This batch is sort of different from the rest. I’ll be reviewing the following books:
- Gyre by Jessica Gunn
- Angelborn by L. Penelope
- Sapient Salvation: The Selection by Jayne Faith
- Every Beat by Samantha Rey
Now, what makes this batch different? The answer: what makes these books different from what I’ve read so far. Okay, hold on, that sounded pretty vague.
What I mean is I’ve decided to add another element in my mini reviews. Specifically, from this point onward, I’ll be dedicating a portion of my review to discuss what makes the book different or what makes it stand out. This is to make up for the book review’s lack of detail. I’m hoping that doing this will not only produce better quality reviews but also push me to be more observant and more susceptible to noticing specifics when reading novels. All right, here we go!
Author: L. Penelope
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Paranormal
It’s hard to be normal when you see the dead everywhere. So I gave up. I just focus on staying out of their way. But the guy haunting my roommate is different. He’s impossible to ignore, and now other people can see him too.
He says my roommate is the only one who can save him from an eternity of torment. But one night he follows me into my nightmare and rescues me from my demons. Now he’s all I think about. This must be what it’s like to fall… for someone who can never be mine.
A lifetime ago, I found my soulmate in the human world. But being angelborn means I don’t have a soul. When I lost my one true love, I lost my future and my freedom. Now, I have a second chance — she’s been reborn and I must gain her love again or serve out the rest of my eternal sentence alone.
But this time I am a fugitive with powerful angels hunting me, and I’m running out of time. You only get one soulmate, and mine isn’t the broken, scarred girl, who sees what no one else can. She’s a distraction I can scarcely afford — but I’m unable to stay away from her.
Before anything else, I received a digital copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, L. Penelope and Heartspell Media
Angelborn is a standalone paranormal novel with a relatively short length of approximately 40,000 words. In this story, there are two kinds of Nephilim, or children who are half-human and half-angel: angelborn (born from an angel mother) and humanborn (born from a human mother). Humanborn Nephilim are born with souls whereas the angelborn are not. Caleb falls under the latter category.
Personally, I found the angel lore in this story refreshing. I really liked how the reincarnation of souls was employed and how it played as an important role in this story. I loved the concept behind soulmates. I don’t want to give anything away; just know that I really, really liked how the angel lore was crafted. Additionally, I loved how the author approached the topic of souls:
“Souls are beautiful and powerful, but not inherently good or evil. They’re just energy… the spark of creation in this world.”
Certainly, the author has quite the imagination, accompanied by excellent world-building. In this book, she introduced different otherworldly realms such as the Wasteland and Euphoria, which I liked reading about. Penelope was able to create an intricate history and solid plot regardless of the constraints due to her novel’s length -– a feat that is beyond impressive.
Character-wise, I liked Caleb and Maia individually. They’re both characters of color. However, I wasn’t convinced that the two of them had chemistry. Honestly, the romance between Caleb and Maia was underdeveloped. Aside from that, Caleb and Maia’s characters weren’t completely fleshed out either. Although the idea of Maia being able to see the dead was intriguing, I don’t think it was fully utilized in the story. In fact, a lot of elements in the book were left to be desired – the writing style, the depth, the character development, the romance, and the ending. Still, I enjoyed reading Angelborn. Definitely a could have been better, could have been worse kind of read.
What makes this different:
The angel lore in this story was inventive, peculiar and very refreshing. Definitely worth looking into. It’s just sad that the author wasn’t able to fully delve into it and to give the readers a lot more depth.
Excerpt from the book:
“So angels are just using us? For power? We’re just batteries, like in The Matrix?”
“Perhaps.” He draws the word out into three syllables as he considers. “I don’t know what the matrix is, but, yes, your soul is an energy source, comparable to a battery. It moves through the lifetimes, growing and changing, becoming stronger and more powerful… the grand journey. Angels are tasked with cultivating souls, leading them into new bodies over and over, affecting their destinies and futures so that eventually, they’re strong enough to join the eternal flame – the driving force behind Euphoria.”
Title: Every Beat
Author: Samantha Rey
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Sadie Vaughn knows all about heartbreak. Her heart is so fractured that she has walls built up around it thick enough to keep everyone out, which means at least she won’t get hurt again. When her roommate, Henley, takes her on a tour of her new campus, Sadie literally falls into the arms of a devastatingly handsome stranger. She tries to ignore the feelings that have been awakened in her, but when she meets him again, she realizes she’s losing the battle. To make matters worse, the brooding boy in the back row of her literature class stops her heart and makes it beat faster at the same time, even when he completely ignores her. She had all intentions of focusing on her studies and refusing relationships, but she finds herself in situations where she is unable to help herself. Her past may have created the fears, but now she must decide if she is going to face them.
I received a digital copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Samantha Rey!
Okay, before anything else, this story greatly reminded me of Not Just Another Romance Novel (* review), a book I read back in December 2015. The two are quite similar in the sense that they both dedicate a massive chunk of the book (roughly 80%) trying to convince readers to root for one relationship only to take a sharp left turn and the girl ends up with someone else. What’s the difference? Well, in Not Just Another Romance Novel, I fell in love with the girl’s relationship with Guy 1 and was immediately, extremely pissed off when she ended up in the arms of Guy 2. On the other hand, in Every Beat, I didn’t particularly care about Sadie’s relationship with Gavin.
Honestly, I didn’t like Gavin’s character. I don’t know what it specifically is but there was something off-putting about him. I mean, he was great, gentlemanly, straightforward and wasn’t afraid to show vulnerability. However, I just didn’t buy it. He appeared very one-dimensional to me. Also, I found it alarming how Gavin was somewhat obsessed with Sadie.
He grinned. “Something you don’t know? Hmm… let me think. Okay, I’ve got something. My favorite kind of cake is red velvet.”
I screwed my eyebrows up in confusion. “Are you telling me this because you want me to bake you cake?”
He laughed at me. “That’s not the whole thing, don’t worry. When we first moved to Colorado, my birthday was soon after and my mom asked me what kind of cake I wanted. I told her chocolate. Every year since that one, my mom makes me a chocolate cake for my birthday.”
“Um, okay…” I started. “That wasn’t exactly what I meant by ‘tell me something I don’t know,’ but I guess that works.”
Gavin continued, “The thing is, I hate chocolate cake but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that.”
“If you hate chocolate cake, then why did you tell her it was your favorite?” I asked, confused.
He shrugged. “Because it was yours.”
I don’t know about you, but that it is not romantic. There’s a word for that, and it’s creepy, not sweet.
I didn’t particularly care about Sadie either. She was angst-driven in a vexing way. She kept pointing fingers and blaming other people for abandoning her, which was understandable given her history but was, at times, kind of whiny.
I have mixed feelings about Jamie. On one hand, I liked him and I was totally rooting for him. On the other hand, I didn’t really like how his relationship with Sadie played out because it was rushed and underdeveloped.
My favorite characters is most definitely Henley. I adored her! She was very straightforward and knew when to call Sadie out on her bullshit. Honestly, a lot of things were overly dramatized, which was kind of annoying. Henley was the only respite from all of that. Also, she totally summed up the story perfectly:
“Oh, poor Sadie, I have two guys who are perfect who want to be with me. My life’s so hard.”
What makes this different:
Truthfully, Every Beat did not really offer anything fresh and original to the table. Still, I wouldn’t classify it as a typical love triangle either. The story had a few twists and turns that I didn’t really expect.
Excerpt from the book:
“Is there no such thing as ‘just friends’ anymore?” I slumped down further into the couch, fully aware that I was pouting.
“Okay,” said Henley slowly. I glanced over at her when she didn’t say anything else and she looked like she was struggling with her words. She slid to the end of the couch so her feet were flat on the floor and twisted around to look at me.
“Okay,” she repeated more confidently, “I’m going to give you some tough love because you are acting like a bratty two-year-old and it is not attractive.”
Title: The Selection
Author: Jayne Faith
Genre: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Paranormal
Twice a year, the alien Lord Toric demands a selection of human women between the ages of 18 and 20 to compete for a place in his harem. Maya must get through just one more selection and then she can marry the man of her dreams. She should have been safe, but when a young woman who was supposed to compete dies the day of the selection, Maya is forced into the competition.
Thrown into the fight of her life with no preparation, Maya must shed her innocence and win Lord Toric’s favor. And there is only one winner in the competition. The losers will be sacrificed. Will she survive the first round, or will she pay the ultimate price for her inexperience?
I received a digital copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Jayne Faith and Patchwork Press!
At first glance, The Selection appears to be a mishmash of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Selection by Kiera Cass and the Bachelor reality show. Truthfully, it kind of is. However, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Excerpt from the book:
Even when the Controller began to speak, the misery of Mother’s and Lana’s soft sobs still filled my ears, blotting out all other sounds.
Though my ears refused to listen, I knew, more or less, the script the Controller recited. The story of a perilous time before the overlords, back when Earthenfell was called Earth. The near extinction of humans at the hands of violent alien races vying for control of our planet. The arrival of the Calistan overlords, their promise of protection, the raising of the shield, the battles in the sky.
And the price they demanded: sixteen human Obligates twice a year.
Author: Jessica Gunn
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Saint studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record.
While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not.
Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war.
With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.
I received a digital copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Jessica Gunn and Curiosity Quills Press!
I can genuinely say that I have never read anything quite like this! Gyre, the first installment of The Atlas Link series, is a brilliant story involving Atlantis folklore, time travel, adventure and super soldiers! I don’t want to give anything away because one of this novel’s biggest strengths is figuring things out as the story goes along. There is no doubt in my mind that Gunn is insanely talented! She was more than able to weave a thrilling, addictive tale with the right balance of action and well-developed romance!
My favorite character is most definitely Trevor. He was such a complex, three-dimensional character that I greatly enjoyed reading about. As a Lemurian fighting to stop his fellow Lemurians from destroying Atlantis, Trevor is caught between a rock and a hard place. On the other hand, Chelsea is an everyday college student who turns out to be Atlantean and is in the process of coming to terms with her abilities. The two of them make quite the pair!
Unfortunately, the storyline dragged every now and then – in fact, it was enough to prevent me from fully being enraptured by the story. Still, this is a book I’d recommend to those who are interested in speculative fiction.
What makes this different:
Just read the premise! If that doesn’t scream unique, I don’t know what will.
Excerpt from the book:
“Yeah, you,” she said. “I don’t know how to describe it, but you’re like a lighthouse on the coast. I can feel you, your presence, from everywhere on the ship if I concentrate. It’s… weird.”
“Weird,” I echoed. “Well, at least it’s not a bad thing.”
Sweat beaded on the back of my neck, and the slight touch of her chest against mine sent tingles down my legs. Only Chelsea’s hands separated us now. My pulse thundered in my ears, made sounds feel like they had to wade through cotton balls to get to my brain. Her fingers played with the chest pocket of my uniform. Goosebumps road up my arms at her touch.
“No, I didn’t mean it like that. It’s not at all bad. It’s just weird. Like, I can’t feel Helen, despite the act we’re supposedly both descended from Atlanteans. But you”—she tapped my chest once—”you’re different.”
Was it because I was Lemurian? Or because of that connection she and I supposedly shared? The words, “Well, I hope I feel good,” tumbled from my mouth.
Are you fucking kidding me?
A snort emitted from Chelsea’s nose, but she kept her face straight—for like a brief moment, before the corners of her mouth twisted up, and she laughed deep and loud. I was, hands down, the best sound I’ve ever heard.
“God, I love you,” she said. “Hilarious, and you don’t even know it. Or mean it.”