Review for Born Of Illusion (Born Of Illusion #1) by Teri Brown

Born Of Illusion by Teri Brown

TITLE: Born Of Illusion
SERIES: Born Of Illusion #1
AUTHOR: Teri Brown
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 373 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Anna Van Housen is a very gifted magician. She is the opening act for her mother’s mentalist show, but sometimes she wishes she owned the stage. There is something amazing about being up there and causing people to gasp in wonder. Anna also has a little secret, she has a few unusual abilities. She can senses peoples emotions and see the future and keeping that information from everyone can be a bit tricky. Lately, her powers are getting stronger and she keeps seeing her doomed future loom before her eyes. Can she figure out who means her harm and save the day or is she cursed to live out her vision and perish?

Anna is amazing. She’s clever and determined, but somehow manages to come off as completely vulnerable and maybe just a touch naive. For someone with the ability to sense people’s emotions, not to mention the years of picking people out of the crowd for her tricks, she’s still a bit blind to others. She completely misjudges several people and she doesn’t see the bad guy coming until the very end, despite the mixed emotions she gets from him constantly. She is a completely interesting character and the question of is she or isn’t she Houdini’s daughter is one I was begging to be answered. There are so many clues leading either way and I WANT TO KNOW! I NEED TO KNOW!
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Besides the obvious mystery of who is out to get Anna, that’s the biggest conundrum of this tale and, like I said, I need to know!
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You’re not going to tell me, are you? Damn.

Cole, my dear sweet Cole, is so adorable cute that there aren’t words to describe him. Maybe a GIF will help….
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See how cute that is? That’s Cole. He’s spent his childhood in a boarding school for boys and he’s so easily embarrassed around Anna that I just want to hug him. It’s clear from moment one that he is hiding something, but it’s equally clear (at least to me) that it’s not something malicious. He tells her quite frankly that they aren’t his secrets to tell and that’s the truth. He could have cleared a lot up if he had just let her read him so she could feel his honesty, but alas, things can never be that simple. I just loved how squeamish he was around her, how much he wanted to be around her, but he didn’t know what to say or how to act and kept blushing over every fumble. Like I said, adorable.

There is also a host of well formed side characters, everyone from Marguerite (Anna’s mother), to Cynthia (a soon-to-be friend of Anna’s), to Houdini himself. I especially loved Mr Darby, Cole’s uncle. He’s that crotchety old man who seems mean, but is really a big softie. I love (love love) him. I wish he was real and would be my neighbor so I could harass him good-naturedly. Cynthia surprised me a bit because I wasn’t expecting her to become such a big part as she was. I was expecting her to play her role in the beginning and then leave, but she doesn’t. She sticks around and becomes fast-friends with Anna.

The writing and world-building are just as amazing as the character development. I am not an aficionado of the Jazz Age, but I feel like Brown put a lot of research into making this world as realistic as possible and it shows. The language, the old words I knew anyway, felt spot on and authentic. There were even terms I’d never heard of before, such as four-flusher, that I enjoyed learning about. The plot was a bit predictable to me, but it was predictable in that way that I’m not sure if everyone will find it predictable. I saw several twists coming and I faintly suspected who would be the villian early on.****SPOILER****I knew the minute the cleaning woman for Mr Darby didn’t show up that she was in on the scheme, that she was the woman’s voice Anna recognized. As soon as the love-triangle angle started up, I was sure that Anna would end up with Cole and I thought maybe Owen would be a bad guy, so I was pretty accurate there.****END SPOILER****

I have been dying to read this for quite a while. Both the title and the cover have called my name. Normally covers with chick’s faces on the cover are a bit overdone, but the contrast here is just so striking that the result is lovely. And the book is just as good as the gorgeous cover promises. I think everyone who enjoys historical YA or mystery YA or just a good novel that’s a bit different than what you were expecting will love this. It’s blessedly cliffhanger free and that just makes me want the next one more!

5 bows
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Review for Spartan Frost (Mythos Academy #4.5) by Jennifer Estep

Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

TITLE: Spartan Frost
SERIES: Mythos Academy #4.5
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
PUBLISHER: K-Teen, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp
PAGES: 60 pages
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 5 stars

Since this is a novella, I’ll keep this short and sweet. I loved seeing things from Logan’s point of view and that this was still a new story, with only vaguely overlapping scenes, not the exact same plot via a new perspective. Logan is everything we thought he’d be and more. That dreaded cliffhanger leaves me desperate for the next installment.

Review for What the Duke Desires (The Duke’s Men #1) by Sabrina Jeffries

What The Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

TITLE: What The Duke Desires
SERIES: The Duke’s Men #1
AUTHOR: Sabrina Jeffries
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
PAGES: 416 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

Maximillian Cale, Duke of Lyons, long ago laid to rest the notion of finding his older brother, who was kidnapped many years ago. His father’s private investigator claims Peter died in a fire many years after his kidnapping and Max has no reason to doubt it, until Tristan Bonnaud writes him a letter claiming to know a man with a striking resemblance to him and undeniable proof of a familiar connection. Tristan, however, is nowhere to be found, eventually leading him to Tristan’s sister’s doorstep. Lisette, like Tristan, is the illegitimate daughter of a french actress and an English Earl. She is headstrong and stubborn and refuses to tell him where to find Tristan, agreeing only to accompany him to France where Tristan lives. The more time the two spend together searching for her wayward brother, the hotter the attraction boils…but can a duke really marrying a bastard?

I really give this novel 4.5 stars, but Goodreads don’t allow half-star ratings. From start to finish, this novel is a wild ride that kept me at the edge of my seat wondering what had happened to Tristan and if he really had found Peter. Watch Max parading around as a mere Mister after being so used to his Dukely title opening all available doors was priceless. Having money helps some, but there are many things that just can’t be accomplished without that title. Lisette was everything a normal historical romance heroine isn’t. I don’t read about female bastards often and definitely not ones who wish to become a spy! Headstrong and fiercely loyal, she’s definitely someone I’d want on my side.

The writing was great, as Sabrina Jeffries always is. I need to really make a mental note to read more of her novels when I get the chance because I’ve yet to read one I didn’t like and seeing as I am abhorrently picky lately, that is really saying something.

****Thank you to Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #2) by Bethany Griffin

Dance Of The Red Death by Bethany Griffin

TITLE: Dance Of The Red Death
SERIES: Masque Of The Red Death #2
AUTHOR: Bethany Griffin
PUBLISHER: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 327 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

Dance Of The Red Death picks up pretty closely after Masque leaves off. Araby’s world has pretty much fallen apart, betrayed by the one she loves, learning that her father is far more responsible for the plagues of this world than she ever realized, and doing her best to make sure her best friend doesn’t keel over, she is in for a very bumpy ride.

I am rather conflicted about this one. I adored the first one, despite its irritating love triangle and cliffhanger because it was beautifully written and appealingly dark and while this kept those standards high, the love triangle was quite a bit worse in this one. Araby spent much of the time with Elliot while secretly pining for Will but refusing to outwardly pine for him because he betrayed her and she can never trust him again and so on. All that is understandable, but more than a little irritating because we all know exactly where this story is going to end up. ****SPOILER****With her forgiving Will and them riding off into a disease free sunset.****END SPOILER**** While I was fully Team Will from the beginning, I did actually like Elliot in the first one, whereas in this one he just turns into a dick. He pushes Araby around, and tries to get her into his bed even though he knows she is conflicted over it and still hung up over Will…then the ending…well let’s just say that if I HAD been Team Elliot, that ending would have murdered that inclination pretty rapidly. I really need to do a better job of weeding out the possibilities of love triangles in my reading material because they all anger me so much and I find them so juvenile. X_X

The plot line and writing were just as epic and dark as the first one, with Araby forced to make difficult choices and searching desperately for a way to save April, be it through her father or by trading herself to Malcontent, she is pretty determined not to let April die. ****SPOILER****Not that it does one damn bit of good because she dies anyway. I was so fucking angry and that’s a big reason this couldn’t get 5 stars, besides the irritating love triangle.****END SPOILER**** I didn’t see much of it coming and since lately I seem to be clairvoyant about plot twists, that’s really a huge compliment. I think anyone who loved the first novel will enjoy this one, just be prepared for more love triangle drama.

****Thank you to Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Dragonfly (Dragonfly #1) by Leigh Talbert Moore

Dragonfly by Leigh T Moore

TITLE: Dragonfly
SERIES: Dragonfly #1
AUTHOR: Leigh T Moore
PUBLISHER: All Night Reads
PAGES: 265 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 2 stars

Dragonfly follows Anna in her tumultuous relationship with the son of the town’s wealthiest business man. But the closer she gets to him, the more she realizes that though her body is saying yes, maybe her mind should be saying no…and that Julian, her artist friend may just be the perfect guy for her. Then she gets an internship at a local newspaper and is assigned to assist on a bicentennial story that brings up questions she doesn’t know the answers to, but is determined to find out.

I am currently having an internal debate over whether to give this two stars or three. Mainly I hate giving two stars, but I feel like this really deserves that. My biggest issue with the novel was the main character, Anna. She was so self-centered and immature and just stupid at times that I couldn’t sympathize with her at all. Watching her jump back and forth between Jack and Julian when it was clear that Julian was the better guy was not only irritating, but almost infuriating. First she thinks Julian is hot, but would never be interested in her….then he shows interest, but she meets Jack and he is oh so drool-worthy and she just has to have him, Julian be damned. But the whole time, Jack is doing that push and pull thing where he likes her, but doesn’t want a commitment and he keeps saying his life is too complicated to bring her into that shit, but you never really see it, besides the assholic father and older brother, his life doesn’t seem too bad. And Anna just goes on and on and on about Jack and how she can’t get him out of her head and then they split and she is all whiny and piney and Boohoohoo. I just found her whole personality grating. Maybe I’m too old for this kind of drama, but it all felt so fake and overdone to me. She bitches and moans in the beginning about Gabi, her best friend, moving away, but she barely speaks to her the whole book and WEEKS go by with no contact. When my best friend moved away in high school, we talked on the phone every fucking day (this was pre-text days) and she didn’t move far away, just far enough that she had to transfer schools.

The plot was extremely boring in the first half and then picks up in the second, when the mystery is finally introduced. Even though the mystery is so predictable that people with the reading comprehension of a middle schooler could see it coming. The writing style was okay, but a bit choppy.

I’m just so disappointed with this. I think it was supposed to be new adult, but it definitely doesn’t have that feel, despite the few failed attempts at sexy make-out scenes. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by too many greatly written NA’s, like Easy and The Secret Of Ella & Micha and Hopeless, but I just expected so much more from this. I really shouldn’t have been surprised considering this contains so many things I hate, love triangles, intsalove, whiny useless heroine, and a cliffhanger. For anyone out there curious, go ahead and give it a try, just tread cautiously!

****Thank you to All Night Read and Leigh Talbert Moore for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****