Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

“Confusion leads to knowledge for those brave enough to seek it.”

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

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Personal Thoughts:

Roar is the first installment of a YA fantasy Stormheart series that introduced magical storms and a princess without magic but will travel a great length to keep her kingdom and prove that she can control her own life even her future is already decided for her.

Aurora Pavan is the heir to the throne, groomed by her mother to be the perfect Queen. She came from a long line of Stormling rulers who has the power to dispels storms with the help of stones or gems called stormhearts. At the age of eighteen Aurora’s magic does not manifest yet. She has no power to control any storms even rumors tells otherwise. Without magic to protect her people, Aurora will lose her Kingdom, so her Mother try to form an alliance to other Stormling rulers by marrying Aurora to stormling Prince, Cassius. But Cassius has his own reason for agreeing with the marriage and it doesn’t have to do with alliance. When Aurora discover a black market and meet storm hunters she realized that marriage is not the only choice to claim the throne and retain her Kingdom.

“All things were unfamiliar once upon a time. If we all gave up when there were no answers to be found, there would not be hunters like us. Sometimes you must make answers when there are none.”

What I really like about this novel is the magical concepts that Cora Carmack introduced – magical storms with hearts and practically alive, souls reincarnated as storms after death, and Storm hunters who fight storms with or without magic. These things are fresh concepts for me. I haven’t read anything like these before, which makes the book interesting and intriguing at the very least.

Aurora as the main character started as insecure girl without a power to protect her Kingdom. I admit, she’s not the best heroine out there, she annoyed me sometimes with her decisions and her temper got on my nerves that sometimes I feel like my patience is draining really fast. But throughout the course of the story, I found some growth in her, not just with her physical strength and magical power but most importantly as a person. I hope to see more development on her in the next installment because I don’t think she really hit her full potential here. Not yet, but definitely still growing.

The other characters are a mixed cast of stereotypical characters. There is an antihero in Cassius, likable hero in Locke, and intriguing and loyal friends in Nova and Jinx. Though they are a bit common and predictable for me, I still find them equally intriguing just like Aurora.

And since Cora Carmack is first known for her romance novels, it is expected to have some romance thrown in the story. Aurora and Locke relationships started in an instant connection, which normally I don’t like in my readings. In here, it’s not that I don’t like it but more like I don’t mind it, which is worse. Because it means, I don’t care enough about the characters. Though I enjoy the banters between Aurora and Locke, they don’t make me swoon or root for them as a couple.

That one quibble aside, Roar is still an enjoyable fresh read. Cora Carmack introduced a unique magical concepts in this first installment of her fantasy series, Stormheart. With enough intrigue and suspense especially about the magical storms, readers will surely find themselves immerse in Aurora’s world.


* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.


Finding It (Losing It #3) by Cora Carmack

Finding It

“Adventures don’t happen when you’re worried about the future or tied down by the past. They only exist in the now. And they always, always come at the most unexpected time, in the least likely of packages. An adventure is an open window; and an adventurer is the person willing to crawl out on the ledge and leap.”

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong…

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She’s having the time of her life . . . or that’s what she keeps telling herself.

It’s a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you’re afraid you won’t like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey’s loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey’s mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.

Personal Thoughts:

Kesley was first introduced by Cora Carmack in Losing It as Bliss Edwards’ best friend. Now in this book, Finding It, we got Kesley to tell her own life story as she travel across Europe with her Dad’s money. Backpacking across Europe sounds like a great adventure to anyone else but for Kesley it is more on an escape to her life full of act and pretensions. She dreaded the growth required by being a adult, but at the same time she is desperate to find who she is and what she is meant to do in her life.

“EVERYONE DESERVES ONE grand adventure, that one time in life that we always get to point back to and say, “Then … then I was really living.”

Then she met Jackson Hunt, a man who sees her for what she is and not for her outside appearance and beyond her acting demeanor. It scares Kesley a lot to feel visible in his eyes but at the same time she can’t ignore the fact that it entice her more. But problem is Jackson doesn’t fall on her attempts to seduce him which always work for her before. He rejects her on more than one occasion and she never rejected before. The more she try to get Jackson on her side, the more she fall on her own trap, making her more vulnerable than ever. Slowly without noticing it, she open herself and her life to the guy who were supposed to be her target and not the other way around.

“The best parts of life are the things we can’t plan. And it’s a lot harder to find happiness if you’re only searching in one place. Sometimes, you just have to throw away the map. Admit that you don’t know where you’re going and stop pressuring yourself to figure it out. Besides … a map is a life someone else already lived. It’s more fun to make your own.”

Compare to the first two books of this series, I think Finding It is the best from Cora Carmack. I trade Garrick accent for the Europe scenery any time. I also love the sense of adventure that this book has. There’s something about finding someone’s true self and identity that is liberating and fun.

The story line isn’t something that is really new. I’ve seen few movies with the same plot line – rich girl travelling across country meeting someone she’ll like and then the twist reveal. The closest I think is Mandy Moore’s film, Chasing Liberty. Right at the first night of Hunt and Kelsey first meeting I know right away what Jackson Hunt’s real role in Kesley life. I’m not sure if it is obvious for everyone but it is too obvious for me. And the more I read the more my guess about his identity becomes solid. Somehow knowing the big secret lessen the impact of the story for me, but with Cora Carmack writing and the travel adventures I still find myself enjoying the book overall.

“Life was easier when you stopped caring, when you stopped expecting things to get better.”

Kesley as main character is difficult to like and connect to, being introduced as spoil brat girl who went to Europe to spend her Dad’s money. She also got a self-destructive kind of behavior and she made a lot of questionable choices through out the story. It took a while to finally see where she is coming from, because deep inside her party and careless demeanor is a girl who just want to feel love and care.

Her parents cares more about money and appearance than their own child opinion and happiness, that makes Kelsey begging to be noticed and to be loved. Her travel to Europe is her way for taking a break in her pretentious life. She wants not only to find adventure but mostly to find her real self – a self hidden by pretensions and acts. Her acting skills is not a product of her studies but more of the life she is living – pretending something she isn’t, smiling in front of anyone even she doesn’t feel because it is what her parents what her to do.

As for Jackson Hunt, well he isn’t really mysterious to me unlike to Kelsey who seems to take Jackson as an enigma. Yes he is charismatic, caring and protective but his character is just one of the regular YA hero portrayed with supposed to be intrigue and mystery by not giving much details about his character. Which surprising still works on me, because in-spite of that I find myself enamored with Jackson. I just wish Cora actually revealed more details about him and explore more of his past so it provide more depth to the guy.

The setting is simply awesome. You all know I’m a sucker of good travel adventure story, give me anything with travel in the stories I will definitely drink it all in. I love every places that this book mentioned from Budapest Hungary to Prague, Rome, Italy and Spain. If I just can be visit them all myself I’ll be more than delightful.

As for the ending, though it can be consider as happy ever after I still find it rush and lacking of more resolutions, especially about Kelsey and Jackson’s personal issues. It feels like Cora forgot to resolve Kelsey’s family issue and Jackson own issue about his past and nightmares. We don’t even get Kelsey’s parents side or anything from them actually. As for Jackson personal issues, it is just laid out there but forgot to dwelve into which resulted to lack of details and depth.

Finding It tells a girl journey as she find life adventure, love, self and home. It is about acceptance and moving forward. It reminds us that no matter what happened in our past, it is still us who handle our present and our future. That we can navigate our lives in the direction we really want if we just try.

Keeping Her by Cora Carmack

Keeping Her

“I appreciate what you’re doing, and I get it. I love you for being willing to do this, but it’s not worth it. Not if you stop being you.”

Garrick Taylor and Bliss Edwards managed to find their happily-ever-after despite a rather . . . ahem . . . complicated start. By comparison, meeting the parents should be an absolute breeze, right?

But from the moment the pair lands in London, new snags just keep cropping up: a disapproving mother-in-law-to-be, more than one (mostly) minor mishap, and the realization that perhaps they aren’t quite as ready for their future as they thought.

As it turns out, the only thing harder than finding love is keeping it.

Personal Thoughts:

Keeping Her is the continuation of Bliss and Garrick story of Cora Carmack series, Losing It. If you read the first book of this series, Losing It, you all know that Bliss and Garrick end up as boyfriend and girlfriend after trapped in a student-teacher situation. And from the second book, Faking It, you have a glimpse of their happy status as couple, staying in love and in the bliss of happiness together. Now in this novella, Bliss and Garrick are trying to navigate their relationship more by pushing things a little forward which basically includes Bliss meeting Garrick’s family. The idea of going to London to finally meet Garrick’s parents is stressing Bliss. She don’t know if they will like her. And her knowledge about Garrick’s Mom makes her more nervous. Garrick on the other side is more concern what will Bliss will think after meeting his parents. Will she still like to get married with him after knowing her future in laws?

As a couple Bliss and Garrick were just endearing to read. They are more comfortable now with each others compare to what they are in the first book. They both mature not just as a couple but also as individual. Bliss as usual offers the funny scenes as you see her panic or just landed straight in the center of most awkward moments. Her fear in meeting Garrick parents is reasonable. I think most girls who will be meeting his fiance family for the first time will feel the same. Add to it her impression about Garrick’s mom and being in a distance place with only one person you actually know, for sure it is not easy.

As for Garrick, he shows a different side of him in this novella. Meeting his family reveal the vulnerable side of him. Coming from a loaded family, Garrick is like a prodigal son in the eye of his parents, a son who left them and moved to US. But in reality Garrick is just trying to live his own life in a way he wants. He wants to do things that make him happy like theater and acting, and not be just another plan that his parents want to achieve. He don’t want to live forever in the shadow of his parents, especially his dad who wants to mold him into something that he is not. Garrick wants to prove that he can take care of himself, and that his own dreams and goals are more important than the luxury his parents and their money can give to him, that’s why even it means he have to left his friends and the comfortable life he has, he still decided to left London.

And speaking of London, knowing that the story will be set in this beautiful place, I’m kinda hopeful that I’ll be getting a lot of European vibes, because like Bliss I just can’t help but get excited knowing more about London, one of the many places in Europe that I’m eyeing to see and experience first hand someday. And for a novella, as expected the story provide just enough touch of Europe, like the British accent and words, a few places in London, and a bit of Harry Potter reference which I did like.

Overall, Keeping Her is an entertaining quick read. With enough humor, romance, and drama this novella is a perfect quench to those who’s thirsting for more of Garrick and Bliss. If you enjoy reading Bliss and Garrick story in Losing It, you will surely enjoy a little more of their love story in this novella.

Faking It (Losing It #2) by Cora Carmack

Faking It

“…sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until it’s already knocked you flat on your back.”

Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.

Personal Thoughts:

Faking it is a novel companion of Cora Carmack novel, Losing It. In Losing It we’ve met Cade as the best friend of the main character in Losing It, Bliss. And beside being her best friend, Cade also has feelings for Bliss but unfortunately wasn’t returned by Bliss. Now in this novel, Faking It, will see what happened to Cade after Bliss reject him in Losing It.

“Pain changes us. Mine made me want to be perfect, so that no one would ever want to leave me again”

So Cade is now living across country, trying to move on by busying himself with studies and his acting career. Then one day while waiting for his client in a coffee shop, he was approached by a girl named Max with a proposal for him to pretend to be her boyfriend that morning. Intrigue with Max and the awkward yet funny circumstances they are into, he agreed to act as her boyfriend and meet her parents that day. They both thought it will be just one time set-up but things doesn’t exactly fall as Max’s plans. Max’s parents like Cade in an instant and invited him to join them the next day in Max place, which starts a pretentious relationships between Cade and Max.

“Living is hard. And every day our feet get heavier and we pick up more baggage. So, we stop and take a breath, close our eyes, reset our minds. It’s natural. As long as you open your eyes and keep going.”

I don’t really give much attention to Cade from Losing It. I like him as Bliss’s best friend but I never consider him as a leading man. nor a competition to Garrick. He’s just a secondary character that wasn’t really developed in the first book. But when I found that he is getting his own story in this novel companion, I’m curious what’s really the deal with the guy. I wonder how the author will expand his story and develop his character.

Unfortunately though, I wasn’t sold by how the author develop Cade in this novel. Though I enjoy reading his charming and sweet personality, I still find him lacking of real traits to really stood out as a character. Maybe it has something to do with how Max describes him, which basically crafted Cade as a perfect character that just makes him too good to be true. Yes, he is swoon worthy but it also makes him too unrealistic and cliché. Sometimes I don’t mind the character being too perfect, but with a plot like this which also falls to be far-fetched and cliché it just too much already.

As for Max, she is quite different which normally defines characters I root for, but I got a problem connecting to her in this novel. With her family background and sad past, I want to empathize to her, I want to feel her struggles and pain, but it didn’t happen. At first I thought the reason why I can’t feel Max emotions is because of how Max is blocking her pains by showing a tough appearance. With her tattoos and though act I thought she is just perfectly building her wall for everyone, even to the reader like me. But then as one of the narrator, Max is also giving readers free access to her thoughts and feelings. So why I am not feeling her? When Max is revealing her sad stories and painful memories, I still can’t feel the emotions I’m supposed to be feeling. I’m not exactly expecting to cry for her, but when I can’t even sympathize for her, it is not normal. Like I don’t care for her at all, which is something not good for a reader like me. I just struggle connecting to her.

As for Max and Cade relationship, their setup as pretending couple is actually funny. With their awkward first meeting and once in a while banter, the story has funny and entertaining moments. I enjoy reading those parts compare to their intimate and supposed to be sweet moments.

Looking at him, I knew this wasn’t the kind of fear that sent you running for the hills. It was the kind of fear that made people jump off cliffs and climb mountains- the kind of fear that told you something miraculous was waiting at the end of it, if you could only get there.”

While there’s nothing really completely new with the story as far as the romance goes, I think Faking It is still a completely enjoyable book. If you like Loosing It, you might like this novel companion from Cora Carmack Losing It series.

Losing It (Losing It #1) by Cora Carmack

Losing It

“Sometimes, it’s the scary things in life that are the most worthwhile.”

Love.Romance. Sex. There’s a first time for everything…

As far as Bliss Edwards can tell, she’s the last virgin standing, certainly amongst her friends. And she’s determined to deal with the ‘problem’ as quickly and simply as possible.

But her plan for a no-strings one night stand turns out to be anything but simple. Especially when she arrives for her first class and recognises her hot new British professor.

She’d left him naked in her bed just 8 hours earlier…

Personal Thoughts:

When Dianne tweeted last Friday that Losing It is available from NetGalley, I automatically visited NetGalley’s website to request a copy. I really thought it was the second book of the series. Once I downloaded the eGalley to my Kindle, that’s when I realized that I made a mistake. Because Losing It is in fact the first book of the series, which I already read last February. As of I know, the book is still a self published released when I first read it, then it becomes a hit and picked up by Ebury UK publishing. The paperback was released into market last March. The one I requested from NetGalley has a different cover than the copy I’ve read months ago, which is why I assumed it is a different book. Anyway, to refresh my memory about the book, I decided to do a quick re-read which turns out more than fun than what I remember in reading the book the first time.

The story is about Bliss who at the starts of the novel wants to lose her V card. With her best friend Kesley, who seems to make it a mission to help Bliss with her V card problem, they went out to a bar to hunt some guy who can help Bliss. There Bliss met Garrick while he was reading a book in a crowded room. She thought it was a style to pick-up some girl, which obviously works in her, but turns out Garrick is just honestly spending time reading. Garrick happens to be a British with an accent that can easily draw girls attentions. Bliss and Garrick had unexpected chemistry right away, which leads them both to Bliss place that night. But the night doesn’t end perfectly as there are some disasters courtesy of Bliss. But the night disaster is nothing compared to what Bliss and Garrick find out the day after. As it turns out that Garrick is Bliss new Theater professor, something more complicated than Bliss bargained for.

Bliss is a fun character to read. Her inner thoughts carry humor and wit. All the awkward and funny situations she keeps falling into makes this book so much fun and hilarious. Her awkwardness and clumsiness is endearing and pretty crazy. She rumbles a lot which usually irritates me since I’m not a fun of character who talk to much more than she thinks, but in Bliss case I welcome her blubbering as it is so fun to read.

Garrick is British with a freaking accent to die for. I love playing accents in my mind while reading and there are lots of in here, so I adore Garrick. Though accent aside, what I like about Garrick character is the way Cora Cormack make him plain and simple. He is a normal guy, with a few issues but not damaged or overly portrayed with dark past or anything. Not much hidden drama around him which is a bit refreshing compare to what I’ve been reading lately, even in contemporary novels like this one. Garrick is a genuinely nice guy who simply cares about bliss. His protectiveness is not over the top in any way, which is more sweet than irritating.

“Some relationships just end. Like a star, they burn bright and brilliant, and then nothing in particular goes wrong, they just reach their end. They burn out.”

The plot was definitely something that is already used before, I already encountered some contemporary novels with same story line, but Losing It has its own unique way of delivering a common plot. Yes, it had cliché moments, simple and predictable plot but it is was such a fun read that you can forgive all the clichés, and don’t mind the predictability. It was highly entertaining and the best part is it didn’t try to be something that it is not.

“We want what we can’t have. It’s human nature.”

For a debut novel, Cora Carmack successfully deliver a fun, sweet, and romantic story in Losing It. It is a quick and light-hearted read that will put a smile on your face, and your heart melting and giddy.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Random House UKEbury Publishing via NetGalley.