Review: Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell – Blog Tour

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Title: Beasts of the Frozen Sun
Author: Jill Criswell
Series: Frozen Sun Saga #1
Publisher: Blackstone
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 3.5 stars

Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

Review:

I really wanted to love this one. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my cup of tea. There was nothing particularly wrong about it, and it certainly wasn’t bad. It just didn’t captivate me the way I was hoping.

The characters weren’t my favourite. Lira and Reyker weren’t terrible though. They were good, strong people who experienced growth and used logic and loved each other very much. I just personally wasn’t very enamoured by them and wasn’t that concerned about what would happen to them. But like I said, they weren’t bad characters, I just didn’t personally mesh with them.

The writing however was great. I think Jill Criswell really knows how to develop a fantasy world and its magic system at a rate that allows you to be invested in the story itself yet be able to learn all the details you need to know as you go along so you’re never left confused. She never info-dumped for pages on end, which let’s be real, can ruin a book real quick. And damn, does she know how to write in detail. The war and torture scenes in the book were very vivid.

My main issue with this book was the way the story progressed. I found that it kept moving around in the exact same pattern. Danger is on the horizon. Then things go well. But oh wait, out of nowhere something awful happens. Then Lira is good. Things seem normal. Repeat. After a short time it made things predictable. You may not have known exactly what would happen down to the last detail, but you could figure out the overall idea and know when something good or bad was going to occur.

Overall it was a good book, and I would suggest that any YA fantasy fan, whose interest is piqued by this synopsis, pick it up. It just wasn’t my style.

About Jill Criswell:

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Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

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Blog Tour Review: Mixed Up Love by Natasha Madison

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Title: Mixed Up Love
Author: Natasha Madison
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-published by Natasha Madison
Publication Date: August 7, 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

Goodreads
Chapters (Kobo) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Rating: 3.5 stars

Hunter
When my business partner asked me to do him a favor, I had no idea he was sending me on the blind date his mother had arranged for him.
I walked in the bar, saw the woman drinking her third martini, and knew I was in for an eventful night.
After the unexpected second date, she didn’t know my real name or who I really was. By that time, the lie was too far gone, and I wanted her too much to admit the truth.

Laney
It’s not every day you find out your ex-boyfriend is engaged.
I shouldn’t have agreed to the blind date, but I wasn’t in any position to turn down a night out when my mother insisted.
I will admit, I definitely shouldn’t have ordered that fourth martini before said blind date even arrived.
The man turned out to be swoon worthy, handsome, condescending— a perfect distraction.

Then I found out he was a liar.

I’ve never been in over my head to this degree.

Then again, I’ve never been mixed up in love.

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Review:

Laney is thrown for a loop when she finds out her ex-boyfriend is engaged to another woman. When her mother sets her up on a blind date, she figures why the hell not. The day can’t really get that much worse, right? Hunter is definitely a creature of solitude, but when his business partner asks him to take his place on a blind date, he does it. When they first meet, it’s honestly pretty hilarious. They had good chemestry and butt heads in the most perfect way.

Laney was so cute. She was this bouncy little thing with the bubbliest personality and I’m not sure if I want to be her or be her best friend. Either way, I enjoyed reading about her.

Hunter was something. If I had to take a shot in the dark and guess as to why he hadn’t had any relationships previously it’s probably because he’s a freaking stalker and way too paranoid about dangerous things happening to Laney. The girl can take an Uber and she’ll be ok. I promise.

The other characters were alright. They had good one-liners, but the whole part with random people ending up together kind of felt a little forced. But it was such a small part in the story that it doesn’t have an effect on my overall opinion. I just think it was kind of unnecessary.

The writing was good. Natasha Madison definitely kept me entertained throughout the story. The plot was also well done. Any time a woman has her own job that helps her sustain a good lifestyle (in which she could easily survive without a man financially), I am all for that. Hell yeah for women owning their own businesses.

Their dates were super cute and I enjoyed all of it (except Hunter’s literal stalking). With a story that’s pretty short, of course insta-love is going to happen, which I can always do without, but what can you do? It just comes along with the length of the story if you want to be able to give the romance a start and happily ever after.

If you want a romance about a blind date gone wrong (but also kind of right), then look no further. Mixed Up Love was a quick read, one that I would say is perfect for a sunny day by the pool or the beach.

Young woman whispering in the ear of her boyfriend

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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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ARC Review + Discussion: Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry

21825761Title: Look Both Ways
Author: Alison Cherry
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Source: ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads
Chapters | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 3.5 stars

A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.

Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?

Review:

Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry is a refreshing contemporary novel. It follows Brooklyn Shepard, daughter of incredibly well-known and respected theater performers. She’s always felt a little bit left out in the sense that she didn’t really know her place in the theater world. When she gets into Allerdale, a top-notch theater summer camp, she thinks this is the chance to finally find her place within the theater world, and more importantly, her family. As with any summer camp, she meets plenty of people and romance and drama ensue.

Alison Cherry is a great writer. Despite any of the other things I may not have enjoyed as much, her writing is not one of them. To me, she painted the perfect picture of a theater summer camp. The setting was incredibly interesting to read. And I enjoyed the fact that she really knew what she was talking about with the more specific things in lighting and sets. Someone writing about theater who clearly knows what she’s saying? I can get behind that. There was not once where I felt like her writing wasn’t excellent.

The characters were alright. I didn’t like Brooklyn too much. I understand that she feels left out and is looking for her place in the theater world, but the constant self-pity was too much. At a certain point I just wanted to shake her and say “GIRL, STOP. S T O P.” Every time someone was nice to her she would question whether it was out of pity or if it was genuine, the former usually winning in her head. I have to admit, I do question people like that sometimes, but never to that extent. This was just on a whole other level.

I totally liked Zoe, for the most part. She said one thing where I was like “nope” but besides that, a very good character. Brooklyn’s parents were awesome. Her mom was great and they were both so progressive. I loved it. I always love when parents are like, “you do you.” Russell was cool too. Every time he made an appearance, I was happy. I would absolutely love to be friends with him in real life.

Besides those characters, I feel everyone else was kind of forgettable. Like if most of the side characters weren’t in the story, it wouldn’t have made much of an impact either way.

The pacing of Look Both Ways was decent. The course of Brooklyn’s summer at Allerdale seemed to flow nicely. My only pacing issue was at the end. I felt like the last 30 or so pages were a bit rushed. There were a fair amount of things in Brooklyn’s life that needed to be resolved in that neat little contemporary bow and such a short amount of space to do it in. And I think because it was so rushed, the ending didn’t feel as satisfying as I had hoped.

Discussion (filled with SPOILERS, you’ve been warned):

Ok, I have been thinking about how to word this for a while and I still don’t fully know how, but I’m going to go for it. I think passing this off as a cute bi romance wasn’t the best idea. I know that Brooklyn and Zoe were technically together for a bit, but at the same time they weren’t. Or Brooklyn wasn’t. You could tell from so early on after they actually started their relationship that Brooklyn was having doubts and that she was never going to go for Zoe in that way. She basically just wanted a place to belong, and with her mom saying go for it, and her admiration for Zoe (and the fact that Zoe actually liked her too), it almost seemed like she just didn’t want to be alone. I don’t know it’s like, I’m sure there are plenty of girls out there hoping to find proper bi representation, but they’re not going to find that in a book where half of that “relationship” is definitely straight. I get that Brooklyn did want to try and she thought she was into Zoe, but when she knew she should have said something. She should have been honest about the fact that she is not into girls in that way.

Now, Zoe. I liked her for most of the book. She was cute and funny and so sweet. And then she tells Brooklyn that she wants her to herself. Like you’re in an open relationship. You do not get to dictate one of your partners’ dating lives. If you’re in an open relationship, so is everyone else in that relationship. You cannot expect her to be exclusive when you’re fucking some dude in a tent upstate.

I also felt so bad for her though. She was totally in love with Brooklyn and Brooklyn just dragged things on and kept rejecting her advances (especially on that really romantic picnic date) until Zoe had to drag it out of her via heartbreaking confrontation. That absolutely sucks. To be in love with someone who doesn’t love you back absolutely sucks. At that moment I wanted to hop in there and give her a hug and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.