Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Return to Arèthane by Kelly Riad

Let me preface this review by stating that I am friends with the author of this book.  However, that is not going to keep me from leaving an objective review of this awesome YA fantasy novel :)


The blurb:

16-year old Emily has accepted her fate with each weakening beat of her heart, but after her best friend's brother and sister arrive in town and turn out to be more than what they appear, Emily's life is turned upside-down. When their friendship includes confronting wizards who harbor dark secrets and dancing with an elf prince, Emily discovers there are some things still worth living for.

My thoughts:

This book struck a chord with me from the beginning.  It has so many elements running through it simultaneously it can almost seem a little overwhelming, but Kelly Riad does a great job letting the story line flow naturally.  It is very easy to keep up with everything that is going on and her ability to weave fantasy elements into our every day world was seamless.

I could spend a great deal of time going through all the characters, but that would make this post VERY long.  I'm going to let you get to know the major players:

Emily is the only child of a workaholic father and a functional alcoholic mother.  She is diagnosed with a heart condition that she knows is slowly killing her.  Though, previously a member of the "in" crowd, Emily has withdrawn from her circle of friends in recent times.  I love her sense of individuality. 

Dafne, Jarrad, and Karawyn are exiled elven royalty who live in hiding among humans.  Their kingdom was besieged by the Dark Elf King and they were forced to flee with their lives.

Jabari is the "grandfather" of the three elves.  In truth, he is a trusted advisor to the royal family and has stayed in the Human realm with them to ensure their protection.

Aerath, dark elf prince, who is largely responsible for the siblings' flight from their homeland.

Through some twists and turns, Emily finds herself accompanying this family back to their homeland of Arèthane.  I was awed by the author's ability to create an entire world outside of Suburban USA.  I am a HUGE fan of fantasy novels and really enjoy picturing the world in my mind's eye while reading.  It is full of adventure, epic battles, and of course, romance!

All in all, this book is incredibly fast paced and well written.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!  I can't wait for book 2!

The Wild Ones - M. Leighton

So, I love to read. A lot.

I have read so voraciously over the past several months that I have literally fallen in love with the works of several independent authors. You know, the guys and gals who self-publish their works through e-book web sites in the hopes of sharing their creativity with us, their avid fans. Oftentimes, this is at a cost that helps us not break our banks. (Thank you, indie authors!)

One of those authors is Michelle Leighton (@mleightonbooks on Twitter). I have read every novel she published and I continue to see her writing style mature and get more “refined” with every book. Her most recent novel, The Wild Ones is just about my favorite to date.


The blurb:
Passion as hot as midnight in the South and love as wild as the horses they tame.

Camille “Cami” Hines is the darling daughter of the South’s champion thoroughbred breeder, Jack Hines. She has a pedigree that rivals some of her father’s best horses. Other than feeling a little suffocated at times, Cami thought she was pretty happy with her boyfriend, her life and her future.

But that was before she met Patrick Henley.

“Trick” blurs the lines between what Cami wants and what is expected of her. He’s considered the “help,” which is forbidden fruit as far as her father is concerned, not to mention that Trick would be fired if he ever laid a hand on her. And Trick needs his job. Desperately. His family depends on him.

When Trick stumbles upon a note from his father, it triggers a series of revelations that could ruin what he and Cami have worked so hard to overcome. It turns out there’s more to Trick’s presence at the ranch than either of them knew, secrets that could tear them apart.
The heart wants what the heart wants, though, and Trick and Cami are drawn to each other despite the obstacles. At least the ones they know of.

My thoughts:

As I said before, I am a fan of this author, so I’ve been excited about this book for weeks. I had pretty high expectations for it before diving into it. I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed.

Cami is the daughter of a successful horse breeder. While she is grateful for the life she has, she remembers the days of her more humble roots and remains grounded in the good sense that comes from that background. Cami seems to have it all, a lavish lifestyle, good friends and a stable boyfriend. She is spunky and has a little bit of a temper, which makes her even more personable.

Patrick or Trick, is a hard working young man who has given up his dreams of a career to help take care of his mother and younger sister. However, he does like to have a good time. He’s having one at a local bar when he meets Cami. Trick is definitely a New Adult genre alpha male. Self-assured, driven, and extremely attractive.

The build-up between the Cami and Trick kept me turning the pages eagerly. Their first kiss was unexpected and left me wanting to go back and re-read it (which I did!). When they mutually give in to their feelings for each other it is without abandon and care for the consequences. (I had to fan myself a little while reading, I have to admit!)

Quickly, I have to talk about Rusty and Jenna, who are Trick and Cami’s best friends, respectively. I love them as much as Trick and Cami! Rusty is a “cool drink of water” as they say in the South, and Jenna is so spunky I just want to love her and call her my BFF! (I a lot of myself in that girl, what can I say?) Their presence in the book adds another layer of depth that would be lacking without them.

I was floored about 70% through the book and had to grab a tissue. I am not going to share any spoilers, but it totally changed the trajectory of the story and my heart was aching for these young lovers. Their losses were palpable and Michelle’s writing style had me feeling I was in the story, just not reading it.

However, as we know, most books have happier endings. Again, not sharing spoilers, but I believe sometimes the road you take to get to your finish line is just as important as when you arrive. I loved this HEA!

Michelle Leighton created such perfectly flawed characters and gave them each depth that swept them off the pages and into my heart. I CANNOT wait to see what she has in store next!

***Just a reminder, this book does contain adult content and should probably not be ready by younger teens.***

Go Big or Go Home

Ok, so I am going to hit the ground running today.  I decided I was going to actually try to start blogging about some of the books I've read over the past several months.  In a little while I am going to post my first review ever, outside of Amazon.  It's going to be on M. Leighton's new novel, The Wild Ones.


Go Big or Go Home, right?