Review: Haven by Mary Lindsey

Haven Book Cover Haven
Mary Lindsey

We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for the review copy!

It’s hard to know just what to say about Haven. It’s not a bad book, per se, but I felt like it never lived up to its potential, and there was nothing to make this paranormal romance stand out from its peers.

The novel begins when Aaron “Rain” Ryland moves in with his estranged aunt after his mother’s unexpected death. Rain, a big-city kid used to living on the streets and in homeless shelters, fending off street gangs, and eating out of dumpsters, is vaguely amused when the denizens of his aunt’s sleepy little town start acting strangely, even hostilely, towards him. He finds it weird, but not particularly troubling. After all, Rain’s faced off with thugs and gang bangers; what harm can a few country bumpkins possibly do?

A lot, as it turns out. Because there’s more to this little town than meets the eye – namely, gruesome murders, hidden agendas, and a magical secret society.

Titillating as that might sound, I had a really hard time staying invested in Haven. It took me multiple tries to read, and at one point I made it as far as 70% of the way through the book before once again abandoning it for several months. To be perfectly honest, I would have left it as a “did not finish” except that I’d requested Haven through Netgalley and didn’t think it was fair to just give up.

One of the reasons I had a hard time with Haven was Freddie, the fierce and rebellious teenage girl at the heart of the town’s various intrigues. Rain is immediately drawn to Freddie’s wildness, and the more she tries to push him away (in classic Edward-and-Bella fashion), the more stubbornly Rain insists on sticking by her. It’s instalove – or at least instalust – at its finest, though I couldn’t understand what Rain finds so compelling about Freddie. (Perhaps the fact that she randomly shows up naked in unexpected places and lets him jump her in a supply closet at school from time to time? Who knows.) She lacks the charisma and depth that I look for in a heroine/love interest, and I just wasn’t feeling the relationship between her and Rain.

Rain himself is interesting enough, thank goodness. His upbringing – living with a drug-addicted mother who blamed him for ruining her life, constantly dodging law enforcement and criminals alike, never knowing where his next meal was going to come from – grants him a unique perspective that’s a refreshing change from other male protagonists I’ve read about.

“On the streets, it seemed like he had nothing to live for. Now, for the first time in his life, he had something to die for.”

As far as the plot and world building, there’s a lot of potential that’s never fully realized. There are some clever rules to the magic in the story, and important roles that the townspeople play in keeping said magic under control, but I feel the author could have gone a lot farther with all of it. Also, a lot of the plot points are predictable, and the “bad guys” feel cartoonish and unoriginal. Despite a promising setting, a decent protagonist, and some fun sexy times, Haven just didn’t do it for me.

Book Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway: Mercury Rises by Scarlett Kol

Mercury Rises Book Blitz Banner

Welcome to the release day blitz for Mercury Rises, a Robin Hood retelling by Scarlett Kol! Celebrate the release by checking out the excerpt below, and be sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book

A girl looking for a way out.

Being the daughter of New America’s leader, Mercury Masters has everything a girl could want. A glamorous life full of beautiful people, and the power to have anything she wants, except for one thing—to escape. Because Mercury’s perfect life comes with secrets to keep. Dangerous secrets that if made public would destroy her, her family, and her father’s reign. Then she meets Hawk.

A boy looking to be a hero.

Hawk, a handsome prep school dropout turned vigilante, has his own family secrets. Deadly secrets that have haunted him since he was fifteen. But instead of fighting the ghosts of his past, Hawk has assembled a group of misfit hackers and thieves to save the future from the corrupt government of New America and the mysterious virus that is killing off its citizens. But trying to do the right thing is tough when the person you really want to save is your enemy’s daughter.

A love that could kill them both.

Powerful forces keep them apart, but coming together could be the key to saving New America from destruction—even though it may cost both their lives.

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Excerpt

A cool draft whispered through the space and Hawk’s bare arms quivered, drawing my attention again. I already knew he was physically strong, but now I could see how fit he really was. My eyes took their time running over each sculpted ridge, from his collarbone to his hips at the edge of his low-slung jeans. Lean, defined muscles started in his broad shoulders and rippled into his chest and arms. He wasn’t bulky, just clean and toned and functional. Almost militant. Absolutely sexy.

But a surprising tattoo peeked out from underneath his arm and traced down his ribs. A picture of a robin. It wasn’t fresh, but the color of the bird’s red chest beamed bright enough to say it wasn’t old either. Every shape, every contour of the bird flowed, fluid and beautiful. Every detail perfect. The edges of the feathers looked soft enough to be real. Like one day it might free itself from his flesh and fly away.

Without thinking, I ran the tip of my finger along the back of the bird. Hawk twitched as our skin connected, but he didn’t tell me to stop.

“Why a bird?” I asked as I traced the wings, his exposed skin pebbling into goose bumps under my touch.

“My mom….” He turned his head to face me. The fire in his eyes had burned out. Only ashes left. “She always called me her little bird. That I reminded her of springtime. I got it for her.”

“She must be very proud of you.”

“She’s dead.”

About the Author

Scarlett Kol grew up in Northern Manitoba reading books and writing stories about creatures that make you want to sleep with the lights on. As an adult, she’s still a little afraid of the dark. Scarlett now lives just outside Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with her husband and two boys, but if you need to find her she’s likely freezing at the hockey rink.Author photo for Scarlett KolWebsite | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads 

Giveaway

Enter below to win a Stella and Dot “On the Mark” Arrow Necklace and a $20 Amazon gift card (INT).

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Bookish Quotes About Love

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature that was started by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Ready Girl in January 2018. This week’s topic is a Valentine’s Day freebie; I chose to feature “Top 10 Bookish Quotes About Love.” 

1.

Book quote from The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

2.

Book quote from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

3.

Book quote from The Princess Bride by William Goldman

4.

Book quote from Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

5.

Book quote from City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

6.

Book quote from Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

7.

Book quote from Eve by Anna Carey

8.

Book quote from Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

9.

Book quote from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

10.

Book quote from Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

 What are some of your favorite bookish about love? Let me know in the comment section below!

2017 End of Year Book Survey

2017 End of Year Book Survey GraphicIt’s hard to believe we’re already a week into the new year! Before I get started on 2018 reviews and other posts, I thought I’d take some time to reflect back on my reading experiences in 2017 through the End of Year Book Survey. Founded by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, this annual survey is a fun way to take one last, fond look at the previous year. Everyone is welcome to participate, so feel free to link up on Jamie’s blog!

2017 Reading Stats

Number of books you read? I read 113 books and listened to 25 audiobooks.

Number of re-reads? I re-read constantly; 31 of the books I mentioned above were rereads.

Genre you read the most from? Not certain, but I’d guess either fantasy or contemporary.

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2017? Nora Sakavic’s All for the Game series was my 2017 obsession. In fact, I read the entire trilogy three times this year. It’s just that good.

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t? The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee; it wasn’t terrible, but after the first two chapters it definitely didn’t live up to my hyped expectations.

Instagram photo of Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017? Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

Most surprising book you read in 2017? Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios surprised me because I didn’t expect to be so emotionally impacted by the relationship abuse in this book. It hit me hard.

Book you “pushed” the most people to read in 2017? I finally succeeded in pushing one of my close friends to read C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy! Hurray!

Best series you started in 2017? Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro

Best sequel in 2017? Fireblood by Elly Blake

Best series ender of 2017? A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (This may be cheating, though; when I read this book I thought it was the end of a trilogy, but apparently there will be more books coming?)

Favorite new author(s) you discovered in 2017? Nora Sakavic, David Dyer

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? I‘m not usually one for books that feature menage relationships, but I ended up loving Us Three by Mia Kerick, a male-male-male romance.

Instagram photo of Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Riders by Veronica Rossi

Book you read in 2017 that you are most likely to re-read next year? Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

Most memorable character of 2017? V from Chance Assassin by Nicole Castle is pretty damn memorable.

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2017? By relegating the things we fear and don’t understand to religion, and the things we understand and control to science, we rob science of its artistry and religion of its mutability.” — All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Shortest and longest book you read in 2017? The Adventures of Charles, the Veretian Cloth Merchant by C.S. Pacat (shortest) and Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (longest)

Book that shocked you the most? I did not expect the ending of Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill.

One true pairing of the year? Lane and Jared from Breakaway by Avon Gale

Mug and copy of One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year? I loved the sisterly relationships between Maeve/Bronwyn and Ashton/Addy in One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. I was also fascinated by the relationship between the three Kovrov brothers in The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake. (Read my review here)

Most beautifully written book read in 2017? All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (I mean, obviously – everything those two write is beautiful)

Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously? The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick – it was far superior to the first novel I read by her, My Life Next Door.

Best book you read in 2017 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure? The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017? Definitely Gideon from Riders by Veronica Rossi

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer with sleeping coonhoundBest 2017 debut you read? The Midnight Watch by David Dyer was stellar – I can’t wait to read more of Dyer’s work. (Read my review here)

Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read last year? Warcross by Marie Lu was very imaginative.

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017? The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick broke my heart, but that’s part of what made it so amazing.

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read? My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson and Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

Hidden gem of the year? The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake (Read my review here)

Book that crushed your soul? Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence was ugly, savage, and soul-crushing.

Book that made you the most mad? As you can tell from my GIF-filled, ranting reviewIn A Gilded Cage by Mia Kerick infuriated me.

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017? I’ve really been enjoying Destiny’s posts at Howling Libraries!

Favorite review that you wrote in 2017? Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum (Read my review here)

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? I participated for the second time in Love-A-Thon, an annual virtual event hosted by Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), Cee (The Novel Hermit), Kristin (Super Space Chick) and Mel (The Daily Prophecy).

ARC of Monster by Michael GrantBest moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017? I’m a HUGE fan of Michael Grant’s Gone series, so when I heard he was continuing the series – four years after publishing what everyone thought would be the final installment – I was overjoyed. I requested an ARC of Monster from Edelweiss but didn’t really expect to be approved, so when I received a confirmation email months later I was so happy I literally cried. (Read my review here)

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life in 2017? Finding the time/motivation to write posts. 🙁

Most popular post in 2017 on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)? My post BEA For Beginners: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Experience at BookExpo America, was most popular in 2017, even though I wrote it in 2016. The most popular post I wrote this year was 7 Books You Should Read Based on the Movies You Love.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? I was pretty proud of my post 5 Middle Grade Books to Read for National Dog Day. I was especially pleased by how the graphics turned out!

Post you wished got a little more love? Ha, all of them? But I especially wish I’d gotten more comments/engagement on my National Dog Day post mentioned above.

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I joined a Life & Lit group on Facebook in 2017 and love being part of an online community of fellow book lovers. <3

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? My Goodreads challenge was to read 80 books this year; I’m happy to say I blew by that number!

Looking Ahead

One book you didn’t get to in 2017 but will be your number 1 priority in 2018? Haven by Mary Lindsey

Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut, non-sequel)? The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

2018 debut you are most anticipating? I’m quite excited for A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews, a.k.a. Cait from Paper Fury. I’ve followed Cait’s blog for years and can’t wait to read her first novel.

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2018? I am dying to get my hands on Shatter, the sequel to Glitter by Aprilynne Pike.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2018? Write reviews of all the ARCs I received previously but haven’t reviewed yet…eep. 8-L

2018 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone? I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I recently started Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi and so far, so good!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Favorite Books of 2017

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Top 10 Favorite Books of 2017.” 

1) Glitter by Aprilynne Pike: I don’t usually use the word “decadent” to describe novels, but in this case the adjective fits. Pike combines futuristic technology, French Baroque glamour, and courtly intrigue into a wickedly fun novel driven by an unforgettable antiheroine and a delectably dangerous antagonist. I need the sequel NOW!

2) The Midnight Watch by David Dyer: The Midnight Watch, which centers on the sinking of the Titanic and its aftermath, is one of the best works of historical fiction I’ve ever read. Dyer’s ability to bring history to life with his beautiful writing and poignant attention to detail, coupled with his talent for heightening dramatic irony, make this book a must-read for anyone who’s interested in the Titanic disaster. (Read my review here.)

3) All for the Game Trilogy by Nora Sakavic: To say I’m obsessed with this series would be an understatement. I’ve read the entire trilogy THREE times over the past nine months, and each time I finish I go through the inevitable book hangover, spending my days listening to Sakavic’s character playlists and desperately trawling the Internet for fanart. (Yes, I know I have a problem. But there are worse things to be addicted to, right?)

Book cover for Glitter by Aprilynne PikeBook cover for The Midnight Watch by David DyerBook cover for The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

4) The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake: I started reading The Uncrossing for the romance, but ultimately it was the complex family relationships and imaginative world building that really wowed me. There’s also a super creative curse and some intriguing family secrets at play. (Read my review here.)

5) A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro: Sherlock Holmes-inspired stories can be hit or miss for me, but A Study in Charlotte is by far the best I’ve read in this category. I love the idea of modern-day descendants of Holmes and Watson bickering, falling in love, and solving crimes at a New England boarding school, especially when Jamie Watson is a borderline-hipster rugby player with a sarcastic sense of humor and slight anger management issues. #Delightful

6) Breakaway by Avon Gale: I’ve found myself getting super into male-male hockey romances this year. Breakaway is one such novel, and I love how it’s sexy, tender, and hilarious by turns. Another great book of this sort is Winging It by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James.

Book cover for The Uncrossing by Melissa EastlakeBook cover for A Study in Charlotte by Brittany CavallaroBook cover for Breakaway by Avon Gale

7) The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick: I still haven’t fully recovered from the feels this book gave me. This companion to My Life Next Door is far superior to its predecessor; I loved the focus being on Tim, a wise-cracking, recovering addict who’s trying so hard to put his sordid past behind him, in spite of the fact that lingering consequences from his former misdeeds keep cropping up.

8) Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman: My copy of Illuminae sat on my bookshelf for two years before I finally got around to reading it, partially because I was skeptical of the format and partially because I feared it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. Fortunately, I was wrong on both counts. I ended up enjoying the unconventional storytelling method and realizing that the plot and characters deserved every bit of hype they got.

9) Never, Never by Brianna R. Shrum: It took me several tries to get into this Peter Pan retelling, but once the book hit its stride I absolutely loved it. It’s told from Captain Hook’s point of view and is a darkly imaginative, haunting villain origin story. (Read my review here.)

Book cover for The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley FitzpatrickBook cover for Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie KaufmanBook cover for Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum

10) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, narrated by Christine Lakin: I first read Black’s alluringly chilling vampire novel in 2013, but I didn’t listen to the audiobook until this October. It’s even better than the print version, which I didn’t imagine was possible, and Christine Lakin has joined the ranks of my top five audiobook narrators. Audiobook cover for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

 What are your favorite books of 2017? How about least favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!