Desert Rose

Quick, Fluffy Post-Apocalyptic

The Girl's Guide to the Apocalypse - Daphne Lamb
Comedy meets apocalypse, in this new off-beat novel by debut author Daphne Lamb. 
The synopsis is spot on, and describes this book perfectly. The lead character is a modern slacker, reminding me of a mix of Ginger from Gilligan's Island, and any modern millennial stereotype. While her personality is off-putting, it's realistic for the outlined story, and adds a twist to a plot that usually has readers enthralled with suspense and darkness. Not this book - the story overall stays light and almost fluffy, focusing on one person's personal outlook, as opposed to the state of the world after disaster hits.
The depiction of the outward symptoms caused by the apocalypse, and the causes of the apocalypse itself, were entertaining. They were all fairly tangible, layered with a tint of humor and nonsense, that just may be more realistic in real life, than the darker novels of the post-disaster genre.
In this take of the apocalypse, the reader gets a glimpse of surviving as a "regular" person. As someone who doesn't necessarily rise to the occasion, and automatically become a bad-ass zombie fighter, or something of the like. We see what it might be like, as a couch potato or minimalist, simply going through a new set of motions in order to survive a new, rougher world. 
For fans of post-apocalyptic novels, who may be looking for a different take to the standard stories, this book may entertain you. 
*I received an eCopy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours, to read in exchange for an honest review. 

Fantastic Side Addition to a Wonderful Series!

Madison's Song - Christine Amsden

Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black…


One haunting sentence, perfectly describing the entire underlying struggle in this book.  A story full of tension and suspense, and completely finger-wringing worthy.


Madison was a remarkably mysterious and interesting side character in the Cassie Scot series.  She was an important piece of that chess game, and it's wonderful to read more about her, exploring what happened after the dramatic ending of Cassie's story.  She was the character I found myself identifying with the most in that series, and was eager to have the opportunity to read more about her.


Scott was the same way.  I felt intrigued by his character, and kept hoping he would be explored a bit deeper during the original series.  I love that they have their own story now, and a final conclusion to their connection.  Understanding them each a bit more adds depth to the original story line, and answers several questions previously raised and left unanswered.


The book starts out intense, and honestly made me slightly uncomfortable and overwhelmed.  No light or subtle preamble about it, simply thrust into the depths of anguish and heartache.  We dive into the tormented lives Madison and Scott have each endured both before and after an agonizing turn of events, that leave the pair in excruciating pain.  The desire to feel both compassion and judgment for them is overwhelming, quickly pulling you into the raw emotion of this story.


I would definitely say this is a book for upper Young Adult, or New Adult readers.  The entire book is intense, with constant scenes of gore, violence, and mature content, as well as sexual scenes which, while not entirely graphic, are intense and overwhelming to the reader, leaving little to the imagination.  The mixture of religious themes from Catholicism, completely intertwined with supernatural (and unnatural) creatures, magic and folklore may also make some uncomfortable, but is a core part of this story.


Christine Amsden is definitely a writer with superb talent, and I've enjoyed every book I've read from her.  She is a gifted storyteller, never failing to pull me into her stories, connecting me with the world she's created, and the characters living, fighting and dying there.  This book is probably one of my favorites from her so far, and it has certainly left it's mark on me.


The ending though - agh, the ending!!  Exactly the opposite of what I was hoping for, but most likely what Madison would have wanted.  It did leave me feeling a bit let down honestly, after such an intense and emotional book.  An anticlimactic finish to thirty four chapters of build up and suspense.


Having such a disappointing ending however, is really the only thing I didn't like.  It's a wonderful read, especially for fans of this series.  I think a lot of the depth would be lost on someone reading it without first devouring the Cassie Scot series, and while the majority of the back story is explained, it would be difficult to follow if you don't know the original story.


It is a book I'd recommend to anyone, however, and I think can be enjoyed by any fan of this genre.


*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.

Sadly Disappointing

Getting Rooted in New Zealand - Jamie Baywood

Before I start off, I should clarify, this is a 2.5 star book, rounded up to 3 stars. Not necessarily in a bad way, just more...disappointing.

I was given a copy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review. I was hesitant to read this, to be honest, but the author sounded interesting in our conversations, so I thought I'd give it a try. The fact she describes herself as "quirky" and "cute" in the description had me a little worried, as I tend to not jell well with people who are quick to classify themselves that openly, but I digress.

As far as writing goes, this definitely comes across as a memoir or auto-biography. It reads very much like a journal, and for those who like that sort of read, it did have that.

Where the disappointment comes in, is the fact the synopsis hypes humor, hilarity, and things like a "zany jaunt" in New Zealand. I've always been curious about the country, and was hoping for everything that was promised. It, well, it didn't have it. I found myself easily bored, and kept having to make myself re-focus on the story in front of me.

I truly wanted to like this story, and I'm a bit bummed that I didn't like it better. The author is an awesome person, and I'm glad she wrote her story to get it out there, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

If this sounds like it could be interesting, and you think you'd like it better, it may be worth a try.

Wonderful Fantasy Adventure

Destiny's Blood - Marie Bilodeau

Fantasy has always been a hit or miss genre to me. It's a difficult area to write in, and takes a great deal of effort and creativity to make a great fantasy. Marie Bilodeau certainly has a knack for this genre, and this book is a great example of her talent.

This story is filled with action, suspense, and adventure. It is well written, with worlds and details all very alluring and well developed. The attention to detail is impressive, with a plot deep enough to submerse yourself in completely.

The only reason I didn't give this five stars, is for the beginning of the book. It was a bit confusing starting out, being fairly confusing and wordy. Understandable, in the author's attempt to explain the complex world she's created, but it was a bit rough, and felt a bit like tripping a few times. Once you get a few chapters into it, it smooths out well, and it all makes sense, giving you a fantastic read.

I would recommend this book to any fan of fantasy, and would recommend this author as one to read something from at some point in your reading life.

*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.


Perfect Continuation of a Fantastic Adventure

Eric Elmoor and The Chalice of Cameron - Thomas A.  Meyers

Following on the heels of it's prequel, this book pulls you back into Novogard, and Eric's adventure. The story continues with just as much adventure, angst, suspense, humor, wit and challenges every fantasy fan will adore.

Each character grows quite a bit in this book, and their individual and joint journeys give an already fantastic story depth and perspective. This book takes several interesting turns and surprises, keeping the reader on their toes. The writing is just as smooth and entertaining as ever, pulling you in and wrapping you up in this fantastic world. Even better than the first book, this story keeps getting better!

I would absolutely recommend this book to any fantasy fan. I hope there will be several more books to come in this series, and many more from this author.

*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.


Not original, but decent story

Whispers - HK Savage

Troubled young girl meets troubled young guy. Typical story, before you add in the paranormal abilities, odd side characters, dramatic lies, and danger. Within the first few chapters, I figured it would be a four star book. Half way through, it went down to three, and stayed there.

My most consistent complaint and reason for removing a star, is the writing. You can most certainly tell that the author is intelligent, however when that is put into her book, at least in this case, she tended to be too wordy, and over-explain simple things. I went cross-eyed a few times while reading, getting lost in over explaining and excessive complicated medical and technical words and phrases. What it came across as, to me, was that the author was trying to show she knew a lot about things she'd researched, but went a little overboard. It didn't flow very well, for that reason, and pulled me out of the story far too often.

The biggest thing that pulled me out of the book though, was the idea that the main character didn't understand it was other people's voices she was hearing. She was supposed to be very intelligent, and had several instances where it was proven to her that she'd heard others' thoughts, yet she remained naive. She took them as "good guesses" which made her seem a bit dumb and oblivious, not intelligent. In any other instance, she was portrayed as a teen who, while medicated, thought of things on a deep level. She had the ability to figure people out quickly, understand why they did things, their motives and reasons for acting, and wasn't nearly as fog-minded and unsociable as the book tried to make her seem.

I guess that's mainly it: the book's description of her painted her in a very different light than she actually acted. The actual character would have been able to figure things out quite easily. Had her actions matched her mismatched description, she would have been dumb, she would not have thought of things like she did, and she would never have made friends with anyone. Ever. It wasn't believable, at all, and seemed as though this intelligent, gifted young girl was painted dumb so she could be rescued by the generic "troubled young man" in the cliche match-up.

While I do have my irritations with this book, it was still interesting. Once I chose to simply go with it, and not actually care if the character made sense, it was entertaining. There was a lot of emotion and drama, for those who like that sort of story, and while I'm not a big drama fan, it wasn't enough to make me cringe.

This isn't a very original story, and does have it's issues, but in my opinion, it is a solid 3 stars. For fans who like the cliche paranormal romance and characters with personal struggles, this would be an entertaining story, and I would consider recommending it.

*I was given this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.

Interesting Story

Atlantis Rising - Gloria Craw

In the genre of paranormal, books about Atlantis, conspiracies, and people with supernatural powers are staples. It's often difficult to find a unique story, and because of that, gems end up standing out quite a bit. This is one of those stories, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it!

Even from the first chapter, this story felt different and fresh. From the writing style to the characters' personalities, this book offered a new story, and actually left me guessing what would happen next. Each character was unique and interesting as well. I loved Alison's uniqueness and strength, which I loved watching grow from quiet to a raging fire. Mixed with Ian's incredible character, they were an amazing match. To add another dynamite personality, the sweet and lovable Brandy, who was probably one of my favorite parts of the story.

Overall, this is definitely a book I'd recommend to anyone who's a fan of good writing, paranormal adventure, fantasy and romance.

*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author via YA Bound Book Tours, to read in exchange for an honest review.

Shocking Adventure - Great Read for Dystopian/Apocalyptic Fans!!

The Last Orphans - N.W. Harris

From the synopsis and cover, I had been expecting a post-apocalyptic type of story, with death, destruction, chaos and the like. There was certainly a strong element of death and trauma, with an added element of reality I hadn't been anticipating. Told from the point of view of a boy-turned-leader, this book dives into the first hours of the world turning upside down, leaving death and violence in every corner.


While there are many characters presented in this story, it focuses on five or six in particular - a group of young adults who bravely take on the task of leading the surviving orphans to safety. Each teen is unique and different, and are made to grow up very quickly in the face of disaster. They all do what needs to be done, and become an inspiring group of youngsters. The main character in particular, Shane, is unceremoniously made the leader of the misfit band of teens. Pushing past his own shock and grief, he finds the strength to rise up as the leader the orphans need, and keep everyone safe and alive. His courage is inspiring, especially as we get an inside look at the doubts and fear he has about being a leader, and being capable of keeping others safe and alive.


The surprising thing to me about this book, is the blunt and unapologetic realism and honesty. What would happen if all the adults suddenly died? How would teenagers and kids act? Juvenile delinquents without their restraints; angry teens without their boundaries; bullies without their authority figures. This book sheds a slightly horrifyingly honest light on the nature of humans, even at a young age. Mixed in with all of that, you have the blunt honesty of death and carnage. Very little is left to the imagination when scenarios of nature attacking are explored and explained. While the gory and gruesome events would normally push me away from continuing reading this book early on, they (unfortunately) fit the story, and (however morbidly) peak my curiosity as to why it's all happening, and what the orphans will do.


The answer to that was shocking, and left me speechless. This is no doubt a book that will stay on my mind for months to come, and I'm sure one that will become an October read for me every year. Well written and different, this is a story I think any apocalyptic fan would enjoy, and I look forward to reading more from this author.


~I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.

Great Read!!

Failing Test - J.M. Pierce

Every loner teen-age guy dreams of having super-powers, and being a hero. They daydream about that pretty girl who doesn't seem to ever take notice of them. They have one friend who's been there since Kindergarten. They hate their home life, and can't wait to turn 18 so they can get out on their own. They have a car that's an extension of themselves, that they love til the end, even if others spit at it. Sound familiar? Well, that's Test's life in a nutshell. Til now...

What do you do, when you suddenly have super-natural powers that seem pretty limitless? Apparently, in Test's world, you just try to fly under the radar and not cause trouble...after impressing the girl of your dreams, and your best friend, of course.

After some unfortunate accidents occur from his new powers, Test is thrown into a world of running, survival, and searching for answers. With the help of friends, both old and new, he sets out to figure out the secret behind his past, and try to figure out a future that doesn't include being a lab rat, or prison.

With good writing that flows well, this fast paced story keeps you on your toes until the last page, and leaves you wanting more. It is a story I think any guy can relate to, and any girl will enjoy. I'd recommend it to any YA fan.

Incredible End To An Epic Adventure

Taken By Choice (Taken Trilogy #3) - Jessica Frances

Every once in a while, I find a series that completely captures me, heart and soul. This trilogy is one of those, and even then, is in a category all its own. To say it is an incredible story would be an understatement. Uniquely brilliant, this book brings a remarkable end to a fantastic adventure. 

Jessica Frances introduced some incredible characters in Taken by Surprise, and with each book, they each grew deeper and more complex. As sad as I am that this series has ended, this book delivered an epic conclusion to an already epic story, and I adore how Ms. Frances crafted the climax and ending. I cried more from this book than I have in several years, and I am sure this is a trilogy I will read again. 

The Taken Trilogy is certainly one I would recommend, and Taken by Choice is a book that will knock your socks off. It is intense, emotional, deep, and completely, devastatingly amazing. It left me a total wreck, in the best possible way, and I would recommend it to anyone. I look forward to reading future books from this author, and adamantly hope this story is made into a set of films. 

*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.

Awesome Historical Adventure

Clonmac's Bridge: an archeological mystery - Jeffrey Perren

An exciting adventure full of mystery, danger and history, Clonmac's Bridge takes us to several areas of the world, as an archaeologist fights to uncover the truth. 

I loved connecting with these characters, while experiencing their enthusiasm and passion for history. With the feisty and independent Mari, and the quirky, passionate Griffon, this story comes to life, and captures you completely. Their swirling relationship was sweet, and I loved the changes Mari went through, as she found a new level of independence from her past and her father.

Jeffrey Perren is a very talented author, easily taking his readers on grand adventures, while teaching them something along the way. This book is a wonderful example of his skills as a storyteller, writer, and history enthusiast. 

I would recommend this book to any fan of historical novels - if you think it sounds interesting, then I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I plan on reading it again, several times, and look forward to future books from Mr. Perren. 

*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review. 

Good Young-Adult Coming-of-Age Drama

Twelve Steps - Veronica Bartles

Coming-of-age stories are usually full of character growth, and some youthful drama. This book certainly has both of those, centering around a young, somewhat naive sixteen year-old girl, who feels as though she's trapped in the shadow of her older sister.


I found this book to be full of ironies - many that are very realistic, and probably happen more than we realize. I don't want to give away spoilers, so I won't mention the ironies specifically, but I will say they made me laugh, and really showed the growth of several characters involved with this 12-step drama.


This book was very well written, and the characters were all very easy to connect with. They seemed completely realistic, and I clearly pictured the scenario laid out in this book. It probably happened in my high school, as well as most other schools. I enjoyed the ending, the setting, and the personal dynamics between all the teenagers finding their way through life and love.


For fans of realistic fiction and coming-of-age stories, this is a good one. I would recommend it, and will probably end up reading it again.


*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.


Good read - a bit too erotic...

Cup of Sugar - Karla Doyle

Romance, humor and an adorable dog - do you need much more to have a good story? This book is a deep comedic romance, full of holiday fun, a cute dog, and a couple who both have traumatic pasts.


Nia is a typical girly-girl, complete with emotional baggage and a love of all things pink. She's been hurt in her past, and hasn't been able to heal - she simply puts up walls as a defense to future pain and humiliation. At the moment, she is intensely hesitant of getting friendly with her incredibly attractive neighbor, Conn.


Conn has also been hurt in his past, although he's much less hesitant to be more intimate with Nia. In fact, he's tried everything he can think of to lure Nia to him. After months of trying various forms of bate, none of his tactics have worked, so he decides to take charge, and they both learn to trust again.


The main plot of this book is very interesting. The moral, message, and character growth are all wonderful to read about. What I didn't care for, was the strong and constant erotic theme. Unfortunately, I had no warning that this book was erotic, as it's simply listed as part one of a "Contemporary Romance" series. There is no warning or note about the graphic sex scenes.


That one element is my reason for taking a star off. Honestly, if it didn't have all that stuff in it, I would have given it a five star. It is a great story, with deep characters and lots of humor.


If you're alright with erotic stories, you'll most likely enjoy this book. If you're not comfortable with that sort of thing, you may want to pass this book by as a read, or be prepared to skip over several parts of the book, as I did. Overall, skipping the parts that made me uncomfortable made this book a good enough read, and is a series I'd be willing to keep reading.


*I was given an eBook copy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.


@Desert Rose Reviews


This one will stick with me for a while...

The Shadow Soul - Kaitlyn Davis

One word to describe this book: intense! Everything from the battles, to the secrets, to the descriptions of the characters and scenery, are all incredibly intense. This book had me biting my nails, stomach tided in knots, and completely entranced til the last word.


The synopsis hints at a story full of adventure, danger, and secrets. That's exactly what this book delivers, along with a good dose of humor, breathtaking descriptions, and wonderful characters.


Jinji is a fantastic lead character. Younger than her actions and mental maturity suggest, she faces a supernatural evil most wouldn't be able to believe if it was staring them in the face. She is a fantastic lead female character, and I love the way she holds onto her self respect and courage, through everything Fate tries to prepare her for. She follows her heart, and always does what she feels is right.


Rhen is an incredible character as well. I adore the relationship he has with his horse - much like a best friend, they have a connection most people would dream of. He's strong, handsome, brave, and follows his heart no matter what. He takes the ill treatment of his family with honor and dignity, always heeding his status of Prince, while still doing what needs to be done in order to protect his kingdom.


A kingdom which, to the denial and disbelief of his family and acquaintances, is in grave danger. While he doesn't know what the danger is exactly, his gut tells him there is something to fear. Together with Jinji, he goes on a wild adventure to discover the danger, challenging an evil he can not yet fathom.


The ending left me desperate for the next book, and I can not wait to read it!! The author is a fantastic writer, and she had me completely enthralled throughout the entire book. I would read anything written by her, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone, and I hope the second one is just as good as the first!


*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author via YA Bound Book Tours, to read in exchange for an honest review.


See my blog post for this book!! Includes a bunch of teasers, and for the next month, a giveaway for 2 signed paperback copies of the book! See all this and more, here!

Wonderful, Surprising Story

Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment  - Evan Ramspott

I haven't read many zombie stories, so I can't be certain if this book is original. It certainly seems like it to me though, and I am impressed!


With a world set several years after a zombie outbreak, we follow a young man searching for his sister. We learn about him and his shame-filled past, his family, and the state of America after a virus-like epidemic turned thousands of people into zombies. We learn what the government did about it, how the country is set up, and how the zombies are dealt with.


I was impressed with the cultural and environmental details the author had in the story, and the foundation he laid for this series. At the same time, I enjoyed the lack of details about small things, such as clothing color, and tedious details that don't really need to be explained. The author is a very good writer, in my opinion, and I enjoy his writing style.


The book flows quickly, painting a clear picture of the world around the characters, and the adventure they find themselves dropped into. There are several surprises, and I love the ending. I'm very excited to read the sequel, and certainly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good zombie story.


*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.

Deep, Dark, and Fantastic.

The Benighted (The Benighted Saga) - A.M. Dunnewin, Noah Schwinghamer

Even from the synopsis, it is obvious that this book will be a dark one, and probably very deep. The description of an innocent princess in prison, whipped and isolated, gives a pretty good feel for what this story holds. It is is dark...and it is fantastic.


Eloquent and well written, The Benighted offers a wonderful story, full of characters facing personal demons, as well as real life evils. It is easy to picture the world A.M. Dunnewin created, and the struggles the young Queen-to-be is faced with. The trauma she endures, both physically and mentally, is difficult to read about. In the end though, you feel as though you've grown right along side her, and want nothing more than to see her succeed, standing tall against the enemies she faces.


This isn't a book for the faint of heart. However, if you like books with real, honest pain and challenges to overcome, and see real amazing character and strength, you will enjoy this book. I would recommend it, and am looking forward to the rest of the series.


*I was given an eCopy of this book, from the author, to read in exchange for an honest review.

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