Saturday, June 2, 2018

Turning 16 by Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering Audiobook Review

Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy... When he turned 1, he fell face-down into his birthday cake; when he turned 5, he broke his left arm and when he turned 7, he broke his right arm and his left leg; when he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss. But Sam knows that it’s not gonna happen. Or is it?

Inspired by the 1985's classic film Sixteen Candles, this book is a dose of light and heartwarming comedy, that's going to put a smile on your face and make you giggle all the way through. It's also a touching love story, so get those tissues ready!

Audiobook Details
Length: 3 hrs, 8 mins
Narrator: Michael Pauley

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Book 1
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Ebook** Buy Links

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**Note: This book has been re-released as Sam Dorsey and His Sixteen Candles.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Tooooooo cute! In preparation for audiobook month, I was perusing the young adult titles in the Romance Package for a final title to round out our blog’s Saturday posts. I was actually looking for a standalone title, preferably M/M, when I stumbled on Turning 16. As someone who grew up on John Hughes’ movies, I was all over the Sixteen Candles reference that occurs in the audio sample; that it was narrated by Michael Pauley was a bonus. So when I sat down to write my review, you can imagine my surprise to learn that this is not only the first book in the series, but that it’s also undergone some changes since originally released and is now titled Sam Dorsey and His Sixteen Candles, which is an even better name. With that said, it doesn’t appear as though the overall story itself has changed, just some rebranding with a new title and cover, and as nice as the new look is, I’m not sure that it calls to the child of the 80s in me as much as the former cover does with its nod to the iconic scene in the movie, when Jake is leaning against his car. But as I’m not the target audience, the new covers are probably better suited for today’s teens who aren’t reminiscing for the 80s. Sorry for the word vomit but trying to suss out what book was what on Goodreads made this a bit of nightmare.

As for actual story, Turning 16 spans about a week, beginning the day of Sam’s 16th birthday in 1985. While most teens look forward to their sweet sixteen because it’s a milestone birthday, birthdays tend to bring nothing but bad luck for Sam, and this year it seems that Sam’s misery is going to be dragged about a bit as his birthday party must be postponed due to extended family issues. As we navigate the hazards that arise on Sam Dorsey’s birthday, it’s easy to see why he feels as though his birthdays are cursed. And yet… it appears that the universe might have a little bit of good in store for Sam when his crush begins to show some interest in him. Add to that, there’s also a budding new friendship with Mitch. And not only is Sam beginning to fantasize about him, but Mitch is rather persistent in them spending time together and in keeping Jake away from Sam. But as Sam thinks Jake and Mitch are both straight (maybe a little bi on Jake’s part), this sudden interest from two fronts makes it hard for him to figure out if he wants the guy he’s been crushing on for years, or does he want the guy who seems to be genuinely interested in him? And Sam’s biggest dilemma… When did everyone figure out he was gay when he worked so hard to keep it a secret!?!?!

As for the narration, I really enjoyed Michael Pauley’s performance in this one. I will admit that there was a couple of times when I got confused as to who was speaking because the level of vocal distinction I’m used to from Pauley’s performance wasn’t present in this audiobook, but this appears to be one of his early works. I was impressed by Pauley’s crooning… I so did not see that coming and I may have fangirled a little bit during those scenes – OHMIGOD!!! I also have to commend Pauley being spot-on with the teenage angst. Honestly, it’s hard to believe that this is same guy whose voice is so full of tension that it pulls me to the edge of my seat during romantic suspense and thrillers. But Pauley did an excellent job of making Turning 16 a delightful treat to listen to, complete with all of Sam’s awkwardness that I think Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering intended.

Perie Wolford

Perie Wolford is an optioned and produced screenwriter, author of the bestselling gay series Sam Dorsey & Gay Popcorn.

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Michelle Doering

Hey... Hey you... Yes you! You Sir/Ma'am, are awesome. I myself, also enjoy dabbling in the fine art of awesomery, so why not join me on my vast literary adventures?

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Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children's book.

Authors that Michael has worked with include JA Sanchez, Chris Adkins, Chris McMullen, Julie Harper, Matt Larkin, Jamie Sheffield, Shelly K Wall, Stacy Lynn Carroll, Michelle Howard, Delaney Diamond, Devan Sagliani, Kennedy Layne, and many, many more.

Fans of Michael's narration are welcome to follow him on social media.

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Brought to you by

Angela utilized her Audible Romance Package subscription to access an audiobook copy of Turning 16 (Sam Dorsey and Gay Popcorn #1) by Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering, narrated by Michael Pauley to listen to and review for this post.

Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

1920, England

And the three teenage Clarke sisters thought what they’d wear to dinner was their biggest problem…

Lady Kate, the entitled eldest.
Lady Grace, lost in the middle and wishing she were braver.
Lady Lizzy, so endlessly sunny, it’s easy to underestimate her.

Then there’s Will Harvey, the proud, to-die-for—and possibly die with!—stable boy; Daniel Murray, the resourceful second footman with a secret; Raymond Allen, the unfortunate-looking young duke; and Fanny Rogers, the unsinkable kitchen maid.

Upstairs! Downstairs! Toss in some farmers and villagers!

None of them ever expected to work together for any reason.

But none of them had ever seen anything like this.

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Entangled Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I'm trying to be careful to create a spoiler-free review.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect when I began Zombie Abbey – zombies have never been of interest to me, but young adult and historical surely is. With a paranormal take on Downton Abbey and Pride & Prejudice, I had to see where this would go.

The story takes place during the 1920s, featuring an upper-crust, wealthy family in England. The narration was a bit of an issue with me – with so many narrators, it was difficult to form an emotional connection with specific characters, where you're rooting for/against them. However, this did help set the scene, offering multiple perspectives to create a well-rounded story.

The Clarke sisters showed the perspective of girls in the era, while the staff showed a view historical novels don't necessarily showcase. So, in a way, the many points-of-view did paint an entire picture, even at the expense of an emotional attachment.

The pacing starts slow, not truly hooking me. But I soldiered forth, mostly because this era intrigues me, and I was curious to see where this would lead. The pacing shifts to hyper-fast with action, making the last portion a page-turner.

I found unexpected humor in the actions/reaction of the narrators in regards to the 'zombie' situation. Maybe because I'm a jaded adult, but the horror portions, while gruesome, were horror-lite. This isn't necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, and this is where I found humor where some might not.

Overall, I'm still not a zombie fan, but I found enjoyment via the cast of characters and their interactions with one another. Oddly, I will say this was a fast yet fun book to read.

While I believe this to be a standalone, the ending does leave wiggle room for a future installment. However, if this truly is a standalone novel, the ending could have been tightened up a bit.

Young Adult age-range: 14+ due to the gruesome nature of zombies.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for adults, teens and children, which have been published in 15 countries. Before becoming a writer, she was an independent bookseller (11 years), a Publishers Weekly reviewer (292 titles); a freelance editor, a sort-of librarian, and a window washer. She lives in CT with her husband, daughter and cat. Lauren prefers the nobility to zombies, as a rule, and so long as you’re not the latter, you’re welcome to visit her website.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted to read and review.

Monday, May 28, 2018

All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire comes a riveting tale of first love that starts young but runs deep.

The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town.

Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship… and her heart.

Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

To be honest, I have absolutely NO idea how to review All the Little Lights, as I'm going to do my best to avoid any and all spoilers and refuse to delve into book report territory. I went into reading the book blind, and I want everyone else to do so too.

Was I hooked from the beginning? No.

Why? Elliot is awesome – his child version was the sweetest, most protective little fella, but the setting and pacing were bizarre, and it never really changed from that point onward.

There are three eras to the novel. Child versions of Elliot and Catherine, which is only a handful of pages. Fifteen-year-old kids, which spanned a portion of the novel. The main portion featured a seventeen and eighteen-year-old Catherine and Elliot, including scenes in a high school.

What I truly appreciated within All the Little Lights is how the bond between Elliot and Catherine was instantaneous, but it wasn't romantic in nature. Real love must be based in friendship, not infatuation and lust. Over hundreds of pages, the pure connection between Elliot and Catherine is forged with organic, lifelike realism.

I'm a sucker for what I call Gothic romance, featuring a mystery surrounding a drafty old house filled with secrets. I love the classics and their remakes into film, and this book does hold a place in my heart because it reminds me so much of those types of stories. Which is why the high school environment felt so out of place for me, like the two parts don't necessarily form a whole.

I can't call this novel a page-turner, not with the baffling pacing and release of information. As I read, I could sense something beneath the surface. What was jarring is how it was Catherine keeping the secret, refusing to tell others what was happening, but the reader was literally INSIDE Catherine's head during her narration, which is what had me stuttering and stumbling as I read.

There was a door slammed between our narrator and the reader, and it created an emotional disconnect, while she was telling us her story.

The novel is definitely a mystery – a mystery the narrator is keeping from the readers and all the characters in the novel. While I love to be surprised, this slowed the pacing while simultaneously frustrating me. I was curious, but I could see some readers hanging up the towel because no information is given. There is no steady breadcrumb trail, no piecemeal delivery to keep the reader engaged. No trails for readers to follow as they connected the dots – no foreshadowing or information to be puzzled together to solve the mystery.

The reader has to wait through 90% of the novel to be given... something.

While reading everyday events, which did seem to feel redundant, slowing down the pacing even more while feeding my need to skim-read, there was this 'I'm in the Twilight Zone' sensation while reading about teenage angst, football games, and catty mean girls. The juxtaposition was jarring. Not only did it feel several hundred pages too long, it also read longer.

So, Erica, why are you handing out five stars?

Native American culture intrigues me, because I come from a region in the northeast that is heavily laced with Native American history. While there is a lot of racism shown, I don't feel as if it's the author's voice flowing through – more as if she is placing a voice to the ignorance that does infect through the generations. I will say, this felt more like what I would have heard when I was in fourth or fifth grade back in the early 90s, while I was second-hand bullied alongside a Native American boy in my class, not in a more politically correct 2018.

True story, as we sat next to one another - (boy's first name) "Green swims in Lake Erie!" (nickname for Erica) was a euphemism we dealt with several times a day for two school years, along with other racial slurs. So this portion hit me hard, because the treatment of my classmate and his brother has never left me all these years later.

I wanted to give Elliot the biggest hug and tell him he's an amazing person.

I also say time and time again, if the author surprises me, I don't care what else I found off within the novel, I will hand out a 5-star rating, because it's nearly impossible to surprise me. I will admit, I did get it right early on, but I dismissed it as quickly as it popped into my head... hundreds of pages later, I was like, WOW! HA! Awesome!

I adored Catherine and Elliot, even if I felt the connection was almost an unhealthy extreme, but it was the aloofness, the lack of emotion from Catherine as she kept her secrets, her codependency on her mother and Juniper that felt so off.

While I was entertained and awed, while I appreciated the writing and the story itself, that disconnect between Catherine and the reader was most difficult for me.

I'm glad I read the All the Little Lights, and I'll never forget it. However, reading is so subjective, I have no idea who to recommend this to – I did rec it to my own mother, though.

Young Adult age-range: 13+, featuring kissing and violent situations.

We follow Elliot and Catherine from when they first meet and spend a summer together, to them being separated, and Elliot’s return to Oak Creek in his senior year. When Elliot returns, two years have passed and there have been some big changes in Catherine’s life, but he is still completely devoted to her.

If you decide to read All the Pretty Lights please be patient. It took me three days to read the first 40% of the book and it felt like three weeks. A lot happens in Elliot and Catherine’s lives but at the same time I felt like there was not much direction and I was wondering where the story was going. I also had a feeling of dread at what was to come next because it felt like it would be something big. Elliot’s love for and commitment to Catherine, coupled with my curiosity about what was actually going on at the Juniper, kept me reading.

All the Pretty Lights deals with lots of different issues. Family drama, teenage love, loss, bullying, and high school drama, as well as having mystery tinted with danger. Once the story really got going about half way through I couldn’t put it down. I was on the edge of my seat as it unfolded in ways I was not expecting.

Every girl deserves to have a guy like Elliot in their life and in their corner, and he is a big part of what makes All the Pretty Lights an excellent young adult novel. This story is well worth your time. My advice is don’t rush it, be patient, and just let the story unfold.

This was my first time reading anything by Jamie McGuire and I have to say that I was completely blown away by All the Little Lights. I just have no words to describe my current feelings after such an ending because I am still reeling from it! All the Little Lights was definitely kind of a slow start for me, but by the end I was on the edge my seat and completely invested in Catherine and Elliot’s love story. I also really appreciated that the story rotated between Elliot’s point of view and Catherine’s. Although, I thought this was gonna be a nice, sweet young adult story about first love and coming of age, but what I got was actually a riveting tale with a gothic feel to it. If this is what I can expect from all of McGuire’s books I may have to start adding them to my TBR pile immediately because by the end, I could not put it down. I’m not gonna lie, I probably was leaning more towards a four star review, but by the end I was just so incredibly impressed that I can’t not give it a full five stars. Like, is it just me? I literally can’t stop talking about it. I am so enchanted that I want to immediately read it again! Don’t be fooled by the cute little synopsis and charming little cover picture because this story has depth!

I think fans of Jennifer L Armentrout's Don't Look Back and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series will easily find themselves intrigued by this book.

5 stars for All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

Oooh – this is a wonderfully creepy story full of Southern Gothic charm. On one level, it is the story of the friendship between the daughter of a wealthy family and the son of a blue collar aboriginal family. It is a dark coming of age story and the story of a childhood friendship that gradually becomes a romance. On another level – Nope. Not going there because revealing anything else might spoil the story for another reader.

There is a little bit of Harper Lee’s Maycomb in this book and a whole lot of Flannery O’Connor’s twisted imagination, but the story isn’t crafted quite as tightly as the classics by either of these writers. The pace is slow, and the time lapses and shifts in narrative voice don’t always work. Too many characters on the periphery of the story aren’t fully fleshed. It took time for me to get into the book, but I really enjoyed the stifling atmosphere and the gradual build of tension.

I wasn’t expecting to love this book. The young adult blurb and John Green style cover doesn’t really do it justice. But Elliott and Catherine captured my heart and my imagination. Once I got properly stuck into their story, I couldn’t put it down and I couldn’t get it out of my head once I finished it. I have to recommend it both to teens and to adult readers because – like all the best books – it doesn’t fit neatly into easy genre boxes.

Jamie McGuire is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Walking Disaster, the Maddox Brothers series, the Providence trilogy, and the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster, which paved the way for the new-adult genre. She was the first independent author in history to strike a print deal with retail giant Walmart, and her work has been translated into fifty languages. She lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with her husband, Jeff, and their three children.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire to read and review.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson

Family, friendship, love, and a summer to remember.

Identical twins Aiden and Max Kingsman have been a matched set their whole lives. When they were children, Aiden was happy to follow his extroverted brother’s lead, but now that they’re in college, being “my brother, Aiden” is starting to get old. He’s itching to discover who he is outside of his “twin” identity.

Oliver’s goals for the summer are simple: survive his invasive family, keep his divorced parents from killing each other, and stay in shape for rowing season. He’s thrilled when he runs into his old friends, the Kingsman twins, especially Aiden, the object of a childhood crush. Aiden is all grown-up, but some things have stayed the same: his messy curls, his stability, and how breathless he makes Oliver. Oliver’s crush comes back full force, and the feeling is mutual. Summer just got a whole lot hotter.

Fun-loving Max takes one thing seriously: his role as “big brother.” When Aiden drifts away, Max can’t understand how his own twin could choose a boy over him. Summer won’t last forever, and with friendship, family, and happily ever after on the line, they’ll have to navigate their changing relationships before it’s too late.

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Riptide Publishing

To Our Readers

While we strive to provide reading recommendations that are appropriate for most young adult readers 12 and older and keeping the blog free of adult content in order to achieve this, there are times when we discover a book that walks that fine line between young adult and new adult. It's that gray area of novels, romance or not – the coming of age story.

Fourteen Summers is one such book – we consider it neither truly young adult, nor truly new adult, but rather a coming of age story. It is because of this that we ultimately decided to share it on our YA blog, despite the sexual content. We feel the challenges the young men face will resonate with older teens as their relationships with friends and potential romantic interests change over the years. Because the book includes non-explicit scenes that aren't fade-to-black, but are age-appropriate for the characters, we recommend Fourteen Summers for mid-to-older teens. Also, we strongly encourage parents of mature, younger teens to read the book to assess for themselves if it’s appropriate for their child if they're uncomfortable with their teen reading sex scenes. We feel that Quinn's message is one that will resonate with many young readers, but especially with teens who are grappling with their own sexuality.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Fourteen Summers is a coming-of-age tale that encompasses many different types of relationships – romantic, familial, and friendship. The focus easily shifts, yet manages to weave all these types of relationships into a sense of belonging you only get from family.

It starts off fourteen years in the past, with three little boys. A pair of twins try to draw their best friend into their welcoming family. It was a heart-tugging yet lighthearted, warm and fuzzy, humorous scene that set the perfect stage for the novel to come.

As identical twins, Aiden and Max have always had a built-in support system, best friend, and constant companion, perhaps causing an unhealthy codependency. They were both devastated when their childhood best friend moved away, but they had each other.

Oliver wanted nothing but a warm and welcoming family that didn't fight with one another, after growing up amidst a bickering set of parents who ultimately divorced, and a rowdy, obnoxious yet loving extended family. He loved his best friends, but was jealous of not only their connection as twins, but of their loving parents as well. Oliver just wanted to be part of their family instead of his own.

Fourteen years later... after a decade apart, a chance meeting in the grocery store sets off a chain of events that tests the binds of different types of relationships, acting as both the angst of conflict and the catalyst of change.

While on the outside looking in, Aiden and Oliver seem almost too perfect in juxtaposition to those around them, especially with Max. Max is jealous, used to being the alpha of his brother and their friend, and he can't handle being the third-wheel. I understood Max, and I think it helped being inside his head during his narration, but I do fear readers not empathizing with him, maybe finding him obnoxious or frustrating. But no character should be perfect, and Max was used to show how Aiden and Oliver are far from perfect themselves. Perception is reality, and Max's perception helps paint a full picture within the novel.

The novel was sweet and warm, yet had its moments when it became highly emotional. There was also a yummy decadence of a longtime crush evolving into something more adult. The realism was shown via Max's interactions, as he was able to force the reader to step out of the warm and fuzzy romance and angst and show a different type of relationship, that of twin brothers and of best friends.

I highly recommend Fourteen Summers. While this is listed as MM romance, I do believe it would be appropriate for mid-to-older teens, (however, it is not fade-to-black sexual situations) as all three boys are barely 20 and experiencing coming-of-age growth as the novel progresses.

This is a sweet and very innocent feeling story. While there is a central romance, it is more a coming of age story about twins growing into an adult relationship. The characters are college age, but living at home with parents for the summer makes them all seem much younger.

Identical twins Aiden and Max are complete opposites but have been inseparable since childhood. Aiden’s interest in Oliver marks the first serious relationship for either brother and it hurts Max more than either of them expected.

This story is as much about the two families as it is about the two boys. Even as a small child, Oliver was aware of the differences between Aiden and Max’s warm and happy parents and his own home where arguments and grudges were normal.

This is a slow and thoughtful story. It is a coming of age story about three boys who are finding themselves and working to make their childhood relationships work as adults. The romance is sweet (with a tiny bit of heat) but for me it was the boys’ relationships with their siblings, parents, and friends that were most meaningful.

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/M Coming of Age
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Aiden and Max are identical twins. They do everything together. They were fortunate to make a very good friend while they were just little, Oliver. They have the sweetest relationship together and watching them hang out and be friends was a very sweet way to start the story.

Fast forward 14 years and the boys are just entering their twenties. Reconnecting is something they all needed. Oliver's home life was less than stellar when he was little, and it still is a little rocky now that he's more grown up. Oliver wanted to have the happy home life that his best friends had. While Oliver wasn't exactly jealous of Aiden and Max's home life, it became Oliver's goal to have a family like that.

Aiden and Oliver had crushes on each other when they were little. But because they were little, neither really knew what they were feeling or if they should do anything about it. When they are reunited, those old feelings come back to the surface. But now that those two have a connection that is deepening, how will Aiden and Max cope with the changes in their own relationship?

This story has such a great dynamic. It is about family, love, friendship, and acceptance. I really enjoyed seeing the boys figure out what they wanted personally and from each other. The family dynamic is not overdone and overall, this is a great coming of age story.

This is a very sweet coming of age novel involving three best friends. Two, identical twins Aiden and Max, have been together literally their whole lives, and have caring, loving professional parents. Oliver met them as a young boy but moved away when his always arguing parents finally divorced. As a boy, he loved the calm and happiness of their home, as well as having a crush on Aiden. Fast forward to age 20 and they meet up again as Oliver's dad has moved back to the area.

Now we deal with three young men who kind of want to recapture the innocence and fun of their boyhood, yet Aiden and Oliver are clearly attracted to each other. Max suddenly feels that he is losing his twin, and everyone's emotions go into overdrive. We hear the story from all three perspectives, and I enjoyed the fact they all learned from each other and had a new, adult view on what happened in their past, and maybe the direction of their futures.

Quinn Anderson earned a master’s degree from the University of Dublin in Ireland and is also a University of Florida alumna with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She began writing books, poetry, and fan fiction at fourteen years of age and was first published at nineteen. Her favorite authors include Gail Carson Levine, Libba Bray, Tamorra Pierce, and T.A. Barron. A nerd extraordinaire, Quinn draws inspiration from pop culture and makes far too many obscure references. Quinn’s favorite thing to write is witty dialogue, and her favorite thing to read is a slow burn.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson to read and review.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world... or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire's heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 Stars

Reviews are so difficult for me to write for Fantasy stories!

Furyborn was an epic adventure, based on the lives of two different women at two different time periods (approx. 1000 years apart). I've read many fantasy novels, but none like this!
I have to mention that this prologue was INSANE. If this doesn't grab your attention, nothing will.

We follow the lives and trials, of Rielle Dardenne – otherwise known as Queen Rielle. We see how she obtains her power, and the important events in her life. I hate to say it, but I was rooting for her the entire story. She may have been my favorite character, for different reasons. I'm not going to tell you why because I really don't want to give anything away.

Fast forward 1000 years, we see the same landscape but in a different light and meet Eliana Ferracora. She's a complete badass, afraid of nothing, and ready to tackle anything. She's on a quest to find her mother and protect her brother. She's completely human, makes some bad choices, and pays the consequences. She feels deeply, but doesn't show it. I love Eliana for her realness, her humanness.

Both of these women face dire consequences, pay terrible prices, and yet persevere. The support cast only added to the main story, and of course, were necessary.

I really enjoyed this book, it has everything you'd expect from a fantasy novel: it was funny and sweet at times, angsty and anxiety-inducing, scary and suspenseful, tragic and beautiful. Physical and mental strengths are at war with magic and the unknown! I loved that this story took right off, there was world-building, but it wasn't boring pages full of just descriptions. There were some slow-moving parts, but I felt like they were sprinkled in to give you time to process everything else going on. I cannot wait to read the second book in the Empirium Series!

Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now she is a writer and librarian living in central New Jersey (although her heart will always live in her home state of Texas).

Her first novel is The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2012. She is also the author of The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers; and Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker. Some Kind of Happiness, her middle grade novel about mental illness, family secrets, and the power of storytelling, is a 2017 Edgar Award Nominee. Claire’s latest novel, Foxheart, is a classic fantasy-adventure and a 2016 Junior Library Guild selection. She is one of the four authors behind The Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology of dark middle grade short fiction that was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street Best Book, and among the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2014.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Furyborn (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand to read and review.