Flowers and Keyboards #1: Her Elysium Review

Her Elysium (Flowers and Keyboards 1)
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Her Elysium is a romance novel by Emmy Engberts about two girls who find each other by playing an MMORPG. Fleur thinks that the tank of the guild is a cute guy named Alex, and she starts to fall for him before even getting the chance to meet him. To her surprise, Alex is a pretty girl who has been crushing on the talented healer who recently joined the guild. Fleur has never had a girlfriend before, but she can’t seem to stop thinking about Alex. She fell for Alex the person; does it matter if Alex is a boy or a girl? Alex knows that she and Fleur could work well together, but she wants to make sure that Fleur is ready for a relationship first.

I randomly stumbled upon this book, and I am so glad that I did! Not only is a LitRPG book where the author actually knows a lot about games, it is a really sweet YA romance novel! When I heard that Fleur was going to be a healer, I was bracing for the typical “gamer girl” stereotypes to come out. The healer can’t do anything, and so girls choose to be healers so they can rely on the guys in the game to do everything. Some girls might do this, but I personally don’t know any who have. Instead, Fleur is a really talented healer! Good healers have to make sure that they stay out of harm’s way while keeping the whole team alive. Fleur had to know the battles by heart in order to learn the boss’ patterns and be a better healer for the team. This is what real healers and people who play these sorts of games would do, and I was happy to see this represented in this book!

Back to the romance. I like that the author didn’t make this an ultra-sexual romance novel simply because the two characters were both female. In fact, she went on to discuss in the novel how people unfortunately believe that LGBT+ couples are more sexual than straight couples. Alex and Fleur were just two normal high school aged girls who liked each other and were happy going out with one another. They became close friends first because of the game, and then they continued to play as they fell for each other.

Overall, this has been one of the best F/F YA romance novels that I have ever read. I would definitely recommend it, and I am definitely going to read more books by Mrs. Engberts!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Shadow Eyes #2: Luminous Spirits Review

Luminous Spirits (Shadow Eyes, #2)
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Luminous Spirits is the second book in the Shadow Eyes trilogy by Dusty Crabtree. Iris is finally coming into her powers and has started to go on more difficult missions with Gregory, Patrick, and Kyra to save people from the shadows that prey on them. But her best friend Lexi is being completely left out of the picture. She isn’t a light warrior and can’t go on the missions for safety reasons, but Iris is now spending all of her free time training. Soon, the shadows start to come for Lexi, and Iris has to figure out how to save her best friend. Her relationship with Patrick is also hurting because of a new girl named Lila that won’t leave him alone, and her ex Josh has come back into the picture and reminds Iris of how things could have been.

I am loving this trilogy so far! Iris has truly blossomed since the last installment of this series and has finally started to become a full-fledge light warrior, but she is still learning some important things. For example, she has to learn how to tell shadows apart in order to figure out how much strength will be needed to remove it, or if it can be removed at all. Some shadows are so strong that they have already started to kill their human hosts, but most can be removed before they get to that point. The shadow description in this trilogy has been done so well, as the shadows aren’t simply random “villain” encounters. The shadows have voices, the shadows can speak to their hosts, and Iris has to intercept them. I felt as though the shadows were real as I read this, and felt as if I wanted to be a light warrior to save people from the shadows that plague them.

The only thing that I didn’t like in this novel was how quickly Iris seemed to jump to conclusions. She seemed pretty indecisive about her relationship, but the minute her boyfriend does something totally out of character for him, she is willing to believe the worst. This could just be my bias against love triangles coming out, but I don’t see a love triangle in the near future for this series. This book focuses mostly on Patrick though, which made me glad.

My two absolute favorite parts about this book were learning about Patrick’s past and the side story with Iris’ best friend Lexi. Patrick wasn’t always a light warrior, and he starts to tell Iris more about his past self in this book. I am a little confused as to the timeline with all of this, but I understood what was happening when he was telling his stories. A lot of new characters were introduced this way, and I enjoyed learning about the new people in this world. It also really touched me to have Lexi not be forgotten, and for Iris to realize how she was hurting her friend. In most books where a kid gets powers and leaves their friends behind, the friends either turn out to be evil, secretly have powers too, or just “don’t understand” so it is reasonable that they are forgotten. Lexi tried to be a good friend, but she kept getting pushed to the side, making her an easier target for the shadows that latch onto sad emotions.

This was an amazing installment in this trilogy! I would recommend the Shadow Eyes Trilogy to anyone looking for a new YA fantasy or urban fantasy series.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 books.

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The Beholder Blog Tour Plus Review

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BOOK INFORMATION

The Beholder (The Beholder #1)

by Anna Bright
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 4th 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36558159-the-beholder

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IhjP1N

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-beholder-anna-bright/1128751049?ean=9780062845429#/

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Beholder-Anna-Bright/9780062845429?ref=grid-view&qid=1554744094457&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-beholder-6

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Beholder.html?id=Qm61uwEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

The Beholder by Anna Bright is a fantasy novel about a girl named Selah. In Potomac, Selah has been preparing to marry from a young age. She knows that she wants to marry her best friend Peter, but he rejects her. Her stepmother says that she must cross the Atlantic to find a suitor and marry. Selah doesn’t want to have to deal with stuffy court protocol for months in order to find an equally stuffy husband, but she doesn’t have a choice. Her father’s health is also failing, and her godmother seems to be wary of her stepmother’s true motives behind sending her across the ocean. Selah embarks on her adventure, determined to come home as soon as possible.

Selah was definitely an admirable character. The only thing I disliked about her was that she seemed to fall almost head over heels for a specific suitor of each region, almost completely forgetting any suitors from any previous regions. Peter, her one true love, is sitting on the backburner by the end of the novel. But I understand that this is her first true experience with “dating” or “courting,” so it makes sense that she would be a little flighty. I forgave her flightiness almost completely after learning about how down-to-earth she was. Despite the fact that she was a royal, she loved to serve her people. She would help keep up the community garden and wouldn’t mind getting her hands dirty for others at all, but her trip to the Atlantic forced her to give up these things almost entirely. Most of the novel was focused on her fighting what was “proper” in order to do what she thought was right.

I wanted to learn the story of each individual character in this game. When Selah travels across the Atlantic, she has to pick a suitor that will satisfy her Council, her Stepmother, and ultimately, herself. This means that she has to get close to each individual suitor in order to pick the best one. Even though the story kind of bombards you with a lot of suitor names when she is first on the boat, the story starts to make sense almost immediately once Selah actually starts meeting the suitors. You will be able to have a connection with each one as you read this story.

The story moves smoothly. There is a bit of slowdown around the middle, but it only lasts for around 10-20 pages before it picks back up again. I read the book over the course of one day, and I didn’t have many issues putting it down and remembering where I was when I decided to start reading again. No large time-skips, nothing to make the story confusing to the point where I couldn’t finish it.

Overall, this was a great YA fantasy novel. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new book in that genre, or anyone looking for a YA romance novel with a dramatic storyline.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

I believe in woods, mountains, highways, cobblestones, roller coasters, dancing, concerts, cherry Pop Tarts, books, and magic.

When I’m not reading or writing on my couch, I’m dragging my husband off on an adventure, communing with Salem (my kitten/spiritual familiar), or causing trouble at One More Page Books, where I work.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: https://www.annabrightbooks.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17310926.Anna_Bright

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brightlyanna

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brightlyanna/?hl=en

Tumblr: http://merryandbr1ght.tumblr.com/

BOOK EXCERPT

AND

https://www.epicreads.com/blog/sneak-peek-the-beholder/

The Strongest Vow Review

The Strongest Vow: In the way of love, we never win or lose completely; a throbbing share always remains.
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The Strongest Vow is an interfaith love story by Hasan Ahmed Ashrafi. Harris was focusing on going to college, but his father had different plans. When he found out that one of his friends was going through hard times and needed someone to tutor his teenaged high-school daughter, Harris’ father volunteered his son. Harris didn’t want to do it at first, and the daughter Hareem wasn’t excited about it either. She hates all boys, specifically Non-Muslim ones, and she is determined to fail everything until her parents choose another tutor for her. The more time the two spend with one another, the more that like each other. Soon, they are considering dating each other. But Muslims aren’t allowed to date non-Muslims, so Hareem would be going against her beliefs by dating Harris. Even though Harris is completely dedicated to her, the strength of their relationship may not be strong enough to cross the religious barrier.

I enjoyed this novel. I rarely get the chance to read interfaith love stories, so I was excited to be able to try this one out. I actually had no idea that non-Muslims were not able to date Muslims, but it was interesting how this was addressed in this short romance story. Crossing religious barriers when dating can be almost as difficult as crossing racial barriers, and Hareem and Harris are trying to do both.

Harris and Hareem were sort of close, but I think that their relationship might fail if they were truly allowed to be together from the start. Every time that one of them has the smallest disagreement with the other, they don’t talk. At one point in the book, Harris doesn’t talk to Hareem for seven months. Seven months? And they still think that they are “perfect” for one another. It simply doesn’t add up. But since they are both only teens, I could see them possibly working in the future.

My main issue with this book was the grammar. This book really needs to be edited by a professional. It would be far easier to read if it was. The book is filled with grammatical errors and broken sentences. If this book was edited by a professional, I would say that it is a great read. Since the grammar errors are so prevalent, I would say wait until this book has been properly tweaked.

After it has been tweaked, I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a new YA interfaith romance novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 books

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Wanted: A Boyfriend Who Doesn’t Suck Review

WANTED: A BOYFRIEND WHO DOESN'T SUCK

Wanted: A Boyfriend Who Doesn’t Suck is about a teenaged girl named Natasha and her adventures with her high school love life. You can currently read this book on Wattpad, and this is a part of a romance novella series.

Natasha was a some-what relatable character. Sure, she could have had better choices in boyfriends, but she was a decent girl overall. She didn’t side with anyone who bullied people, she even stopped talking to one of her old friends because she was bullying someone. She had a side job helping little kids at a dance school, and all she wanted was a successful love life. This was where Chris came in.

So, on her first “date” with Chris, he leaves her to be with his friends. This should have been the end of this relationship in my opinion, but Natasha has convinced herself that Chris is perfect for her. They see each other off and on, Natasha continues to insert herself into his life at random intervals, but he just never shows a consistent interest in her. Then, she starts to learn more about him, and learns that he might like her more than he is letting on. Now, Natasha knows she can’t let him go.

This….just REALLY made no sense to me. If he had truly liked her, he would have said so from the beginning. Now she has just been annoyingly persistent enough that she is convincing herself of things that probably aren’t even there. If he has repeatedly ditched her for his friends, and has repeatedly hung out with other girls in front of her, what is making Natasha think that he likes her in the slightest? I just can’t comprehend why she won’t take no for an answer.

Other than the fact that the romance annoyed me a bit, I did enjoy this overall story. I hope that the future installments of this novella series will allow us to learn the truth about Chris and his life. But I definitely hope that Natasha gets over him soon, he doesn’t seem to be very worth it.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a semi-realistic YA romance novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 books

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Shadow Eyes Review

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Shadow Eyes (Shadow Eyes, #1)Iris thought she could ignore the shadows…until they came after everyone she loved.

Seventeen-year-old Iris Kohl has been able to see both dark and light figures ever since a tragic incident three years ago. The problem is, no one else seems to see them, and even worse…the dark figures terrorize humans, but Iris is powerless to stop them.

Although she’s learned to deal with watching shadows harass everyone around her, Iris is soon forced to question everything she thinks she knows about her world and herself. Her sanity, strength, and will power are tested to the limits by not only the shadows, but also a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows, a new friend with an awe-inspiriting aura, and a mysterious, alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, Iris must ultimately accept the guidance of an angel to revisit the most horrific event of her life and become the hero she was meant to be.

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This book had some of the most realistic YA fantasy characters that I have ever read. I am used to YA characters either acting a lot younger or a lot older than their age because of adult authors writing them. Crabtree gets the seventeen-year-old lifestyle just right! Once I started relating to the characters on a deeper level, I knew I would love this book. And love it I did.

Iris had been seeing shadows for years, but she wasn’t some sort of instant hero. She wasn’t trying to take on the shadows by herself, she just wanted to be able to make them go away again. Nevertheless, she kept trying to live her life. She had a crush and started dating Josh, and she went on group dates with her friends. The shadows kept trying to bother her and her family, and Iris slowly starts to see everything around her crumble. Either Iris is going to have to start fighting back, or the shadows will win.

I hate to keep using the same word, but I have to say that Iris’ relationship with her boyfriend Josh was so relatable! She was with him and she liked him, but sometimes he would just go too far. She never wanted to speak up for herself, but something would always happen to allow her to get out of the uncomfortable situation. Now I’m not saying that all teenage boys are like this, but like every single girl I know who has had a boyfriend has one of these “uncomfortable but just waiting it out until I can leave” stories to tell. Heck, even I have a few! It just seems like a teen girl’s relationship rite of passage. Of course, if she said something, Josh would always back off. But he would get upset about having to back off at the moment, and only apologize later. My gosh, if only all YA boyfriends were written like this. It would definitely tell girls that no, all boys aren’t the perfect beach boys who can never do any wrong like most YA guys. Josh was a generally good guy, but he could get pushy, and Iris just didn’t know how to deal with that. I could go on and on about those few scenes, but they just stuck with me. I hope that this relatable-ness continues in whatever relationships Iris is in in the future novels.

Iris family situation was different but in a good way. One of her sisters was older and was struggling to have children with her husband. Iris thought that the shadows must have been messing with her. Her other sister lives with Iris and her mother and tries to keep things light in the house when Iris or her mother is depressed. And her mother was divorced, finally trying to look for love again. Definitely a modern family situation, but it was more realistic for a girl born in the 2000s. I liked seeing Iris and her sisters make a family with her mom whether or not a new boyfriend was in the picture. They each had their own demons to fight, demons that had truly come out after Iris’ fourteenth birthday, and they leaned on each other to fight them.

The only thing that I didn’t quite like in this book was the assault scene. I thought that it was kinda strange how it played out. I didn’t know exactly what the person did to Iris, and it was never quite explained. Iris just forgave this person, and I think that she forgave the person too quickly. But things were explained at the end of the novel, so maybe they will be revisited and explained in the second book of the series. I’m not saying that Iris shouldn’t have forgiven this person, but I still don’t know why the person tried to attack her. We will see in the next few books!

Overall, this was an amazing read. I can’t even mention everything that I loved about it because it contains too many spoilers, but I will definitely revisit some more things in my review of book 2. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for an actually relatable and realistic YA fantasy read.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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