Book Review: Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (02/02/18)

Summary:

“Luna was unapologetically who she was; darkness illuminated in pale light, kindness cloaked in snark, cold at times, but with a warmth bubbling beneath the frosted surface.”

Aura and Luna are bound by dark magic. They are half fae twins. Luna is princess of the night, gaining power by the moon, and has power over air and fire. Aura is princess of the day, and has power over the elements of water and earth. It is a curse that comes with great power.

Luna doesn’t want to hurt others, but Aura seems to go out of her way to kill everyone that gets too close to Luna, including Prince William. Luna will have her revenge and is convinced that she must break their bond and kill her sister. Her plan is to wait until she is awake with power, create a spell to sever the bond, and rid the kingdom of the evil Aura. Luna will do anything for that spell, until William’s younger brother, the Prince Phillip wanders onto her land.

Keywords:

Witches, Fae, Sorcery, Fairy Tale Retelling, Destruction, Roses, Poison, Evil, Sisters, Moon, Guilt, Prince, Hunt, Spells, Broom, Familiar, Cat, Curse, Murder, Power, Love

My Review:

This book was slow to start but well worth reading to the end.

After reading both Savage Beauty and Riches to Rags, I know I will enjoy the other fairy tale retellings by Casey Bond.

Savage Beauty is a unique fairy tale which is very loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. This book was highly creative and imaginative, but also logical due to the background and world building. Unlike the overly imaginative Alice in Wonderland, Savage Beauty is highly creative within the set of rules that Bond has crafted in this world.

I loved having both Aura and Luna’s perspectives. After falling in love with Luna, much like William and Philip, I found it interesting to see Aura’s perspective. It was quite satisfying and confusing. How could a murderer downplay her acts? How could Aura excuse her behavior? And yet, she felt genuine when we were inside her head.

Even Philip felt like more than just the love interest. There was some depth to his character, though not as much as Luna. Luna is the fantasy character I’ve always wanted to read about. She is tormented and stubborn and hell bent on revenge. She is also sweet and caring and regretful of any actions she takes that cause hurt upon others.

Though I almost set this book down from the first chapter, I’m glad I kept reading and absolutely loved the ending.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 02/02/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

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Book Review: Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (10/31/17)

Summary:

“You are brave when you should be terrified, kind when you should be bitter, humble when you could be prideful, and your spirit, instead of being crushed beneath circumstance, somehow managed to rise above it all and remain joyful.”

Ella Carina’s favorite pastime is sitting in her window seat and gazing at the people outside as they go about their daily lives. She despairs that she’ll be stuck in the castle until her father forces her to marry an older man from Galder for political reasons. At 14, she expects to wait until after her older sister is married, but her father decides to marry both Carina and Ivy on the same day in a few weeks. With her future set, Carina is about to lose what little freedom she does have. The very next day the next kingdom over attacks the castle and she is swept away, her life as she knows it is over. But perhaps living in hiding as a farmer will give her the simpler life she has always dreamed about.

Keywords:

Fairy Tale, Retelling, Cinderella, Love, Innocent, Envy, Prince, King, Kingdom, Power, Escape, Hiding, Poor, Dreams, Castle, Tyrant, Family, Friendship, Fighting

My Review:

I love a good fairy tale retelling. Riches to Rags was an excellent fairy tale adaptation. I absolutely love Bond’s writing style and the flow of her stories.

I thought Carina grew so much from the beginning of the novel to the end. Bond does an amazing job of showing Carina’s growth and change as a character. Bond also creates so much conflict, terror, and circumstances outside of Carina’s control, that I wondered how she would survive. Carina’s true character, her grit, and her good nature shows true as she lives and works with the farmers. She is grateful to be alive to be placed with such a loving family. Carina is a much more active character than she has reason to be. Bond gives Carina the perseverance to create a good and happy life for herself, despite the circumstances that brutally took her away from her life in the castle as a princess.

As soon as you fall in love with Carina and her new romance with the blacksmith’s son and wonder how she will overcome the animosity from her new sister, a new conflict arises. This book had so much packed into it and I very much enjoyed reading it. I look forward to reading Casey Bond’s other fairy tale adaptations.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 10/31/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Catalyst by Kristin Smith

Catalyst by Kristin Smith

A Dystopian YA Novel published through Clean Teen Publishing (11/21/16)

Summary:

Sienna lives in a world where almost everyone around her has been genetically upgraded. She is shorter, plainer, and all around normal. But her normal world gets shattered when her she finds out her father didn’t die of natural causes. It is up to her to support her family – her mother and young sister – as she tries to figure out who was behind her father’s death. Before she can even begin to uncover these secrets, one of her side jobs goes awry and she’s in hot water with the government. Her life goes from barely manageable to disaster when her mother is taken away by the government and the only way to get her back will be to join forces with an extremist group.

Keywords:

Runaway, Dystopian, Values and Virtues, Science Fiction, Futuristic, Female Main Character, Adventure, Romance, Deception, Las Vegas, Technology, DNA, Family, Lies

My Review:

This book was a nonstop adventure ride with a lot of action packed scenes. It was the Chosen One crossed with a Love Triangle mixed with some Dystopian thriller goodness. That being said, I did think it was too easy for Sienna any time she faced adversity. She was always getting out of any situation! Her triumphs, especially against an organized body like the government, seemed a bit too easy.

I loved Sienna’s spunk and positive attitude. She never had negative thoughts regarding her own possible failure and she never dwelled on the what ifs because she was a woman of action! She was always brave and fearless. In her last year without her father she had to learn to be self-reliant and resilient, because her mother was not able to provide and support the family. We don’t see Sienna grow during this time period, but we do see her on the other side as she faces all sorts of problems and difficulties.

I liked that Zane existed, even though he didn’t feel fully formed. I liked that there was a love triangle in this book because it added some more complications to Sienna’s already complicated life.

YA literature needs more red heads like Sienna.

This novel was published through Clean Teen Publishing on 11/21/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Kristin Smith’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Unchosen by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins

Unchosen by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins

A Dark Fantasy Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (10/10/17)

Summary:

“There’s no more ifs. There’s no more maybes.” (Page 104).

Everything went wrong when the chosen one died. Had they horribly misinterpreted the prophecy? Their world will now be under Xaramor’s rule for thousands of years, but there may still be hope for the chosen one’s four companions to still save the world.

Keywords:

Powerful Females, Diversity, Epic Fantasy, Fight, Prophecy, Tragedy, Death, Baba Yaga, Doom, Hope, Travel, Tower, Magic, Healing, Battle

My Review:

I noticed. The chosen one may have been your typical young male, but those left behind were the most diverse cast of characters. I appreciated so much this fact that two of the main four characters were powerful females with their own distinct personalities and abilities (Celeste and Noriko). The other two main characters were also diverse in their own ways as well (Nils and Hobie).

I liked how the chapters had their own POV and we got to see the unfolding of the world from different voices and get a little more inside the main characters’ heads.

I enjoyed the breadth of the world that the main characters traveled to accomplish their missions – the book had a definite Lord of the Rings vibe – even if for most of the action they didn’t really have one distinct mission. How to stop Xaramor? You can’t just stop him!

This book turned “the chosen one” trope upside down and showed how sometimes prophecies can be misinterpreted. Finally, a realistic plotline! They didn’t always get it right on the first guess – which is where mayhem and battles ensued. Although there’s lots of death and violence, this book isn’t bloody and gory.

I’ve never read such a good and well written middle – but I did sorely miss the traditional beginning, middle and end of a “chosen” one fantasy. This book was a deviation from the norm. It was fun and different. I loved the Baba Yaga scenes.

The book featured a truly epic final battle – worthy of the slow, slow buildup from the beginning of the end in the beginning to the end of the end at the end.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC 10/10/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Jeffrey Cook on FreeValley Publishing

Jeffrey Cook’s Facebook

Book Review: Dissident (Forbidden Things Book 1) by Nikki McCormack

Dissident (Forbidden Things Book 1) by Nikki McCormack

A Fantasy Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (9/02/14)

Summary:

Indigo has always suppressed her Ascard power because society does not allow the use of powerful Ascard. She can use a limited amount as a healer but has worked all her life to hold in her inner aspect and connection to Ascard. Her power does not go completely unnoticed, as an exotic stranger contacts her through Ascard, seeking her help. Intrigued by him and ruffled by her rocky relationship with her fiancé, she follows the stranger into his prison. After she helps him escape, she thinks she will never see him again. Fate brings them together again, but he still needs her help.

Keywords:

Power, Control, Magic, Inner Strength, Inner Aspect, Travel, War, Fighting, Struggle, Talent, Healing, Abuse, Sex, Love, Creation, Lies, Slaves

My Review:

This novel had a great balance  between romance, fantasy and plot. I was pulled in by Indigo’s struggles to live up to others’ expectations in her restrictive society and her struggles with her fiancé. The intrigue and quick attraction between Indigo and Yiloch pulled me into the romantic aspect of the book and the plot kept the entire novel together as action wove through until the end.

Indigo is a role model for female characters. She’s strong, not in relation to man, but in relation to her enemies and her friends. She doesn’t have to stay in her relationship. She has control over her fiancé in a way he can’t even fathom. She isn’t smug about her skills and she doesn’t look down on others, even though she is stronger than everyone around her, even her teacher.

I enjoyed the writing style of this fantasy novel, just as much as the clean writing of McCormack’s steampunk series – Clockwork Enterprises.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 06/09/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Nikki McCormack’s Website

Book Review: The Girl and the Clockwork Crossfire (Clockwork Enterprises Book 3) by Nikki McCormack

The Girl and the Clockwork Crossfire (Clockwork Enterprises Book 3) by Nikki McCormack

A YA Steampunk Novel published by Elysium Books (6/01/17)

Summary:

Maeko must choose where her loyalties lie – with the Pirates or just those she loves. Can she betray her new friends to keep her loved ones safe? New information from the Lits’ secret prison isn’t good and Maeko won’t be able to ignore it.

Keywords:

Clockwork, Cat, Pirate, Friendship, Streets, Fleeing, Fighting, Stealing, Officers, Mystery, Death, Street Smarts, London, Teenager, Female Main Character, Love, Loyalty, Proper Society, Detective, Wealth

My Review:

Maeko only wants to do right by those she loves, but she can’t always save everyone. In fact, those around her seem to get into just as much trouble as she does! Maeko’s love and empathy for everyone around her, even the cat (and so much the cat) is quite endearing. She is a phenomenal person (even for a Rat and a Pickpocket) and a well-built main character. She is loyal to a fault and stubborn and brave.

Macak the cat even gets his own mini chapter in this third book and he’s more important than ever! He is one of my favorite literary ‘pets’ even though he’s more like a sidekick to Maeko. I wish I had a cat that sat on my shoulder and followed me into all sorts of danger!

The storyline continues to be amazing and the balance between action and storytelling is perfect. I do wish there was more to the Maeko and her mother storyline, but such is the way between parents and their children sometimes.

McCormack is a professional storyteller and I would read anything she writes.

This novel was published by Elysium Books on June 1st, 2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Nikki McCormack’s Website

Book Review: The Girl and the Clockwork Conspiracy: Clockwork Enterprises Book Two (Volume 2) by Nikki McCormack

The Girl and the Clockwork Conspiracy: Clockwork Enterprises Book Two (Volume 2) by Nikki McCormack

A YA Steampunk Novel published by Elysium Books (9/12/15)

Summary:

Maeko is recuperating from her injuries as a ward of Lucien Folesworth. She saved his life and now he feels compelled to save her from a life on the streets, but high society and propriety isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maeko would rather live in poverty on the streets than have to conform to life following all the ridiculous rules as a woman in the ruling wealthy class. Will Maeko stay with Lucien or will something else tear them apart?

Keywords:

Clockwork, Cat, Pirate, Friendship, Streets, Fleeing, Fighting, Stealing, Officers, Mystery, Death, Street Smarts, London, Teenager, Female Main Character, Love, Loyalty, Proper Society, Detective, Wealth

My Review:

I have never read a steampunk series quite like The Clockwork Enterprises. The story is believable and gritty and full of plot and action and interesting characters.

Maeko is a loveable hero who doesn’t stop to think twice, even if her own life is in danger. She is now torn between her feelings for Chaff and the affection Ash feels for her, but she is almost too busy with other problems. Almost.

I loved seeing Em, the surly detective, more in this book.

The story is well put together and though the ending could have been a bit stronger, I’m glad that the third book is already available so I can start reading it immediately.

The steampunk elements were elegantly integrated. Again, like with the first book, McCormack is a genius with world building and writing a good story.

This novel was published by Elysium Books on September 12th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Nikki McCormack’s Website

Book Review: Numbers Raging (Numbers Game Saga Book 3) by Rebecca Rode

Numbers Raging (Numbers Game Saga Book 3) by Rebecca Rode

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Diamond Patch Press (02/19/17)

Summary:

Treena wants to save everyone, including citizens of NORA and the integrants and settlers of the desert. She will have to use all her political prowess to convince her hometown and those abroad to help with her cause. The enemy looms, but nobody will believe that the young teenagers Treena and Vance are telling the truth. It’s much easier to sweep it all under the rug and look the other way.

Keywords:

Futuristic, Water Shortage, Protection, Family, Loyalty, Number System, Ratings, Scores, Technology, Politics, Survival, Strict Society, Dystopian, Friendship, Desert, Travel, War, Weapons, Death

My Review:

The first half of this book was not as exciting as book 2, as it was full of political subterfuge and Treena trying to gain political support from the other Nations. I really enjoyed the Star Wars feel this book had, with the council and the underhanded politics that Treena was subjected to during her stay at the peace council meeting.

As I was reading I couldn’t help but wonder how it would end. There only seemed like two possibilities, but I was pleasantly surprised by the turn the story took. This book expertly wrapped up the series and the final climax was awesome! So much happened!

What would you do to save everything and everyone that you loved?

This novel was published by Diamond Patch Press on 02/19/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Rode’s Website

Book Review: Numbers Ignite (Numbers Game Saga Book 2) by Rebecca Rode

Numbers Ignite (Numbers Game Saga Book 2) by Rebecca Rode

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Diamond Patch Press (01/26/16)

Summary:

Treena is ready to leave NORA behind forever, but NORA is far from done with her. With the hope of a life ahead with Vance, she pushes onward through the uninhabitable dessert. After losing all her gear, it seems like she’ll never make it, but is saved by a hidden underground settlement. Vance doesn’t know that Treena is on her way to join him, but he is up to his elbows in his own problems. After agreeing to be put on trial for his previous actions, he’s become a prisoner of his own people.

Keywords:

Futuristic, Water Shortage, Protection, Family, Loyalty, Number System, Ratings, Scores, Technology, Politics, Survival, Strict Society, Dystopian, Friendship, Desert, Travel, War, Weapons, Death

My Review:

Vance and Treena are creating their own paths in this second book. They want to be together, but first must overcome obstacles in their own lives and find each other again afterwards. I enjoyed seeing Treena and Vance in their own stories as they struggled with different problems.

Now that Treena can no longer turn her back on NORA, it’s citizens, and all the problems right in front of her, she will have to fight even harder for what she believes is right. For Vance it was never a question of if he should or should not help others, but without having the power to lead or change situations, he will have quite a difficult time of it!

This story picks up right where the first one leaves off and ends with quite the chaotic climax.

This novel was published by Diamond Patch Press on 01/26/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Rode’s Website

Book Review: Numbers Game (Numbers Game Saga Book 1) by Rebecca Rode

Numbers Game (Numbers Game Saga Book 1) by Rebecca Rode

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Diamond Patch Press (03/10/15)

Summary:

Treena has followed the rules her entire life and her rating should be high, as high as her boyfriend’s rating. She should be a green with a good job and a great life in NORA, the only thriving city in futuristic and devastated North America. They have technology and a water filtration system as well as a strict rating system to keep citizens in line. When Treena receives one of the lowest ratings of her entire class, there must be a mistake! Treena will do nearly anything to fix her low red number, even go undercover for the empress and find a military spy. What if her rating wasn’t an accident? What else is going on in the fringes of this perfect society?

Keywords:

Futuristic, Water Shortage, Protection, Family, Loyalty, Number System, Ratings, Scores, Technology, Politics, Survival, Strict Society, Dystopian, Friendship

My Review:

The Numbers Saga is a dystopian novel with an active female heroine. Treena has quite a bit thrown at her, but she doesn’t just react to her situations, she actively seeks out her story. She creates her own rules.

I wasn’t entirely convinced that a 16-year old who is referred to as ‘small’ would be able to defend and defeat a fully trained adult soldier after one week of training. There were other small plot conveniences – punishment mode was only triggered for important characters when it could be overcome. Important characters could escape when they needed and get to where they needed to be. I could see the plot twists coming.

That being said, I could not put this book down. The writing style, characters, and plot pulled me right in and I didn’t want to stop reading. This was a fun and engrossing book.

If you were a fan of Divergent and Hunger Games, you will enjoy this book.

This novel was published by Diamond Patch Press on 03/10/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Rode’s Website