Book #58: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

The Naturals is the first book in a young adult mystery series that has been described as teens meet Criminal Minds. I would have to say, I agree with that description.

I found this book during one of my many trips to Barnes and Noble. I’m terrible when it comes to B&N coupons, I just have to get a book. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes was that book.

I wanted something fairly light. Yeah, strange to say that a serial killer and profiling is light for me, but it is. Romance and Sci-fi actually takes more brain power for me. This kind of stuff I devour with glee.

Anyway, I actually found The Naturals a very enjoyable read. Now, it isn’t OMG Fan going crazy worthy, but it is fun. It had humor mixed in with the disturbing. It had characters who had fairly believable backgrounds that coincide with their “abilities”. Sure, the school part seemed a bit out and so did who the killer was. However, some characters also voice those disbeliefs. Which helped me out.

When a character is also scratching their head, it helps.

I will be honest, I didn’t see the killer coming. I wasn’t expecting who it turned out to be and it was great. There was even enough to hint at the background of the other characters to make you want more.

Book #57: From Gods by Mary Ting

Did you just see a flash of lightning across the sky on a clear sunny day?
Don’t blame Mother Nature.

Skylar Rome can’t wait to spend her last summer before college with her cousin, Kayla. Everything changes when they meet the Grand brothers. Skylar is sure she should stay away from Mason Grand, but their attraction is undeniable. Then Skylar’s life erupts into turmoil. She steps into a world where descendants of ancient gods have super powers, evil beings chase her, and questions arise about her own identity. She is running out of time and running for her life, while trying to unravel the mystery of what they want from her.

Forced into a battle set into motion long before she was born, will Skylar find the answers she seeks, or will she die trying?

From Gods is the first book in a New Adult series about people descended from Greek gods. Even though it is New Adult, it is written in a similar Young Adult fashion.

I’ll be honest, in the beginning I thought the book was so/so. There was a hint of insta-love (on Skylar’s part) and there was the typical “girl gets thrown into some freaky supernatural shit”. It screamed normal YA.

And then I got to 36% done…

Holy fuck. I’m serious. I had no idea a death was going to happen and in the way it did. That wasn’t all, there’s an assault that goes to sexual assault AND THEN there’s a death. It actually made sense for the story, but I DID NOT see that coming! Naturally, I jumped into full throttle for the rest of the book.

Skylar is an interesting character. She is exactly the type of lead in this type of book. She didn’t know what was going on and did need to be saved on many occasions, but she held her own when she wanted answers. She didn’t hold back when she needed to speak her mind, but was still polite about it. In short, she is what I would think and 18 year old would be in this situation.

Mason has that alpha male quality to him. He’s standoffish, he’s demanding, and he can be a dick. Typical, right? Nope. Just how the story also caught me for a loop, Mason did too. All those things I listed are a part of him, but it is a coping mechanism for him. He doesn’t want to feel anymore. The good thing about this is you aren’t going to have to wait for him to get his head out of his ass.

Though the story started out trop-ish and there were obvious moments where I needed to shake my head, I found the book surprising enough that I bought books two and three shortly after. They are still waiting for me to listen, but I’m being a good girl and listening to other stuff first.

Book #56: Tethered Wings by Cameo Renae

Back from their quest into the Underworld, with the threat of Lucian hanging over head, Emma is faced with yet another problem—the Immortal Bond. The bond surpasses any reason and is something so complex, not much is known about it. Once an Immortal Bond is made, it is forever. A conjoining of two fated hearts, destined to be perfect companions.
Emma’s heart, already bonded with her Guardian, Kade, has unexpectedly and inconveniently bonded with Ethon, the son of Lucifer. Now she is faced with a decision she doesn’t want to make. Both want nothing more than to love and protect her.
With the arrival of new company and old friends, things are bound to get heated.

Tethered Wings is the third book in the Hidden Wings series. It starts off right where the second book ended. And, in my opinion, it was so far the worst in the series.

The first book was an interesting beginning to a set of characters, a world, and a future war. The second book showed Emma grow from the typical teen to a strong angelic warrior. The third book . . . was fluff. Completely boring fluff.

The only good part to the book was the last ten/fifteen percent.

Most of this book was love triangle fluff or Emma trying to hide her truth to her best friends. I was hoping that she would spill the beans or be forced to tell them the truth in order to keep them safe, but that never happens. And, if you were hoping for a clear division as to who she would pick, it’s very obvious.

There were some action scenes, but not to the point where you are pushed to the edge of your seat.

All in all, I was not impressed with this one and am not sure how the next book will go. I do have that book though.

Book #55: The Soul Mender by R. S. Dabney

In a wild escape to avoid becoming the sixth victim of the elusive Rocky Mountain Murderer, twenty-two-year-old Riley Dale finds herself flung into a universe parallel to her own, where Las Vegas is known for its churches, terrorist attacks are initiated by the United States, and peace can be found in the darkest corners of the globe.

As the deadly visions that have haunted her since childhood become real, Riley is confronted with the implausible story of a world split in two and the stark contrast between good and evil in people she thought she knew.

Racing deeper into the mystery of the new world, Riley discovers the explosive truth about her ancestors who have been hunted for thousands of years because of a single mistake made long ago.

And now it’s her turn to pay for that blunder.

Pursued by both the government and a clandestine sect of assassins, Riley must ally with the only people in the parallel universe willing to keep her safe—the drug-addicted, prostituting other half of her soul, and the counter soul of a man who tortured and killed five young women.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley for an honest review. There was no compensation and all that follows is my opinion from what I’ve read.

This book bored me. Plain and simple. The description on the blurb was intriguing and caught my attention. Parallel worlds and a woman being hunted, it sounded awesome. And yet, I was not pulled into the story.

The writing is decent. It has multiple viewpoints early on that confused me. I’m not sure what the point was for the President’s viewpoint, a killer’s, or a professor’s early on. It felt disjointed and an attempt of word count or adding tension when it didn’t make sense.

Riley’s viewpoint was interesting and most of the book. I liked her “nightmares” and the confusion that followed them. It was a great way to get the reader caught on something big.

The big issue though was the way the story was written. It was more of a tell than a show. When multiple characters are talking, there were no indicators as to what they were doing or facial expressions. I found myself thinking the characters were monotonous robots.

All in all, I wasn’t sold on the book. I feel it is a great first or second draft and with a bit more revisions it would be an amazing book. Right now though, I didn’t care one way or another for anyone.

Book #54: Hit the Ground Running by

“Eric—Mom and Dad are gone. I don’t know what happened, but I’m going to find out.”

Eric might not be getting along with his family—or anyone else, for that matter—but he’s pretty sure a boarding school in another country isn’t the answer. Skilled in parkour, running helps him deal. So be it, he decides. Do the time and get out. Flow like water. But when he gets a cryptic message from his brother telling him their parents have been abducted, and then his brother disappears, he realises they weren’t punishing him, they were hiding him. To find them, Eric has to discover the secrets of his parents’ research, but the conspiracy he uncovers threatens more than just his family. With help from unlikely new friends, a hack-first-ask-questions-later approach to computers, and a dangerous plan, he soon learns that some secrets don’t want to be found, and others have a way of revealing themselves at all the wrong times.

I received a copy via NetGalley for an honest review. No compensation was given for this review and everything that follows is my opinion.

Hit the Ground Running makes me think of an awesome action movie. The story hits it off fast and doesn’t really stop until the characters have found the time to relax. Even then, we have a cliffhanger for the second book.

There is a need for suspension of disbelief when reading this book. You need to have an Indiana Jones like mind. Try to believe in the supernatural and believe that a teenager could have a globetrotting lifestyle before being sequestered into a private school in Canada. This is important because Eric has some interesting stories that would make you wonder if he’s just trying to get attention. And, there is an element of the supernatural in the book.

However, it isn’t the supernatural that is the main focus. It is a boy trying to find the rest of his family and running away from the bad guys who are out to get him. The action and answers are there, but lead to only more questions.

The book has a lot of chapters and if that turns you off, it shouldn’t. There is plenty of action from Parkour to some cool, and unbelievable, tech work. This book is like a thriller meets Indiana Jones and had a teenage child.

The characters are interesting as well. I found myself laughing at Seth and Lakey’s comments and I enjoyed Tess and Eric’s chemistry. There was enough character background to grow a bit of a relationship between characters and reader. Though I couldn’t personally relate to the characters, I did root for them during the tough times.

In all, I do want to continue with the series. Especially with that epilogue. If the Bakker parents are meeting who I think they are meeting then this is getting deep!

Book #53: The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride by Kristen Painter

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Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town where Halloween is celebrated 365 days a year. The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better. Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs and all.

After seeing her maybe-mobster boss murder a guy, Delaney James assumes a new identity and pretends to be a mail order bride. What she doesn’t know is her groom to be is a 400-year-old vampire.

Hugh Ellingham has only agreed to the set up to make his overbearing grandmother happy. His past means love is no longer an option. Except he never counted on Delaney and falling in love for real.
Too bad both of them are keeping some mighty big secrets…

The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride is a quick and cute paranormal romance. It is a great introduction to the Southern town, Nocturne Falls, and the supernatural residents. I actually liked this book a lot and am planning on buying the second book in the Nocturne Falls romance series.

Delaney is an interesting female lead. There is a femininity to her that is akin to most damsels in distress. Yes, she is in distress. Running away from a mobster does that to you. But, she isn’t much of a damsel. She is sharp witted and has no problem voicing her own opinions about things. Despite her current situation, she’s quick to think of a way out and allows time afterwards to breakdown. On top of that, she loves making sweets.

Hugh isn’t a typical alpha male vampire. He has the humanity torn aspect that we see in vampire romance leads. It did bother me at times, but it was refreshing to see one trope while the female lead wasn’t very trope (in my opinion).

What you would think would be a big issue, actually gets ironed out fairly well. We aren’t met with characters who have great communication issues. For most of the problems in the book, the characters talk it out.

All in all, the book was cute. It was free of sex scenes and instead emphasized on the intimacy of vampire bites and kisses. It was fresh and a series that I would continue to read.

Book #52: Everland by Wendy Spinale

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The only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the deadly Marauders—the German army led by the cutthroat Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England’s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook is on the hunt for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the surviving children. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return.

Until one day when they grab Joanna. Gwen will stop at nothing to get her sister back, but as she sets out, she crosses paths with a daredevil named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it might cost Gwen more than she bargained for. And are Gwen, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart the ruthless Captain Hook?

I joined in on an Owlcrate Book Club in Facebook and this month was the first month. Everland was the second book in this month’s group of books and the one I was most excited about.

Everland is a steampunk/dystopian retelling of Peter Pan. Now, I’m not a big Peter Pan fan. In fact, I find him to be a little shit. Maybe it’s just the medium that he’s being portrayed that I don’t care for, but no matter. He’s just not my favorite character. That said, the sequel to Everland has just come out and it is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland with the same setting and everything. I knew that I needed to at least try this book out first.

I’m glad I did.

The characters were interesting enough that, if I didn’t know any better, I would think Wendy Spinale was the original creator. And yet, there was enough reference that I was excited to find them. She expertly melded her world and Barrie’s characters into a story that was intriguing and exciting.

The dystopian aspect may have been a bit off the wall, but I found that to be an easy thing to push aside. The idea of adults being killed off fast seems a bit unbelievable. Then again, the character’s keep reminding you that the book is set a year after the events that made London into Everland.

The steampunk is what made me very happy. There are gears and steam galore! There are medical and technological discoveries that bring the steampunk world to life. And, to my greatest happiness, there isn’t a single mention of aether! Sorry, but that plasma stuff seems like a catch-all with some Steampunk books. I can understand if the world also has magic. Anyways, I was excited about that.

Did I have an emotional response? I did. I found myself cheering, booing, and laughing aloud. I’m sure my husband was glancing at me sideways.

I’m definitely getting the sequel. Especially now that I have a Barnes and Noble coupon.