Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

In preparation for Apollycon this month, I was trying to read as many signing authors as I could beforehand. I’ve had it on my shelf for way too long so it was way past due. As soon as I finished, I was immediately kicking myself for waiting as long as I did.

I will say, I did have an ulterior motive for having this on my shelf. I read it for my teens. As you know, I am always on the look out for things that they will read. They are quite picky, so I find myself reading YA books with them in mind, every single time. I’m happy to say that I think they’ll like it. Only one scene that’ll make my anti-romance daughter cringe but I’m okay with that.

SYNOPSIS
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

Because this is listed as a #1 in a series, many people, including myself are leery about starting an unfinished series. But fear not, these books are interconnected standalones. Which basically is another reason I’m a dummy for waiting so long. I went in thinking I needed to wait til closer to book two since it was gonna be a cliffy. I was wrong. If you, or someone you know, enjoy action packed fantasy YA books, then grab a copy and pull up a chair.

Very exciting and adventurous. I thoroughly enjoyed all the banter. Some parts had me outright giggling. The friendship bond these characters had was so refreshing. They were a family. I wanted to be a part of it. This ragtag group of fugitives will have your emotions all over the place and loving every moment of it.

At some point during this haphazard journey, she’d fallen in love with a bespectacled kleptomaniac, a star-crossed seducer and his displaced princess, and, most of all, an infuriating blue blood who used to call her Rattail. She learned that home was a fluid thing, and whether on a planet, on a satellite, or on a rusted bucket of a ship, this crew was her home.

~Melpomene

Buy Starflight HERE

Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K.Johnston

01 thou A fantastical retelling, with a twist.

SYNOPSIS
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

A Thousand Nights was a total shock to me. And by shock, I mean that I wasn’t even going to read it. Not that I didn’t want to, but that I was grabbing it for my daughter first. But since she was reading something already, I decided to read it before her. And let me tell you, this book was amazing. I was totally engrossed in this story. The scenery was so well developed, I felt like I could actually see everything. The stars, the colors, the clothes…It was so beautiful, even if it’s only in my imagination. E.K.Johnston has a way of telling this story and making you believe that you’re in the story.

Since I only have vague knowledge of the Thousand and One Nights tale, I was going into this sorta blind. But I think that made this story even more special to me. A clean slate, if you will. No preconceived ideas. And I think that actually helped me enjoy it more, honestly.

I think the best part of this story, for me, was that is wasn’t about love, in the sense of romantic love, but about familial love. My teens and their friends like stories about girls who can kick butt, but they’re not always fans of the romance aspect. They want adventure and intrigue. This book will make them SUPER happy. This girl loved her sister and wanted to save her from a certain death. And in volunteering, that way she did, she ended up changing the world around her and bringing an end to this horrible tradition, if you will.

I was lucky enough to take my daughter to meet the author last week. My girlie sat next to me and listened to her talk and make jokes the whole time. When we got into the car, she turned and told me that she needs to read this book ASAP. I call that success. Now, do I let her use my copy with all the post its, or buy her another one….

~Melpomene

Buy A Thousand Nights

At the signing we were told that, in December, she has another releasing another retelling called Spindle. Sleeping Beauty!! I can’t wait!!

Review: The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

UnknownAt first glance this seems like your typical young adult book. We have a protagonist, Maggie, who’s facing some hardships in her life. We have a somewhat dysfunctional family in that they’re moving farther and farther away from each other after a recent tragedy. And we have as a love interest a brooding, moody up-and-coming rock star facing some hardships of his own. Very formulaic, for sure. But that’s where the similarities to other books of this genre come to an end.

Maggie is, or was, a typical teenager until several months ago when a sudden illness robbed her of her eyesight. As she alternates between feelings of anger and self-pity, her parents don’t know how to help her. And so they distance themselves, spending more and more time at work while avoiding the issue of her blindness. Maggie sinks deeper and deeper into a pit of despair and helplessness as she tries to adjust to just how radically her life has changed.

And then the prank happens. One moment of rebelliousness leads to sessions with a counselor. This is where she meets Ben. Ben is everything she is not at the moment. Optimistic, enthusiastic, helpful and friendly…he’s just the friend she needs even if he is almost half her age. And the kicker? She can see him. For some reason, Ben and everything around him are visible to her. Oh yeah, there’s also his older brother who just happens to be the lead singer of her favorite rock band.

But nothing comes without a price, and Maggie is devastated when she finds out exactly why she’s able to see Ben. This revelation leads to some hard truths for her as faces her life after blindness.

Great story? Yes. Happily ever after? Maybe, maybe not. But life doesn’t always end this way, either. Another huge bonus for me? This young adult book is truly meant for young adults with the exception of an obscenity here or there.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The One Thing (Single Title (One-Off))

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

41SS8CrR6yL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_So I read a lot of young adult books. Enough that there are times when I think that I’ve read every possible scenario involving teenage love-drama-angst-not fitting in-bullying-teasing-etc. And yes, the storylines can become stale and/or familiar from time to time. But books like this one are the reason I keep at it, the reason I keep reading almost anything I can get my hands on. Not all of them, however, reach the level of this one.

A teenager with OCD. That alone was enough to grab my attention. But that by itself is not enough to carry a story. This one has so much more.

On the outside, Samantha has it all. She’s part of the in-crowd, popular girls who have been friends since they were little. She has a good family, does well enough in school, and is a star swimmer. There’s more to Samantha than meets the eye, however. In addition to all these things, she has OCD. Her mind is consumed by obsessive thoughts-the number 3, questions she must find the answer to, people she can’t stop thinking about.

With the help of her family and excellent therapy, she does a good job of hiding it. Appearances can be deceiving, though. On the inside, she panics at the thought of losing the approval of her friends. Friends who, if she’s completely honest with herself, really aren’t that nice to begin with. But they provide her with a safety net, and that’s what she needs.

Then one day she meets Caroline, who is the complete opposite of what she’s used to. And more importantly, Caroline leads her to Poet’s Corner, a hidden little nook of people just like her. With Caroline’s encouragement, Samantha begins to branch out, to share parts of herself she’s never exposed to others.

And then there’s AJ. Because what would a young adult story be without a love interest? AJ is exactly what Samantha needs. He’s calming and comforting, and through his love she finds the courage to be herself. But the OCD is always there, lurking, threatening everything Samantha’s found. She can’t bring herself to tell AJ about her struggles because in his eyes she feels normal.

This book broke my heart. I cried inside thinking of everything that Samantha went through each and every day. And yes, I know that it’s fiction. But it’s truth for many young people. It’s full of sadness, and it’s full of hope. There’s friendship lost as well as friendship found. The inner struggle that Samantha faces is very real as are her feelings of loneliness. And at the end of the book is a story that you won’t soon forget.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Every Last Word

Review: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout

3123874I have to start off by saying how much I enjoyed this book. I expected it to be decent, good even. But it was much better than I had anticipated.

The story beings with Samantha surfacing from some type of traumatic event. She has no knowledge of what happened and no memory of the person she used to be. She does know, however, that she was likely the last person to see best friend Cassie, who is now missing. In addition to trying to regain her memory, Samantha starts to realize that she doesn’t like the person she used to be. She’s rich, popular, beautiful, has a handsome boyfriend, and is a typical mean girl. So in fact losing her memory gives her a second chance at life, at becoming the person she wants to be. But when her memories start to resurface, she realizes that something dangerous is lurking in the background.

This was an excellent story for me. I really liked Samantha, and her interactions with the other “mean girls” were entirely believable. There’s also a nice little thriller element to the story with a few surprises towards the end. A highly compelling story that was hard for me to put down!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Don’t Look Back (A Novel)