Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: Roar by Cora Carmack

Title: Roar
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Format: Hardback

Page Count: 380


In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master. (taken from

“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands riding the wind. You are Stormling, Aurora Pavan. Believe it.” 

Dear Lord it took me a long time to trudge through this one. Seriously, I think I was "reading" it for three months. I kept picking it up and putting it back down, and finally, I just shoved my face in it and forced myself to end my misery.

So many reviewers enjoyed this one, and I desperately wanted to join their ranks. I mean, what's not to love? Cora Carmack's Losing It had me laughing so hard I cried, and I'm a sucker for a strong blonde heroine who is destined to rule a mythical land *cough*Daenerys my queen*cough cough*. Plus, the cover is gorgeous and the love interest is basically an Abercrombie model who fights powerful storms in his free time. Sounds promising, right? I guess I'll have to chalk the whole thing up to "it's not you, it's me."  

Just kidding, it's not me. This book just isn't that good.

Okay so where to begin. If I'm being honest, I don't have that much to say because the whole ride was just meh. Roar is... fine? I mean, she's not overly annoying or anything, but she's pretty blech. Aurora (Roar? Rora?) is everything, which basically means she's nothing, if that makes sense. Characters can't be perfectly compassionate, selfless, relatable insecure, beautiful, powerful, etc. all at once or they just become cliché special snowflakes. I know some girls really liked Roar, but I just found her to be another kick-ass heroine wannabe who doesn't really have any defining traits.

The romance was so. boring. I'm sorry, but like, how are you getting your panties in a ruffle over this guy? He's possessive and just such a bad-boy-with-a-hidden-soft-side stereotype. It's not like I hated Locke or anything, but I couldn't have cared less about his macho need to defend Roar at all times or their so-called sexual tension.

At first, I thought the storm aspect of the story was really cool, but after a while, I just found it... kind of confusing? Also, there's this big bad guy on the horizon, except we never get to meet him or even really figure out what his deal is? I get that this will probably be explained in the second book, but how am I really supposed to want to read the second book if the villain barely even gets introduced in the first?

Now, I did give this one two stars, not one, so that means there were some things I didn't hate. The story isn't complete crap, and occasionally I found myself getting lost in Carmack's interesting world. As I read other people's reviews of this one, I do see some valid positive points, but even those can't overpower the all-consuming feeling of apathy I have towards this book.

Anyway, long story short, this one just wasn't my cup of tea. The romance is tepid, the characters are clichés, and the plot just kind of plods along without introducing much excitement or any real twists. I probably won't check out Rage (book two), but if you disagree with everything I've said, then I hope you continue to enjoy this series.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Midnight Dance

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for! Here's mine for the week.

Title: The Midnight Dance
AuthorNikki Katz
Release Date: October 17, 2017

When the music ends, the dance begins.

Penny is a dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and 11 other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate and in the only life Penny has ever known.

When new memories appear, showing a life very different from the one she thought she'd been leading, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With the sweet kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it's too late. (taken from

Why I Need It: 

First of all, I took ballet lessons for years and am so excited to embrace the dance element of this novel. Secondly, the cover is gorgeous and the premise is intriguing. GIVE IT TO ME.

Monday, October 9, 2017

ARC Review: Breathless by Tara Goedjen

Title: Breathless
Author: Tara Goedjen
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Format: ARC Paperback

Page Count: 368


No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets better left to the dead.
(taken from

“Like we told you, she will be dead soon. So it happens.
Though when a light goes out, it can be raised again.
You just need a box of matches."

First of all, I do not recommend reading this release while sitting alone in your home with the lights off and a storm brewing outside. Unless, of course, you love feeling like something invisible might be lurking in the dark corners and that whispering noise might be a spirit ready to haunt you. I definitely ran around my apartment flipping on all the lights after binging on this one for a few hour, but maybe I'm just a huge wimp.

Anyway, let's get down to business. There were things I thoroughly enjoyed about Breathless, and there were things that just fell so flat for me.

The characters, especially the three sisters, are pretty strong. Mae is the quiet, observant type while Elle is bursting with ideas and liveliness. Their older sister, Ro, died a year ago, and she was the sparkly glue that held everyone together with her irresistible charm and quirks. As the reader, you'll really get to bond with these girls, especially Mae. Goedjen does an excellent job of capturing their family dynamic and the grief the experience in the aftermath of Ro's tragic death.

The writing is captivating. Goedjen sets up a slow burn, and I flew through the pages as doors creaked and unseen eyes watched. Her subtle style was just creepy enough to send chills up my spine without freaking me out or revealing too much. I actually cackled and rubbed my hands together in glee at certain points because she did such an excellent job of hinting at terrible things to come. The suspense was that on point.

About half-way through, I hit some problems. As I said, this book is really a slow burn, but here's the main issue: We never get the roaring flames we've been waiting for. Sure, there are some smoldering embers and teasing breezes, but Goedjen never really drops the big bomb that's necessary top kick this horror story into full gear. The book's ending struck me as extremely anticlimactic, and I found myself quite disappointed. There was so much potential, but then the tension just kind of fizzled out.

Also, I feel that the quality of writing deteriorated as the story progressed. In the first couple hundred pages, Goedjen pays close attention to detail and crafts each scene meticulously. I was completely enthralled by Blue Gate and the eerie history that surrounded it. However, as the story speeds up, Goedjen looses some control over the plot. Chapters feel more rushed, and in the end, I was just kind of left thinking... "Okay, so what just happened?"

So, obviously I had some issues with this one and didn't fall completely head over heels, but I did enjoy some aspects of it. It's definitely a thrilling read, and if you're in search of some chills as Halloween approaches, I won't steer you away from Breathless. However, you shouldn't get your hopes up too high because it certainly isn't the incredible horror story I hoped it would be.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 385


Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. (taken from

“Like life, what gives a story its meaning is the fact that it ends. Our stories have lives of their own—and it’s up to us to make them mean something .” 

Eliza and Her Monsters is so much more than I thought it would be. It's not just a cute guy-meets-girl story: it's a novel about self-discovery, mental health, creativity, relationships, and confidence. I was undoubtedly impressed by this 2017 release, and I'd highly recommend it.

So, Eliza is a high school senior by day, but by night, she's the creator of a wildly popular online comic series. Millions of people follow her work, and although she's proud of her creations, she revels in the anonymity of her artistry. An intense introvert who prefers fictional worlds to her own, Eliza struggles to bond with other people. When Wallace Warland, who happens to love Eliza's comic series, enters her life, she begins to realize that her world doesn't always have to revolve around online forums and deadlines.

Like many readers, I stumbled into this paradox: I related to Eliza on a deep level, but at times, I couldn't stand her. In many ways, she is like so many of us readers. She craves alone time with her imaginary worlds. However, she sometimes takes her introverted tendencies and allows them to deeply hurt those around her. I hated how she treated her family members and sometimes I just wanted to shake her, but thankfully, the plot brings her some redemption eventually. Stick with her as she learns about life and herself, and things will get better.

Eliza's relationship with Wallace is beautiful. No, he doesn't come in and just save her from herself. Instead, he opens doors for Eliza that she never knew existed while simultaneously sharing his own problems with her. There's absolutely no insta-romance (woo!) and I enjoyed watching the love between these two characters blossom.

As an avid reader, I loved the fandom element of the novel. I'm not a huge fanfiction reader or anything, but it was so fun to see that online world presented in a novel. Our stories, whether they're novels or comics or whatever, mean so much to us, and I think Zappia really taps into that importance. I would actually love to see her create a Monstrous Sea novel or comic book.

There are clearly some huge statements on the importance of mental health in this novel, but in my opinion, they are presented in a really tasteful manner. None of it is shoved down your throat. Instead, Zappia gives an inside look at how anxiety can manifest itself, as well as how suicide and depression can create ripples in various lives.

There are so many sides to this novel. It's cute and funny at points, but also immensely deep and raw at others. Eliza and Her Monsters is definitely one of my favorite realistic fiction releases of the year, and if you haven't given it a shot, I encourage you to do so.

This book wasn't really what I expected it to be, but it turns out that's a good thing.