August 24, 2018

Hidden (Dragonlands #1) by Megg Jensen ~ #BookReview

August 22, 2018

Title: Hidden
Series: Dragonlands #1
Author: Megg Jensen
Release Date: January 11, 2014  
Genre: Fantasy 

Source: Copy for review from the author 

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository 

My Rating:  


The first novel in a USA Today bestselling series from Megg Jensen! 

Control the dragons. Rule the realm. 

The mystery enshrouding Hutton’s Bridge is as impenetrable as the fog that descended at its borders eighty years ago. Each year, three villagers enter the mist searching for answers. No one ever returns.

Then a dragon falls from the sky to the town square, dead—the first glimpse of an outside world that has become nothing more than a fairy tale to Hutton’s Bridge. Except to Tressa.

Tressa grew up with Granna’s stories of the days before the fog fell. When Granna dies, leaving Tressa without any family, Tressa ventures into the fog herself, vowing to unravel the foul magic holding Hutton’s Bridge captive.

What she discovers beyond the fog endangers the lives of everyone she loves.

For a short period of time, I was a bit turned off from the fantasy genre. I still liked it, but it was overshadowed for me by dystopian and contemporary novels. Hearing so many incredible things about Megg Jensen's books, I jumped at the chance to review Hidden and am so happy I did. This story was awesome and well told - not only did I love it so much I couldn't put it down, but it also renewed my interest in the fantasy genre.

The prologue drew me in right away and immediately made me want to know what was happening in the village of Hutton's Bridge. The unique plot captured my attention - why the fog surrounds the village, the fact that no one comes back once they enter the fog, and the dangers that obviously lie in wait in the fog. The mystery and suspense heightened my enjoyment of Hidden. I liked that the chapters were short, and the way they ended made me want to start the next right away.

I loved the characters! I wish we could have had more time with Granna, Tressa's grandmother, but her presence was so strong throughout the story it didn't seem like we had lost her. Granna was the leader of Hutton's Bridge, and though not everyone agreed with her decisions, she was revered as the oldest member of the village who had the most knowledge of the time before the fog enshrouded them. Though she was in the book for a short time, she most definitely left her mark!

Tressa and Bastian, the main characters of Hidden, have been through a lot of heartbreak, and I wanted them to be together. I had hope they could find their way to each other though the customs of their village were what was preventing them from becoming a couple. Tressa is brave and full of heart. She listens to her instincts and strives to save her people no matter the cost, even if it means she must sacrifice herself. Bastian is just as brave, and I love how the two of them fit together like they are meant to be together. Their love is beautiful.  

I haven't read many books with dragons, and in this book, I can't stress enough how the dragon scenes were so awesome and well done. Though I knew there would be dragons, there's a huge twist revealed that was original and had me excited! I never saw it coming!

A few scenes in Hidden aren't appropriate for younger readers. Due to this content, it's definitely for mature readers, but the scenes are tastefully done. This is the first book I've read by Megg Jensen and won't be the last. I'm looking forward to diving into her other series but most of all, I'm excited for the second book of this series!

Thank you for visiting Donnie Darko Girl! 

August 23, 2018

Strange in Skin (#1) by Sara V. Zook ~ #BookReview

August 21, 2018

Title: Strange in Skin
Series: Strange in Skin #1
Author: Sara V. Zook
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Planettopia Publishing

Source: Copy for review from the author  

My Rating:  


From the moment Anna James meets the strange prisoner Emry Logan, she becomes instantly obsessed and will stop at nothing to try to get another interaction with him. But going against her family and church aren’t without consequence. 

She is deemed a traitor as she quickly realizes that there’s more to Emry’s past than just murder. He has a special ability that is far from human that he only shares with her. Feeling this magical connection, Anna has to free her beautiful inmate so that they can be together finally, but someone else knows about Emry’s secret and wants Anna to stop digging for answers as she finds herself in the midst of a modern day witch hunt. 

The life of an innocent pastor’s kid suddenly is turned upside down in a war between good and evil as Anna begins to wonder which people in her life are on the side of good, and is she one of them.

I loved Strange in Skin and warning - I will probably say that a lot in this review! This book left me speechless! Going into the first few chapters, I thought I knew what was going to happen, but then it took a left turn and left me reeling from the new revelations for days. I was so surprised and never saw it coming, and I became hooked. Every time I picked up the book, I was excited to read what would happen next.

Anna lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and her father is a pastor. Needless to say, she's pretty sheltered from the bad things that are out there in the world; however, a chance meeting with an inmate at the county prison named Emry turns her life completely upside down and opens her eyes to possibilities of a life she never before considered.

At first I wondered why she was still living at home at her age, but I realized since she's so innocent and sheltered that it made sense. Soon though, Anna's personality begins to change almost overnight. She starts lying to her family and sneaking around, things she had never done before. I felt her guilt right along with her as well as her excitement with meeting someone new and mysterious. I stressed out along with her and saw how her lies could very possibly ruin her life.

I was frustrated by just a couple of the changes in her personality - mostly the fixation on Emry that seemed unhealthy to me - but at the same time I could identify with feeling like she couldn't truly be herself, yearning to be free but is trapped, the way she felt she had to act "normal" around her family so they wouldn't notice the changes in her. At the same time, I came close to worrying for her sanity because of the massive transformation she underwent overnight based on a quick meeting with a stranger in a prison. The stress she was under didn't seem worth it to me.  

Characters in this novel weren't always who they seemed to be, and that's part of the mystery and awesomeness of this story. I began to think something wasn't quite right with Buck and Anna's father, and I had several different theories while I read.   There's a lot of mystery and action, and I was miserable whenever I had to put the book down. I was on the edge of my seat! I needed to know what was going to happen next, and I had to fight myself not to skip ahead. I knew it was best to let the story unfold. It isn't too slow at all - I was just in a hurry! 

I had so many questions about Emry. I needed to know if I could figure out what made him tick and what made him so mysterious. I went back and forth with Emry - at times he seemed like he was telling Anna the truth while other times he seemed like there was much that he was hiding from her. The complete trust she placed in him made me nervous. How could she do that when she truly didn't know him? But just when I'd think he was a liar, I'd find out something else that would make me change my mind. I really love characters you can't figure out right away! This was a huge reason I looked forward to picking up the book every time I had a chance to read.

The times I unwillingly had to put the book down, I needed to separate myself from Anna and her life. I had to remind myself this wasn't my life, these things weren't happening to me - my stomach was that twisted up! I really did like Anna though the choices she made at times had me wanting to jump in there and give her some much needed advice!

Overall, I was emotionally invested in the story and the characters. It was an intense and thrilling read with shocking twists and turns I never saw coming. I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique, emotional, and action packed story!

Thanks for visiting Donnie Darko Girl! 

August 20, 2018

The Girl Who Called the Stars by Heather Hildenbrand ~ #BookReview

August 21, 2018

Title: The Girl Who Called the Stars
Series: The Starlight Duology #1
Author: Heather Hildenbrand
Release Date: July 18, 2018
Genre: Upper YA Sci Fi / Fantasy Romance

Source: Copy for review from the author 

My Rating:


Be very afraid of the Shadows. 

I know what I’m not. Human. 

I can’t remember my life before Earth, but I’ve grown up hearing the stories of a planet ravaged by war and a people in need of a leader who will bring them out of the darkness. I’m supposed to be their light. 

My future terrifies me. 

But I’m done waiting to have a real life. If I ever want a chance to live free of the Shadows, I’ll need to fight for it because freedom is never free. No matter what galaxy you call home. 

(This is book 1 in The Starlight Duology. Previously published as Across the Galaxy, now revised & rewritten with brand new content. This is a full-length Upper YA SciFi/Fantasy Romance.)

The Girl Who Called the Stars is a title I love and has a cover that's gorgeous and drew me into finding out what the story is like within. This is the first book I've read by Heather Hildenbrand, and I'm in love with her writing style already. Her writing is fresh with authentic characters and just the right amount of romance and angst. 

This book has an inventive and exciting mix of aliens and magic along with some romance, and these elements have broken new ground in science fiction for me. I really liked the clever addition of magic in the face of the horrific Shadows that Alina, Xander, and their allies must face.   

I loved Alina and Xander right away, and I loved them together. With Alina's memory of her life before Earth missing, Xander takes care to be patient with her and is focused on how she feels rather than frustration he must feel. 
Alina has mixed feelings of bravery and fear, which endeared her to me even more. Who wouldn't be at least a little afraid when you're missing memories of half your life?

There's chemistry between these two characters from the get go, and I'm rooting for them all the way. There were moments between them that took my breath away, and I'm shouting, "Just kiss her already!" 

The Girl Who Called the Stars was amazing and exciting to read, and I'm REALLY looking forward to the next book. I'm anxious to see what happens next for Alina and her people.  

Thank you for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!

August 17, 2018

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris ~ #BookReview

August 17, 2018 

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Release Date: June 19, 2018  
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Thriller

Source: Copy for review from publisher 

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository

My Rating:  


Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax. 

I wasn't so sure about Bring Me Back at first. I started reading it right after The Breakdown, and that book was so stunning and amazing that this one didn't quite catch me in the same way, at least not in the beginning. I worried I wouldn't end up liking it, but I soon found myself caught up in the story. 

If you've happened to read any of my reviews, then you know I love unreliable narrators, and Finn definitely isn't someone I trusted all the way. I knew some of his POV was leaving out parts of the truth, and I spent a good deal of time thinking about what those missing parts in his story could be. 

Bring Me Back was going to be a three star read for me, but the ending was so surprising it made this book four stars. I loved Paris's writing and characters, just not as much as her first two books. But that ending though! I'm stoked to see what Paris releases next. She's become one of my auto-buy authors, and in the meantime while I'm waiting, I'll likely reread her books again. 

Thank you for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!     

August 16, 2018

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris ~ #BookReview

August 16, 2018

Title: The Breakdown 
Author: B.A. Paris
Release Date: July 18, 2017  
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Genre: Thriller 

Source: Copy for review from the publisher  

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository

My Rating:  


Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

I wish I could give The Breakdown all the stars in the world. This book absorbed every fiber of my being from the first word on the first page, and the emotions the main character, Cass, was feeling were tangible for me. I could have reached out and touched her frustration, fear and despair.  

Starting right away with a murder, the story propelled me into the action and had me questioning the people around Cass. I suspected each of them for various reasons. Paris did an excellent job planting seeds of doubt in my mind about all of the characters, even Cass. She sometimes has problems with remembering things, even when people try to help jog her memory. She was also emotionally vulnerable and fraught with stress and anxiety.  

I empathized with Cass immediately, however, even as I wondered about her. I desperately wanted her to confide in someone about her drive home because I knew she'd continue torturing herself if she kept quiet. Her distress was suffocating, and it's meant to be that way to pull you further into her dilemma. It's strange to say this, but I loved that feeling of suffocation because it was what kept me glued to the pages, dying to know what was going to happen next. 

The ending doesn't disappoint. The plotting was so well done I want to read it again to see what I missed the first time around. I'm definitely a huge fan of B.A. Paris and can't wait to see what she writes next! 

Thank you for visiting Donnie Darko Girl! 

August 14, 2018

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris ~ #BookReview

August 15, 2018

Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Release Date: August 9, 2016 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press  
Genre: Thriller 

Source: Copy for review from the publisher  

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository  

My Rating: 


Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

This is the second time I've read Behind Closed Doors, and I'm just as scarred by it as I was the first time. It's terrifying, especially when you imagine this happening in real life and start thinking about what some people are capable of. In the case of this novel, no one has any idea what goes on with Jack and Grace behind closed doors. 

The story is told from Grace's POV and alternates between the present and the past. She's in this marriage that at first seems like a fairy tale - Jack is charismatic, movie star handsome and successful, and he uses all of those qualities as ammunition to gain Grace's love and trust. It doesn't take long for everything to come crashing down around Grace, and by the time she realizes what kind of man Jack really is, it's too late. He has complete control over her and plays horrendous minds games with her just for his own sick entertainment. 

All kinds of emotions were brought out in me while reading this book, particularly my sense of justice. I desperately wanted Grace to get out of this situation and escape safely with her sister, Millie, who has Down's Syndrome. Their close relationship was a ray of sunshine through a dark storm, but the thought of Millie moving in with Jack and Grace was too much to bear.  

Jack was able to force Grace to succumb to his demands by making threats against her sister. He slowly revealed what he had planned for Millie once she moved in, and it was sick. He's truly an evil and twisted individual, and I hated him. 

I was glued to the pages and couldn't turn them fast enough. I was dying to know what was going to happen next and whether Grace and Millie would be able to escape or not. All I will say about the ending so as not to give anything away is WOW! I highly recommend this, although there is a lot of abuse that may be a trigger for some readers, so proceed with caution. 

Thank you for visiting Donnie Darko Girl! 

August 2, 2018

Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski ~ Blog Tour: #BookReview & #Giveaway

August 2, 2018

This is my stop during the blog tour for Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and runs from 30 July till 12 August. Click here for the tour schedule.

Title: Everything Under the Sun 
Author: Jessica Redmerski
Release date: August 28, 2017 
Genre: Dystopian, Post apocalyptic, Suspense, Romance
Age category: Young Adult, New Adult, Adult 
Pages: 683 pages  

Source: Copy for review 

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

My Rating: 


Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about. 

Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them? 

Everything Under the Sun is a gritty read about life after the Fever, a virus that has killed most of the world's population. Everyone has been affected by this virus one way or another either by losing loved ones or somehow surviving it with injuries (such as losing one's sight), not to mention living in a new world where people are desperate enough to do anything it takes to survive.  

When I used to watch The Walking Dead, it didn't take long for me to realize that humans are much worse than the zombies themselves. The same can be said for this book. The people Thais and Atticus encounter on their journey are much more frightening and dangerous than the virus that caused all of this in the first place. 

I loved Thais, but I wondered how she could remain so naive and trusting of people after the many times she came close to death or torture at the hands of strangers and after all the death she's witnessed. I wanted to yell at her to remain skeptical of anything that seemed too good to be true because that means it is!  

In a world such as this, feeling sorry for others can get you killed. I'm not sure how I'd deal with it -- I'd like to think I could keep my empathy intact, but who knows? The fact that Thais hasn't become disillusioned with the world is what draws Atticus to love her and might just be what kept them trudging onward.

As for Atticus, I didn't think I'd like his character as much as I did. He straddles the line between being a hero and an anti-hero, and that's what made him realistic. He struggles with what they have to do to survive and his morals. Meeting Thais changed everything for him, giving him a purpose and a reason to search out a better life for the two of them than what awaits them in Lexington City. 

What else can I say about Everything Under the Sun? The cover is gorgeous, the writing is captivating, and the characters are worth getting to know. Read this book asap! It's an excellent post-apocalyptic romance done in a way I've been wanting to read for forever. I've heard there's a second book coming, and I'm so excited to hear that! 

About the Author 

Jessica Redmerski is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, international bestseller, and award winner, who juggles several different genres. She began self-publishing in 2012, and later with the success of THE EDGE OF NEVER, signed on with Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Jessica is a hybrid author who, in addition to working with a traditional publisher, also continues to self-publish. Her popular crime and suspense series, In the Company of Killers, has been optioned for television and film by actor and model William Levy.

She also writes as J.A. Redmerski.

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