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I Belong

Review: Sinner’s Creed by Kim Jones

November 20th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Stephanie under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: Sinner’s Creed

Author: Kim Jones

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Sinner’s Creed MC (Book #1)

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Format: Paperback, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 1101987693 (Penguin/Berkley)

ISBN-13: 978-1101987698 (Penguin/Berkley)

Reviewed by: Stephanie


First in a new series—welcome to the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club, where hard bodies and hot leather are made for each other, and love gone wrong is the most irresistible of all…
“I was the demon-possessed monster and she was the innocent, naïve angel. But none of that matters. She asks, I give and right now, I’ll kill anyone who tries to stop me from giving this woman what she wants—me.”

Dirk lives in the shadows—performing hits, maintaining order, and upholding the no-holds-barred legacy of the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club. A nomad with a restless spirit and a cold heart, the open road is his world. One of the few constants in his life: his desire for the one woman who has consumed his thoughts for years.

Saylor Samson grew up far from the harshness of Dirk’s world. But ever since she was seventeen she’s been drawn to this dark and mysterious man who always seemed to show up just when she needed him.

After years of fated encounters, he’s back. This time he’s taking her. This time she’s ready for the ride. But just when the darkness in Dirk’s life begins to fade, Saylor reveals a secret that puts them both to the ultimate test. Now, Dirk has to make a decision: submit to his destiny with the MC, or choose his own.

Quick & Dirty: A fantastic final 20 percent can’t totally make up for all the flaws that come before it in this first book in the Sinner’s Creed MC series.

Opening Sentence: I knew the man in front of me was doomed.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Dirk is the nomad for Sinner’s Creed MC, meaning he “takes care” of any problems that arise within the club, aka beating down and/or killing anyone who needs to be made an example of. He was raised in this club. It’s in his blood. There is nothing else he cares about. Then, he runs into Saylor. Immediately, he cannot get her out of his head. When she says she wants to ride with him, against his better judgment, he can’t help but say yes. From that moment on, his priorities begin to shift. But will that shift in priorities end up hurting his position in the club? Will the club try to bring punishment onto him and Saylor?

I’ll be honest. I have a lot of negative things to say about this book. The one positive I have is that the last 20 percent is absolutely riveting and feels so real. It is for that reason only that I bumped up my rating to 3 stars rather than the 2 I was planning on giving it.  I can’t go into much more detail than that in order to avoid spoilers, but that last 20 percent is truly excellent.

Then, there’s the 80 percent that comes before that, which is not so good. For one thing, we’re dealing with a case of “insta-love” here, and that’s one thing I cannot stand in books. I need a build up to a relationship in order to connect to the characters, and when they just instantly adore each other, I have a hard time connecting. It causes me to roll my eyes rather than feel touched when something sappy/romantic happens. It’s just not believable to me.

Second, I’m not a fan of Dirk. He just comes off as a bit too alpha/jerk-ish for my taste. It has nothing to do with the fact that he’s basically an assassin, honestly. I could probably get past that. But since we’re in his head for the entire book, we’re treated to his thoughts, and they  just don’t put him in a good light. In that same vein, not being able to get into Saylor’s head makes it hard to connect to her. We just see her through Dirk’s love-obsessed view, and never really get a good feel for her as a character.

All in all, this one was a struggle for me. Up until that last 20 percent, I was forcing myself to read. If I didn’t have to review this one, I probably would have stopped reading and never gotten to the part that actually swept me away. I honestly don’t know if I want to read the next one in the series or not. Part of me is intrigued, because that last 20 percent was truly great, so I wonder if maybe that will carry through into the next book, even though it will focus on new characters. If I do decide to read the next one, it will be with much trepidation because this one was just not my cup of tea for most of the novel.

Notable Scene:

“Do you know what would have happened if you hadn’t come back when you did?” I search her face, wondering if she wants an answer or if she just wants to remind me what a fuckup I am.

She wants neither.

“I would have left. You know I was planning on leaving that day. I had to get outta there, Dirk. I had to leave. Whether it was with you or on my own, I was gone. There are three people in this world that really mean something to me. The two that I really mean something to are in Europe for the summer. It’s not their job to keep tabs on me; they’ve never been able to. It wouldn’t be surprising to them to find me gone. I don’t work, I’m not enrolled in classes right now, and there is nothing about me not being home that will throw up a red flag to anyone. Nobody is gonna miss me, Dirk. If that pathetic reason isn’t enough to convince you why I thought this trip was a good idea, then nothing is. And to answer your question, my phone is at my house, on my dresser. Right where I left it.” She walks past me toward the store, and the need for her to answer the question that is pounding in my head outweighs the need to remain myself–the man who never asks questions.

“What about the third?” I call out to her. “What about the third person who really means something to you?” She turns and her voice carries across the parking lot and flows through my ears like honey.

“I’m looking at him.”

Sinner’s Creed MC Series:

1. Sinner’s Creed

2. Sinner’s Revenge


FTC Advisory: Penguin/Berkley provided me with a copy of Sinner’s Creed. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski

November 19th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: The Wood

Author: Chelsea Bobulski

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250094267 (Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-1250094261 (Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut.

When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can’t help but think there’s more to her dad’s disappearance than she’s being told.

She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.

The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost in it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.

Bobulski’s eerie debut is filled with friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not.

Quick & Dirty: Dark, creative time travel novel that was a refreshingly unique read.

Opening Sentence: Dad tells me the wood is not a place to play.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski was surprising and refreshing read for me. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the storyline and how different it is from a lot of the stories that I have been reading. I think I was expecting a historical novel along the lines of The Village movie but nope. The Wood is a contemporary young adult novel that deals with elements of time travel and immortal beings. There are some creepy/scary elements of the wood itself but I wouldn’t say this was a scary novel because those elements are pretty few and far between.

For over a thousand years, Winter’s family has been guardian of the wood. The guardianship comes with many responsibilities, the main one being that Winter must send back any traveler who makes it into her wood back to the time from which they came. There are quite a few portals from which a traveler can become lost but not too many that Winter can’t figure out their time period and location. The consequences of a wandering traveler can be devastating for time, history and the traveler especially if they die somewhere they weren’t supposed to die.

Several years have passed since Winter’s father was lost in the wood. She still holds out hope that her father is alive. Strange things begin to happen in the wood including a peculiar boy named Henry who says he will keep coming back. This boy seems to know things about the wood that he shouldn’t know. Eventually he says something that really gets to Winter and she allows him to stay because the woods are now showing signs of decay. Henry just may be the key for Winter to learn the truth about her father’s disappearance and why the leaves in the woods are turning black.

Winter is a character that I certainly didn’t connect with but I had no problems feeling sorry for her and her situation. She wants to be as normal a girl as she can, while she can, but as long as she’s guardian of the woods she has to keep secrets. One of the things that got to me was that Winter can never go too far from her wood, she can’t ever travel or even travel a couple of miles to the beach. She’s always on call (except at night when it is too dangerous to enter the wood). She’s super smart, knows many languages because she must communicate with travelers when they come through. Winter has a loyal best friend whom I felt was treated bad but I also completely understand that Winter always has to keep the biggest secret from her, the wood. Winter is also quite strong willed, even as she knows she’s falling in love with Henry (with someone she doesn’t have to hide from) she knows he must go back. She’s upset but she takes it in stride.

There are quite a few elements to this story that really did surprise me. Winter does have an aloof mom at times. Her mom is still deeply grieving even if it has been a few years since her husband disappeared. But Winter’s mom is there when it really matters, even if she can’t enter the woods herself. She does nag Winter a bit about her responsibilities but she knows Winter cannot stay away from the wood. The other element that completely surprised me and yet made the sap in me sad was Henry. He wanted to help Winter but he also needed to find his own parents. His agreement to stay was that he would do anything she asked of him. He does have an 18th century gentility while understanding that this new world is completely strange. Winter tries to keep as much of it a secret as she can because he must go back to his own time when all of this is done. I kept thinking that Henry was going to do something bad or at least have some nasty secret of his own but he never did. Henry was who and what he said he’d be and that was very exciting to me because I’m a bit tired of the backhandedness of some characters.

The Wood is told in the first person perspective of Winter. The storytelling often jumps back and forth in time between Winter now and when Winter was training to be a guardian with her father. The story has some dark elements but it really isn’t creepy. It is a weird type of science fiction with time travel where the main character never actually leaves her contemporary time. I liked the mystery aspect of the story overall, it wasn’t so much action packed but more a mystery.

Notable Scene:

“You’re asking me to break the most important rule of the wood,” I say. “The rule that isn’t even spoken because it should be known, without question. The rule that encapsulates my entire purpose as a guardian.” No traveler can ever pass through a threshold into a time that is not their own.

“Yes, I am asking that of you, but I am also telling you, if you do not let me through into your time and work with me to discover the truth of what is happening here, there may no longer be a wood for you to protect.” His Adam’s apple rolls down his throat. “There may no longer be a world for you to protect.”

FTC Advisory: Feiwel & Friends /Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Wood. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Body Market by Donna Freitas

October 19th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Tara under Review Tags: , , , , ,

TitleThe Body Market

Author: Donna Freitas

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: The Wired (Book #2)

Publication Date: March 28, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 409 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062118633 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062118639 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Tara


Skylar Cruz has been betrayed by everyone she trusted. Perhaps worst of all, she and her friends have failed to stop her sister, and now the Body Market is open for business.

Skylar is through being a pawn in everyone else’s game. She may be the only one who can stop what her family started. And she must do it before everyone in the App World runs out of time.

In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, The Body Market is the next thrilling installment in this gripping and timely sci-fi series for teens.

Quick & Dirty: An excellent second installment in this dystopian science fiction series that is fully of action, romance, and hard choices.

Opening Sentence: I adjusted the scarf around my head.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

After reading Unplugged, I was really interested to see where the author would take the sequel. The Body Market had everything I liked about Unplugged, added an adorable romance, and clarified the rebel’s mission. The author also included some additional social commentary about the power of devices and social media in a way that was much more subtle than the first book.

The Body Market picks up a little bit after the ending of the first one, skipping over the immediate aftermath of the ending of book one. Skylar is kidnapped by a bounty hunter and is trapped in his cabin with him during a snow storm. After winning him over and finding out more about herself, Skylar decides to take an active role in the rebellion.

In Unplugged, I was a bit iffy about Skylar and the other characters but I loved how the author developed them in this book. They became a bit more fleshed out for me in general and I could understand their motivations more. Skylar changed the most and, in my mind at least, for the better. She discovered who she was and figured out what she was fighting for and why. Her character arc was one of my favorite things about this book. Plus it didn’t hurt that I totally shipped her with the new love interest (I never was a fan of Rain).

There were a lot of plot twists that I didn’t see coming but, when I looked back and thought about it, noticed that the author had included very subtle hints for some of them. My favorite was the one at the end, which I won’t reveal because of spoilers. It really set the page for the next, and final, installment in this series.

Unplugged was one of the rare sequels that was better than the series debut. Rather than suffering from second book syndrome, the characters all developed in major ways and the plot was fascinating and could stand on its own. Definitely check this one out if you enjoyed Unplugged!

Notable Scene:

“I know who you are,” he said.

“So?” I said, trying to sound as impassive as he did. “Who am I then?”

He put out his hand, as though we’d just been introduced at a party and he was trying to be polite. “You’re the most wanted girl in all of New Port City.” The right side of his mouth curled into a menacing half smile. “And I, a lucky bounty hunter.”

There was a moment, a pause between those words and what happened next, long enough for the fear to sear my insides like a firebomb, but not long enough that my gaming instincts could save me. They eventually kicked in and I was about to run, my brain automatically calculating the distance between me and the dark alley nearby, but I was too late.

I felt his hands on me.

They were strong. He was strong—stronger than he looked for his size.

“Don’t worry, Skylar,” he whispered. “I’m not going to hurt you. I promise,”

The Wired Series:

1. Unplugged

2. The Body Market

3. The Mind Virus (December 2017)


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Body Market. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth

October 18th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Tara under Review Tags: , , , , ,

Title: Take the Fall

Author: Emily Hainsworth

Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller

Series: N/A

Publication Date: February 16, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 006209422X (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062094223 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Tara



Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?

Quick & Dirty: Decent mystery story about friendships, family, and love.

Opening Sentence: Don’t think, just run.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Whenever it starts to become fall, I liked to read more murder mysteries. This year, I started off with Take the Fall. This one is a young adult murder mystery book that I think you’ll either love or be ambivalent toward. I wasn’t really able to connect with either the characters or the writing but I think that it would have been a decent book if I had been able to. Also, I knew who the killer was from close to the beginning of the book so that kind of took the suspense out of it for me.

Take the Fall begins as Sonia runs out of the woods after escaping an attack in the woods that left Gretchen, her best friends, dead at the bottom of the falls. Devastated over her best friend’s death, she begins a hunt to find the killer despite the fact that she can’t remember much about that night. Marcus, Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend, is at the top of the police’s suspect list. After enlisting Sonia’s help to find the true killer, they discover that the mystery of who killed Gretchen may be more complex than they ever could have imagined.

This book had the potential to be a great murder mystery but didn’t quite work for me. I couldn’t ever shake the suspicion I had at the beginning, which ended up being correct. The author did do a decent job of making me question my idea of who the killer was and there were some very intriguing twists and turns. I wish that there had been a bit more suspense and overall mystery. The plot didn’t really hold my attention but was just interesting enough that I kept reading.

The strength of this novel for me was the history between Sonia and Gretchen that was slowly revealed. I enjoyed watching that play out more than I did the investigation. It felt very realistic and possible and was actually the reason I continued reading the book. Additionally, I liked how the author portrayed the relationship between Gretchen and Kirsten, her little sister. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance that developed, I never really understood the chemistry.  Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of the way that the romance seemed more important than the investigation sometimes.

Overall, this was a pretty quick and easy read. If you’re looking for a suspenseful, creepy read, this probably isn’t the one for you. However, if you’re looking for a mystery read that examines friendships, family, and love in an intriguing way, definitely check this one out.

Notable Scene:

Aunt Dina runs a mop over the checkered linoleum. My mom’s behind the register, still laughing at some joke. Her smile fades when she sees me, like she’s not sure who I am, and a sob escapes my lips. Minutes ago I was desperate just to see her face again, and now—the thought of telling her—

What just happened to me?
The color drains from her face.
The mop clatters to the floor.

Five minutes later the diner is crawling with cops. The only time I’ve seen anything like it was when we held a community pie-eating contest to benefit the Officers’ Foundation. The deputies wore lobster bibs and poked fun at one another. Now a tense group forms a circle around me and I still feel like I’m running. Blood roars in my ears. I’m aware of Sheriff Wood asking questions. My mom a notch below hysterical. Dina pacing. Deputy Rashid opening and closing the release on his holster. My cheeks are wet, filthy. Tears mixed with dirt mixed with fear. My ribs ache with every sob. My arms sting.

“What happened, Sonia?”
“Who did this?”
“You were attacked? In the woods?”

I can’t stop crying long enough to answer every question.


FTC Advisory: Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Take the Fall. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

October 17th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Stephanie under Review Tags: , , , , ,

Title: Steeplejack

Author: A.J. Hartley

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Alternative Detective (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 14, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 076538342X (Tor Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0765383426 (Tor Teen)

Reviewed by: Stephanie


Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated there generations ago and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges.

When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice, Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers Ang a job investigating the death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.

Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos.

Quick & Dirty: Unique and entertaining, a few flaws do nothing to detract from the pleasure of reading this first book in the Steeplejack series.

Opening Sentence: The last person up here never made it down alive, but there was no point thinking about that.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Ang had become used to her life as a steeplejack. She’s garnered a reputation as one of the best. But on one fateful morning, everything seems to go wrong. The Beacon, an historical artifact of the city, goes missing. That same day, she discovers the body of the boy she was supposed to begin teaching. The authorities believe he died from a fall, as most steeplejacks do, but Ang sees a wound that implies murder. No one will listen though, until she’s approached by a politician who asks her to look into the murder. As Ang begins her investigation, it becomes apparent that it goes much deeper than the murder of one steeplejack boy. As her life becomes ever more in danger, Ang can’t help but wonder if maybe being a detective is a bit more dangerous than the life of a steeplejack. Will she live to see justice for the young boy whose life was taken from him?

This book sucked me in right away and moved very quickly. The word building isn’t confusing at all, which is very helpful. Indeed, were it not for a few flaws, this would easily garner four stars from me. As it is, it falls somewhere between 3 and 4, so I went ahead and rounded up because I did enjoy the story very  much.

As mentioned, though, there are some flaws. For one, there is a side plot involving Ang’s sister’s baby that I found a little distracting. It often felt like there was no point to it other than to complicate Ang’s life further. It did, however, provoke a very emotional response in me, so Harvey definitely did something right. I just was often more concerned about what was going on with the baby than I was with what was currently happening with Ang, so my attention wasn’t always fully focused on the moment at hand.

Secondly, while Ang is an amazing main character who is vividly brought to life, I don’t feel the same can be said for the secondary characters. They weren’t necessarily cardboard cutouts, but it did feel as though there wasn’t much depth to them, to the point that the few hints of romance that occurred fell very flat because I had no feeling towards the particular male in question. Other characters had hints of greatness, but it was just never fully realized. Hopefully, this is something that will be improved in future books in the series.

Despite those flaws, this was still a very engaging first novel in a series. The first person narration works very well at drawing the reader in and making them feel as is if they are a part of the story. I didn’t see the ending coming, and was very much satisfied with how everything turned out. I’m very much looking forward to reading a sequel!

Notable Scene:

“What is her name?” I asked.


“The baby. What do you call her?”

Rahvey shrugged. “We only thought about boys’ names,” she said. “Call her whatever you like.”

I picked the basket up. As I did so, the baby stirred, jaws flexing and closing in a yawn. I gazed at her, then looked up momentarily still.

I felt the eyes of the world as a presence like the rumble of the ocean or the still insect-singing heat of the savannah. Outside, the Drowning and Bar-Selehm in general were crouched, waiting.

Fourth daughter. Doubly cursed. The child that should not be.

I tried to carry the basket as if it were lighter than it was, as if it held nothing of value. I gave my sister one last look, but Rahvey had closed her eyes.

“Tell no one where she is,” I said.

I opened the door and stepped out into the world.

Alternative Detective Series:

1. Steeplejack

2. Firebrand


FTC Advisory: Tor Teen provided me with a copy of Steeplejack. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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