Friday, May 29, 2015

Earth God (World Aflame #4) by Jon Messenger Review

Hello readers and a very happy Friday evening to you all! I have a very special review to share with you all tonight. One that really is a bittersweet experience for me to share, as it was the series finale to one of the best series I've picked up in a very long time. What am I raving about tonight? Earth God, the thrilling conclusion to Jon Messenger's World Aflame series! Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and out author:

THE EARTH GIVES WAY TO THE SEA,
THE SEA BOWS BEFORE THE WIND,
THE WIND FEEDS THE FLAME,
THE FLAME BURNS THE WORLD OF MAN DOWN TO THE EARTH.


The Fire Elemental has risen and its followers, the Fire Caste, have destroyed the planet. Humanity hangs on the cusp of extinction; their only hope now lies with the troubled Wind Warrior, Xander Sirocco.

Xander has absorbed the power of the Wind and Water Elementals but at great personal cost. Finding Sammy has been his anchor through the chaos around him, but now he finds himself wondering if saving her is enough.

Sammy remains a prisoner of the Fire Elemental, her mind trapped, as the dragon possesses her body. Her love for Xander keeps her going, but will her passion be enough to stop the Elemental from killing Xander once and for all?

Humanity's last hope rests in Xander finding the Earth Elemental. Claiming the power of the Earth is the last step before he can confront the dragon holding Sammy hostage. Unfortunately, he's not the only one who knows the location of the Earth Elemental.
It's a race against time between Xander and the dragon to claim the last of the Elemental power and bring an end to a war that's spanned millennia.

Earth God is the exciting conclusion to the bestselling and award-winning World Aflame series.




Jon Messenger 


Jon Messenger (Born 1979 in London, England) serves as an United States Army Major in the Medical Service Corps. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 2002, writing Science Fiction has remained his passion, a passion that has continued through multiple combat and humanitarian deployments. Jon wrote the "Brink of Distinction" trilogy, of which "Burden of Sisyphus" is the first book, while serving a 16-month deployment in Baghdad, Iraq.







Find Jon Messenger

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Goodreads *



*****
My Thoughts:

Anyone who has read my reviews of the other three novels in this series will tell you that it seems as though I've really had a love-hate relationship with these novels. I just went back and read those reviews from all those months ago in preparation of crafting this one. I found myself really having trouble with many of the elements in the other three novels and really hoped Messenger would rectify every concern I had before he rounded out this series. I may have found some huge faults with this series, but it's still among my favorite in the genre. I can say without a moment of hesitation that Earth God was exactly what I have been waiting for, and so much more!

The entire World Aflame series has been building up to this heart-stopping climax. With the powers of the Wind and Water Elementals merged inside him, Xander almost has what it takes to stop the Fire Elemental and his Fire Cast from burning the world of man down to the ground, wiping away all traces of humanity in an effort for the next stage in evolution to take hold. Only by locating and obtaining the powers of the final (and arguably most powerful) Elemental, Earth, can Xander finally have what he needs to take down Fire and, hopefully, save Sammy in the process. Confused? It's an important book. Basically the entire thing is a near-300 page action sequence. Battle after battle, trial after trial. Things always look darkest before the dawn and it's time for the sun to rise for Xander Sirocco as it sets on an incredible series. 

The plot to Earth God was amazing. It wrapped up nearly every loose end the story had and left me so satisfied. It's like Messenger took the best parts of each of his works and compiled them into this and then multiplied it by a hundred. Earth God is Messenger's best work to date!

While the plot to Earth God was incredible, it was really the characters who really helped to make this story shine. In the beginning, as evident by my Wind Warrior review, I hated Xander Sirocco. I found him to be lazy, boring, immature, and pretty much everything that causes me to roll my eyes at a story. Over the course of these three stories, Xander has grown exponentially. He's not just more mature, Xander is a hero. He has truly come into his own with this series. Sean and Jessica took some huge strides in this final story and really shaped their own destiny. They played a huge role in Xander's final battles and their involvement was so much greater than I expected it to be! I was not a fan of Jessica in the beginning and by the time the story ended, she was one of my favorites! The Fire Elemental, General Abraxas, and Lord Balor played huge roles in this novel. I think one of my favorite things about Messenger's writing is that we get to see everyone's side of the story. It isn't all about the good guys, it's about every character, their struggles, their triumphs, and their demises. Everyone gets a share of the spotlight and Messenger writes them to perfection. But what of my favorite character, Sammy? Unfortunately we really don't get to see much of 'Sammy' in the finale. Having been possessed by the Fire Elemental, she's been reduced to a mere 'inside voice'. While Sammy does still play a huge role in the story (one of the biggest), I was a little bummed to see she wasn't able to get more of a time to shine. I would have liked to see her weird her incredible powers one last time! She's still my favorite and I'm so glad Messenger say her story to such amazing completion.

This is the first novel in the series that the 'New Adult' aspect was really evident in my eyes. The language was harsher, the situations more dire. There were a few adult scenes and a whole lot more adult level thinking. I applaud Messenger for pushing the limits to make this novel really reflect its' New Adult classification. This was probably one of my biggest complains about the previous installments in the series, but Messenger really stepped it up in this final novel. 

Like the other novels in this series, the setting for Earth God turns out to be a globe-encompassing adventure. Europe, Honduras, the Pacific Islands, and Los Angeles all play huge roles in the story and Messenger writes each setting to perfection. The post-apocalyptic world, scorched beyond recognition: dark, scary, and unforgiving. Messenger creates a landscape full of fear and still finds a way to supply us with a beacon of hope, a silver lining in a tunnel of darkness. 

Of all the themes that Messenger emulates in this series, I believe the most important one is to embrace your destiny and control your fate. It is only through our characters learning to accept their ultimate responsibilities and places within the world that they are able to fully succeed. Friendship, love, forgiveness, and revenge are all also thoroughly explained. Messenger really dives into the mental and emotional tolls of war, death, and violence on the human psyche in this series, his military background shining through in a beautiful light. It's written with such raw honesty that it is sure to open the eyes of reflection for all readers. 

As a whole, this series was a roller coaster for me. In the beginning I really didn't care too much for it. My problems with Wind Warrior almost caused me to not go any farther. A full series later, Messenger really came into his own and delivered a finale that really displays his talent. This is, by far, my favorite work of Messenger's to-date. Each installment of the series got better with time and I am so glad I was able to finish the final novel feeling whole and satisfied. 

After having finished the story, I still have lots of questions. What happened after the climax? What becomes of humanity. Are the residents of White Halls still alive? What does the future hold for the Elements? I was really anxious to hear what would become of the elemental castes after the conclusion of Xander's story, but alas, we really don't see much about it. Thankfully Messenger did write a short Epilogue that left me rearing for more! It seems as though one day a spin-off series may not be out of the question! If that day does come, I'll be one-clicking, that's for sure!

It is an extremely bittersweet experience to read the final book in a series you loved. This year has been hard on me and I've not seen the finales of FIVE of my favorite series. 2015 has not been good on my 'feels' level. I keep catching them everywhere I turn. I am so grateful for authors like Jon Messenger. Authors who can write honestly without fluff. It's such an honor to read from a male author like Messenger who gives me hope for male authors writing in the genre. With so few on the market, I am blessed that I've found an author like Messenger to add to my shelves.

It is with great honor that I am granting Earth God by Jon Messenger a well-earned near-perfect, 5-star review! Seriously folks, this novel blew me out of the water. From cover to cover, I was completely captivated and couldn't put it down. I know this isn't the end of the amazingness we will be seeing from Jon Messenger. I can't wait to see what journey he takes us on next! Be sure to add this one to your TBRs people, you will not be disappointed!
*****

Check out my reviews of
Wind Warrior (World Aflame #1),
Flame Caller (World Aflame #2), and
Water Shaper (World Aflame #3)
by clicking the covers below!

          

Alright readers, sadly, for now, that is all I have for you on the topic of Jon Messenger's World Aflame series. This series has meant so much to me over the past year. It is through my discovery of this series that I found my place among the great folks at Clean Teen/Crimson Tree Publishing who have sense opened my eyes to a whole new world of reading. I owe Messenger and this series so much. I have considered it a great honor to review them here on the blog. Thank you all so much for stopping by. Hopefully one day we'll see more of these characters, and I'll be right here raving about them as well! Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Ethan

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blonde Date (The Ivy Years #2.5) by Sarina Bowen Review

Hey readers! Ethan here on this Thursday night with another review for you guys. What am I raving about this time? Blonde Date, the 'third' installment in Sarina Bowen's The Ivy Years series. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novella and our author:

A blind date. A nervous sorority girl. A mean-spirited fraternity prank. What could possibly go wrong?
As a sorority pledge, there are commandments that Katie Vickery must live by. One: thou shalt not show up for the party without a date. Two: the guy shall be an athlete, preferably an upperclassman.

Unfortunately, Katie just broke up with her jerkface football player boyfriend. Even worse, her last encounter with him resulted in utter humiliation. She’d rather hide under the bed than attend a party where he'll be.

Yet staying home would mean letting him win.

Enjoying herself tonight was out of the question. She could only hope to get through the evening without her blind date noticing that he was spending the evening with a crazy person.

Andrew Baschnagel is living proof that nice guys don’t finish first. He’s had his eye on Katie since the moment her long legs waltzed into his art history class. So when her roommate sets Andy up to be Katie’s date, he’d be crazy to say no. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of practice with either girls or parties. Yet.




Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty contemporary romance from Vermont's Green Mountains. (Her ancestors began logging and farming Vermont during the 18th century. These were rugged, outdoor types without benefit of a laptop or a good latte. It boggles the mind.)

Sarina enjoys skiing, skating and good food. She lives in Windsor County, Vermont, with her family, eight chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

FACEBOOK TWITTER WEBSITE GOODREADS




*****
My Thoughts:

You guys have been following my reviews of this series pretty closely and so many of us have raved about it. I am so pumped to be sharing this reading journey with so many awesome people This is seriously such an incredible series, I am so embarrassed that I just so recently became aware of it! With four full novels and a novella already released, you'd think I'd be tired of them by now, instead I think I love them more with each installment! 

Novellas are usually pretty 'meh' for me. Most times they give me just enough interest to tide me over until the next full book, but generally I don't finish one and think "Holy hell, where is the rest of this story?". I should have known that when Sarina Bowen wrote a novella that I'd be absolutely begging for more. 

Blonde Date was short, but awesome! Clocking in at just shy of 24,000 words, it was a quick read that kept me interested from the very first page and really packed a punch in those few pages! 

Blonde Date follows the story of Bridger's (male MC from book two) neighbor, Andrew during his date with Scarlet's roommate, Katie, that we learned about during the end of The Year We Hid Away. It was such a fun read!

Andrew is unique in the sense that he's a pretty average college student: nerdy and hardworking, but not a huge social butterfly. He's also a player on the Harkness basketball team (though we don't see much of it during this story). Katie is a sorority girl with enough 'OMG' in her to make Elle Woods cringe. Like Miss Woods though, Katie really grows so much during this story and really captured my heart. Both of the characters in this short novella really develop so well over the course of the story that they're almost unrecognizable. For all of their faults and contradictions, Katie and Andrew are perfect for each other. 

My favorite part about this novel is that it really showcased the truth in Sarina Bowen's writing. She really hits on a few hot button issues that will be farther explored in later novels, and really hits home with them. Especially regarding Greek Life. I've never been shy when it comes to NA college stories to say that I am probably the most anti-Greek person you'll ever meet. I've seen far too many people fall down the rabbit hole and never emerge the same person. For every good thing I see out of Greek life, I see three bad ones. Bowen really doesn't hold back on her thoughts and really reflects on the truth behind Greek Life in this story. She doesn't just showcase the fun partying, she shows some of the huge controversies and life-changing consequences of some of the things that happen in the system (even if some say they do not). I really applaud Bowen for showing such a truthful side of the system. The horrible act in question in this novel had my blood boiling. Bowen's storytelling is so exceptional that you really fall for Katie and her plight. I don't know Bowen's personal experience with the Greek system and for all I know she could be a big advocate for it, but either way I really appreciate her honesty in her storytelling. Words can't describe how awesome I felt for Bowen after reading this short story. 

Andrew does a phenomenal job of helping Katie with her problems and to 'see the light' in such a way that changes both of their lives for the better. Seriously phenomenal storytelling from all angles. Sarina Bowen has done it again!

Since this was such a short story, I'll keep this review short as well, it was amazing. Check it out people! It should come as absolutely no surprise that I am granting Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen a well-deserved 5-star review! Are you guys beginning to catch on that Sarina Bowen is pretty much the greatest thing to happen to the NA world in forever? Because she is. Add this one to your TBR people, you won't be disappointed!

*****

Check out my five star reviews of 
The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1) 
and The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2)
by clicking the covers below!

     

Alright readers, that is all I have for you on the topic of Blonde Date. This entire series is fantastic and I cannot say enough great things! Be on the lookout for my thoughts on the next novel, The Understatement of the Year, soon! Have you read this series? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Ethan

Creatura by Nely Cab Book Tour (Excerpt + Giveaway)

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Hey readers! Ethan here with an awesome blog tour for you guys! I am honored to share my stop on the tour for Creatura by Nely Cab. Nely is one of the incredible authors I work with through Clean Teen Publishing and she's been nothing but awesome! Today's post will feature an excerpt and an awesome giveaway, don't miss out! Before we get to all that, here's a but about the novel and our author:

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Title:  Creatura
Series:  The Creatura Series #1
Author:  Nely Cab
Published:  May 12th, 2015  
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Recommended Age:  13+
Synopsis:

Isis can control her dreams. Or she could—until recently. The creature in her nightmares has been haunting her for months. As if being dumped wasn’t bad enough, now she dreads going to sleep. She decides to confront the creature and win back some of her peace; only, she finds that he’s not a monster and he’s not a dream. A sacrifice for love, a shocking discovery and a jealous ex-boyfriend blur the lines between reality and dreams, making it hard to tell who the real monsters are. Who would’ve known…that sometimes love is lethal?
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About the Author:
Nely Cab is a Writer of stuff, a Master Coffee Drinker, a Food Maker & Eater, an Imaginary World Conqueror, and an Air Breather. She talks to herself—a lot—in her South Texas home while she plots stories about fantasy worlds and sips coffee from a pitcher. She’s known for cooking far too much food and has a tendency to overdo…well, everything. It is rumored that she is fabulous. Nely Cab is the best-selling author of the Creatura series.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website | Blog



*****
Excerpt

“It’s not working,” David said. “Why isn’t it working?”

“You don’t have much time. If the corrosion reaches her chest, she’s going to die,” Nyx said.

“I’m going to die?” I mumbled.

I always thought I would be afraid of dying. I carried that fear with me since I was twelve, after looking inside that coffin at my dad’s stiff, breathless body. But now that it was my turn, I was ready. This was the destiny that was written for me.

“I can’t do it, Mother. I have nothing to forgive her for,” David said.

If I was going to die, I needed to tell David something I hadn’t had the courage to tell him before.

I glanced at my arm. The decomposition was at my elbow and the tingling had crept up near my shoulder. I didn’t have time to waste.

“David,” I said, and he looked at me. “I’m sorry I hurt you. I needed you to know...to hear it.”

I could feel the tingling a few inches past my shoulder. Nyx pulled my shirt at the neckline exposing my collarbone and part of my shoulder.

“I love you,” I said. “I always have.”

“I’m so sorry I did this to you,” David whispered stroking my forehead.

I could no longer feel my arm, my shoulder and part of my chest. And then I felt it—a searing pain in the middle of my chest. I writhed in anguish, screaming at the top of my lungs. My whole body jerked, and then there was darkness. Everything was silent, including my heart.

A soft light surrounded me, cradling me in a tranquility I had never known existed. I struggled for a last breath, but it was too late. The end was here.

*****

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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack, winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook and a $15 Amazon gift card.
Giveaway is International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sound like the read for you? Be sure to add it to your TBR! Huge shout out to the author and the amazing team over at Juniper Grove Book Solutions for allowing me to participate! Until next time, Happy Reading! 

-Ethan

Secret Voices by Lynn Donovan Blog Tour (Spotlight + Giveaway)

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Title:   Secret Voices
Series:  The Spirit of Destiny Series, Book 3 (Standalone)
Author:  Lynn Donovan
Published:  March 31st, 2015
Publisher:  AltWit Press
Genre:  Paranormal Mystery
Recommended Age:  13+
Synopsis:

The voices in Keisha’s head know where her fiancĂ© has been left for dead, but who will believe her?
Keisha Moore has a secret which has been kept hidden her entire life. But when her fiancĂ©, Clifford Valdez, disappears and the authorities dismiss it as lovers’ remorse, she has to tell somebody. Can she make anybody understand the four voices in her head are real, and they know where Clifford has been taken? How can she save the man she loves without revealing her deepest secret?



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About the Author:
Lynn Donovan spends her days chasing after her muses, trying to get them to settle down and behave long enough to write down their words and actions. The results have produced short stories published in anthologies: The Clockwork Dragon, Different Dragons II, and Supernatural Colorado. Lynn’s full-length novels include The Wishing Well Curse, Thorns of Betrayal, and Secret Voices. She has also published Rocking Horse Shadows, and Christmas Grace, Signing Seeds. Other stories are hovering out there somewhere, so keep a look out for Fertility Pirates, Echoes from the Loft, and White Blossom Cottage.
Lynn enjoys reading and writing Christian, Paranormal, and Speculative Fiction. But you never know what her muses will come up with for a story, you could see a novel under any given genre. All that can be said is keep your eyes open, cause these muses are not sitting still for long! Oops, there they go again…

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog



Excerpt from Secret Voices by Lynn Donovan:

No Word from Clifford

At six o’clock Keisha pulled left-over muffins from the display case and sacked them up for the freezer. Clifford hadn’t called or texted all day. A gnawing sensation burned in her stomach. Where was he? She scanned the street through the bakery’s plate-glass windows. Every call to his cell phone had gone to his voice mail. Another call to the office itself reached the new receptionist, Gloria, who had seen him come in after his morning classes, but hadn’t seen him since. But of course, according to Clifford, she was so overwhelmed learning his old job, Santa Claus could have come in and she probably wouldn’t have noticed. Keisha had asked for his voice mail and left a message.

An empty feeling stayed with her as she locked the front door and exited out the back.

Deidre’s voice sounded muffled and sing-song. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Tit for tat and all of that.

What? Are you drunk, Deidre? Keisha drove home without the radio on. She wanted to be able to hear her phone chime when Clifford called.

How could I be drunk?

Don’t know. How can you talk to me in the first place?

Point taken.

Somebody needs to shut up! Abbie jeered in a sing-song imitation.

She’ll figure it out eventually, Deidre replied back but still in the sing-song tone.

It’s not your place! Abbie sang.

“What?” Keisha turned onto her street.

Silence.

“What will I figure out eventually?”

Silence.

“You guys make me so mad, sometimes.” Keisha shoved the front door open and stomped into her house. This was another gift from Rose after she married Zeke, the deed to Rose’s parent’s house. Keisha let her purse drop onto the bench in the mud room, the entry area of the house, and hung up her coat. Glancing at her phone again, with no text reply or missed calls, she decided to call Pastor V.


Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
Print copy of The Wishing Well Curse, Thorns of Betrayal, and Secret Voices. (1 winner US only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thanks so much for stopping by! Huge shoutout to the team at Juniper Grove Book Solutions for allowing me to participate in this awesome tour! Be sure to enter the giveaway before you go! Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Ethan

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2) by Sarina Bowen Review

Hey readers! Ethan here again on this Wednesday night with another review for you guys. This novel was really special to me so I am excited to share my thoughts. What am I raving about this time? The Year We Hid Away, the second novel in Sarina Bowen's The Ivy Years series. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and our author:

She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.




Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty contemporary romance from Vermont's Green Mountains. (Her ancestors began logging and farming Vermont during the 18th century. These were rugged, outdoor types without benefit of a laptop or a good latte. It boggles the mind.)

Sarina enjoys skiing, skating and good food. She lives in Windsor County, Vermont, with her family, eight chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.

FACEBOOK TWITTER WEBSITE GOODREADS




*****
My Thoughts:

Every so often we come across a book that really resonates with us. A novel that we devour from cover to cover. Cherishing each page, even though it completely breaks your heart. A novel that shoves a mirror in front of your face and makes you reflect on every choice you've made in life and wonder if you've made worthwhile decisions. A novel to make you laugh. A novel to make you cry. A novel to change your life. That novel was The Year We Hid Away

It is not lightly that I type this next sentence. Tying with Chelsea Fine's Best Kind of Broken, this is now my all time favorite New Adult Contemporary novel. Yes readers, you've read that right. All-time favorite. If that alone doesn't make you want to devour this read, I don't know what else I can saythat will.

I'll be honest, I have been extremely hesitant to put my thoughts to paper for this novel. I don't even have the words in my head to say how much it meant to me. I can honestly say that I've never in 23 years been touched by a book the way this one touched me. 

This was, by no means, an easy read for me. A lot of the aspects of the storyline hit a little too close to home for me and that really made all the difference. I won't go into specifics here, but this book was really a much needed wake up call for me and I can say that I'm a much better person for having read it.

The Year We Hid Away is unique in the sense that it shares not just one, but two very full stories. Each of our main characters, both Bridger and Scarlet have extremely emotional, and very full stories that are told in interweaving fashion. While their situations couldn't have been more different, their love for one another proved to be the link to each of their problems. 

Scarlet Crowley has probably drawn the roughest hand imaginable. Thrust into the throes of scandal and tragedy, 'Shannon' has no choice but to change her life by assuming a new identity. Leaving behind the life she's know in an effort to start anew. A new college, new friends, a new life. I can't personally say that I know anyone who has undergone the hardships that Scarlet has. Dealing with tragedy is a very hard thing, but it's even worse when your family is on the line. Scarlet makes some very difficult decisions throughout the novel and really has to come to terms with both the truth and who she is in order to come to terms with her situation. It was extremely hard for me to read, but Bowen write the entire uncomfortable situation with such grace and tact that I was able to enjoy every word. I appreciate Scarlet's character so much more after reading the hardships she faced.

Bridger on the other hand probably ended up being my favorite male character in NA history. I'm usually one of the biggest nay-sayers for the male characters in an NA series. They're often one-sided, egotistical to a fault, and really just thrive off the bad boy lifestyle, never assuming responsibility or stepping up and 'being a man'. Bridger McCaulley was that and so much more. Bridger doesn't have it easy, growing up poor and caring for his family, he knows that getting a college education is the most important thing he can do to help his family. On top of juggling hockey, work, school, and the typical problems a college student faces, Bridger also assumes the parental responsibilities of his younger sister, Lucy. This hit me hard. As the oldest of three children, I know how important family can be. Every word of Bridger's story was a knife in my gut. I am not an emotional reader folks, and this story broke me. I speak more time wiping my eyes than turning the pages. I caught the feels. I caught them hard.

The secondary characters were also incredible in helping this story move along. Lucy, Bridger's little sister, really stole the show on several occasions and I am so glad that Bowen gave her time to shine. Scarlet's room mates were great, as well as her uncle, who plays a great role in the stories finale. One of the greatest things about this series is that you never know who is going to pop back in for a cameo, or maybe even their own novel down the road. It's a fantastic way to read a series. This novel also features a few key scenes with Corey and Hartley from book one, The Year We Fell Down where readers get a chance to check in on one of my favorite book couples. It was great!

The character development between Bridger and Scarlet was written to near-perfection. Their intertwining storylines create one of the most intricate webs I have seen in a New Adult novel. Let this be shown as a true testament to the talent of Sarina Bowen to craft such a powerful and uplifting story full of depth and emotion, without sacrificing character development in order to succeed. Their love was beyond real to me. They not only accepted each and every fault of the others, they also worked together in the most important of way to help the other succeed.

Every time you think the story is done bringing the feels and the jaw dropping, Bowen drops another bombshell. You would be able to pick your jaw up off the floor until the very last page. And by then you will be crying so hard you'll need a new paperback copy where the ink isn't ruined (note: I read a digital version haha). 

Can I just say that I wish I had gone to Harkness College? What a fun place to be? The classical architecture, the house divisions, the amount of school spirit and campus pride? Yeah. I can definitely get behind that. I said this earlier, but I believe that Sarina Bowen has written the perfect college setting within Harkness. It's so awesome! I really got the feel that I, too, was attending classes next to these characters! Talk about reader immersion!

When it comes to the themes of this novel, Bowen really shined. Assuming responsibility, taking charge of your destiny, selflessness, maturing, and family are huge themes displayed in this novel. I can't even begin to write about each of them without making this post five pages long, but I can honestly say that Bowen couldn't have done a better job writing this novel if she tried. This is not a single thing I would change about it. 

As you guys can all clearly see, this was definitely the novel for me. It renewed my faith in the New Adult genre and I cannot wait to see what happens next. The world needs more authors like Sarina Bowen. Authors who aren't afraid to write the trust about being a New Adult. Authors who understand that college isn't all about fun. It's a stressful time fueled heartache and confusion. Balancing work, school, and any inkling of a social life isn't easy, and Bowen clearly knows that. It's so refreshing to see an author correctly portray the NA lifestyle!

When it comes to rating this novel, a five stars just does not give it justice. I'll just be completely honest. If I had the option to give it a higher score, I certainly would. It isn't often that we get the opportunity to review the novels that have changed our lives and I am so honored to say that I have gotten to here. Here's to you Sarina Bowen, you've written a literary masterpiece that will forever hold a special place in my bookish heart. 

It is with no hesitation and great honor that I am granting The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen a perfect 5-star review. I am not kidding when I say this one is a new all-time favorite of mine. If you've never taken a recommendation from me before, start now and check this one out. I promise you that you will not regret it!
*****

Check out my five star review of 
The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1) 
by clicking the cover below!


Alright readers, that is all I have for you on the topic of The Year We Hid Away. As you can clearly see, I had a lot of thoughts on this read and I honestly could just keep on typing. I'm being completely serious when I say I've never been touched by a book the way I was touched by this one. What an incredible feeling. I urge you friends, get yourself a copy of this novel. This entire series is fantastic and I cannot say enough great things! Be on the lookout for my thoughts on the next novel, Blonde Date, soon! What was the last novel that touched you? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Ethan

Granting Wishes (Kindling Flames Novella #1) by Julie Wetzel Review

Hey readers! Happy Wednesday! Ethan here with a short, but fun review for you to check out. As many of you will remember, I absolutely devoured the first four books in Julie Wetzel's Kindling Flames series, securing them a spot on the shelf of my all time favorites. Tonight I'm offering up my thoughts on Wetzel's Kindling Flames novella, Granting Wishes. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the book and out author:


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Title:  Kindling Flames: Granting Wishes
Series:  The Ancient Flame Series Novella
Author:  Julie Wetzel
Published:   May 26th, 2015
Publisher:  Crimson Tree Publishing
Genre:  NA Urban Paranormal Romance
Content Warning:  Violence, adult language
Recommended Age:  18+

Synopsis: Leprechauns don’t exist. Or that’s what Cathren has always believed, but a chance encounter changes everything. When she saves a handsome stranger from a nasty electrical shock, not only does he claim to be one, but he also insists on granting her wishes. Now she must decide— is he insane, or a magical creature of lore? Unsure which is true, she grabs at the first three wishes she can think of: true love, happiness, and waffles. A tall order for most men, but not for Patrick Brogan. With a little persistence and just a touch of magic, anything is possible.



Julie Wetzel


Originally from Ohio, Julie always dreamed of a job in science. Either shooting for the stars or delving into the mysteries of volcanoes. But, life never leads where you expect. In 2007, she moved to Mississippi to be with her significant other. 

Now a mother of a hyperactive red headed boy, what time she’s not chasing down dirty socks and unsticking toys from the ceiling is spent crafting worlds readers can get lost it. Julie is a self-proclaimed bibliophile and lover of big words. She likes hiking, frogs, interesting earrings, and a plethora of other fun things. 


FIND JULIE WETZEL

*****
My Thoughts:

Generally I am pretty 'meh' when it comes to novella. They do little to further the storyline of the series and oftentimes leave me more disappointed than satisfied. I didn't really know what to expect from this one, but I am so glad I got the chance to check it out!

Unlike the other four books in the series, Granting Wishes takes a step back and explores the rest of the paranormal world outside of Darien and Victoria's vamptastic life. Get out your gold and buckle shoes folks, Julie Wetzel's gone Irish! Granting Wishes follows the story of paranormal skeptic Cathren as she learns to cope with not only the existence of the paranormal world, but also her newfound friend, Patrick, who just so happens to be a leprechaun. 

This is a very short read, clocking in at just shy of fifty pages, but one that had me laughing my way through it. When Cathren 'catches' Patrick, she is granted three wishes (in true leprechaun fashion). Thinking it's a joke, Cathren makes three off the wall wishes that end up making for some great literary fun! 

A short tale of discovering yourself, true love, and broadening your horizons, Granting Wishes is the novella for any paranormal fans out there. Never read anything about leprechauns? I know I sure hadn't. This novel is a great place to start, though, don't start looking for little men with green coats and hats, you won't find them here. Wetzel's interpretation of the Irish folklore is beyond unique! 

Cameo appearances are made by a handful of Wetzel's other characters in this series that definitely ended up putting a huge smile on my face. Any fellow fan of the Kindling Flames series will absolutely love this novella! I only wish Julie would consider a spin-off series featuring these awesome characters!

Given my track record with this series, it should come as absolutely no surprise that I am 'granting' Granting Wishes by Julie Wetzel another well-deserved 5-star review. You guys will not be disappointed by picking up this incredible series. Four amazing novels and a novella that are sure to leave any paranormal fan begging for more. Get to one-clicking people, Kindling Flames is ready for the reading!  
*****

Click the covers below to read my 5-star reviews of 
Gathering Tinder (Kindling Flames #1), Flying Sparks (Kindling Flames #2), 
Smoke Rising (Kindling Flames #3), and Stolen Fire (Kindling Flames #4)


      


Alright folks, that's all I have for you on the topic of Granting Wishes by Julie Wetzel. I absolutely love this series and it just gets better with each passing installment. Head over and pick up your copy now. Also, head over to Julie's social media pages and give her a shout out, tell her Ethan sent ya! Be careful though, apparently, like her characters, she does bite. Watch out! Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Ethan

Holy and the Fallen by Amanda Strong Blog Tour (Guest Post + Giveaway)

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I hope you guys are geared up for an awesome post today! One of my favorite people has a new book and I'm honored to help share it. Who are we talking about today? Amanda Strong and her newest novel, Holy and the Fallen! Today's post will feature and exclusive guest post and a giveaway! Stay around until the end!

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Title:  Holy and the Fallen
Series:  The Watchers of Men Series #2
Author:  Amanda Strong
Published:  May 12th, 2015
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Content Warning:  Minor violence, language, and clean romance

Synopsis: With the Northern City under construction, Micah and Eden’s lives are about to change again, when Micah is given new directions. It’s time for the Watchers, the fallen angels buried in the earth, to make their final choice—serve the captain or choose to remain loyal to Semjaza, the dark leader who led them to their downfall. Micah soon learns, however, that Eden is the one thing Semjaza wants more than anything, and he will go to great lengths to obtain her.
Torn between fulfilling his mission and not wanting to leave the ones he cares about, Micah must learn what it truly means to be the captain’s seer. Eden’s friends will be tested as they try to protect her, while each one of them discover there may be more to their gifts than they’d thought. In the war between angels and demons, gifts will be discovered and truths uncovered. All the while, one moment of weakness can prove to be the undoing of them all.

Holy and the Fallen is the exciting squeal to The Awakener by Amanda Strong.

      

*****
Guest Post from Amanda Strong

First I want to say I’m so happy to be here on One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads! Ethan you do so much for us authors, so a huge thank you for having me today!

Originally for my guest post I was thinking of interviewing one of my characters from the Watchers of Men series. Then I decided it might be more fun to have the heroine from Holy and the Fallen and Hidden Monster meet and chat.

Let’s meet the characters first. Maybe this will help!


Eden (Holy and the Fallen): Samantha, why do you let fear run your life? You need to believe in yourself more.

Samantha (Hidden Monster): That’s easier for you to say, you weren’t abducted and tied up in a cabin. Not everything is roses, Eden. Believing in yourself won’t untie ropes.

Eden: True. I may not have been kidnapped, but I’ve had my fair share of freaky things too.

Samantha: Scarier than a monster taking you promising you’ll fall in love with him one day?

Eden: I may not have a psycho-path trying to get me to fall for him, but try having a demon crawl out from underneath your bed. I’ve been almost torn to shreds by my ‘monsters’ and if I didn’t have an angel watching out for me, I would definitely not be standing here today. Just know you’re never alone, Samantha. Remembering that helps me not be afraid and (Shrugs) leaving lights on when I sleep.

Samantha: I wish I could chase away my demons with a lamp. You’re right about one thing, Eden, I’m never alone. Just wish it were angel’s eyes following my every move.

Eden: Trust me, I know the feeling more than you know. Try having fallen angels stalking you. (Shivers).

Samantha: Fallen angels? Okay, maybe I’ll stop complaining.

Eden (smiles): The trick is, you’ve got to believe you are capable of so much more. Everyone has gifts, abilities that can help them face their fears.

Samantha: Man, I wish I had your outlook on life. So full of hope. One thing I’ve learned is you can trust no one.

Eden: Then you’ll always live in fear.

Samantha (cocks head to side): Fear is the one thing I can trust.

*****

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About the Author:
Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia, and now New Mexico home. She has loved to spin tales since childhood. It was not uncommon to find her hiding in some random corner, scribbling away in her spiral-bound notebook, with her bright pink glasses. You could say some things have not changed.
Amanda signed with Clean Teen Publishing in the fall of 2013. She is the author of two paranormal, YA series: The Watchers of Men and Monsters Among Us.
The first novel in The Watchers of Men series, The Awakener, debuted in October of 2013. It has been an Amazon number one best seller in three Young Adult categories. Book two, The Holy and The Fallen, released May 12th of 2015. She is currently working on book three, The Watcher’s Mark, releasing spring of 2016.
Hidden Monster released November 4th of 2014, and it finished as a Finalist in the 2014 USA Best Book Award: Young Adult Category. It is book one of a brand-new young adult, sci-fi thriller series called Monsters Among Us.
When Amanda isn’t writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions, you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.

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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack, winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook and a $15 Amazon gift card.
Giveaway is International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Amanda is an awesome lady and has been a huge supporter of One Guy's Guide to Good Reads for months now and I am honored to help promote her newest works! I've had Hidden Monster on my TBR for months now, so I plan on buckling down ASAP and getting caught up on this one! Be on the lookout for my review soon! Thanks so much to Amanda and the team at Juniper Grove Book Solutions for allowing me to participate! Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Ethan