Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Published by Berkley on April 7, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, LGTBQ, Historical
Pages: 270 : Paperback edition
Source: Borrowed from my local library
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Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

I’ve come to the realization recently that I have series phobia. On top of that I’ve been adverse to hype ever since I was extremely let down by Looking for Alaska and The Hunger Games in high school. So, when this slowly started filtering onto my radar the past couple months on Tumblr, I questioned if it was really THAT good.

And IT IS. Whatever hype you’ve heard about it? It’s true. I flew through this (total) in probably just a few hours, and only stopped reading because school, work, and sleep got in the way. I haven’t been this sucked into a book in such a long time and it felt great.


A pretty accurate representation of how I felt upon finishing Captive Prince.

There’s so many compelling things going on within these first 270 pages (I can’t WAIT to get my hands on the rest of the series), but above all you’ll find political strife, gay/lesbian/bisexual relationships, a historical aspect that lends a hand to some really excellent fanart, and a writing style that sort of slaps you in the face in its simplicity, yet complexity.

There were a few times I would put this down and just kind of stare into space like “what the hell did I just read? How does C.S. Pascat do that with her words?” And the rest of the time I was just left gaping at the page, shocked that anything could be that good.

Long story short? Buy this series right now. Buy the whole thing. I’m serious, you’re not going to want to make the mistake I did of not having the sequel right next to you to pick up immediately. Need more convincing? Check out my status updates on Goodreads while I was reading this:

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ARC Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: N/A
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on April 26, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Pages: 352 : e-ARC edition
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (via NetGalley)
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Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.

When I read this I felt like I was being transported to another world. Which honestly hasn’t happened too often, or even recently, so it was a refreshing read over all. Chokshi was able to weave together a story as enthralling as it was beautiful. Steeped in mythological references and deeply sated in Indian culture, I loved finally having a protagonist who was a really awesome woman of color and a story that felt true to its roots.

Maya, our main character seemed so real to me. She makes mistakes and see’s the error of h9781250085474_il_2_0c898er ways and isn’t this perfect cookie cutter type character where everything works out perfectly. She experiences joy, but there is also loss in her life and this helps her grows and defines her as a person and a ruler.

Amar *fans self* wow. Amar was interesting and intriguing, always being shown as this mysterious figure. By the end of the novel though I wish we could have gotten to know him a little better because I didn’t 100% connect with him (and the relationship felt underdeveloped).

I ultimately gave this 4 out of 5 stars because I think the writing needed a smidge of refinement since at times I wanted to be shown not told, but there are some really beautiful passages and imagery here that will make this one really memorable for me. I highly recommend pre-ordering this or picking it up once it comes out in a few weeks!

Twisted Mind Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Hi everyone! Please enjoy all the information and the review I’ve written for Mia Hoddell’s newest book, Twisted Mind!

Twisted Mind: Chequered Flag, Book 2 by Mia Hoddell

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Release date: March 8, 2016


GP2 race car driver Dustin Coates has been made irrelevant…

For the past year, Dustin helped his best friend, Raine Wilkins. It was a good diversion from his twisted life. Now she’s settling down with his brother, and without the distraction from his own toxic relationship, Dustin is rapidly spiralling out of control.

​​Everyone warned him to leave his girlfriend, Elora, yet they knew nothing about the baby…

It’s up to Dustin to protect the innocent life hanging in the balance, and to do that he must endure Elora’s twisted games of manipulation and violence. However, when she does the unthinkable, Dustin finally snaps. Leaving her, the light-hearted jokester people have come to love is replaced with a grief-stricken man intent on one thing—earning a Formula One contract.

​​Everything changes when Tazia Nixon moves in next door…

Dustin clings to the Latin beauty who soothes his aching heart and helps him forget. But beneath her eternal optimism is a distressing past she refuses to share. Dustin must decide if he can risk his fragile heart a second time. She might ease his pain, but she could also break him like no one else.

​​Will Dustin be able to overlook the deceit to find his forever with Tazia, or will he see nothing more than a ​​​​Twisted Mind?

My Review


Back in February I was left (impatiently) waiting for the sequel to Chameleon Soul, the first book in the Chequered Flag series, and now I’m so excited to be able to share my thoughts on Twisted Mind with all of you!

Before reading Chameleon Soul, I wasn’t really into the whole race car shindig, until about a week after I reviewed that book I went home for a weekend and went to the NHRA drag races with my family for the first time. And oh my god, it was SO much fun! The thrills! The excitement! Needless to say, that made me even more anxious to get my hands on Twisted Mind because I began to view the story from a completely different angle.

However, I do have to say, even if you’re not a fan of drag racing, race cars, or anything of the sort, Mia Hoddell still does an excellent job of keeping the sport sexy and full of high-intensity, much like the romance that is woven through the story.

I was curious to see how Dustin and Taz’s relationship would grow throughout the story and it was beautiful! Both of them have a lot of demons that tend to keep them down, but together their like this unstoppable force that I just can’t get enough of. I was sad, as usual with Mia Hoddell’s books, that it ended so soon! Though, I will be excited to see if we get a glimpse of them in the third book in this series coming out soon (I hope!).


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About the Author

MIA HODDELL AUTHOR PIC#1 Amazon bestselling author Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading, loves anything romantic, and has an overactive imagination that keeps her up until the early hours of the morning.

Mia has written over ten titles including her Seasons of Change series, the Chequered Flag series, the Elemental Killers series, and her standalone novels False Finder, Not Enough, and Bet On Me.

Her favourite genres are contemporary romance or romantic suspense, and with an ever growing list of ideas she is trying to keep up with the speed at which her imagination generates them. She also designs book covers on her website M Designs

Connect with Mia:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | Amazon Author Page

or subscribe to Mia’s Newsletter for information on:

 ARCs, giveaways and new releases


1 x $5 Amazon gift card

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I leaned in, desperate to feel him.
Finally, his lips grazed mine in barely a whisper of a touch.
A moan of protest slipped from my lips when he parted and the musical sound of Dustin’s husky laugh caused me to shiver.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” he murmured, shocking me when his lips scraped my ear.
“I really don’t care.”
Dustin cupped my jaw, his thumb swiping over my cheekbone. The touch drew my eyes to his.
“I should though.”
I rested my head further into his palm and covered the back of his hand with my own to keep him there. Turning, I pressed my lips to his palm. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
“You could break me.”
I nipped at the tip of his finger when he trailed it over my bottom lip. “Aren’t we both already broken?”
“You could shatter me like no one else, Taz.” Rather than meet my eyes he stared off into the distance over my shoulder. “You could destroy me.”
I reached up, taking his jaw between my fingers and forcing his attention back to me. “I don’t want to.”
“That doesn’t mean you won’t.”
“No, but it means I’ll do everything in my power to try not to.”
The resolve in his eyes wavered. He couldn’t meet my gaze for long. He exhaled heavily, and his jaw kept tensing beneath my palm.
“Dustin,” I said, drawing his focus back to me. “It’s only a kiss.”
It wasn’t. We both knew I was lying and if we started down this road it would lead to more.
Regardless, Dustin pulled me into him. Pressing on the small of my back, he didn’t stop until I was flush against his chest. With his other hand he swiped back a lock of hair to slide it behind my ear.
He lowered his head, dipping until his forehead rested against mine. “I’m trusting you, Taz.”
I responded in a whisper, “Me too. You’re not the only one who stands to lose, Dust.”
Finally, he closed the gap between us and his lips met mine slowly, but forcefully. He claimed and possessed me, marking me as his with his mouth.
Every ounce of pain and fear was shared through our kiss.
When I parted my lips Dustin’s tongue immediately swept into me. I moaned, raising my arms to encircle him. I ran my fingers through the shaggy locks of hair at the back of his neck, pulling on them until he grunted against me.
Even though no space remained between us, Dustin forced me against him harder then dropped his head to my shoulder. He placed a tender kiss directly over the pulse point in my neck and mumbled against my skin, “Please don’t break me, Taz.”


Chameleon Soul Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Hi everyone! Please enjoy all the information and the review I’ve written for Mia Hoddell’s newest book, Chameleon Soul!

Chameleon Soul: Chequered Flag, Book 1 by Mia Hoddell

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Release date: February 2nd, 2016


After one fateful night, Raine Wilkins’ life has never been the same…

Two years into a relationship with Formula 1 driver Teo Coates, Raine walks out of his life without offering an explanation. To shield him from horrifying events that are best kept secret, Raine breaks her own heart and the heart of the man she loves. And left with no choice, Teo is forced to abandon Raine to finish his race season.

However, Teo always wins, and losing Raine’s heart has only made him more determined to reclaim it…

Now, a year later, he’s back, and she’s his only goal. But Raine is no longer the same girl he left behind; she’s broken by the past and struggling to cope with each day. Unbearable memories have her nights plagued with fear, while her days are spent deliberately hiding away to avoid triggering full-blown panic attacks. Therefore, when Teo returns as England’s favourite driver, and demands answers, all of Raine’s careful planning is destroyed.

She is thrown into the one place she never wants to be—the spotlight.

Her newfound fame as Teo’s public girlfriend raises old dangers, and exposes her to a group who will stop at nothing to tear them apart. If Raine and Teo are to be together, they must confront their past. However, only Raine knows the truth behind what happened during that sinister night, and revealing her secrets may cause Teo to leave for good.​

My Review

The first time I read a book by Mia Hoddell was two years ago and I’m so pleased to be bringing you yet another review for one of her awesome books! All the other books I have previously read by Mia were in the YA genre, so it was quite exciting to dive into the NA genre with this series, and I have to say I couldn’t be more impressed!

A lot of my issues with the NA genre stems from the stories feeling very…fake. And too sickly sweet and overloaded with romance and steamy bedroom scenes. Chameleon Soul, though, has just the right amount of romance while also tackling real life issues that made me feel as if I were also overcoming some challenges, right along with the main characters.

Raine, our main protagonist, was so authentic and awesome. A lot of NA romance characters are seen as these perfect women, but Raine has flaws and struggles that create a more three dimensional person that you can relate to on a much deeper level. Teo, our main hunk, also is not just another guy in the romance genre, he stands out and has awesome qualities (like being a Formula 1 driver? Hello, awesome!). I really liked the way that Mia built up their relationship and melded the two together without it coming off as sappy and cheesy.

This will be the perfect book to pick up just in time for Valentine’s Day and you’ll blow through it so quickly with the fast-paced writing and plot! I finished it in under a couple hours and now I’m aching for the next one! Hopefully we won’t be kept waiting too long 🙂


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About the Author

MIA HODDELL AUTHOR PIC#1 Amazon bestselling author Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading, loves anything romantic, and has an overactive imagination that keeps her up until the early hours of the morning.

Mia has written over ten titles including her Seasons of Change series, the Chequered Flag series, the Elemental Killers series, and her standalone novels False Finder, Not Enough, and Bet On Me.

Her favourite genres are contemporary romance or romantic suspense, and with an ever growing list of ideas she is trying to keep up with the speed at which her imagination generates them. She also designs book covers on her website M Designs

Connect with Mia:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | Amazon Author Page

or subscribe to Mia’s Newsletter for information on:

 ARCs, giveaways and new releases


1 x $5 Amazon gift card

Rafflecopter Giveaway!


“Raine, wait!”
Footsteps thundered behind me, forcing me to run faster as my vision began tunnelling. Bouncing off the walls as I rounded corners, I attempted to trace my steps back to the exit through the labyrinth of hallways.
I could hear the footsteps growing louder, as if Nadine was right on my heels, but I couldn’t look without losing my rhythm.
Abruptly, I was jerked to a stop by a hand on my wrist. I spun at the touch, flinging my back against the wall with a scream. My movements were too fast to take anything in.
“What the f*** are you doing here?” The voice that snarled the words was not Nadine’s. Even full of malice I could never forget his tone. Despite that, my brain was no longer thinking logically.
I raised my hands instinctively to shield my face, the line between reality and my memories blurring. The brightly lit corridor was too tight and darkness encroached from every corner.
I was back in the alley. The rough bricks bit into my spine as I cowered into the building praying I could make myself invisible.
“No, not again,” I whimpered, my hands shaking. “Please, not again.”
In my mind they were coming at me, closing the distance.
No matter how tiny I made myself they could still see me.
“Don’t hurt me. Let me go!” White-hot panic rose in my chest, consuming me and fuelling the memory. Everything felt so similar, I wasn’t even seeing what was really in front of me.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 5, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 464 : Hardcover edition
Source: ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

I guess you could say that reading this book took me on a journey; (somewhat) literally and mentally. I read a good portion of this while I was flying back and forth from Colorado and California, but the different places the characters traveled also allowed me to be absorbed into their worlds.

I’ve never read a time travel novel before so this was super interesting to dive into. I was thoroughly confused by all the terminology at first, but once I started to really grasp what was going on, I fell into the story and began to enjoy it more.

I definitely liked the last half of the book much better than the first half. I flew through the last 200 pages which is where I think the most action happened and was what got me the most excited about the characters. The backstory and set up at the beginning was definitely necessary though, and leaving the story where it did (UGH CLIFF HANGERS), will lead to a really exciting sequel.

I also hope at some point maybe we can get a prequel about Etta’s mom Rose! She’s such an interesting character and I wanted to know more about her and pick her brain. Plus maybe a prequel about Nicholas’ early life? Can we just get a bunch of prequel novellas bound together? Please Alexandra Bracken?

Overall, an excellent time travel story with tons of adventure and action packed into the last half of the story. I’m SO stoked for the sequel (even though I may have to wait until 2017 *cries*)! And definitely stoked to meet Alexandra Bracken in a few weeks! I hope you all pick this up when it gets released in January!

Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle

Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle
Series: Famous In Love #1
Published by Poppy on October 21, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 309 : Paperback edition
Source: Purchased on Amazon
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She fell in love with him in the books – now she has the chance to star opposite him in the film . . .
Paige doesn’t think she’s particularly special, but after getting the starring role in a massive film adaptation of the bestselling Locked trilogy, the rest of the world would disagree. Now she’s thrown into the spotlight, and into a world of gossip, rumour and deceit. The only people who know what she’s going through are her two male co-stars, and they can’t stand the sight of each other. Paige knows it’s a mistake to fall in love on the set of a movie, but days of on-screen romance and intensity start to change her mind. The question is, can she keep what happens behind the scenes a secret when the world is watching her every move?

Yeah…as you can tell I had a bit of a crisis when this book was done (thank goodness I have the next one right next to me and ready to go!). But let’s start at the beginning…

I really first picked this up because I saw, contemporary, romance, movie stars, and a main character with the same name as me (duh, I’m biased). I thought this was going to be another cheesy contemporary YA novel, which I’m trying to stay away from recently because they’ve been boring me, but this was NOT that at all.

I would have flown through this much faster if school didn’t get in the way, but nonetheless, this was excellent! I love stories that have anything to do with main characters that are plucked from obscurity and plopped down into a completely new life. It’s hard to do this well, but I think Rebecca Serle did it in such a realistic way that I was like, “Yeah I can see that happening.” (Which is a huge component for contemporaries).

Anyways, back to our main characters. I loved Paige. She was pretty down to earth and didn’t get caught up in the whole stardom thing which was how I saw the story going, but I’m so glad it didn’t. She was kinda “whatever, filming a movie,” but also recognizing what a huge moment it was for her. Very real character.

Rainer…? I wasn’t a huge fan. I have a problem when it comes to goody two shoes guys in novels. I’m not sure why. They just seem too perfect. Which I get was the ideal narrative for Rainer, but he still rubbed me the wrong way. Tell me Rainer, what are your motives? Tell me your secrets.

And then Jordan. Sigh, Jordan. The bad/good boy. I love a complicated male backstory, and man did he deliver. Another character that I thought was really down to earth about the whole acting shindig and that was a refreshing breath of air (especially after Rainer).

I can NOT wait to start reading the next one. Scratch that, I’ve already started reading the next one. And then there’s going to be a third! And there’s a short novella of the fictional book within this book and its story/plotline. You can bet I already purchased that from Amazon. Oops.

Anyway, have you read this book/series yet? Did you like it? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think! (Especially with that ending! Still not over it)

All the Words Are Yours by Tyler Knott Gregson

All the Words Are Yours by Tyler Knott Gregson
Series: N/A
Published by Perigree Books on October 20, 2015
Genres: Poetry, Love
Pages: 144 : Hardcover edition
Source: Publisher sent me a book in exchange for an honest review
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Here starts the journey

Every day for the past six years, Tyler Knott Gregson has written a simple haiku about love, and posted it online. These heartfelt poems have attracted a large and loyal following around the world. This highly anticipated follow-up to Chasers of the Light, presents Tyler’s favorites, some previously unpublished, accompanied by his signature photographs, which capture the rich texture of daily life.

This vibrant collection reveals the intimate reflections of one of poetry’s most popular new voices — honest, vulnerable, generous, and truly present in the gift that is each moment.

Two years ago I was first exposed to Tyler Knott Gregson’s work when I was sent a copy of his compilation, Chasers of the Light: Poems From the Typewriter Series by the publisher and ever since then I have been hooked on his work. I follow his Tumblr, and each day run across his haikus, which I took a particular liking to so when I was contacted about reading a compilation of a bunch of his haikus, I may have jumped up and down with joy. Literally.

TKG has such a way with words and expressing love in so many different ways and forms. He writes about love in such a way that I had never really considered or comprehended before, but once I read it, its like something clicks in me and I have that lightbulb moment where I say, “oh yeah!”

When you get down to the basis of it, his haikus are beautiful. It’s beautifully written poetry with beautiful pictures and beautiful font (I have a particular fondness for typewriter font; probably is why I got my tattoo done with the same font). I reread this twice already because I couldn’t get enough of the words that he was pouring out onto the page.

Feeling down? Pick this up. It will help you soothe your mind and distract you from reality. What I find particularly interesting about his writing and poems as well is that love can seem so general, but he writes in such a way as if it’s only for me and what I’m experiencing. I say keep up the awesome and beautiful work, TKG. I can’t wait to see more from you in the future.

Connect with Tyler

The link to the book and pre-order info on Tyler’s Tumblr:
Tyler’s Facebook:
Tyler’s Instagram:
Tyler’s Twitter:

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Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith
Series: N/A
Published by Poppy on September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 246 : ARC edition
Source: An ARC was provided to me by the publisher (thank you SO much!)
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On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.

This is only the second Jennifer E. Smith book that I’ve read, but she is well on her way to becoming one of my favorite authors. I love her writing style and her books are so adorable and such easy reads that I just fly through them.

That being said, I only gave this one 4 out of 5 stars, since the plot was what had me kind of saying, “ehhh.” I think I’m just a very non-sentimental person when it comes to high school sweethearts, so throughout the entirety of the book I wasn’t really rooting for Clare and Aidan from the start. Which sucks, because it totally tainted my view of their relationship, but it is what it is.

However, I did appreciate the story. I liked how we got glimpses of their relationship through the different locations they went to and explored how they were going to deal with being apart. Definitely made me nostalgic for my high school days and saying that first goodbye to all my friends, so that was something I could totally relate too.

In the end this was a really adorable romance story that had me smiling and thinking about the past. I love stories that take place just before leaving for college, so this was right up my alley in that sense. Jennifer E. Smith fans and fans of contemporary novels will not be disappointed by this one!

(Also, her covers are always SO awesome! I love them!)

The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors

The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors
Series: N/A
Published by Razorbill on April 8, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 384 : Hardcover edition
Source: Purchased on Amazon
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Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.


And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.

Let’s just start this off with me saying I’m not a fan of the cover AT ALL. This was super embarrassing to read in public, and my friend caught me once and gave me such a look of disdain. That being said, the content was more on the opposite spectrum.

I really enjoyed the story that went on here and the slight twist on what was dubbed a modern day Romeo and Juliet. I think I went in with too many high expectations of it being exactly like that tragic love story (which it wasn’t thank god), so when this one started going into more serious topics I was thrilled.

I also like reading books that take place in the south for some reason; probably since I’ve never been there and it has a very romantic charm to it. The whole thing about Mickey’s half brother hiding all his illegal activities was something I found particularly interesting. And though we’re supposed to hate Mickey’s aunt (his half brother’s mother) I found her to be a surprisingly strong character. She was a far more interesting character than Victoria’s mom who was the typical rich white mom that thinks the world revolves around her.

While I did think the story dragged on in a few places (more towards the middle) and the plot went in a few circles, I think the overall end game was there and it was executed pretty well. I did give this an overall 4/5 stars mostly for the dragging of the story in some parts, but also for the abrupt ending. It just…stopped. I wanted more closure and coverage on what was going to happen to all the characters. Even just one more page of epilogue would have been fine! Alas, the story is what it is, and it’s a great read for anyone interested in a read filled with romance, violence, southern belles and boys.

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Series: N/A
Published by Scholastic on February 6, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, YA
Pages: 336 : Paperback edition
Source: Purchased at a Scholastic Warehouse sale
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When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

This is the second YA historical fiction book by Vicky Alvear Shecter (the first being Cleopatra’s Moon) and I love the way she interweaves fiction with history to tell a fascinating and complex story. As you can tell by the title, this one focuses on the tragedy of Pompeii and the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvias. Ever since I was little, I had been fascinated with the events of Pompeii (not 100% sure why) and when I saw this I just had to pick it up.

Our story focuses around two main characters, Lucia (a rich daughter of a man who owns and trains gladiator fighters) and Tages, aka Tag (a poor slave who is owned by Lucia’s father and was childhood friends with Lucia). I love that Ms. Shecter created Lucia as a character who, in a patriarchal society, she remained strong in her scientific beliefs and had a mind of her own. She defied a lot of what was considered “proper” and stood up for herself, sometimes a rare thing to find in even characters of this century. Tag was also a strong character and he went through quite a bit of development, even right up until the very last page.

I loved seeing not only their interactions, but their journey leading up to the eruption. The last quarter of the book moved along at quite a fast pace which I liked because it kept up with the confusion surrounding the post-eruption. That’s not to say that I didn’t like the first three quarters of the book; quite the contrary! Again, Ms. Shecter did an excellent job of transporting me to this ancient city/world and integrating and explaining different facets of life while also progressing through the characters own plots. Overall, just a really fantastic read and, as usual, I look forward to when she releases another historical fiction novel