Daughter of No One by Sam Ledel

I never read fantasy novels, I just am not interested in all the world building. I feel like the majority of the time you spend so much time of developing that aspect of the book that everything else can end up taking a backseat. As much as this is a fantasy novel, with the elves and the fae, what you also have is an old-fashioned adventure filled with mystery and a slow burn romance.

Jastyn Cipher and her mother were cast out of the village by the royal family. Jastyn’s mother had a child with a fae and therefore broke one the kingdom’s laws. After spending quite some time in shackles the mother and young child have been shunned by their community for decades. Jastyn despises the royal family. Unfortunately, Jastyn’s younger sister has fallen ill and nothing the Alchemist mixes will fix what she ails from. Going to the queen to beg for her healing powers is not something this young woman wants to do but at this point she has no other options.

Princess Aurelia Diarmaid wants more than anything to break out of the castle and experience the world outside of its protective walls. Her parents have kept the princess safe but have also clipped her wings and made her feel trapped and restless.

Our two main characters are a study in contrasts. Jastyn is considered less than a commoner. Her life has been filled with barely meeting basic needs has toughened her and made her a skilled outdoorswoman. Aurelia wants for nothing but as much privilege as she has something is missing.

The world building and fantastic elements are all there. Ledel makes them believable and paints you a picture as the story unfolds. Where I think the book really takes shape and leaps to the next level is the dynamic between our leading ladies. There is an excellent lesfic drama/romance unfolding between the two young women. Everything is stacked against them and that is obvious from their initial meeting. Attraction, longing gazes, a simple touch, it all begins to stoke the fires of a would be romance. You cannot help but love these two brave heroines who are thrust into chaos and an adventure. With Jastyn, I loved all that vulnerability and the crushing hopelessly on someone who is completely above your stature in society. It is just enough angst to keep you rooting for the impossible. With Princess Aurelia, you love that she is nothing like Jastyn thought her to be. Aurelia is capable, smart, compassionate and is absolutely fearless in the face of danger.

Sam Ledel has definitely set up an epic adventure of star-crossed lovers. This book one of a trilogy doesn’t leave you with a cliffhanger but you are definitely going to be left ready for the next book. The romance is just blossoming, they are not a couple this is one where we are going to have to work for it a bit. As a non-fantasy lover, I adored this book and am ready to read where Ledel takes us next. This book is quality writing, great pacing, and top-notch characters. You cannot go wrong with this one!

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Rocks and Stars by Sam Ledel

Kyle Lindsay is heading off to college in central Texas to begin her first days of college as a D-1 soccer player. Kyle has been out to her bestie for a bit now but as she heads to college she wants to experience dating and as well as thriving in the classroom and on the pitch.

Kyle meets two ladies that have a major impact in her first year in school. One is another freshman, Joey Carver, a goalkeeper that lives on the same floor. Joey is fun, easy going and immediately befriends Kyle. There is some heat there too. These two fit together easily, one big problem though, Kyle doesn’t know what she is ready for it and a relationship with Joey would be big.

The other character that has a big influence on our leading lady is Jax. Jax is a junior on the team and an enigma to many. No one knows much about her family or her past, she doesn’t talk too much but she makes enough overtures to Kyle to let her know she has eyes for the newbie. Kyle has an overcoming sexual attraction to Jax even though she knows virtually nothing about her off the field.

Is this a romance, I have to lean towards no. There are romantic elements but this is more a coming of age story of Kyle finding her footing while navigating school as a college athlete. She struggles with sex, love, family, alcohol, grades, and athletics. I think Sam Ledel told a great story. I adored Kyle even though a few times I wanted to shake her and say enough girlfriend. I wish the ending was a bit longer, but that’s the romance addict in me. I look forward to Ledel’s next book.

3.25 stars out of 5

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All the Ways to Here by Emily O’Beirne

Every time I pick up an Emily O’Beirne book I am spellbound on how she delivers amazing storylines, dazzling dialogue, and characters that you treasure long after the last page is turned.

Emily O’Beirne is the very best at what she does for a variety of reasons. Each book captivates me. Her characters are so developed you feel as if you personally know them. Their dialogue sounds and feels real. To me, dialogue is the make it or break it for a book. You can either write it or you can’t. To make it flow and feel real the whole way through, that takes a mega amount of skill, and this is a skill O’Beirne has in spades.

There are two authors that stand at the very top of this genre. Every single one of their books is fabulous. O’Beirne is one of the two. Am I biased? Yeah, I guess I am for the fact that I know when I open one of her books that I am going to be blown away by its awesomeness. I could read one of her books every single month and it still wouldn’t be enough. She writes the kind of books that you want to finish just so you can re-read it. Finish that baby and start right back at it again.

If you read Future Leaders of Nowhere and adored it as much as I did, this one is for you. Willa and Finn are back navigating the waters of demanding school work, home life, and their new relationship. What a great read, but even more so what amazing characters. Once again Emily O’Beirne steals your heart with another beautiful read.

5 out of 5 stars

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Pieces by G. Benson

MOVING. POWERFUL. CAPTIVATING. All caps, bolded, if I could I would put in flashing neon lights. This book is all of these adjectives and so much more. This story pulls you in and holds you till the very end. I cannot do this book justice in a review. All I can say is read it, you will not be disappointed. G. Benson brings you another amazing story. She is truly a remarkable writer.

Carmen Garcia is sixteen, but you wouldn’t know it. The child of a drug addicted mother, Carmen has had to walk a tightrope all of her life. She cannot just be a student, a teen. She doesn’t know how to be those things because that was never an option for her, that is a luxury for her classmates. No, she is the caretaker to her 8-year-old brother, she pays the bills, she keeps her mother’s secrets so her family can survive. She has been a product of the foster care system before, her brother has too. To say that went poorly would be a terribly unjust understatement. It was bad enough that Carmen live on the streets, surviving by the skin of her teeth. Her worst nightmare becomes a reality when a knock at the door in the wee hours of the morning comes from a police officer letting her know her mother has been found dead.

Ollie is our other main character. Ollie has a huge heart. Her kindness is truly an endearing quality. She is an artist who tends to live in her head but is brought back from the clouds by an amazing group of friends and supportive parents. Ollie notices Carmen one day at school and is intrigued, and also totally smitten. She finds a way to “accidentally” bump into the newcomer. That moment bonds these two teens in a way that neither excepted but both so badly need.

I could talk about this story forever, it’s just that good. You don’t need me to do that though. I’ll ruin it for you and what truly is my main point is that you want this book in your life. Get your hands on this one, you will not be sorry. The romance is deliciously sweet. The story is enthralling and so beautifully written. G. Benson gives so many diverse characters a strong voice. This is an easy 5 stars.

5 out of 5 stars

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Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’Beirne

Ah-freaking-mazing!!! This book is beyond good. There is not a review that will do it justice, I will try, but I promise you it will fall well short of conveying how awesome this book truly is. Emily O’Beirne is a masterful writer, every single one of her books blows me away for so many reasons, dialogue, characters, tension, everything is hands down done to perfection. This book may be her best yet.

Finn is this amazingly grounded teenager. She is inherently good and people can see that from miles aways. You know that this young woman is meant for greatness because she is one of those rare people who have character, charisma and exudes compassion for others. It’s a no brainer that she is chosen by her classmates to lead their group for the leadership camp.

The other main character is Willa. Willa is all business all the time. She is serious where Finn is lighthearted. Willa sees school as her chance to succeed in life and provides financially for her family. As a young child, Willa had to grow up too soon after the loss of her mother. Willa helps her elderly grandmother raise her two younger siblings, she works and attends an upper crust all-girls school on scholarship. She takes her responsibilities to heart and carries the load. She much older that her seventeen years. Her classmates view her as aloof in social settings but the ultimate competitor when it comes to academics. She’s the kid that studies when everyone else is having fun. She has too, success is the only option she sees for a bright future. Therefore her goal for leadership camp is to win, it is what is expected of her by her competitive classmates as well to herself.

These two couldn’t be more opposite but they are drawn to each other right from the beginning. Two very strong females, each with different assets but also so very kind and sweet. To me, I think they were drawn to each other by their strengths and they impressed by what they saw in each other. These characters are complex, multi-faceted and O’Beirne delivers them to you so you become 100% invested in their future. Finn and Willa are described so well you feel as though you know them in real life. You want to know them in real life!

The first half of the book is told from the perspective of Finn. We learn of her struggles leading her group that really doesn’t want to be there. They have drawn the wild card and have to play the role of refugees, no land, no resources, depending on others for survival in the game. Her friendship with Willa pushes her to be a better leader and to find her voice. I loved that the book then flipped to Willa’s point of view. It was fantastic to see the interworkings of her mind and just how smitten she was with Finn. For someone so serious to just have her heart stolen, those moments were amazingly sweet and tender. The little moments between them made a great book, phenomenal. Your heart is stolen right along with them.

I love how Emily O’Beirne includes diverse characters, bisexuality, and world issues all into a romance novel. It’s not preachy, or overdone, but she makes the reader stop and think all within the context of an amazing love story. This writer has serious skill! I loved that each of our mains had strength and frailty. They made each other better, they made others be better. Willa and Finn were awesome characters. I hated to see this book come to its end, and let me tell you when I found out there will be a sequel, there could have been some fist-pumping happy dance moves.

5 HUMONGOUS Stars

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Blind Side of the Moon by Blayne Cooper

Blayne Cooper is an amazing writer. Her books are so good! Her latest book, Blind Side of the Moon, I literally bought without even reading what the plot was about. I didn’t need to, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this book would be amazing. I was absolutely right, it was!

Samantha Blackwell is a high school junior that has recurring dreams that she knows are important. She just doesn’t know why or what she’s supposed to do with what she has seen. As the dreams begin to get more frequent and more detailed she learns through her mind’s eye that her dreams are about a classmate being stalked. She knows without a doubt she has to help, but she doesn’t know who she can get anyone to believe her.

Jane Hutchens is from one of the most prominent families in town. She feels like an outsider in her perfect little family. Her siblings, the twins, are the most popular kids in school. Jane is lucky if anyone even looks her way. Super smart Jane spends most of her time in a book. So when Samantha drops a bomb on her about being stalked she balks at the outrageousness of the situation. that is until the notes and text messages become so frequent and intense that she just can’t ignore the danger lurking.

So the premise of the book is a stalker on the loose and Samantha, who can at times foretell the future befriends Jane to help catch the madman before he hurts her. Oh, but it’s so much more than that. This book has amazing characters who have depth and soul. While they are young these two are also mighty. Both, Jane and Sam are so well developed and you really get to know their emotions. These are strong young women that you cannot help but love and root for.

While Blind Side of the Moon is a mystery filled with twists it also has a romance that is every bit the mystery’s equal. The love story is so sweet, it pulls at your heart strings time and time again. While the two characters are young, they are both wise in so many ways. The ending is left open a bit, so I hope that we will see more of this dynamic duo.

A Big 5 stars!

  • Publisher: Bella Books

Blind Side of the Moon
by Blayne Cooper

To Purchase: Blind Side of the Moon

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Training Ground (Girls of Summer #1) by Kate Christie

Soccer is a passion of mine. I have played most of my life, starting when I was just in the 1st grade. Combine that love with a Kate Christie book. Okay yeah, you have me interested. Even if soccer isn’t your passion ,you should give this book a chance for one reason, the author.

Jamie Maxwell is a young high school aged soccer player. She has that single-minded focus of an elite athlete. Soccer, she lives for it, she will sacrifice everything else for the game. How many teenagers are that focused, not many? Combine that with a natural athletic prowess and you have that special combo that just might take you to the top of the game.

Emma Blakeley is exactly like Jamie in the sense that the game defines her. Emma is finishing up her senior year and has already committed to the storied women’s soccer program UNC. Emma sees a kinship in Jamie, where the sport they love supersedes everything else. What she also sees, when they randomly bump into each post-tournament is that Jamie radiates sadness. They bond almost instantly seeing a kinship of a fellow athlete but also drawing strength from one another. This instant connection will define the rest their year.

In the beginning, they are strictly friends, sharing their love of the beautiful game, waking up before the sun is up to catch a Premier League match, sharing stories of their day on the pitch. Soccer is the catalyst for more. They become to depend on each other. They become each other’s anchors as they deal with some pretty heavy stuff.

This story is jam-packed with drama. You have multiple life defining moments and the reactions and emotions of two young women. My heart ached for both Jamie and Emma, at times individually and simultaneously. To say these two are put through the gamut is an understatement. 2003-2004 will be a time that will forever define the course of these two lives.

Pretty heavy right! If this book was a stand alone, I would be wary to recommend this one. Not because of any flaw in the writing, because it is really good, but it also kind of hurts. While I read romance novels for so many reasons, let’s all face the cold hard truth, we want that happy ending. Good news is this is not a stand alone, but one of three books following the lives of soccer’s toughest duo. Training Ground is the backstory, vital to understanding how it all began. So you have to read it, and you’ll want to, but buy the second part with the first, and go right into it.

Soccer is a passion of mine. I have played most of my life, starting when I was just in the 1st grade. Combine that love with a Kate Christie book. Okay yeah, you have me interested. Even if soccer isn’t your passion ,you should give this book a chance for one reason, the author.

Jamie Maxwell is a young high school aged soccer player. She has that single-minded focus of an elite athlete. Soccer, she lives for it, she will sacrifice everything else for the game. How many teenagers are that focused, not many? Combine that with a natural athletic prowess and you have that special combo that just might take you to the top of the game.

Emma Blakeley is exactly like Jamie in the sense that the game defines her. Emma is finishing up her senior year and has already committed to the storied women’s soccer program UNC. Emma sees a kinship in Jamie, where the sport they love supersedes everything else. What she also sees, when they randomly bump into each post-tournament is that Jamie radiates sadness. They bond almost instantly seeing a kinship of a fellow athlete but also drawing strength from one another. This instant connection will define the rest their year.

In the beginning, they are strictly friends, sharing their love of the beautiful game, waking up before the sun is up to catch a Premier League match, sharing stories of their day on the pitch. Soccer is the catalyst for more. They become to depend on each other. They become each other’s anchors as they deal with some pretty heavy stuff.

This story is jam-packed with drama. You have multiple life defining moments and the reactions and emotions of two young women. My heart ached for both Jamie and Emma, at times individually and simultaneously. To say these two are put through the gamut is an understatement. 2003-2004 will be a time that will forever define the course of these two lives.

Pretty heavy right! If this book was a stand alone, I would be wary to recommend this one. Not because of any flaw in the writing, because it is really good, but it also kind of hurts. While I read romance novels for so many reasons, let’s all face the cold hard truth, we want that happy ending. Good news is this is not a stand alone, but one of three books following the lives of soccer’s toughest duo. Training Ground is the backstory, vital to understanding how it all began. So you have to read it, and you’ll want to, but buy the second part with the first, and go right into it.

3.75 stars out of 5

  • Publisher: Second Growth Books

Training Ground: Book One of Girls of Summer
by Kate Christie
Link: http://a.co/31dHycU

Training Ground by Kate Christie