We’ve Been Waiting: City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire8755785

Cassandra Clare

Kindle Version

★★★★★!!!!!

Summary: 

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons? When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned… Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

Review: I have been waiting on the edge of my seat for this book since I finished the fifth around Christmas time. I know I am a little late on reading it for someone who was waiting so long, but my list of books to read is never ending. So when I finally found time, yesterday, I read the  whole 725 pages in one sitting. Awkward. Sometimes it takes me two days to finish a 400 page book that I like but you know I love a book when I physically can’t stop reading it.

This was the case with City of Heavenly Fire. Folks, Cassandra Clare has done it again. I just don’t get it. How can someone write a fantasy story that seems so real. I was full of excitement and anxiety the entire book with  a side of happy and sad, depending on the part.

To be honest, I was a little nervous when I saw the number of pages, but even at 725 pages, the story went by too quickly. Personally, I am just never satisfied with the lengths of books, either it is too short or too long or, like in this case, it look too daunting but ended up being too short because I loved the plot so much. I am never pleased apparently. I really do not want to give too much of the plot away, but if you have read the other books in this series then you know the heartache that the characters have endured.

Literally, if this is me trying to convince you to start The Mortal Instruments series, my biggest hook is that this series has it all. It is has romance and fantasy and actions but honestly all about friendship. This band of friends, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, Alec and so many more work together to over throw the evil that is trying to do away with the world they know and love.

I don’t want to be repetitive, because I have written about pretty much if not all of the books in this series, but it is truly unique. Sure, some elements have been done before, faeries, demons vampires and werewolves, but shadowhunters were new. Clare introduce a whole new species to the magical realm that upset the balance we readers are used to. It created an unknown world that was as interesting as it was amusing.

Something I wanted to touch upon before I go and leave you all to be curious and excited to read this series, is the characters. I have mentioned that there are a lot of main characters, Clary and Jace but then Isabelle, Simon and Alec. Not to mention their families and friends and others who help them through their adventure. It is unique to The Mortal Instruments Series that I became attached to all characters. Not just Clary and Jace or one of their close friends. Every person that Clare describes in some one I became attached to, probably because of the way they were beautifully written.

I have loved this series since day one and the thought of letting it go is bittersweet. Why is this series ending? Don’t you just hate that, you get so invested into a series and then the author just rips it away from you? I was pretty mad at Cassandra Clare until I saw on Goodreads that she has a sister series that was released called the The Infernal Devices series. I can’t wait to get my hands on these and be angry when another great series comes to a halt.

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Summer Loving Review: The Art of My Life

The Art of My Life  16276593

Ann Lee Miller

Kindle Version

★★★★★

Summary:

Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters. Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed. But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying. For anyone who’s ever struggled to measure up. And failed.

Review:

I read this book while on a cruise in Cocoa Beach Florida, which I thought was funny because I was only an hour away from New Smyrna Beach where the story takes place. As you all have probably figured out, I love Ann Lee Miller and The Art of My Life is no acceptation.

I find that all of Ann Lee Miller’s books are relatable in some way, but personally I loved The Art of My Life the most because it was the most relatable to my personal life. There is just something about Miller’s writing that makes me never want the story to end.

The characters are the driving force behind the plot and are extremely real. This was not a story that you could never picture happening, because too many families it is real. Cal has not been dealt the best deck of cards, but he does nothing to turn his life around before he is arrested.

Miller introduces the idea that Cal is never good enough for his mother, which I think may be a common thought in many young adults and teenagers. It is as much a great story for a child to accept their mother, but for a mother to accept their child.

Aly is really the driving force at Cal changing. While he has always had it in the back of his mind he needed to change, what really pushed him over the edge was realizing she was not going to visit him in jail. The feeling of never wanting to miss her again was the motivation Cal needed.

I really loved this book, it was the best in the new Smyrna Beach Series in my opinion. Truly a perfectly written story that captures readers and is real. It is a story that can and does happen to many people, making it reach to a wide audience. It is also the perfect beach read!

 

 

Review: Sweet Beams

Sweet Beams

FrontCover

Renee Garrison and Tom Szumlic

PDF Version provided by author

★★★★★

 

Summary:
Sweet Beams was written to celebrate the place we call home, with bits of inspiration, such as: “The most essential piece of garden equipment is a hammock” or “Put the ‘living’ back in your living room. Try Dancing.”
But it also includes practical tips for new homeowners or renters: “Offer a bottle of water to anyone who delivers anything to your door.” “Personalizing your porch or entry with a wreath, mailbox or planter has been proven to be an effective home security system. There are fewer break-ins.” In 10 short chapters, this book reminds everyone how lucky we are to live under a roof.
The perfect gift book for someone moving into their first rental apartment or final retirement home. (It pairs nicely with a housewarming plant or a bottle of wine!)
Review:
I want to start off by saying this is not the normal book that I might read, but I enjoyed it all the same. I would not normally accept this type of review request only because I would hate to be a disappointing review to the author since this is not my focus. But the only reason I accepted this was because in the email that was carefully typed out to me, one of the authors, Renee Garrison included that it was great for first time apartment and home owners. This year, I am moving into my own apartment so it sparked my interest.
The introduction is simply perfection. Renee and Tom have a way with words, that without making too much of a pun here, make you feel comfortable like you are at home. The homey feeling is continued throughout the book, including the title. I love Sweet Beams as the title and thought it went nicely with the overall feel that the book produces.
I thought that the photographs in Sweet Beams were extremely pretty and inspiring. They added to the overall message from the authors and did not take away from the points they made.
I like the additions of quotes and tips at the end of a description given by the authors. They go through each room and highlight the most important features and the best ways to make it feel like home.

Every inch of the house was included, from the dining room table to wall color to the garden, you name it and Renee and Tom have advice for it.
 As Renee mentioned in her email to me, this book would be the perfect gift for a new homeowner or for a first time apartment dweller. But I would even go so far to say that this would pair well as a wedding gift. It had so much advice for creating a home out of a house and I think it would be great for newly married couples. Not to mention that the price is perfect for a gift!
About the Authors:
Renee Garrison is the former Architecture Critic of The Tampa Tribune. She has written extensively about architecture and interior design and won two Communication Awards from the American Institute of Architects.
Tom Szumlic, Architect and General Contractor, maintains his own architectural practice in Tampa, Florida.

 

Fall In Love with Monday: Illusions Begin Review

Illusions Begin20505788

N.L. Greene

Kindle Version

★★★

Summary:

Katherine Rebecca has always done exactly what was expected of her. Her prim and proper upbringing taught her the importance of family, sacrifice, and social stature. She has followed in her parents’ footsteps, being trained and groomed daily almost from birth, to take over the family law firm. It was never a question of IF she wanted to but WHEN she would take the reins of the company. She worked rigorously toward that predetermined goal her entire life. She gave up friends, boyfriends, and an exciting social life in order to propel herself through school and college. Katherine Rebecca strives to please her parents. More than anything, she basked in their praise and approval. But now, at 21 years old, she finds herself leading a life that is nothing like the life she imagined for herself.

Becky has always possessed a deep love of magic. Ever since she was a small child she has been fascinated with magicians, illusions, mystery, and the vague hope that there was some sort of real magic in the world. But this is a secret no one knows, or at least that’s what she thought. Until one day Becky finds a mysterious business card in her pocket that leads her to an equally mysterious man. He opens up a whole new world of possibilities to her, one with a tantalizing proposition that she never thought imaginable.

Could magic actually be real?

Review:

Let’s begin with, I was not expecting the form of ‘magic’ in this book to be magician magic. I anticipating a more magical magic, although I had not seen the cover until I began to write this review. And if I had seen the cover before I read it, I would have anticipated a much more sexually based book as the cover is quite scandalous. Anyway, that is not to say that the form of magic made the book any less interesting. The concept: Becky is a smothered child and too afraid to speak up to her loving parents who expect only the best. She can’t find the words or time to tell her parents about her secret love, magic. Until a moment when she meets a mysterious man who wants to show her a whole different side of magic.

I wish the book moved a littler faster. I felt that the pace went way too slow and there was an abundance of information that was necessarily thrown at us. For such a short book, it should have moved from event to event much quicker. That being said, the last chapter or so moved at a great pace and the story suddenly became more interesting because before this point, it was boring.

The book really focused on character development with most of the book centered around Becky’s family and personal life. It was different to get a detailed sense of a characters background by actually seeing the events occur and not just hearing about them. It allowed Becky to gain more sympathy from the audience, especially since she was living her life in a way that only pleased her parents.

Illusions Begin was extremely well written, and one of the reasons I continued reading through the slower portions. N.L. Greene clearly chooses each word with care and crafts a story that while slow, was unique and captivating. I wanted to read more.

After the last chapter, I was excited to hear that the story continued, but as short as this book was it was not short enough for me. I felt like it dragged on forever with unnecessary details. If you make it through this book to the end, the story does become more interesting because as I said, the story line is not the usual plot. It is a great introductory book to what I hope is a paranormal series, but I do think it could have easily been one chapter, not an entire book.

 

 

 

Review: The Rules

The Rules11640957

Stacey Kade

Paper Back

★★★★★

 

Summary:

1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

Review:

I do not even have words for this book. (How many times have I said THAT in my reviews?) I am truly in shock from its amazing-ness. I recently took a trip to Barnes and Noble to get some hard copy books to read on my cruise (I just got back) and I stumbled upon The Rules.  Now honestly, I saw this book, read the summary and put it back. But as I wandered around the store, it kind of grew on me and I found myself right back in front of it’s shelf. And that leads us to where I am now, addicted.

I read The Rules in one day. (And the next day I read the second in the series.  The Hunt.) I could not put it down. I was drawn in by Kade’s style of writing. It was fast pace and flowed seamlessly through the many facts and events that occurred. (Previously I read a book where the main character was named Kade, check it out! The Divine Path)

I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, sometimes with tears in my eyes. I mean, you really know a book is great when you are laughing, crying and shocked all at the same time, The Rules  delivers in this respect. The characters are a huge factor in this, Ariane is amazing and I guess Zane isn’t so bad either. (Just kidding I love Zane.)

Anyway, without giving too much away, the plot is nothing like what you expect. There are so many random things that happen as well as completely unexpected facts and events that it is impossible to know what will happen next.

The mixture of the intense, paranoid, on edge feeling that the book delivers to the reader is why I enjoyed it so much. But my favorite part has to be Ariane’s inner monologues. Seriously, Kade is a genious in terms of humor. Ariane says and thinks the funniest things, I found myself laughing while sunbathing on the cruise.

Is it wrong to say that this story was realistic? Because, I get it, it is not, but if things were to go down and alien cross species were produced, this is EXACTLY how I would expect it to happen. Everyone had real reactions including Ariane. I really appreciated the attention to detail that Kade added in order to increase the naive personality Ariane was supposed to have.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, I loved this book. It is one of my favorite books read so far this year (Behind Vampire Academy of course!) The Rules was just another case of don’t judge a book by its cover on so many levels.

 

 

Review: The Divine Path

The Divine Path19506077

Allen A Johnston

Paperback Version

 

Summary:

★★★★★

When the spirit of Kade’s deceased master shows up in his bedroom, it can only mean one thing; Kade’s part in the fight with Morg is not over. In fact . . . it has only just begun. Having completed the task of informing the remaining Master Chosen about who has been hunting their kind, Kade believed that his part in this battle was over. Being only an apprentice, what more could he do? Kade retreats to his parents’ home, hoping to have a chance at some peace and quiet while spending time with Darcienna. However, the appearance of his master’s spirit plunges him, Darcienna and Rayden back into danger. He must race to rescue a Master Chosen from the clutches of the evil Morg. Not only does the Master Chosen’s life hang in the balance but a species of sentient spiders may be wiped out if Kade is not able to change the tide of battle. Will Kade’s gift of unlimited Divine Power be enough to save so many that count on him for their survival?

Review:

After entering in this giveaway on Goodreads with all fingers crossed that I would win, I was extremely pleased and grateful to find out I actually did win. Being the second in the series, it took a while to fit The Diving Path into my reading schedule. I am so glad I finally came across time to read it.

I love the concept of this novel. There are so many elements that are not found in other similar genres. The ‘divine  power’ is something that is completely different than other books that include magical powers. The divine is unique in the delivery and the lack of control, which in turn makes the book wildly interesting.

The characters are probably the main reason my love for this book runs so deep because they change and grown in front of your eyes. Johnston perfectly develops his characters. Their interactions were authentic. I felt so much compassion for Kade and Darcienna. Kade is described by his father as the lesser of two evils, not something that is all too flattering. But that is exactly what is demonstrated throughout the book. He tries his hardest to be a good person, but at times is overtaken by power. We see Darcienna grounding this personality trait, making her an even more loved character.

The amount of action in The Divine Path tripled from the first, which is saying a lot since the book is based off action scenes. In this case, the action may have been too much is Johnston had not written it to flow the way he did. Every scene was vital to the entire story and it was clear that each fact given was to be useful in the future.

Overall, I loved this book. The suspense mixed with the uncertainty really added to the plot of the novel making it a great read for those who like action and young adult, fantasy novels.

 

Review: The Curse of Nefertiti

The Curse of Nefertiti

Charline Ratcliff 6467448

PDF Version

Summary:

Over three thousand years ago, all of Egypt lies in ruins. The country that had dazzled the world is now completely annihilated, and the Nile runs red with the blood of her people. Nefertiti’s spirit walks the land and looks at the utter devastation she has unwittingly allowed to transpire. In desperation she cries out to the Gods, and they take pity on her. They send her forward into the future, so she may return later to correct her mistakes. This is the story of Nefertiti, of the life she has lived here as Kayla, unaware of her true identity until finally reunited with the man who is the living reincarnation of her murdered husband, Akhenaten. She is faced with a difficult choice. Return to Egypt and save her country and its people or stay here with the man who holds her heart. And if she returns to Egypt, will she remember her life as Kayla, so she may be returned to it before her life becomes forfeit in the past? Charline Ratcliff’s tale is woven with likeable and believable characters, powerful visceral imagery, and a tapestry of combining old with new to create a masterful novel. Her debut novel is a stunning achievement that deftly envelops the reader.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book. The Curse of Nefertiti incorporated all the elements of a good romance as well as the components of a fictional story. The main character, Kayla, embarks on a journey that she doesn’t quite understand, let alone know is occurring. Psychological elements are always appealing in a novel, and Ratcliff included some in the journey Kayla must take.  Before the age of 13, Kayla cannot remember anything. I love the use of ‘amnesia’ in novels to enhance the journey a character must take. In this case, Kayla does not know what or why she is doing anything, but an internal drive, as well as internal voices, are compelling her to do things.

Probably categorized as a paranormal romance, The Curse of Nefertiti also uses historical elements to enhance the story. The romance that occurs throughout the novel was extremely predictable. You know what was going to happen, but kind of enjoyed it anyway. Romance with strong passion is hard to hate. Kayla is also a character that is hard to hate. As the reader, you can relate to her on so many levels. She is a typical women in her early years. Working long hours with not much time for fun or a love life. Those of us who are also working similar hours relate. She has family troubles and romantic issues just like the rest of us, except we are not queens.

I usually complain about stories being too short, or wanting more. But in this case I wish there was less. I felt like the story was great at the start, got extremely boring in the middle, and the plot picked back up at the end. The middle was filled with too much love and romance. Kayla and Paulo’s relationship was understood to be something more from the beginning and i felt that it took up the majority of this 384 page book. The romance building was unnecessary and I found that it really took away from the amazing story line that actually was the focus of the plot.

Something unique about this story is that it is told in first person, from Kayla’s point of view. This really enhances the overall story by allowing us to not only be in her head, but experience the confusion and ‘voices’ inside her head. If this story was written in any other view, it would not have been as effective.

The Curse of Nefertiti was overall, a good book. It was interesting in the plot I you could get past the excessive amount of romance and was quite interesting. I believe it would be a great book for those who love paranormal romance, reincarnation or books infused with Egyptian history. Written for mature audiences.