Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (Flame in the Mist book 1)

“The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.“ - taken from Goodreads.com

Wow! I cannot believe that I didn't read this when it first came out. I loved everything about the story. Mariko wants to be seen as more than just a female in the male dominated society of feudal Japan. When her convoy to meet her betrothed is ambushed and she is the only survivor, Mariko sees her chance to break free from her family and find out for herself who wanted her dead. Meeting the Black Clan disguised as a boy, she is taken in as a possible recruit. As Mariko learns more about her family and society, she not only sees the truth about her family but finds that her heart has been taken. I cannot wait to see how it ends after that conclusion.

Visit Renee Adhieh’s website.

Legion by Julie Kagawa (Talon Saga book 4)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, Talon, Rogue, and Soldier, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

“Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all--dragons do not suffer human emotions--let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she's capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante--the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.” - taken from Goodreads.com

After the double cliffhanger of the last book, Soldier, readers will pick up the action immediately where it left off. Told from several points of view, fans of the Talon Saga will find out the mission of the Talon organization and Ember’s part in it. After another shocking but more satisfying ending, readers will be eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the story with Inferno in 2018.

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally (Hundred Oaks book 8)

SERIES ALERT! This is the eighth and FINAL installment in the Hundred Oaks series. Some characters from previous books do appear but they in no way spoil the story.

“Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?” - taken from Goodreads.com

Fans of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series will speed through this latest and final installment involving the students of Hundred Oaks High School. This book features swimming as the sport. A great read about relationships not only with friends and potential romantic interests but about peers who attempt to undermine you. Several past characters from previous books, but not all, make brief appearances. The best part of this story is the addition of Jordan Woods, from the first book Catching Jordan, as Maggie’s physical education teacher. The epilogue to this story provides a great conclusion to Jordan’s story.

Seeker by Veronica Rossi (Riders book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Riders, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

Check out Book Series Recaps for refresher on the first book.

“When Daryn claimed she was seeing visions during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth. She wasn't losing her mind, she was gaining the Sight the ability to see the future. If she just paid attention to the visions, they'd provide her with clues and show her how she could help people. Really help them. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives.

Until Sebastian.

Sebastian was her first and worst mistake.

Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael the last surviving demon in the Kindred guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It's up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped.

Daryn must rely on her instincts, her intelligence, and on blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test. Will she have to become evil to destroy evil? The very fate of humankind rests in the answer.” - taken from Goodreads.com

The ending to this duology turned out to be a satistfying end to the story that fans will devour.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (Song of the Current book 1)

“Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.” - taken from Goodreads.com

A little slow to start with all of the sailing terminologies for me and I kept getting distracted by a couple of other titles. Once the story had me hooked, I couldn't put it down.  Caro is a determined young woman who is left with a nearly impossible task to complete in order to save her father. When she goes against the orders she received, Caro is quickly pulled into political drama that changes how she sees her place in the world. A slow burning romance also occurs. Now I cannot wait to see what the next book holds.

The Football Girl by Thatcher Heldring

“Team Statistics:

Caleb McCleary. QB. Following in his brother’s “baller status” footsteps.

Tessa Dooley. Any position that needs filling. Her motto: “Be afraid.”

The summer before Caleb and Tessa enter high school, friendship has blossomed into a relationship…and their playful sports days are coming to an end. Caleb is getting ready to try out for the football team, and Tessa is training for cross-country.

But all their structured plans derail in the final flag game when they lose. Tessa doesn’t want to end her career as a loser. She really enjoys playing, and if she’s being honest, she likes it even more than running. So what if she decided to play football instead? What would happen between her and Caleb? Or between Tessa and her two best friends, who are counting on her to try out for cross-country with them? And will her parents be upset that she’s decided to take her hobby to the next level?

This summer, Caleb and Tessa figure out just what it means to be a boyfriend, girlfriend, teammate, best friend, and someone worth cheering for.” taken from Goodreads.com

A quick read with an awesome message about what it means “to win” and about oneself. Tessa and Caleb’s soul-searching journeys with resound with readers about the demands one places on themselves and what our families and peers demand of us. A quick read.

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

“Let luck find you.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.” - taken from Goodreads.com

Another cute read by Jennifer Smith that will wrap readers into Alice’s story as both she and Teddy struggle with what winning the lottery means to their lives. Alice also must come to grips with her parents’ death and how it has affected her choices in life. The growth of both Alice and Teddy into adulthood is a journey that readers will devour.  

Visit Jennifer E. Smith’s website.