The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

Title: The Vanishing Throne
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 21st 2016
Source: E-arc from the publisher.  Thank you Chronicle Books! 

Summary from Goodreads:
The second book in the Falconer trilogy is packed with surprises and suspense.

Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes up in the fae world, trapped and tortured by the evil Lonnrach. With the help of an unexpected ally, Aileana re-enters the human world, only to find everything irrevocably changed. Edinburgh has been destroyed, and the few human survivors are living in an uneasy truce with the fae, while both worlds are in danger of disappearing altogether. Aileana holds the key to saving both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing that might be her life.

Rich with imaginative detail, action, fae lore, and romance, The Vanishing Throne is a thrilling sequel to The Falconer.

Review

The Falconer came out of nowhere for me. It sounded up my alley so I gave it a try and loved it. But there was one of the worst cliff hangers, so I patiently had to wait for The Vanishing Throne. The Vanishing Throne picked up right where The Falconer left off. (I found it helpful to reread The Falconer before starting The Vanishing Throne.)

Aileana is one kick butt female lead. She faces some serious struggles; she is held captive, tortured, learns ugly truths, and has to fight bad guys all while dealing with the destruction of her home. Kiaran- what a character, he is good but then he is bad, he has no feelings but then he is passionate. He is all over the place in some ways but based on his background that is understandable. The reader learns more about Kiaran and pieces start to fall into place. I admire that he remains fairly honest, he does not hide away from his character or his brutal past. These two characters truly make the story worth reading.  The secondary characters are a nice addition as well but Aileana and Kiaran are fantastic.

If I were to describe The Vanishing Throne in a couple of words it would be action-packed and high intensity. I was almost taken back by the amount of fighting and intense scenes. Elizabeth May throws the reader right into battle with Aileana; you feel nervous, worried, and powerful with her. I cannot wait to see what the next book holds!


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Asa (Marked Men #6) by Jay Crownover

Title: Asa
Series: Marked Men #6
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: April 21st 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

Review

This is a sad review to write, as it signifies the end of a great series. I actually listened to the audio book versions of the entire series.  Let me tell you, that is the way to go; the variety in narrators and multiple narrators in each story really got me into the book.  Plus if you are a fan of a Southern accent, Asa has a wonderful one.

Asa grew on me, his troubled past and previous lack of care for others did not sit well with me.  It did give him plenty of room to grow though and that he did.  He eventually grew on me as a character and as a part of the crew's family.

The hurdle/issue Asa and Royal had to overcome was a difficult issue and kind of intense and hard to wrap my head around.  I could not really imagine being in that situation ; the whole thing made me rather uncomfortable.  Aside from that aspect of the plot, Asa was a great read and ended the series in a wonderful way.  I loved not only hearing Royal and Asa's story but also hearing all the other happy endings.

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Rowdy (Marked Men #5) by Jay Crownover

Title: Rowdy
Series: Marked Men #5
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: October 21st 2014

Summary from Goodreads:
After the only girl he ever loved told him that he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and set out to live up to his nickname. A good ol’ boy looking for good times and good friends, Rowdy refuses to take anything too seriously, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Burned by love once, he isn’t going to let himself trust a woman again. But that’s before his new co-worker arrives, a ghost from the past who’s suddenly making him question every lesson he ever learned.

Salem Cruz grew up in house with too many rules and too little fun—a world of unhappiness she couldn’t wait to forget. But one nice thing from childhood has stayed with her; the memory of the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who’d been head over heels in love with her little sister.

Now, fate and an old friend have brought her and Rowdy together, and Salem is determined to show him that once upon a time he picked the wrong sister. A mission that is working perfectly—until the one person that ties them together appears, threatening to tear them apart for good.

Review

Goodness, what to say about Rowdy's story.  Rowdy has a lot going on and I liked it.  The rest of the Marked Men's story's continue, much to my enjoyment.  Similar to Nash, Rowdy was not a main focus character for me yet I still really enjoyed learning more about him.

Rowdy is a tough guy but also a sweetheart and I loved that trait.  I really really liked the dates he took Salem on and how it was a perfect blend of cute romance with steamy romance. While their romance is fiery it also grows throughout making it feel more real.

Between Salem's sister's drama and Rowdy's family surprises, I was flying through this book.  The plot never lets up. While some of the sister drama was a bit of a turn off, in the end I felt like it really came together.   I am definitely glad to have learned and understood more about Rowdy's character. This was another great addition to the series!

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Nash (Marked Men #4) by Jay Crownover

Title: Nash
Series: Marked Men #4
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Release Date: April 29th 2014

Summary from Goodreads:
Will their past determine their future?

Saint Ford has worked hard to achieve her childhood dream of becoming of nurse. Focused on her work and devoted to her patients, there’s no room for love. She doesn’t need a guy making waves in her calm, serene life—especially when he’s the unforgettable hottie who nearly destroyed her in high school. Dark, brooding Nash Donovan might not remember her or the terrible pain he caused. But he turned her world upside down... and now he’s trying to do it again.

Saint has no idea that Nash isn’t the cocky player he once was. Uncovering a devastating family secret has rocked his world, and now he’s struggling to figure out his future. He can’t be distracted by the pretty nurse he seems to meet everywhere. Still, he can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them —or how she seems so desperate to get away from him. But the funny, sweet, and drop-dead gorgeous Saint is far too amazing to give up on—especially since she’s the only thing in his life that seems to make sense.

When Nash discovers the truth about their past, he realizes he may have lost her heart before he could even fight for it. Now, Saint has to decide: is Nash worth risking herself for all over again?

Review

Nash has never been one of the characters I felt drawn to.  I have always thought he seemed like a more distant secondary character.  It was nice to get to learn more about his history and his role in the marked men family. The details and aspects of his life really add to another layer of depth in the overall series.

Nash has some sadder moments than Rome.  Even though there were some steamy scenes and happy moments, this book felt a little less happy than the others.  When I finished the book, I felt that I had enjoyed it but did not leave with the grin on my face that some of the other books evoked.  Saint, the main interest in this book, has some personal demons to overcome.  At times I really could relate or feel for her but then at other times I just found her to kind of bother me.

This one was not my favorite but it was still enjoyable and added to the overall series.  At times I felt like I was merely reading to continue some of the other secondary character's stories, not quite for Nash and Saint's story line.  But I love a lot of those other characters so it all worked out!

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Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

Title: Ghostly Echoes
Series: Jackaby #3
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: August 23rd 2016
Source: E-arc from the publisher.  Thank you Algonquin Young Readers! 

Summary from Goodreads:
Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancĂ©, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

Review

Ghostly Echoes is the third book in the Jackaby series and probably my favorite thus far. This main mystery in this book focused on characters we are introduced to in books one and two. Jenny is the ghost that currently resides in Jackaby’s house and her murder is the main focal point in Ghostly Echoes.

The previous two books introduced Jenny’s back story slightly but it was a nice change to have this book focus on a character the reader has already grown attached to as oppose to introducing new characters and plot lines. Compared to the first two books, Ghostly Echoes was more suspenseful and faster paced. Everything about the mystery had me flipping through the pages in one sitting, so much more was at stake. The reader also learns more about Jackaby’s past really developing him as a detective and overall more dynamic character. The underlying humor is still sprinkled through out, I enjoyed Jackaby’s eccentricities and Abigail’s spunk and dedication.

Ghostly Echoes is the perfect mix of mystery and the supernatural. As the story progresses it gets weirder and weirder, stranger characters appear and the stakes climb to life or death situations. This third installment of the Jackaby series will keep you on the edge of your seat wanting more of the Sherlock-like world.


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Rome (Marked Men #3) by Jay Crownover

Title: Rome
Series: Marked Men #3
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: January 7th 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed "bad boy" friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won't let herself get burned again. She's waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He's stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he's returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome's used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he's just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray.Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

Review

I LOVED this book.  (Even after finishing the whole series, this is hands down my favorite book) I love Rome and I love Cora.  Of the first three books Rome felt like it had some of the heaviest themes, PTSD specifically but Crownover did an amazing job of incorporating his struggles into the story line without it feeling forced.

I have always been a fan of Cora, I can picture her perfectly and just feel her spunk and feisty-ness every time I read.  Her love for all the marked men and the girls is fantastic.  She really encompasses friendship and tough love.  The dynamic between Rome and Cora is wonderful- they fight, they love and they conquer.  While some aspects of the plot were a bit predictable other parts were such a pleasant surprise.

I for sure recommend this series but especially this book.  If you were on the fence after Jet, really give Rome a try!  Even though Rome was not my favorite in books one and two, he really really grew on me.

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Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema

Title: Goldfish
Author: Nat Luurtsema
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Source: Arc from the publisher. Thank you Disney-Hyperion! 

Summary from Goodreads:
Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive…

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat.

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.

Review

Goldfish was a quick and fun read. Humor and competition are two key elements in Goldfish. Lou doesn’t make the swimming time trials and feels like everything she worked for is gone along with her best friend. So she is faced with finding her new role in school without swimming or her best friend

I really liked Lou, she had me cracking up throughout the entire book, goldfish is lined with some dry humor and some laugh out loud humor. The overall premise is a bit crazy but it works. It was super easy to imagine all the wackiness that ensures. I love the rag tag group and how they all worked together to achieve something crazy.

Overall I really enjoyed Goldfish; it was a funny sports competition focused book. That while not the most memorable read it was thoroughly enjoyable! It is quite a feel good story that will leave you grinning when you finish.

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