike off on his own and gather other kinds of creatures to go and create their own world filled with a peaceful coexistence of almost every breed of creature. It’s a damn big risk to take, especially in a world full of hatred. So props to him for doing that.

But oh man, I just couldn’t get into the story itself. Sometimes there was a lot of action for a brief period and then for long bouts of the book, it was straight up information being thrown at you. And yet with so much information, I still felt like it was all so surface level and I wasn’t learning much about all of the creatures and the new land they made their life on. It seemed like it was one thing after another, but was lacking the flow that makes it all go together naturally.

About Donna Russo Morin:

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Donna Russo Morin is an award-winning historical fiction author. Donna has dabbled as a model and actor, working on Showtime’s Brotherhood and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Branching out with her storytelling skills, Donna is now a screenwriter. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Donna lives on the south shore of Rhode Island close to the ocean she loves so very much. She is the proud mother of two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

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Review: Remind Me by Samantha Chase – Blog Tour

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Title: Remind Me
Author: Samantha Chase
Series: Magnolia Sound #1
Publisher: Chasing Romance Inc.
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received an ARC from the author/Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review for the purpose of this blog tour

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Rating: 2 stars

It’s been years since Mallory Westbrook set foot in Magnolia Sound, but the death of her great-grandfather forces her back. Two weeks to get his affairs in order then she would return to her life in New York. The perfect plan, if not for Jake Summerford—her first love who broke her heart. 

Jake always regretted the way things ended with Mallory and now that she’s back in town, he’s hoping they can put the past behind them. As they reconnect, old feelings resurface and Jake realizes that friendship is only the beginning of what he wants from Mallory. 

With one foot out of the door, Mallory is looking for any excuse to leave Magnolia Sound behind. Forever. Will Jake’s plan to replace the old, painful memories help him finally show her their love deserves another chance?

Review:

When I read the prequel to the Magnolia Sound series, Sunkissed Days, I really didn’t enjoy it all the much because despite being 20 and 24, the story of Mallory and Jake read as two highschoolers to me. Because this novel takes place six years later, I was hoping that I would like this one more.

I appreciate that both Mallory and Jake had grown up a lot in those six years and acknowledged their past relationship and how they could have handled things better considering the fact that they both acted so immature that summer, but even with that whole issue of mine resolved, this novel still fell flat for me.

I don’t know what it is, but no matter what was happening or how sad it was, I just never got invested in the characters or their stories. I was never rooting for the romance or a happy ending or anything of the sort. There’s really nothing that I can pinpoint that makes me feel this way because it’s not like it’s a bad story or the writing is bad. I just didn’t have that connection to it. And I feel bad especially because there is no specific reason, but I didn’t enjoy it.

About Samantha Chase:

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Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

 

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Review: Faux Pas by Natasha Madison – Blog Tour

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Title: Faux Pas
Author: Natasha Madison
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-published by Natasha Madison
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Recieved an electronic copy via InkSlinger PR for the purpose of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 2 stars

Meghan

Five days in Paris sounded like a great idea for three friends. Especially when amazing wine was in play.

It didn’t matter that our rented “apartment” only had one bed, and barely enough space to breathe. We were in Paris and our motto was c’est la vie.

Nothing would faze us, not even the rude waiter at the first restaurant we went to, or the insanely hot manager who was insulted when a bottle of wine was returned.

Nothing could bring me down or knock me off my path to the best vacation of my life.

Alex

I had six days in Paris and then I’d go back to my wine vineyard. It was smooth sailing until three “Americans” came into the restaurant and returned my newest full-bodied, savory creation.

I ignored her until she stormed out of the restaurant looking for a taxi at one in the morning. I couldn’t leave her wandering around the streets of Paris, could I?

I’d give her a ride, make sure she was safe, and my duty would be done. Except, was it?

Something about her pulled me.

This could be a vacation fling. After all, there is no real reason for her to know my interesting secret.

I’m France’s most eligible bachelor.

This faux pair is almost a faux pas…

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Review:

This is my second Natasha Madison book, and unfortunately this experience was not as positive as the first one.

The romance fell flat for me. There was more description of what everyone was wearing and and the city around them than a build up to the romance. It seemed like the interaction between them was so minimum before she’s asking him why she hates him and he takes her to a back room to kiss her and prove he doesn’t. Heck, it’s barely obvious that he’s enamored with her before that point.

There was also this whole thing about Alex and his sister having to “lay low” because of some things going on with their family being in the press but every time it was mentioned, it was like it was because something else just needed to be added into the story to cause some drama.

I will give the book this though: Natasha Madison knows how to write a good sex scene. She gets to the point and writes the good stuff. Nothing is worse than authors who try to find a million other words to describe sexual acts as if they’re too shy. Natasha Madison is not shy and will give you exactly what you’re looking for with a proper sex scene.

Overall, this wasn’t exactly my favourite book. It felt all over the place and because of that I was never all that into it.

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ABOUT Natasha Madison

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

 

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Review: It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

6584188Title: It’s Not Summer Without You
Author: Jenny Han
Series: Summer #2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 27, 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Source: Purchased

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Rating: 2 stars

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.

But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach.

Review:

“He kissed like he was drowning and I was air.”

Remember that time I said The Summer I Turned Pretty was one of the better contemporaries I had read in my short time reading contemporaries? It’s Not Summer Without You doesn’t exactly fall into that category. At all. I finished it three days ago and I’m still kind of frustrated thinking about it. I was never sure if ‘second book syndrome’ was truly a thing, but after reading this I think it might be.

Belly. Oh, Belly. I know this girl is sixteen going on seventeen but oh, Belly. There are so many instances where I wanted to transport myself into the book and say, “ok you cannot be that selfish. It is not possible.” No joke, her only characteristic is selfishness. She made every single thing in this book about herself as if there weren’t some incredibly sad and depressing life event that had occurred two months before the timeline of the book began. I am fully aware that everyone deals with grief in their own ways – because yes, Belly lost someone important to her as well – but there are some lines that just cannot be crossed. At one point she cursed out Conrad at his own mother’s funeral and later, stole a necklace that she assumed belonged to her. She’s also the worst best friend. Taylor may not be friend of the year, but she deserves better than being stuck dealing with Belly.

Conrad and Jeremiah are still wonderful. It was good seeing the different ways in which they dealt with their grief because they seemed to stay true to the characters that we had come to know in The Summer I Turned Pretty. At first it was nice how we were given chapters with Jeremiah’s point of view in order to get into his head a little bit until you see that the majority of them were, “screw Conrad, he doesn’t deserve her” because I’m sitting here ready to yell to the heavens that she doesn’t deserve either of them. They’re both still great and deserve all the nice and beautiful things in the world that aren’t Belly and I’ll be sitting here waiting impatiently for them to come to that realization (even though hello this trilogy is about Belly so obviously that’s never going to happen).

The plot was alright I guess. It didn’t seem as genuine as The Summer I Turned Pretty. It was lacking and didn’t do anything special for me. The ending had me rolling my eyes going “oh great, please just go out there and spread your selfishness to hurt people even more why don’t you” because the ending of this book doesn’t match up with what everyone knows is going to be the ending of the last book.

“That’s when I finally got it. I finally understood. It wasn’t the thought that counted. It was the actual execution that mattered, the showing up for somebody.”

One of the saving graces of this book was the writing. Of all the things that I didn’t like about this book, at least the writing was decent. I’ve said before that Jenny Han is a great writer. Everything she says is clear and concise and leaves no unnecessary questions in the air. You know what’s happening, you know what each character is thinking and I think that served the novel well because contemporaries aren’t exactly the kind of book where you want to be spending its length questioning the little, unclear things.

I hadn’t read that many books in between The Summer I Turned Pretty and It’s Not Summer Without You so it was easy to go into the second one knowing exactly what had happened the summer before and understand what was happening in the current summer. However if you had read these one per year as they came out, I don’t think it would be so easy to pick it back up without being a little confused. It seems like this trilogy is one that should be read one after the other, but I’ll come to a solid conclusion once I get into the third one (which might take me a while to be honest because wow I need a moment before reading about Belly’s dramatic life again).

The book took place over six days (although that sixth day was pretty much one chapter so it was move like five days). The pacing was decent enough but I feel like a lot happened in those six days. Every time I arrived on a chapter and the date was mentioned I kind of thought, “wait, all of that happened in one day?” but I think the flashbacks might have led to that confusion. There were flashbacks again, but it wasn’t overkill like in The Summer I Turned Pretty so I appreciated that. This time the flashbacks felt vital to the plot and the pacing of the novel and again wove in well with what was occurring in the lives of the characters.

To be honest, if you read the first one and want to continue, don’t. I know saying that is hypocritical because I’m going to read the last one, but I’ve already put myself through this one (and bought the last one on BookOutlet last year) so I may as well find out who she ends up with. But if all you’ve read was the first one and were satisfied with it, stop there. You’ll be living in a much more enjoyable world.

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