Of Lords and Commoners (Lords and Commoners: Book 1) by Lynne Hill-Clark

Of Lords and Commoners: Book 1 (Lords and Commoners Series) by [Lynne Hill-Clark]
Of Lords and Commoners: Book 1 by Lynne Hill-Clark (Amazon cover)

Publisher: Hill, Clark, and Associates

Date of publication: June 21st, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Series: Of Lords and Commoners

Of Lords and Commoners—Book 1

Of Prince and Dragons—Book 2

Of Gods and Goddesses—Book 3

Format read in: eBook

Goodreads synopsis:

Humans Have Always Had to Fight Plagues …

The only future Vallachia could have imagined, as well as her wonderfully simple life disappears when she finds herself in a struggle to figure out the rules of a strange new world.

She longs for her old life and the one she truly loves remains out of reach, as she embarks on an inconceivable journey.

Vallachia quickly finds herself on the wrong side of a brewing battle for vampire domination. Not knowing who to trust could have fatal consequences … for millions of people.


First Line:

We ran swiftly through the forest.

Of Lords and Commoners by Lynne Hill-Clark

First Impressions:

I am one of those people who’s impressions of books start with the covers. The cover of Of Lords and Commoners on Goodreads wasn’t much to look at. Black that faded to brown with a family crest under the title and gold words. It was very plain and didn’t give any clue about what the book was about. So visually, it was a nope for me. Fortunately, the blurb made me think twice about reading it.

Of Lords and Commoners is set in the Middle Ages. The first half of the book takes place in Vallachia’s village in the Carpathian Mountains. It doesn’t say precisely where but if I had to guess, Romania. Considering what I have read/know about the Carpathian Mountains, it was an excellent location for the first half of the book.

The book did get off to a slow and somewhat dull start. It was a struggle to get through the first couple of chapters. Once I got through them (once Lord Chastellain and Elijah arrived), the book picked up the pace.

I did feel bad for Vallachia. She was being forced into an impossible position: having to choose between Teller and Elijah. Teller was her childhood love. Elijah was the Lord’s son, who she was developing feelings for. But at the same time, I didn’t quite believe that she was allowed to choose who she was going to marry. It was the Middle Ages. Women didn’t get any say in anything. So for her father to have such a progressive view didn’t ring right to me.

The vampire angle of the book was interesting. I liked how the author stayed true to vampires’ fundamental myths and tweaked them a little bit. The author also added small things that made sense, like flying and swimming under the water. Oh, and the whole not being able to enter a church? Not happening in this book. Vallachia was able to enter several churches after being turned.

Speaking of Vallachia being turned, that was a pivotal scene in the book. Everything that happens from then on is connected to what Lord Chastellain did and what Elijah did (or in this case didn’t) do. I couldn’t believe what I was reading!! Of course, Vallachia’s relationship with her father, brother, best friend, and Teller took a significant turn.


Mid-Book Impressions:

Of Lords and Commoners hit some lag in the middle of the book. There was so much going on that the plotline started to stagnant. Fortunately, the author was able to breathe life back into the plot.

I felt terrible for Vallachia during this part of the book. She had to come to terms with being a vampire and getting involved in vampire politics. She also had to deal with her feeling for both Teller and Elijah. She didn’t have it easy at all.

I didn’t agree with Vallachia returning to her home village. I get that she had serious feelings for Teller, but she was protected with Elijah (safety in numbers). I also didn’t agree with her telling Teller that she was a vampire. His reaction was what I thought it would be. Honestly, it made me dislike him. Of course, then Lord Chastellain showed up and did what he did. That, in turn, forced Vallachia to turn Teller, who then did something unforgivable. But even that didn’t end Vallachia’s feelings for Teller. I did a considerable WTF when she still said she loved him. Seriously????

Interestingly, there was a subplot line about vampire rebellion that started in Constantinople. I wish the author had spent more time describing where the vampires live and even the city itself (there were a couple of well-written scenes, but it left me wanting more). It is that plotline that kept the book moving along. When Vallachia went to Denmark and then London (after she turned Teller), there was so much intrigue!!! There was also some LGBTQ+ representation in the book, which I enjoyed.


End of Book Impressions:

The plotline for Of Lord and Commoners worked itself out. There was new life breathed into the plotline by the increased attacks of the vampire revolution. That sent Vallachia, Elijah, and their friends on missions (for lack of a better word) to other countries to recruit allies. Because of that, I felt that the plotline picked up steam and was fast until the end of the book.

I wish that Teller had made an appearance. I was left wondering what was going on with him. Like Vallachia and her friends, I thought that he was behind the strange vampire-like sickness plaguing people. But that was proven wrong. He just poofed, and I wasn’t a fan of it.

I didn’t like how Vallachia’s brother died. Not going to get into it, but it was wrong!!! I was very frustrated at that.

The author did an excellent job of wrapping everything up by the end of the book. But she left enough unwrapped (the love triangle between Vallachia, Elijah, and Teller and the revolution) to read book 2.


My Overall Thoughts on Of Lords and Commoners:

I enjoyed reading Of Lords and Commoners. While the book was slow to start, did lag in the middle, and had the plotline stagnant at times, it managed to capture my attention. I liked the characters (except for Teller). I did think that it was a little progressive for the time it took place in (Middle Ages), but I soon forgot that. It was just an overall good YA book to read.

I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book. There is graphic violence. But it is a clean book. There is no sex and only a couple of kissing scenes.

WWW Wednesday: July 22nd 2020

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I am currently reading:

Of Lords and Commoners (Lords and Commoners #1)

Humans Have Always Had to Fight Plagues …

“This book was exactly what I was looking for. A breath of fresh air, as it tells the tale of a commoner thrust into a world of lords and vampires. It spans many years with many historical events, times, and places not like your average twilight telling in a high school back ground. I would recommend this book to anyone.”
— Sanders

The only future Vallachia could have imagined, as well as her wonderfully simple life disappears when she finds herself in a struggle to figure out the rules of a strange new world.

She longs for her old life and the one she truly loves remains out of reach, as she embarks on an inconceivable journey.

Vallachia quickly finds herself on the wrong side of a brewing battle for vampire domination. Not knowing who to trust could have fatal consequences … for millions of people.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


I recently finished reading:

Arrival of the Traveler (Waldgrave #1)

Portraits have been removed from the walls, and areas of the house are off limits. Some rooms even seem to have been walled off completely. No one will talk to her.

It’s been a difficult year for Abilene Collins. Since her father’s death, her whirlwind life of adventure and travel has come to an end.

Now, she’s living with her mysterious uncle. He’s a man with secrets, living almost alone in a ridiculously large mansion that he doesn’t own. He doesn’t like questions, and when Lena starts asking about his job, it isn’t hard to tell that he’s keeping some family secrets from her.

The young and ambitious groundskeeper has become her only friend, and one day he tells her that she was stolen from her mother years before. Lena’s family are all telepathic, and that isn’t all…they’re a religious pillar of the Silenti society. Her grandfather has used his standing to gain political power, decimating his rivals along with anyone who gets in his way.

Suddenly thrust into a life of political plots and religious fanatics, Lena finds herself struggling to navigate her own life. Some people aren’t fond of the Darays, and the family has nearly died out through assassination.

It appears Lena is the latest target.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Walmart eBooks


What books I think I’ll read next:

Smolder by [Desiree Douglas]

Scarlett Barrington left the small town of Greenshade behind forever, along with unspeakable emotional wounds. She is preparing to begin her dream job when she’s called home to help her estranged mother, a hoarder, clean out her mess or risk losing her house.

Reluctantly returning home, nothing prepares her for the shock of coming face to face with her first love. Brody Finch may have been Greenshade’s glorious football legend, but he is also the man who deserted her a decade ago, when she needed him the most.

As Scarlett attempts to handle her combative mother, she’s forced to come to terms with airing her family’s dirty laundry on the reality TV show, Packrats. Community members with agendas of their own rally to help, harm, or just plain gawk.

Unexpectedly, the cold case murder of her sister comes back into focus, and Scarlett finds her own life in danger as she struggles to discover the truth about what happened so long ago. In the midst of this chaos, a serial arsonist brings the small town to its knees.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Can Scarlett and Finch find the love they once shared and lost? And if they do, will she live through the process?

Purchase Links: Amazon

From This Moment On (Windswept Bay Book 1) by [Debra Clopton]

Hurt by her failed marriage and dashed dreams, Cali Sinclair returns home to Windswept Bay with her heart wary and closed to the dreams of true love she so desperately wanted. Determined to never again risk her heart, she throws herself into running the family’s small boutique resort on the Florida coast, a place so full of romance that it’s a reminder every day of what she’ll never have. But when renowned artist Grant Ellington shows up to paint a mural on the wall of the resort, she’s swept away by her response to the artist. Suddenly, every time he looks at her, Cali finds it harder than she ever thought possible to keep her heart protected.

Grant Ellington loves his ranch, his horses, and his life as a sought-after artist. But after walking away from a plane crash that killed his best friend and the young pilot, he’s still struggling with survivor’s guilt as he heads to Windswept Bay. Painting a sea life mural at the resort started out as a favor to his neighbor, but one meeting with the beautiful Cali and he feels alive again—and determined to spend time on the moonlit beaches with her in his arms…

But, like him, Cali has her own emotional scars—can they learn to trust the love that sparks between them and move forward from this moment on?

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Walmart eBooks

Free Falling: Book 1 of the Irish End Games by [Susan Kiernan-Lewis]

When David and Sarah Woodson take a much-needed vacation with their ten-year old son, John, their intention is to find a relaxing, remote spot to take a break from the artificial stimulation of their busy world back in Jacksonville, Florida. What happens within hours of settling in to their rural, rustic little cottage in a far-flung spot on the coast of Ireland is an international incident that leaves the family stranded and dependent on themselves for their survival. Facing starvation, as well as looters and opportunists, they learn the hard way the important things in life. Can a family skilled only in modern day suburbia and corporate workplaces learn to survive when the world is flung back a hundred years? When there is no internet, no telephones, no electricity and no cars? And when every person near them is desperate to survive at any cost?

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Audible | Walmart eBooks

The Cinderella Arrangement by [Vanessa Waltz]

Fake Cinderella. Real Romance.

Luke Pardini is many things: playboy, tabloid fodder, ridiculously attractive billionaire. He’s the Prince Charming every woman dreams of.

And he wants me to be his fake girlfriend.

I don’t want a relationship, even a make-believe one, but I do need the money. Writing isn’t paying the bills, and I hardly have time for a second job, let alone a romance. But he’s offering me a dream-come true.

I’ll get the fancy dresses, the formal dinners, the full Luke Pardini experience. I get to be Cinderella for a few weeks, then I’ll trade in the shoes. No problem, right?

Except I don’t have to pretend when he touches me, but he’s made it clear I only get to play his girlfriend for a few weeks. When midnight strikes, our Cinderella Arrangement is over.

He promised the arrangement would be simple.

I promised I wouldn’t fall in love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | AbeBooks.com | Alibris | IndieBound | Audible | Walmart eBooks

True Light (From the Stars Book 1) by [G. Bailey]

Aura Scott didn’t want to move house, but her father didn’t give her a choice when he wanted an escape after the car accident that nearly killed them both. Trying to survive in a literal ghost town is never fun, but add in the neighbours from hell, well it’s becoming a nightmare.
Maxx and his brother have dark secrets, and Aura might want to run when she finds out the truth.
When two strangers move into Maxx’s house across the street, Aura finds out there is more than just secrets to be frightened of.

When light appears, so does darkness…

Purchase Links: Amazon | IndieBound

Alice Isn't Well (Death Herself, #1)

“There are lots of demons in the sky above London. The problem is, this one came crashing down to earth.”

Ten years ago, Alice Warner was attacked and disfigured by an attacker in her own home. She remembers nothing of the attack, and she has been in a psychiatric hospital ever since. When she’s finally released, however, she starts working as a security guard at an abandoned shopping mall. And that’s when she starts to realize that something is haunting her, keeping just one step out of sight at all times… Meanwhile, seventy years earlier, a little girl named Wendy is left orphaned after a World War 2 fighter plane crashes onto her house. Taken to a monastery, Wendy is quickly singled out by the nuns for special attention. They say she has been possessed by a demon, and that there’s only one way to save her soul. Fortunately for Wendy, however, there’s someone else who seems to know far more about the situation. What is the shocking connection between Alice and Wendy, reaching out across the years? Does a demon really lurk in the girl’s soul? And who is Hannah, the mysterious figure who tries to help Wendy, and who seventy years later begins to make her influence felt in Alice’s life too?

Alice Isn’t Well is the first book in the Death Herself series, about a dark figure who arrives in the night, promising to help deal with the forces of evil whenever they appear.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 20th 2020)

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.


What I Read this past week:

Qualify (The Atlantis Grail, #1)

You have two options. You die, or you Qualify.

The year is 2047. An extinction-level asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and the descendants of ancient Atlantis have returned from the stars in their silver ships to offer humanity help.

But there’s a catch.

They can only take a tiny percent of the Earth’s population back to the colony planet Atlantis. And in order to be chosen, you must be a teen, you must be bright, talented, and athletic, and you must Qualify.

Sixteen-year-old Gwenevere Lark is determined not only to Qualify but to rescue her entire family.

Because there’s a loophole.

If you are good enough to Qualify, you are eligible to compete in the brutal games of the Atlantis Grail, which grants all winners the laurels, high tech luxuries, and full privileges of Atlantis Citizenship. And if you are in the Top Ten, then all your wildest wishes are granted… Such as curing your mother’s cancer.

There is only one problem.

Gwen Lark is known as a klutz and a nerd. While she’s a hotshot in classics, history, science, and languages, the closest she’s come to sports is a backyard pool and a skateboard.

This time she is in over her head, and in for a fight of her life, against impossible odds and world-class competition–including Logan Sangre, the most amazing guy in her school, the one she’s been crushing on, and who doesn’t seem to know she exists.

Because every other teen on Earth has the same idea.

You Qualify or you die .

Compete (The Atlantis Grail, #2)

It’s one thing to Qualify…
But do you have what it takes to Compete?

With Earth about to be destroyed by an extinction level asteroid, teenage nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl Gwen Lark, and a few of her friends and loved ones, barely Qualified for rescue onboard one of the thousands of ark-ships headed to the ancient colony planet Atlantis.

Now faced with a year-long journey in space, life in a wondrously alien environment, and many tough life choices, Gwen must decide who or what she will become. Fleet Cadet or Civilian? Friend or lover? Average or extraordinary?

Can she make new friends? Can she trust the old ones, such as Logan Sangre, her sexy high school crush and an Earth special operative?

Time and time again, Gwen’s uncanny ability to come up with the best answer in a crisis saves her life and others. And now, her unique Logos voice makes her an extremely valuable commodity to the Atlanteans — so much so that her enigmatic commanding officer Aeson Kassiopei, who is also the Imperial Prince of Atlantis, has taken an increasingly personal interest in her.

Before the end of the journey, Gwen must convince him that she has what it takes to compete in the deadly Games of the Atlantis Grail.

It’s becoming apparent — the life of her family and all of Earth depends on it.

Win (The Atlantis Grail #3)

The Games are Forever!


It’s one thing to Qualify and Compete…

Now she must Win.


Gwen Lark, nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl, is among the lucky ones. She’s one of several million teenage refugees to escape the extinction-level asteroid barreling towards Earth and reach the ancient colony planet of Atlantis.


But Atlantis is a strange new world with higher gravity and a blazing white sun, where nothing is as expected. The new arrivals from Earth will now belong to the majority class of non-citizens who face a lifetime of hard work and limited rights.


To make matters worse, Gwen’s rare and powerful talent, her Logos voice, is viewed as a potential weapon to be exploited by the Imperator, as well as a threat to the Kassiopei Imperial Dynasty and its uncompromising control over the people of Atlantis.


A last-minute heartbreak prior to arrival turns to joy, when Gwen receives a declaration of love from an unexpected source. The Wedding date is set, but before she can be joined with her true love, she is forced to compete in the brutal and deadly Games of the Atlantis Grail to save herself, her family, friends, and everything she cares about. Once again, her intelligence, quick thinking skills, resilience, and creativity are challenged to the breaking point.


The Games are monumental, intricate, lethal . . . and the Games are Forever.


This time Gwen must fight and figure her way through the most difficult and sophisticated contest she has ever faced. Terrifying Ordeals and impossible Challenges, ruthless skilled Competitors, vicious secret assassins, and dubious teammates she must work with but cannot trust, are just the beginning. . . .


Meanwhile, as the Games rage, the fate of two worlds is at stake as a new alien threat looms over Earth and Atlantis.


But Gwen Lark has a secret weapon of her own. It’s not her Logos voice and its untapped power to control orichalcum technology and perpetuate change.


It is Gwen herself.

Survive (The Atlantis Grail, #4)

The End is Here, in a Fiery Cosmic Apocalypse!

Gwen Lark knows how to Qualify, Compete, and Win…
The time has come to Survive.

The Games of the Atlantis Grail have come to a ground-shaking halt and Gwen Lark, nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl, survived the remarkable ordeal, for the time being.

But the worst is yet to come!

Now, both the colony planet Atlantis and Earth are under a threat of annihilation, and everything is up in the air, including dire and stunning wonders in the Atlantean skies.

Will there be a Wedding? Will there be a future for Gwen Lark, her beloved, and all their families, friends, and loved ones?

Is Gwen’s rare and powerful talent, the Logos voice of creation, enough to resolve the greatest mystery of the Kassiopei Imperial Dynasty and its role in the events of deepest antiquity since the dawn of time?

The fate of the entire human species is at stake, and now there can be no respite, not a moment to lose. The final battle is here, and Gwen, and everyone she knows and loves, are in for the greatest fight of their lives.

It is time to survive.


What I am reading now:

Crossroads (The Corax Chronicles Book 1)

The mythological god Raven, the living embodiment of the cautionary tale, is a veteran trickster with a charismatic-yet-erratic style all his own. As Raven has lived firsthand throughout the ages of mankind, he has a great deal of experience in getting into trouble, whether messing about with gods in Ancient Greece or racing across the American countryside on a stolen motorcycle. But when an enemy steals a power that Raven’s been guarding for thousands of years, Raven and his daughter Dora are abruptly thrust into a journey filled with magic, ghosts, gods, and seers in order to recover the irreplaceable thing he has lost.

At the same time, in the wake of three terrible hurricanes that struck the Mississippi River basin, a young shaman named Daniel begins a spirit quest for his lost medicine pouch, stolen from him on the worst night of the storms. When Daniel meets trouble on the road in the form of a woman named Vengeance, the two of them will have to work together to right the wrongs that set them on their shared path.

For all four of them, as they become steadily intertwined by power and circumstance, they are each driven towards a final crossroads that will change all of their lives forevermore.


What Am I Reading Next?

Arrival of the Traveler (Waldgrave #1)

Portraits have been removed from the walls, and areas of the house are off limits. Some rooms even seem to have been walled off completely. No one will talk to her.

It’s been a difficult year for Abilene Collins. Since her father’s death, her whirlwind life of adventure and travel has come to an end.

Now, she’s living with her mysterious uncle. He’s a man with secrets, living almost alone in a ridiculously large mansion that he doesn’t own. He doesn’t like questions, and when Lena starts asking about his job, it isn’t hard to tell that he’s keeping some family secrets from her.

The young and ambitious groundskeeper has become her only friend, and one day he tells her that she was stolen from her mother years before. Lena’s family are all telepathic, and that isn’t all…they’re a religious pillar of the Silenti society. Her grandfather has used his standing to gain political power, decimating his rivals along with anyone who gets in his way.

Suddenly thrust into a life of political plots and religious fanatics, Lena finds herself struggling to navigate her own life. Some people aren’t fond of the Darays, and the family has nearly died out through assassination.

It appears Lena is the latest target.

Of Lords and Commoners (Lords and Commoners #1)

Humans Have Always Had to Fight Plagues …

The only future Vallachia could have imagined, as well as her wonderfully simple life disappears when she finds herself in a struggle to figure out the rules of a strange new world.

She longs for her old life and the one she truly loves remains out of reach, as she embarks on an inconceivable journey.

Vallachia quickly finds herself on the wrong side of a brewing battle for vampire domination. Not knowing who to trust could have fatal consequences … for millions of people.

Smolder

Scarlett Barrington left the small town of Greenshade behind forever, along with unspeakable emotional wounds. She is preparing to begin her dream job when she’s called home to help her estranged mother, a hoarder, clean out her mess or risk losing her house.

Reluctantly returning home, nothing prepares her for the shock of coming face to face with her first love. Brody Finch may have been Greenshade’s glorious football legend, but he is also the man who deserted her a decade ago, when she needed him the most.

As Scarlett attempts to handle her combative mother, she’s forced to come to terms with airing her family’s dirty laundry on the reality TV show, Packrats. Community members with agendas of their own rally to help, harm, or just plain gawk.

Unexpectedly, the cold case murder of her sister comes back into focus, and Scarlett finds her own life in danger as she struggles to discover the truth about what happened so long ago. In the midst of this chaos, a serial arsonist brings the small town to its knees.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Can Scarlett and Finch find the love they once shared and lost? And if they do, will she live through the process?

WWW Wednesday: July 15th 2020

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I am currently reading:

Beware the Ranger (Texas Lawmen, #1)

Twelve years ago, Kaitlyn Russell had a dream: living happily ever after with Clay Morgan. Except her grandmother had bigger plans for her beloved granddaughter and they didn’t include life in the small town of McKenna Springs as the wife of a young, poor deputy. Kaitlyn’s heart was broken when Clay and her grandmother convinced her to pursue her second love, Broadway stardom.

Texas Ranger Clay Morgan is a widower with a young son to raise. A dozen years before, he had to make the most difficult decision of his life when he agreed to let go of the only woman he’d ever loved so that she could pursue her dreams.

Now, fate and an old woman’s guilty conscience conspire to bring Clay and Kaitlyn back together once more. Will they be able to lay the past to rest and rekindle their love from the ashes? 

Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound | Walmart eBooks


I recently finished reading:

The Grid 1: Fall of Justice (The Grid Trilogy, #1)

A fortress city. A terrifying prison. A survivor determined to beat the odds.

Joe Parsons’ father has just disappeared. Growing up in a post-plague world, he knows that justice is in short supply, but he craves answers. He hacks into the sinister Fortrillium network, but when he’s caught red-handed, he’s in for the shock of his life.

Joe is thrown into The Grid, a prison lined with inhumane cages where the only hope of a trial comes from surviving a series of terrifying challenges. Only one person has ever escaped the deadly, gamified colosseum. Hunted by his enemies and in constant danger, Joe must find a way to survive. What he discovers along the way will change his life forever… if he can manage to escape.

Fall of Justice is a gripping work of dystopian sci-fi. If you like tension-filled suspense, fascinating apocalyptic futures, and characters who come to life, then you’ll love the first book in Paul Teague’s The Grid Trilogy.

Review

Purchase Links: Amazon


What books I think I’ll read next:

Qualify (The Atlantis Grail, #1)

The Atlantis Grail has been optioned for development as a feature film series and/or TV series.

You have two options. You die, or you Qualify.

The year is 2047. An extinction-level asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and the descendents of ancient Atlantis have returned from the stars in their silver ships to offer humanity help.

But there’s a catch.

They can only take a tiny percent of the Earth’s population back to the colony planet Atlantis. And in order to be chosen, you must be a teen, you must be bright, talented, and athletic, and you must Qualify.

Sixteen-year-old Gwenevere Lark is determined not only to Qualify but to rescue her entire family.

Because there’s a loophole.

If you are good enough to Qualify, you are eligible to compete in the brutal games of the Atlantis Grail, which grants all winners the laurels, high tech luxuries, and full privileges of Atlantis Citizenship. And if you are in the Top Ten, then all your wildest wishes are granted… Such as curing your mother’s cancer.

There is only one problem.

Gwen Lark is known as a klutz and a nerd. While she’s a hotshot in classics, history, science, and languages, the closest she’s come to sports is a backyard pool and a skateboard.

This time she is in over her head, and in for a fight of her life, against impossible odds and world-class competition—including Logan Sangre, the most amazing guy in her class, the one she’s been crushing on, and who doesn’t seem to know she exists.

Because every other teen on Earth has the same idea.

You Qualify or you die.

Crossroads (The Corax Chronicles Book 1)

The mythological god Raven, the living embodiment of the cautionary tale, is a veteran trickster with a charismatic-yet-erratic style all his own. As Raven has lived firsthand throughout the ages of mankind, he has a great deal of experience in getting into trouble, whether messing about with gods in Ancient Greece or racing across the American countryside on a stolen motorcycle. But when an enemy steals a power that Raven’s been guarding for thousands of years, Raven and his daughter Dora are abruptly thrust into a journey filled with magic, ghosts, gods, and seers in order to recover the irreplaceable thing he has lost.

At the same time, in the wake of three terrible hurricanes that struck the Mississippi River basin, a young shaman named Daniel begins a spirit quest for his lost medicine pouch, stolen from him on the worst night of the storms. When Daniel meets trouble on the road in the form of a woman named Vengeance, the two of them will have to work together to right the wrongs that set them on their shared path.

For all four of them, as they become steadily intertwined by power and circumstance, they are each driven towards a final crossroads that will change all of their lives forevermore.

Arrival of the Traveler (Waldgrave #1)

Portraits have been removed from the walls, and areas of the house are off limits. Some rooms even seem to have been walled off completely. No one will talk to her.

It’s been a difficult year for Abilene Collins. Since her father’s death, her whirlwind life of adventure and travel has come to an end.

Now, she’s living with her mysterious uncle. He’s a man with secrets, living almost alone in a ridiculously large mansion that he doesn’t own. He doesn’t like questions, and when Lena starts asking about his job, it isn’t hard to tell that he’s keeping some family secrets from her.

The young and ambitious groundskeeper has become her only friend, and one day he tells her that she was stolen from her mother years before. Lena’s family are all telepathic, and that isn’t all…they’re a religious pillar of the Silenti society. Her grandfather has used his standing to gain political power, decimating his rivals along with anyone who gets in his way.

Suddenly thrust into a life of political plots and religious fanatics, Lena finds herself struggling to navigate her own life. Some people aren’t fond of the Darays, and the family has nearly died out through assassination.

It appears Lena is the latest target.

Of Lords and Commoners (Lords and Commoners #1)

Humans Have Always Had to Fight Plagues …

“This book was exactly what I was looking for. A breath of fresh air, as it tells the tale of a commoner thrust into a world of lords and vampires. It spans many years with many historical events, times, and places not like your average twilight telling in a high school back ground. I would recommend this book to anyone.”
— Sanders

The only future Vallachia could have imagined, as well as her wonderfully simple life disappears when she finds herself in a struggle to figure out the rules of a strange new world.

She longs for her old life and the one she truly loves remains out of reach, as she embarks on an inconceivable journey.

Vallachia quickly finds herself on the wrong side of a brewing battle for vampire domination. Not knowing who to trust could have fatal consequences … for millions of people.

Smolder

Scarlett Barrington left the small town of Greenshade behind forever, along with unspeakable emotional wounds. She is preparing to begin her dream job when she’s called home to help her estranged mother, a hoarder, clean out her mess or risk losing her house.

Reluctantly returning home, nothing prepares her for the shock of coming face to face with her first love. Brody Finch may have been Greenshade’s glorious football legend, but he is also the man who deserted her a decade ago, when she needed him the most.

As Scarlett attempts to handle her combative mother, she’s forced to come to terms with airing her family’s dirty laundry on the reality TV show, Packrats. Community members with agendas of their own rally to help, harm, or just plain gawk.

Unexpectedly, the cold case murder of her sister comes back into focus, and Scarlett finds her own life in danger as she struggles to discover the truth about what happened so long ago. In the midst of this chaos, a serial arsonist brings the small town to its knees.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Can Scarlett and Finch find the love they once shared and lost? And if they do, will she live through the process? 

The Grid 1: Fall of Justice (The Grid Trilogy: Book 1) by Paul Teague

The Grid 1: Fall of Justice (The Grid Trilogy) by [Paul Teague]
The Grid by Paul Teague

Publisher: Clixeo Publishing

Date of Publication: November 28th, 2015

Genre: Dystopia, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon

Series: The Grid Trilogy

The Grid 1: Fall of Justice – Book 1

The Grid 2: Quest for Vengeance – Book 2

The Grid 3: Catharsis – Book 3

Format read in: eBook

Goodreads synopsis:

A fortress city. A terrifying prison. A survivor determined to beat the odds.

Joe Parsons’ father has just disappeared. Growing up in a post-plague world, he knows that justice is in short supply, but he craves answers. He hacks into the sinister Fortrillium network, but when he’s caught red-handed, he’s in for the shock of his life.

Joe is thrown into The Grid, a prison lined with inhumane cages where the only hope of a trial comes from surviving a series of terrifying challenges. Only one person has ever escaped the deadly, gamified colosseum. Hunted by his enemies and in constant danger, Joe must find a way to survive. What he discovers along the way will change his life forever… if he can manage to escape.

Fall of Justice is a gripping work of dystopian sci-fi. If you like tension-filled suspense, fascinating apocalyptic futures, and characters who come to life, then you’ll love the first book in Paul Teague’s The Grid Trilogy.


First Line:

Jay realized that it was all over for him.

The Grid 1: Fall of Justice (The Grid TRILOGY: Book 1) by Paul Teague

First Impressions:

When I first saw The Grid 1 on Amazon, I was intrigued by what the plotline promised. A world decimated by a plague. A city that has become a fortress. A horrific way of dealing with criminals. A small group that is determined to bring down the system. A boy determined to find out what happened to his father. How could I pass it up?

The Grid 1 starts with what happens during the final moments of The Grid (what the televised show is called). It is kind of hard to explain what The Justice Walk is like. All that is revealed in the beginning is that people called Gridders control what happens during the televised events. They control who dies and how they die. There is also a common thread among all the people who were publicly executed. They were innocent. The Fortrillium (the justice system) knows that. The citizens (who are forced to watch) know that. The criminals know that. But they can’t/won’t do anything about it.

After that gruesome first scene (the man gets squeezed to death between two metal plates), the book shifts to Joe, the book’s main hero. I liked this book because when the book shifts between characters (and it does that often), the author lets you know. Take, for instance, the jump from that first scene to when Joe and Lucy were introduced. There is space, then the word Breached, and then the beginning of that subchapter. Most people find that irritating, but I like it. I wouldn’t say I love it when an author jumps from person to person within the same chapter. It confuses and drives me nuts. So, yes, I liked it. I was able to keep track of the characters and plotlines that way.

Anyways, the first half of the book is busy introducing characters. Joe, Lucy, Wiz, Mitchell, Joe’s mother and brother, Harry, Talya, Damien, and President Delman. It also busy setting up what this post-apocalyptic world is like. There are two classes: rich and live on The Silk Road and those who are poor and live in The Climbs. The Silk Road is what I expected. Beautiful houses, plenty of food, water, and medical care (which is important to remember). The Climbs, well, they aren’t nice at all. There are rats, crime, overcrowding, lack of food, basic medical care, and clean water. People reside in dilapidated high rise buildings. If you are elderly or disabled and live on the higher levels, you don’t have much chance of survival. There is also the fear of being sent to The Soak, a prison located under a river. People go in and do not get out. Those that want to try and get out, well they are featured in The Grid.

The author does try to explain what happened to make The City the way it is. It is told by Harry, who is 108 (or so) and who lived through the plague. But Harry is an unreliable narrator. Her memory is starting to go, and she needs to tell people before she dies.

The pacing of the book during the first half was fast. I felt that there were somethings that were skimmed over. There could have been more detail about the intel that Joe and Lucy were doing. Or more information about The Soak. Heck, even better insight into the Gridders or The Justice Lords would have been great. Instead, it was left up in the air until the middle of the book.


Mid-Book Impressions:

The Grid 1 did slow down somewhat during the middle of the book. I didn’t mind it at all. I felt that I was able to process the first half of the book and what was going on in the middle of the book.

Some of the things that I complained about in the first half of The Grid 1 were discussed in the book’s middle. The Soak, Gridders, and The Justice Lords were all addressed in length mid-book. Doing that gave me a better understanding of what was going on. If I was even remotely confused or lacking in details during the first half, it was made up and then some.

There was also a bunch of stuff happening in the middle of the book (besides more information being given). Lucy and Joe get arrested. Harry gets injured. Talya realizes that Damien has iron control over The Justice Lords.

Speaking of Damien, what an evil dude!! I can’t even go into how evil he was. He was a grade-A psychopath, through and through. That one scene in The Climbs made my blood run cold. That was someone drunk on power and used to having his every whim catered too!! It also explained the intel that Lucy and Joe had dug up on him.

President Delman was also featured a bit more in the middle of the book. He wasn’t as bad as Damien, but there was a hidden agenda going on with him. There was also something off about him. Something not right.

There was also more insight given into The Gridders and what their roles were. It was fascinating to learn that they were responsible for everything that happened in The Grid. But, even in The Gridders, there is one evil person.


End of Book Impressions:

I had mixed feelings about the end of The Grid 1. While I liked seeing how they prepped for The Grid, I felt awful for the people who were forced to go on. They had a little bit of everyone there: Murderers, smugglers, mentally ill, arsonists, and then Lucy and Joe. The propaganda surrounding the build-up to The Grid was heartbreaking once it was revealed. They took what these people did (mainly to protect themselves or other people) and twisted it. I got physically sick at what was done to them to prep for The Grid. It gave a sinister meaning to “Psych Eval.”

I will not go into the ending much (other than what I just wrote), but I will say that I was fascinated by what Damien did and where he went. That added an extra depth to his character (other than being an evil psycho).

The Grid 1 ends on a cliffhanger. I was so mad because the book stopped right when it started to get good. I was also a bit irritated. The author ended the book mid-scene. I did a mental “WTF” when that happened. Out of all cliffhangers, being stopped mid-scene is one I dislike the most. It made me almost not want to read the next book.


My Overall Thoughts on The Grid 1: Fall of Justice

I enjoyed reading The Grid 1: Fall of Justice. It was a fast-paced, dystopian book that ticked all of my boxes. It did remind me strongly of The Running Man, but that didn’t deter me from enjoying the read. I wish that more backstory had been given at the beginning of the book (like a prologue of the world before the plague), but the way it was written worked for me. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked that the book ended with a mid-scene cliffhanger. That annoyed the ever-living out of me.

I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book. There is a lot of graphic violence. Other than the violence, it is a clean book: no sex or anything of a sexual nature.

Control Freakz (Control Freakz: Book 1) by Michael Evans

Control Freakz (Control Freakz #1)
Control Freakz by Michael Evans

Publisher: Boundless Press

Date of Publication: July 23rd 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound

Series: Control Freakz

Forever Gone—Book 0.5

Control Freakz—Book 1

Delusional—Book 2

Triggered—Book 3

Format read in: eBook

Goodreads synopsis:

Memories will haunt you.

Natalie has lost everything but herself, and she’s just one of thousands. After Protocol 00 is enacted, Natalie’s family is taken by the government, along with the families of her two best friends, Hunter and Ethan. With nothing to lose and the threat of government hitmen kidnapping them at any moment, the three must battle to survive in a horrid, post-apocalyptic world run by President Ash and his invasive government. 

Risking ruthless leaders, attempted mind control, and her very existence on the planet, Natalie, along with Hunter and Ethan, will stop at nothing in their quest to regain everything they’ve ever known. But there are unrivaled powers working against them, and with impending doom looming at any moment, there is no one to trust and nowhere to hide. In a life devoid of hope, happiness, and safety, Natalie must battle both the darkness lurking inside and out of her in order to regain one fleeting memory of her past that has all but fallen away for good, but it might already be too late.


First Impressions:

The blurb for Control Freakz was the main reason why I got this book. I like to read YA dystopia, and I was intrigued by the second paragraph of the blurb. A horrible president? A dishonest government? Mind control? Sign me up. Plus, I liked the cover. A girl is standing with her back to you, looking at a foggy (or sandstorms??) scene with nanobots up top. It called to me.

Control Freakz started off running. The pacing of the book was also set. It was lightning fast. What I liked is that the book kept up the pace until the middle of the book. I love it when a book keeps the pace it starts with.

Mental illness was also discussed during the first half of the book. Natalie suffered from depression and anxiety. The author didn’t honey coat it and make it go away after a while. Her depression and anxiety were always there, in varying severity.

Control Freakz is told in 1st person POV. I was okay with that expect that Natalie spent a lot of time internalizing her dialogue. It offered a narrow view of what she was going through. I never thought I would say this, but I wish that another POV was introduced. That way, I could see what else was going on.

The Protocol 00 storyline was introduced within a chapter of the beginning of the book. There wasn’t a whole lot of information given about Protocol 00. All I knew, going into the middle of the book, was that Protocol 00 had something to do with the blue pills. Oh, and also, the President was an evil man who had caused chaos among the American people.

The first half of Control Freakz focused on Natalie, Hunter, and Evan’s escape from Phoenix and their journey to a sanctuary in the mountains. When they did arrive at the camp, there was more chaos before they settled down. That leads to the middle of the book.


Mid-Book Impressions

So, my interest in Control Freakz started to wane by the middle of the book. Even though it had a promising start, I couldn’t help but get a little bored. Instead of focusing on President Ash and the government’s looming threat, it went into camp politics, which bored me. But they played an essential part in setting up for what was going to happen in the last half of the book.

Natalie was driving me nuts. Again, there was a lot of internal dialogue. More talk of wanting to die and wishing life could go back to what it was like. She also screamed a lot. She was annoying. I felt terrible feeling that way because I knew she was suffering from her anxiety and depression, but at the same time, I just wanted her to shut up. I know, yikes!!

I wished that there was another POV that was introduced other than Natalie. Evan would have been a great person, in my mind. There was so much going on with him. He knew that there was something up with the camp leader, and he would find out. He obsessed over it to the point that he went nuts. I would have loved to see what was going on inside his head during that time.

I wasn’t interested in Hunter’s POV. He didn’t have a ton of influence in the book other than keeping Natalie from killing herself. He didn’t jump off the pages or make an impression on me. He was just “blah.” Also, he was too trusting. Way too naive after everything that he had been through.

The storyline about Protocol 00 stalled out too. It seemed unreal that the government knew about the camps of people and didn’t do anything about it. I almost wished that Evan had hacked into the camp leader’s computer sooner. Or that the helicopter came earlier. It would have added a bit of excitement into an otherwise stalled out storyline.

Towards the end of the middle of the book, though, things began to pick up. Evan did something that I didn’t expect and that Natalie witnessed. He also uncovered a couple of things that made me go, “What?Natalie, Hunter, and Evan’s run from camp and to Danielle was action-packed.


End of Book Impressions

If my interest in Control Freakz had wavered in the middle of the book, it was fully back by the end. Everything that had been left to decay in the middle of the book exploded. I couldn’t read the end of this book fast enough.

Natalie still annoyed me, but she surprised me. She dared to defy Danielle. She found her voice. But even more so, she went willingly to do something that could result in her death. I was surprised. I do know that her finding and reading those files played a considerable part in it. Well, also Danielle threatening to kill her. I was surprised at where she had to break into. It just didn’t seem realistic to me.

Let’s talk about Danielle. She was an enigma. I didn’t agree with the underhand ways that she went about things, but I could understand why she did it. I also got the impression that there was something else driving her. And it wasn’t because she cared about people.

I still wanted another POV, but I am glad that the author went the way he did with what happened to Evan and Hunter. It would have been confusing to read from either one’s POV because of what happened.

The storyline with Protocol 00 reached a surprising conclusion. I was not expecting what happened to happen. That was a huge surprise. Even more of a surprise was the way the book ended. A freaking cliffhanger. Blah. I wouldn’t say I like those. But I need to read the next book, so I guess it worked.


My Overall Thoughts on Control Freakz

I liked reading Control Freakz. It was well written with memorable characters. The plotline flowed well until the middle of the book. That is where it floundered. Fortunately, the author could get the book back on track, and it flew to the end. There is also an unsubtle political reference and jab at one point in the book. Not going to say what, but it did strike close to home, considering everything that is happening now.

There were some parts that I didn’t like. The book does a lot of internalizing, which annoyed me. Also, there was such a narrow scope to the world. Having more than one POV would have been great instead of just Natalie’s. There is also the beginning of the book. Instead of a build-up to the chaos that happened, the book dove headfirst into it. There were zero backstories, and what backstory that was given was broken up. But, because I did like the book, I was able to look past all of that. But some people might not be able too.

I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read Control Freakz. There is language and a lot of violence. But it is a clean book also. There is no sex. There are a couple of kissing scenes between Hunter and Natalie.

WWW Wednesday: July 8th 2020

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I am currently reading:

Control Freakz (Control Freakz, #1)

Memories will haunt you.

Natalie has lost everything but herself, and she’s just one of thousands. After Protocol 00 is enacted, Natalie’s family is taken by the government, along with the families of her two best friends, Hunter and Ethan. With nothing to lose and the threat of government hitmen kidnapping them at any moment, the three must battle to survive in a horrid, post-apocalyptic world run by President Ash and his invasive government.

Risking ruthless leaders, attempted mind control, and her very existence on the planet, Natalie, along with Hunter and Ethan, will stop at nothing in their quest to regain everything they’ve ever known. But there are unrivaled powers working against them, and with impending doom looming at any moment, there is no one to trust and nowhere to hide. In a life devoid of hope, happiness, and safety, Natalie must battle both the darkness lurking inside and out of her in order to regain one fleeting memory of her past that has all but fallen away for good, but it might already be too late.


I recently finished reading:

Blackbird

Miguel was there when the girl that he loved was abducted.

It happened in broad daylight, less than a mile from her home, sixteen years from the day she was born. Left beaten and bloodied, all he could do was watch as the thugs drove away, her hands pressed against the back window, her mouth open in a soundless scream. When the local authorities, her friends, and her family give up on her, he sets off alone on a journey that takes him across the globe.

But Human Trafficking is an industry as old as the human race, built by the most dangerous and merciless of people. And he quickly finds himself swept up in a world that threatens to swallow him whole, where sometimes even death can be a blessing.

In a hole in Mexico City, Adrian Rucker lives out his meager existence, a shell of the man that he once was. An ex-British agent, discarded by his government and long past his prime, he struggles to find meaning in his life, while battling inner demons that conspire to destroy him. Then a teenage boy walks into the bar below his apartment, reeking of desperation and carrying a revolver. For better or worse, from that moment, their lives are linked.

Together, Miguel and Rucker will attempt to do the impossible and track down a single missing girl in a domain where the victims are never found. Together, they will brave the darkness and the monsters within, clinging to the hope that they will still recognize themselves when they emerge, if they emerge at all.

Shallow Graves (The Haunted #1)

Not all houses are made of brick and stone… Robert Watts is having the worst day of his entire life: first he’s laid off, then he finds out that his wife is having an affair… with his boss no less. And that’s only the beginning.

Before the month is out, Robert finds himself alone to raise his daughter with no money, no job, and a house that is minutes from being repossessed. Just when he hits rock bottom, a strange visitor arrives at the doorstep of his soon to be foreclosed house with a letter from an Aunt he didn’t know existed.

The offer is simple: look after Aunt Ruth during her dying days, and in return Robert will be bequeathed the Harlop Estate in which she currently resides. It’s a no brainer and Robert jumps at the opportunity, equally motivated by the prospect of financial security as he is for a fresh start.

Problem is, it only takes a few nights in the Harlop Estate before he begins to question Aunt Ruth’s claims that they are the home’s only inhabitants…

It’s the scratching he hears during the night, the voices that he can barely make out over the constant rain, and then there’s the girl with the rat…

With their house foreclosed and their bank accounts liquidated, Robert and his daughter Amy desperately need a place to live. But the question Robert soon finds himself struggling with is whether living in the Harlop Estate is worth it… and if he can survive until Aunt Ruth passes to collect his inheritance.

Shallow Graves is the first book in the Haunted Series, chilling, gruesome, and truly haunting tales with a twist that you will never see coming.

The Draig's Woman (Draig Clan, #1)

Rescuing the man tied to a tree seemed like a rational decision. Claire is a smart, capable bookkeeper who happens to work at a martial arts academy. She has no idea the door she walked through to save the bound man would leave her trapped in 13th century Scotland. She is unable to regret the night of passion shared with Ian, even though it happened with the threat of death just outside the door. She pretends to be content with Ian’s friendship, knowing his people must come first. Compelled by honor and tormented by desire, is being his woman, while he marries another, enough?

Ian, Laird of the Draig Clan, is a man trapped by fate. Forced by necessity to marry a woman he has never met, her dowry is essential to save his clan. However, he is in love with the woman who saved his life and then spent one night in his arms. Duty prevents Ian from being able to marry Claire as custom, honor, and his heart demand. Drawn to her, believing they share the same desires and dreams in life, he finally offers her the only option available, a place by his side and in his bed.

Claire and Ian are bound together in love and then ripped apart by deception and a plot to destroy the Draig clan. Facing the final battle alone and unarmed, Claire saves them all. The ultimate challenge is forgiving Ian for sending her away.


What books I think I’ll read next:

What Haunts Me - Ghost Killer - Book 1

The ghosts that wander among the living do not haunt in the traditional sense; instead, they plague the innocent with disease, deformity and addiction. And once a ghost finds its victim, it will haunt them for a lifetime… or kill them quickly.

After George gets ill, the dreams begin. Suppressed memories are triggered, allowing him to see ghosts, and a deeply buried instinct emerges. George finds out he can kill these monsters, and heal their victims. The ability to save lives is something George cannot ignore, but it soon becomes an obsession and begins to eat away at his sanity.

His quest for understanding leads him to new friends and allies, and exposes him to enemies he could have never imagined. In the end, can you really ever kill something that’s already dead?

The Grid 1: Fall of Justice (The Grid Trilogy, #1)

A fortress city. A terrifying prison. A survivor determined to beat the odds.

Joe Parsons’ father has just disappeared. Growing up in a post-plague world, he knows that justice is in short supply, but he craves answers. He hacks into the sinister Fortrillium network, but when he’s caught red-handed, he’s in for the shock of his life.

Joe is thrown into The Grid, a prison lined with inhumane cages where the only hope of a trial comes from surviving a series of terrifying challenges. Only one person has ever escaped the deadly, gamified colosseum. Hunted by his enemies and in constant danger, Joe must find a way to survive. What he discovers along the way will change his life forever… if he can manage to escape.

Fall of Justice is a gripping work of dystopian sci-fi. If you like tension-filled suspense, fascinating apocalyptic futures, and characters who come to life, then you’ll love the first book in Paul Teague’s The Grid Trilogy.

Beware the Ranger

Twelve years ago, Kaitlyn Russell had a dream: living happily ever after with Clay Morgan. Except her grandmother had bigger plans for her beloved granddaughter and they didn’t include life in the small town of McKenna Springs as the wife of a young, poor deputy. Kaitlyn’s heart was broken when Clay and her grandmother convinced her to pursue her second love, Broadway stardom.

Texas Ranger Clay Morgan is a widower with a young son to raise. A dozen years before, he had to make the most difficult decision of his life when he agreed to let go of the only woman he’d ever loved so that she could pursue her dreams.

Now, fate and an old woman’s guilty conscience conspire to bring Clay and Kaitlyn back together once more. Will they be able to lay the past to rest and rekindle their love from the ashes?

Qualify (The Atlantis Grail, #1)

You have two options. You die, or you Qualify.

The year is 2047. An extinction-level asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and the descendents of ancient Atlantis have returned from the stars in their silver ships to offer humanity help.

But there’s a catch.

They can only take a tiny percent of the Earth’s population back to the colony planet Atlantis. And in order to be chosen, you must be a teen, you must be bright, talented, and athletic, and you must Qualify.

Sixteen-year-old Gwenevere Lark is determined not only to Qualify but to rescue her entire family.

Because there’s a loophole.

If you are good enough to Qualify, you are eligible to compete in the brutal games of the Atlantis Grail, which grants all winners the laurels, high tech luxuries, and full privileges of Atlantis Citizenship. And if you are in the Top Ten, then all your wildest wishes are granted… Such as curing your mother’s cancer.

There is only one problem.

Gwen Lark is known as a klutz and a nerd. While she’s a hotshot in classics, history, science, and languages, the closest she’s come to sports is a backyard pool and a skateboard.

This time she is in over her head, and in for a fight of her life, against impossible odds and world-class competition—including Logan Sangre, the most amazing guy in her class, the one she’s been crushing on, and who doesn’t seem to know she exists.

Because every other teen on Earth has the same idea.

You Qualify or you die.

Crossroads (The Corax Chronicles Book 1)

The mythological god Raven, the living embodiment of the cautionary tale, is a veteran trickster with a charismatic-yet-erratic style all his own. As Raven has lived firsthand throughout the ages of mankind, he has a great deal of experience in getting into trouble, whether messing about with gods in Ancient Greece or racing across the American countryside on a stolen motorcycle. But when an enemy steals a power that Raven’s been guarding for thousands of years, Raven and his daughter Dora are abruptly thrust into a journey filled with magic, ghosts, gods, and seers in order to recover the irreplaceable thing he has lost.

At the same time, in the wake of three terrible hurricanes that struck the Mississippi River basin, a young shaman named Daniel begins a spirit quest for his lost medicine pouch, stolen from him on the worst night of the storms. When Daniel meets trouble on the road in the form of a woman named Vengeance, the two of them will have to work together to right the wrongs that set them on their shared path.

For all four of them, as they become steadily intertwined by power and circumstance, they are each driven towards a final crossroads that will change all of their lives forevermore.

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read The Most Books By

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

She assigns each Tuesday a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


  1. C.S. Friedman
  2. Julie Garwood
  3. Laurell K. Hamilton
  4. Stephen King
  5. Judith McNaught
  6. Teresa Medeiros
  7. Anne Bishop
  8. Robin Hobb
  9. Dean Koontz
  10. Walter Farley

a noble affair by jennie goutet

A Noble Affair by [Jennie Goutet]
A Noble Affair by Jennie Goutet

Publisher:

Date of publication: April 28th, 2016

Genre: Romance

Purchase Links: Kindle | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound |

Format read in: eBook

Goodreads synopsis:

Is there such a thing as Prince Charming?

Chastity didn’t take a teaching job in France to find hers, but a woman can dream, n’est ce pas?

If the father of one of her students—the Viscount Charles Jean Anne Monorie de Brase—is the best local example of princes, Charming or Otherwise, Chastity is ready to put aside any thought of falling in love again.

As much as she would prefer him to keep his distance, it seems there is no avoiding each other. With the ongoing pressure of a repentant ex-boyfriend, a nefarious drug dealer, and an art heist that spans the decades, Chastity and the viscount are thrown together by circumstances she would soon rather forget.

As the intimacy between Charles and Chastity deepens, they must decide if their love is enough to bridge the gap between their disparate worlds, and if happily ever after can exist outside of fairy tales.


First Impressions:

I was pretty excited to start reading A Noble Affair. I have had it sitting on my TBR since October 2018, and I figured that it was time to read it. Plus, the blurb got my interest. Well, I have to say I wasn’t impressed by the first half of the book. There were zero sparks of romance between Charles and Chastity. Instead, it went the exact opposite direction. There was so much animosity between the two that I was taken aback by it.

Chastity’s job as a school teacher was fascinating, but there was little focus on it. Instead, there were a couple of student/teacher meetings, where she accused Charles’s son of doing drugs. Her proof, a whiff of marijuana here and there. I hardcore eye-rolled at that. Frankly, I found her annoying that first half of the book. She led her baby daddy on about being in a relationship. The only thing that I remotely agreed with was that she allowed him to meet their son.

I didn’t care for Charles either. He was an absent parent who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) talk to his son about his slipping grades. Instead, he was focused on his work, appeasing his mother and his girlfriend. There was no mention of what he did for work during the first half of the book. This is important come the middle of the book.

Louis, Charles’s son, was also introduced. I was “meh” about him. I understood why he acted the way he did, but at the same time, I wanted to shake some sense into him. Things got a bit dicey towards the end of the first half of the book.

There were a bunch of secondary characters thrown in during the first half of the book also. I had issues keeping track of them because of how the chapters were written. There was no lead in the next character. Just, bam, here it is. At times, it made no sense. Also, clue in that secondary storyline was introduced while this all happened, and my head was spinning.


Mid-Book Impressions

Chastity and Charles’s romance (or lack of one) was still going strong by the book’s middle. She thought he was an uptight idiot, and he returned the favor. It was kind of amusing to read, though. Their interactions were painful to read. I kept thinking to myself, “And where is this romance?” because there was ZERO.

Instead of the book picking up speed, it faltered, big time. I kept waiting for something to get the book moving. It did happen, but it took forever for it to happen. There were points where I was going to put the book down.

Louis’s storyline because more interesting. There was some intrigue about his dealing, his schoolwork, and him owing the dealer money. I did feel bad for the poor kid because he was in over his head. He was willing to do anything to pay back the money.

The storyline about the art heist was interesting too, but there were some flaws in it. Add in that Louis’s dealer is also the person behind the new heist, which made me go “Hmmm.” Only a couple of chapters sprinkled in the middle of the book explained what happened there.


End of Book Impressions

Chastity and Charles’s romance finally picked up. But weirdly, it was after her son was hit by a car and put in a coma. Guess who his neurosurgeon was? Charles. I was just as surprised as Chastity was when that was revealed. Like I mentioned above, I thought he lived off a trust fund or something like that.

There was still no sparks between Chastity and Charles. The author did try, but their romance didn’t come across as believable. Even the kiss that they shared was “meh.”

The storyline with Louis and his drug use finally came to ahead. Charles finally talked to him about it. I don’t know who was more relieved, Louis or me. It took an entire book for Charles to get around to doing it. It was a lovely scene but long overdue in coming.

The secondary storyline about the art heist ended excitingly. There was a neat twist to that plotline that made me go “No way.


My Overall Thoughts on A Royal Affair

I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. As a romance, there should have been at least some sort of spark between the main characters. There wasn’t, and it felt fake at the end of the book. It wasn’t believable.

The book’s drug use angle was ridiculous, but I liked how the author chose to show Louis battling through the situation he got himself in. When Louis found himself getting in too deep, he turned to his father. The same father should have been more present in his life.

I loved the art heist storyline. I was shocked at who was behind the heist. I knew that it was the same person supplying Louis his drugs, but I didn’t know his identity. I had a holy crap moment when that happened. Talk about a surprise.

I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read A Noble Affair. It is a clean book. There is no sex and a couple of brief kissing scenes. Several scenes got violent, and a couple where Louis is high. But nothing explicit.

A Letter From America by Geraldine O’Neill

A Letter From America by [Geraldine O'Neill]

Publisher: Poolbeg Press

Date of publication: August 11th, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read in: eBook

Goodreads synopsis:

It is the late 60’s in Tullamore, County Offaly, and life is full of exciting possibilities for Fiona Tracey, as she prepares to leave Ireland to work for a wealthy family in New York.

Fiona’s parents have the local shop and bar, and her younger sisters are already leading independent lives. Bridget is at a convent school preparing to be a nun and Angela has led a life of her own since she was hospitalised up in Dublin for years with childhood polio.

Then, sudden tragedy forces Fiona to postpone her departure for New York. As her mother sinks into illness and depression, her responsibilities mount. When help is offered by her aunt and cousin, Fiona is mystified by her mother’s animosity towards them.

As summer approaches, an American architect, Michael O’Sullivan, takes a room above the bar. Within a short time Fiona finds herself involved in an unexpected and passionate affair.

Then, as a surprising incident threatens Bridget’s vocation, Angela uncovers information which explodes old family secrets.

Before Fiona can embark on an independent life again, perhaps in New York, she must find a new understanding of her family – and of herself.


First Impressions:

My first impression of A Letter From America was that this book was going to be a long but easy read. The slow start was a massive hint to me. I am not a big fan of slow starts, but in this case, it worked.

I don’t know what I thought of Angela, Fiona, Bridget, Nance, Catherine, or Joseph. If I had to form an opinion, I thought they were all, except Catherine, somewhat self-involved. I was also a little irritated about this secret. The half-heard conversations and Nance’s animosity towards Catherine and Joseph had me guessing, early on, about what this secret was.

Going into the middle of the book, I felt terrible for Fiona. She was left to deal with her mother, the bar, and the shop. I admit that I got a little peeved that Bridget or Angela didn’t offer to stay and help.


Mid-Book Impressions

As I mentioned above, I felt terrible for Fiona; she had a lot on her plate. Like I said above, I couldn’t understand why the other two girls didn’t offer to stay and help. Well, the book explains that. See, Bridget is a nun in training, and she had to get back to classes (she is also 14). So asking her to stay home didn’t make sense. Angela did have a job and a social life, but she didn’t make an effort. I wasn’t thrilled with the explanation of why she couldn’t get down.

Michael O’Sullivan is introduced mid-book. An American architect who had bought the cottage his grandmother was born in. Fiona was instantly attracted to him, and he to her. Honestly, I didn’t see it. I felt that there was zero chemistry between them, and I couldn’t see them together in the long run.

Bridget, mid-book, had gotten herself into a pickle at the convent. I was interested in how this came about and how Bridget dealt with it. Out of the three sisters’, she seemed to have a grasp on things. Of course, she was also a teenager and made mistakes. Oh, and she knew about some of the secret that Fiona and Angela had an inkling about. Then she disappeared until the end of the book, which irked me.

Angela had some incredible good luck mid-book. Her good luck extended to home, where she was able to get Nance out of her funk and back to becoming a functioning human being. I was rooting for her, and I did predict what was going to happen.

Onto the secret. At this point, I guessed what it was. Between Fiona and Bridget, I gathered enough information to form my opinion. But, I was only partially right with what I imagined.


End of Book Impressions

I felt that Fiona and Michael’sromance” ended very predictably. I’m going to admit that I skimmed over her part of the story. It was predictable. Okay, but predictable.

I wasn’t expecting what happened with Bridget. Now talk about throwing me for a loop there. I was glad when everything was resolved, though it was still a pretty crappy thing to do to an entire class.

I did figure out what was going to happen with Angela. Not that it took away from how sweet it was. And I loved Edward. He was perfect for her (with his social awkwardness and all!!).

The secret finally came out. Like I mentioned above, I had only pieced a small part of it together. I wasn’t expecting who the secret was about. Talking to Catherine shedded some light on it. But, in the end, it was Nance who completed the picture.

The last scene of the book was terrific. I liked how everything turned out.


My Overall Thoughts on A Letter From America

This book took me about two days to read because the book is slow. The author did a great job of showing what life in the late 1960’s Ireland was like. She also did a great job of showing how a family comes together during times of crisis. I thought that the author did a fantastic job of creating likable (well for the most part likable) characters who suffered from real-world issues. My only complaint was that I thought the romance parts of the book were forced. I also would have liked to see more of Bridget’s time at the convent.

I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read A Letter From America. It is a relatively clean book. There are some parts of the book where Fiona and Michael kiss and one scene where it is implied that they sleep together.