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Four sisters, one destiny.

Every generation four sisters with power over earth, air, fire, and water are born to fight against a fanatical, secret faith. The Order exists only to sacrifice the sisters for their power. With each success their strength and control grows. They have never failed, for their rule depends on it.

The sisters, separated at birth, are unaware of what hunts them...but they are coming.

A handsome stranger discovers Asha in hiding, and swears allegiance to her cause. She falls for him; though he is not who he says he is. Betrayed and imprisoned inside the Order, Asha is without her power for the first time in her life.

As the war heats up haunting secrets and true motivations are revealed, but the sisters must unite and override their instincts and trust the untrustworthy if they are to fight their terrifying destiny.

249 pages, ebook

First published June 1, 2015

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About the author

Courtney Shepard

5 books63 followers
Courtney Shepard was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. Unbalanced is her first work of fiction and the first installment of the Unbalanced Series.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Jennifer.
18 reviews
February 29, 2020
This book was pure pleasure to read! The characters felt so real and alive! The storyline was fascinating and very different from traditional romance novels. A true page turner that left me thinking "Oh no! Where is the next book!!". I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Profile Image for Lee.
2 reviews
January 11, 2020
Exceptional captivating and astounding once i opened it i couldn't stop, everything about this journey is resounding and well thought out and the end will leave you shocked
Profile Image for Ashley Nicole.
Author 7 books133 followers
August 23, 2020
I love stories with elemental magic and this book did not disappoint in that department. I loved that the four elements were represented in the sisters (and later brothers). I also loved that the sisters did not grow up together and that you could see a glimpse of how their different upbringings shaped them. (You see this strongest in Asha)

As a fast paced novel, there were some places I would have liked to see the plot slow down just a bit. The scene breaks worked and I never had a problem of knowing who's POV I was in. However, at the beginning of the book I was introduced to a lot of characters very quickly and I would have liked to expand on them a bit more upfront. I did learn to care for each of them as the book progressed and I differentiated them better.

The ending was exciting and a bit of a twist. A part of it left me confused but that could be the author's plan since this is the beginning of the series.

Overall, I loved this book and the storyline and would recommend it to any fantasy reader. I will for sure be keeping an eye out for the next in the series!
Profile Image for Jessica (Read book. Repeat).
604 reviews13 followers
December 22, 2018
You can find this review and all of my others over at www.readbookrepeat.wordpress.com

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, BooksGoSocial, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 3.5

There is always four. One for each element of Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Each time the sisters are born, they are tracked and killed. Sometimes as babies, sometimes older. Unbalanced tells the story of the four sisters as they are today, women in their late 20s, scattered across the globe completely unaware of each other. That is, until suddenly they are being attacked out of the blue, their handlers, or carers, if you prefer, are murdered and the girls are left to fend for themselves and battle through the day that they knew was coming. The order is hunting them and will stop at nothing to get what they want, death. Can the sisters survive this time with the help of some friends? Or will they be doomed to be put to death once more before their time is truly up?

Unbalanced is a strong start to what promises to be a riveting Paranormal Romance series. It opens into full on action, dumping the reader into the middle of Asha, the primary sister who we follow, about to go into an enemy site in the jungle and destroy everything. We quickly learn that Asha is incredibly powerful, and doesn't trust anyone. She was a likeable enough character, but I had some issues with her which I'll discuss later. So as for pacing and action, there is no shortage, which I thought was fantastic.

We eventually meet each of the sisters in turn while they're going about their day to day lives. As this book is written in third person POV it doesn't get too confusing. Though I did notice that there was a couple of instances where I wasn't sure where the characters were, or in fact, who was there or speaking. I feel like another round of editing or beta reading may have helped here. It only happened a couple of times but it made the story feel a bit stilted at these points.

The characters were likeable enough, and I loved that the sisters each had their own distinct personalities which seemed to match which element was theirs to control. Asha is the fire element, so her character being incredibly firey, angry and prone to flying off the handle into a totally massive rage that was not appropriate, fit her pretty well. It was some of these things that irked me a bit with her though. I understand she doesn't trust easily, and I also understand why as we are given backstory on her. What annoyed me was that when Clay comes into the picture, she didn't want to trust him, but she couldn't help but trust him, but she shouldn't trust him, but she does and she doesn't know why she is trusting him, but then something happens and she doesn't trust him, but her attraction to him is insane so she HAS TO TRUST HIM, BUT THEN SHE DOESN'T TRUST HIM....and so on and so forth. Like, pick one. If you don't trust him, cool, but give him a chance to prove that you can, don't just from one to the other constantly as it can become a bit annoying, to me anyway. The insta-love between her and Clay was a little bit off-putting, but the author did explain why Clay had these feelings, which I felt helped a lot. We could understand why he was suddenly madly in love with her even though he'd never met her before.

I thought the addition of the brothers was clever, and the way they tie into the story as well as the magic was written fantastically. I love that they all had a purpose, they weren't just there to be arm candy and love interests for the sisters, though I couldn't help but feel that that was the real intention with their creation, a little bit anyway. The author did tie them in really well and as I said, gave them more purpose than just being the love interest.

The way the Order was written was great, they really felt like an unstoppable, fallible foe that one would not want coming after them. I'm intrigued about the four, as well as the intricacies of their existence. I've no doubt that we'll be finding more out about them as the series progresses.

The sex scene was one of the scenes where at times, I had no idea what the characters were actually doing. There was some descriptions used to illustrate their emotions and such, and I found myself becoming lost in the words with no clue as to what was actually going through their minds or what they were feeling. I also found it a bit on the nose considering Asha's issues with trust. I feel like it could have been saved and meant more in a later book in the series.

The story itself was interesting and fast paced. This was a quick read. I think the series has the potential to turn into something amazing, and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest. I want to know where the story goes from here.
Profile Image for Amber.
170 reviews21 followers
February 22, 2023
Review posted on my blog The Writer's Library.

“He’d had enough. He found the same weak, pathetic people in every town and village, and he would not abide their silence a second longer. His men had erected the pyre during the night. Now, displayed before every set of eyes, the mob’s reaction rewarded him. The palpable terror at the wooden structure charged him with renewed vigor, and his blood lust reared, battering against his control.
It was time to set an example.”

Okay, wow! This was interesting. As usual, let’s give a little summary before we get into the real meat of this review.
The story opens with a prologue about four sisters who control the elements of Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water and it is established that said sisters have been hunted down and sacrificed by a group known as the Order while also establishing that, to keep the future generations of the sisters safe from said group, they have been separated from each other shortly after birth because doing so takes away their ability to be tracked and hunted.
When the main story begins, we are introduced to Asha. Asha is one of the four element-controlling sisters and, when she is kidnapped by a visiting doctor with connections to the Order, she finds herself desperate to escape. Meanwhile, her sisters are out looking for her and, when they meet for the first time, they all discover that they are up against a force more powerful than they first thought. With the Order hunting them down and her confusing attraction toward the doctor that kidnapped her, Asha will have to find a way to help her sisters stop the forces against them before it is too late.
I had quite a bit of fun with this once I got into it. I will admit, the beginning is not what you’d call attractive, because it takes time to get to really know Asha and sympathize with her. That being said, I liked her once I spent a little time with her point of view.
She can be a bit rough around the edges and it’s obvious that she’s often on-edge throughout the story, but I can understand why, and that trait makes certain parts of the story particularly intense and engaging, which shows that it’s a good way to build both character and story.
I liked learning her backstory and how it made it easy to feel for her. It makes her rough personality understandable and easier to like. I appreciate that aspect in particular, because in the past I’ve found characters like Asha difficult to like because of the cold exterior.
"Her instincts, the ones she relied on, returned and came clearer now. They told her to trust him… odd. She was naturally suspicious, trusting was difficult, and his arrival was proof they were no longer safe. Despite all that, her instincts said he was okay."

Despite her character strengths, I admit that I have mixed feelings about her original mistrust of Clay the doctor. It’s not that it was handled poorly, it’s just that I got a little irritated with her constantly pushing away her attraction toward him because of what he did to her, because she wasn’t being honest with herself. She absolutely had the right to have emotional turmoil given that he’d basically kidnapped her, but it goes on for a very long time and doesn’t feel like she gradually moved toward feeling otherwise. Instead, it feels like she went from not trusting him to sleeping with him in the blink of an eye with little buildup.
Another problem with this is that it makes her desire for him come off as purely lustful. I’ve always been of the opinion that friendship should come before romantic involvement if said relationship is to have any real depth, and I didn’t see that here. That being said, this whole story is clearly the beginning of a series, so this issue is something that can and should be worked on in future books.
As for Clay, I think his conflicted feelings worked a little bit better at the beginning compared to Asha’s. While I don’t think it was handled perfectly, his conflict about his feelings was more understandable given his background in the Order and what he was sent to do.
The thing that doesn’t work is the device that is used to show the origin of Clay’s feelings for Asha. In the story, he has a dream about her and said dream drives his actions. The problem is, the reader is not shown the dream, and is instead told about it when focusing on Clay’s point of view.
The reason this is a problem is because we don’t know Clay intimately when the dream is first brought up, so it’s harder to buy the idea when we’re told about it. It works in setting up the romance in the long run, but it also makes the introduction to Clay a little difficult to get behind. I don’t buy the dream because I didn’t actually see it.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to discern when to use the show-don’t-tell policy in writing. Summary narrative can work wonders for pacing and flow, but I think in this case it made the beginning move a little too fast, which is why seeing the dream would have been the better move, especially given the fact that the narrative is not strictly tied to just Asha’s viewpoint. If we knew exactly what Clay experienced during the dream, his position may have been easier to get behind.
"But it was she, and yet how could she be a real, living woman? She’d been cast as the lead in his most vivid dreams and nightmares. And now, to see the living embodiment of her here? La Guerrera Reina, the Warrior Queen, it was a kink in the plan."

Speaking of the different viewpoints, it was nice to see the perspectives of Mere, Avia, and Ivy along with Asha’s and how they all came to be together again. I like that Shepard stuck with alternating between those viewpoints once we met the other sisters. Doing this helped to build tension in the narrative and really made it easy to care for the sisters as individuals as well as a group. I don’t feel like I know enough about them to comment on their individual characters, but I think that’s okay in this case because it is more Asha’s story than theirs, although of course they play a pivotal role in the story development.
"[Ivy] withdrew her hands and stared at them. This day was always going to come. He’d warned her it would. And though it had always hurt her to do it, they had prepared for it."

And, finally, I should talk a bit about the main antagonists of this story. Starting with the Order, I personally felt that their characterization was handled well. It’s obvious throughout the story that they present a threat, even when it’s made clear that they’re just foot soldiers for an even worse force. I like that Clay and his brothers struggle with their ties to the Order and how said ties affect their dynamic characterizations.
"The ancient building’s history was as dark as its obsidian walls. The shining, black-stone towers rose, stabbing at the bright sun. Nothing would grow on such a smooth, impenetrable surface. The Order’s birthplace had endured since the beginning – imposing, frightening, and eternal.
Inside, the windowless hall remained dark, regardless of the hour. The building’s labyrinthine halls and staircases led like veins and arteries to the Grand Chamber, the heart of the Order."

I thought it was great that the concept of the Four wasn’t obvious right off the bat. Through the abduction of Asha, Shepard makes it look like the Order will be the big bad, but as the story goes on, it becomes obvious that there is more at work here.
The Four itself is pretty intimidating, but I do admit that I’m a little confused about Mere’s huge discovery about the group. My question is, if she really did see who she thought she saw under the hood, how exactly were Clay and his brothers helping Asha and the sisters fight them during the climax? Can the Four take on disguises and just took on the brothers’ appearances to mess with Mere?
I don’t know if I misunderstood it or what, but it doesn’t add up that Clay and the others would continue to help after what was revealed. But again, I think this is something that can be fixed with the sequel. I don’t know exactly what Shepard was doing with that idea, but maybe it will become clear in later books.
Speaking of reveals, I need to discuss the character of Miles, particularly regarding this twist about his connection to the girls. He is part of the Order, but he betrayed the members and has been helping the girls throughout the story. It is only revealed at the end why he is doing so.
My question is, if he is who he’s revealed to be, why did he not tell Emma what he was doing with the babies and why he was doing it in the prologue? She tries to stop him when he takes the children, so why didn’t he explain to her what was going on and what was best? We don’t know what Emma knew, but if Miles is their father, wouldn’t that make Emma his wife? Doesn’t she have a right to understand the situation in full? Again, this could be explained and there could be more to it, but the explanation’s going to have to cover every angle of this issue in order for it to work well in the story and avoid being a plot hole.
Moving on from characters, I want to talk a bit about the magic system at play here and why the sisters are being hunted in the first place. The girls' powers are interesting because you can play with the elements a bit, kind of like in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I also thought it was interesting that Clay and his brothers had their own versions of the powers as well, giving a neat parallel between them and the sisters.
I like the explanation Shepard provides for the Order and the Four’s motivations, because it makes them understandable despite the fact that they are obviously the villains.
I do wonder where the Order came from, though. What exactly do they get out of working for the Four? Is it just fear alone? Can the Four wipe them out if they want to, and that’s why they have these foot soldiers? This is too much to tackle with just one book, but I hope that Shepard will keep all of this in mind for the coming books in the series.
Finally, I want to leave a quick comment on the ending. Like I said, this story is clearly only the beginning, and seeing the Four rematerialize makes me anxious to see what will happen next. While their main motivation is known, there’s probably more to it than what was revealed here. There has to be a reason for the Four’s search for immortality, and I wonder what they’re planning next.
Despite the issues the story has, I did enjoy this experience. Shepard has definitely created a very interesting world that I want to know more about. I look forward to the sequel and seeing Asha again.
Profile Image for Julie Porter.
269 reviews13 followers
August 6, 2019
We are all familiar with the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. They are used in both science and magic. Many characters in fiction such as the X Men's Storm or the characters in the animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender and it's spinoff, The Legend of Korra, have the ability to harness them for power. Some Pagans use them as conduits for spells and believe the elements represent certain goals or traits that a person has. When the four elements are balanced, they create harmony in the earth, but if one gets too powerful dangerous things are bound to happen.

Courtney Shepard's fantasy novel, Unbalanced is about that premise. It begins in the Middle Ages (don't all fantasies) in Spain en media torture as a sinister character called The Master interrogates a village about the location of four young girls. These aren't just any young girls as we learn when they confront the Master. Each one controls the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. After the girls defeat him, they disappear and the Master vows that if he doesn't find them, then his descendants will.

Fast forward to 1988 and a woman named Emma is giving birth to quadruplet daughters when five mysterious hooded figures appear at her bedside. As soon as the babies pop out, four of the figures take the babies away to be raised elsewhere while the fifth insists they will be cared for.

Now in modern day, the four babies are all grown and are well aware of their tremendous power, but unaware that they have sisters who also have similar powers. Asha is a freedom fighter in Central America who has the power of fire. Ivy is a veterinarian in Vancouver who controls earth including plants and rocks. Mere is a surfer catching and controlling the waves in Australia. Meanwhile, Avia is a flutist currently touring Hong Kong and has the power of air.

Besides their abilities, the women also had guardians whom they called “Father” whoever (like priests) that were either killed or disappeared. They also are being stalked by dangerous people and have the feeling that they are not alone and that they are sharing each other's pain.

Unbalanced is a fun exciting modern fantasy filled with suspenseful and magical moments. The four sisters are great protagonists, especially after they meet and show off their awesome abilities.

The four women embody their element in their personalities. Asha is firey and passionate and often blazes with a bad temper. Ivy is the practical, stable more grounded leader of the quartet. Mere is the most emotional, intuitive, and sensitive sister. Avia is the more rational, intelligent, sometimes seemingly emotionless one. The four sisters are memorable characters whether alone or together.

They are united when the Master’s current descendants find and chase after them. The sisters encounter four brothers who work for the latest Master (called the Grand Master because there are two younger Masters), Clay, Cole, Rio, and Aron who also control respectively Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. The brothers and sisters unite when the Grand Master's real motives are revealed as well as the close connections that the sisters have to one of the younger Masters and the family that has spent centuries stalking them.

While the four sisters are brilliantly written, their new equally powerful potential love interests are not near as identifiable. They are mostly interchangeable in their encounters with the sisters and each other. The only one that stands out is Clay, a sensitive doctor who in the first few chapters guards a captive and naturally irate Asha. Clay is drawn to Asha's beauty and spirit and helps her escape. Cole, Rio, and Aron have some nice romantic moments with Ivy, Avia, and Mere especially when the guys and gals are sent two by two on missions and they get to mutually save each other and defend themselves from enemies.

However, the men don't have as many identifiable idiosyncrasies that make them stand out like Mere's Guns N’Roses T-shirt, Asha's marksman skills, Ivy’s garden, or Avia's swank Zurich villa that tell us more about them. The sisters are unique not only in their abilities but in those traits and interests that make them individuals.

Of course with the brothers that might be the point. The sisters were raised separately to be individualistic while the men were raised together in an almost military-like fashion that eschewed independent thought and action. The men were raised to be a unit using and suppressing their powers, but the women were not. Ironically, that's what makes the four sisters stronger more identifiable characters.

At first, each woman acts like someone that exists within her own element and that's how they live and operate. Their reliance on only their element causes trouble. In the opening chapters, Asha burns down a whole village and has memories of several people she caught on fire because of her temper. Besides controlling the air around her, Avia has the creepy ability of removing the oxygen from someone's lungs. Both Mere and Ivy have accidentally caused floods and earthquakes.

The four sisters are powerful, but when they live only within their element, only that element reigns and it is overpowering. The Grand Master and his minions want the sisters killed or separated because he fears not their separate power, but how much stronger they are together.

Together, Ivy, Avia, Mere, and Asha balance each other out and are able to channel their abilities in tandem.

That is also probably why Shepard chose not to pair the same element characters with each other instead Asha with Clay and Ivy with Cole (Fire and Earth), and Avia with Rio and Mere with Aron (Air and Water). Too much of the same element can be destructive but two different elements recognizes each other's strengths and limitations.

What the Grand Master and his ilk fear is the balance and strength the sisters bring. Separately, they are weakened by the excess of their elements, but together they are a team that balances each other and their environment.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
60 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2019
I'd like to thank Booktasters and Courtney Shepard for the opportunity in reading this incredible and action-packed story. Unbalanced tells the story of four sisters; all the personification of the four elements Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. A powerful force, they are hunted throughout the centuries by the Order as well as The Four who want to kill them. After a nail-biting introduction and battle sequence, the story takes us to modern day Columbia where we meet one of the elements and the main protagonist, Asha. She is the fire element. A firecracker, she meets Clay, who was assigned to track and kill her. Not surprisingly, they have an undeniable attraction to each other. The danger surrounding them leads her to her sisters Avia (the Air element), Ivy (the Earth Element), and Mere (the Water element). From then on, the action peaks with many twists and turns as well as a cliffhanger ending that leaves you anticipating a follow-up sequel. Tightly written, this story took me on a journey that left me breathless. I highly recommend adding this story to your collection.
84 reviews2 followers
April 8, 2019
What starts as terrible memory of past sins turned out pretty quickly to the adventure of life and death. Eight different people. Four different skills or powers, to be clear. Tidbits of love, hatred, mystery and questioning of the main purpose of life. Powerful people who don't know each other are now a close family. Only together they can survive. Or not?
From past to the future on a few pages. It got me unprepared, took my hand and threw me into the world, where hope for life means to fight. Fight even when we don't see forward. And huuuuge cliffhanger at the end. Awesome work, Mrs Shepard and thank you for the chance to read such a book.
Profile Image for Yolisa.
212 reviews14 followers
March 10, 2019
I loved reading this book so much.So much girl power,excitement,intrigue.I don't know how I would live everyday of my life with an axe hanging over my head,ready to do damage,but these four girls did.Raised with supernatural powers,not knowing that they have 'real family'.Formed bonds with caretakers who became their family.
Cannot wait to read the second instalment and see them triumph over the vicious Four because they better win.
December 19, 2019
I enjoy a lot this reading!! At first it gives little information which makes it a bit chaotic and captivating at the same time. Then, as you learn everything, the story becomes even more captivating with each page. I laughed a lot (especially with a comment from Clay to his brothers when he learned something that I can't say because is spoiler) and I got frustrated too with the story. In short, i loved reading it and i want to know more of the four sisters!!
Profile Image for S.K. Gregory.
Author 133 books198 followers
January 19, 2019
An interesting paranormal read that fantasy fans will enjoy. Four sisters with control over the elements must come together if they are to survive the order.
112 reviews5 followers
March 27, 2019
The plot started of as being really promising and I was intrigued by the premise of the story. The story was fast paced and found it to be an easy, quick read and the series has a lot of potential. There was no shortage of drama; the story throws readers right into the action with Asha.

I found the primary character to be interesting at first but was overall left feeling disappointed. Asha one of the sisters and a 'warrior queen' makes a stunning entrance and shows promise as a strong-willed female lead character... I found the characters Asha and Clay to be rather irritating at times and found it difficult to root for them as a pairing. Yes the books is a paranormal romance - but the way these to 2 characters behaved, especially Clay; made it unbelievable for me.

I think the book was too short for what was fitted into it - another 100 pages or so maybe? I never felt I knew the other sisters enough even though the characters are written with different personalities that match their powers nicely. The main story focus seemed to be Asha-centred... The sisters were likeable and interesting when they are introduced; I'd like to see more of the sisters as characters as the series progresses.

I skipped over the unnecessary sex scene towards the end of the novel - it could have been saved for a later book and did not feel right considering the issues of trust, lies and deception between those 2 characters but they apparently can't help themselves.

There is a great story in here, and some parts of the book are brilliant; but would have preferred the story to centre around the four sisters as a united team more than it did.
Profile Image for Brent Harris.
Author 22 books25 followers
June 22, 2017
Unbalanced author Courtney Shepard shows potential in debut Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance

Unbalanced is a paranormal/urban fantasy romance that tells the story of Asha and her journey to discover herself, her powers, and the sisters she never knew she had, all while staying one step ahead of The Order, an ancient cult bent on destroying Asha and her sisters and taking their powers for themselves, generation after generation.

Shepard succeeds more often than she fails in this, her debut offering. Asha’s story is tightly told. She attempts to give each sister their own distinct voice. The POV is tightly adhered and the story keeps to its through line without wandering too far off. Shepard sidesteps many struggles that sometimes rob first-time authors of success.

Where the book didn’t work for me was in the distant and often repetitive narrative, the going-through the-motion motivations of each character, and an emotional detachment of the characters to the events surrounding them. At one point a flautist responds to the brutal death of the only family she’s ever known by throwing her life’s work into the ocean and heading to the hills to escape. That’s fine, and perhaps the author’s intent was to keep it mechanical. But all throughout the story the same distance was repeated where I was expecting an emotional gut-punch that never came. The same dissonance carries over to the books climatic steamy scenes. They are well-written, but favor the physical response over the emotional. I realize it’s subjective, so pepper to taste, but it made it difficult for me to invest in the characters.

This book has a large cast, and as such, it would difficult for any writer to juggle. Shepard is smart to keep the focus on Asha and her would-be captor. But I wondered at times if he really shouldn’t be the main character instead. Where Asha’s arc is about discovering herself, to me the story was at its best when it focused on the growth of Clay who underwent the greatest amount of change -- from cold killer and cultist, to someone who redefined his roots an overcame his rocky past through a kindle of flame.

There are some brilliant bits in this book, and Shepard shows real promise as a writer (I love the line about the Kool-aid!) but it’s overshadowed by an emotional void that will perhaps be better balanced as the sisters re-unite to fight the forces of evil once more.
3.5 Stars rounded to 4
Profile Image for Vasiliki Tzalachani.
11 reviews1 follower
June 11, 2019
A very interesting book where I couldn't predict what would happen next. I like how realistic the exchanges between the characters were and how it's not your typical romance between the characters and I really liked this!

I also, like the cliffhanger it stopped which gets me hyped up for the following books!!

I would totally recommend to someone who is bored of the typical romance adventure books! I had a very good time reading it and if life allowed me more time I would have ended it in 2 weeks at most!
479 reviews4 followers
November 4, 2017
Unbalanced Kindle Edition
by Courtney Shepard (Author)
Teeny spoiler alert

I voluntarily read a copy of this book provided by NetGalley for review purposes.

Four sisters, holding immense power over the elements chased through time by four monsters in the guise of men and the religious zealots they have created. Can they survive this time? Can anything change their fates of horrid, vile deaths at the hands of their villains? Since I don't believe in spoilers, I'm not telling! So there!

But the beginning of the novel with a deeply disturbing re-enactment of the Burning times that flips to the new life of Asha in 2004 as she acts as a super-spy-guerilla before she goes rogue – that grabbed me and wouldn't let me go.

Nor did the introduction of the other sisters, the silly, the serious and the mild mannered.

Okay, one spoiler. There are four hunks, who are part of the religious organizations are after them as well, the drag them back. But as always in urban fantasy novels, things never go quite the way the villains want.

The writing is spectacular, tense and descriptive. The plot is tight, every plot hole is filled almost instantly, including how villains could exist in the Burning Times and in the 2000's. The female characters are well-crafted, each has her own strength, ranging from the good humor of an Australian surfer to a cold, near Swiss sociopath flutist. The best of the sister's character is Asha, the guilt she carries, her tactical mind, all off it.

Scenery around the world, and the girls do go everywhere you can think of from the Vatican to the South American jungle is gorgeously and authentically created. I could feel both the sweat of the jungle and the chill of the snow.

I really hope that this becomes a series and soon!

More than Book Nerd Approved – this book is Book Nerd Applauded

5 elements out of 5

Profile Image for Diana Lavaughn.
20 reviews2 followers
November 14, 2018
Teeny spoiler alert

I voluntarily read a copy of this book provided by NetGalley for review purposes.

Four sisters, holding immense power over the elements chased through time by four monsters in the guise of men and the religious zealots they have created. Can they survive this time? Can anything change their fates of horrid, vile deaths at the hands of their villains? Since I don't believe in spoilers, I'm not telling! So there!

But the beginning of the novel with a deeply disturbing re-enactment of the Burning times that flips to the new life of Asha in 2004 as she acts as a super-spy-guerilla before she goes rogue – that grabbed me and wouldn't let me go.

Nor did the introduction of the other sisters, the silly, the serious and the mild mannered.

Okay, one spoiler. There are four hunks, who are part of the religious organizations are after them as well, the drag them back. But as always in urban fantasy novels, things never go quite the way the villains want.

The writing is spectacular, tense and descriptive. The plot is tight, every plot hole is filled almost instantly, including how villains could exist in the Burning Times and in the 2000's. The female characters are well-crafted, each has her own strength, ranging from the good humor of an Australian surfer to a cold, near Swiss sociopath flutist. The best of the sister's character is Asha, the guilt she carries, her tactical mind, all off it.

Scenery around the world, and the girls do go everywhere you can think of from the Vatican to the South American jungle is gorgeously and authentically created. I could feel both the sweat of the jungle and the chill of the snow.

I really hope that this becomes a series and soon!

More than Book Nerd Approved – this book is Book Nerd Applauded

5 elements out of 5

Profile Image for Alana Bloom .
439 reviews41 followers
November 18, 2018
I was provided a copy of Unbalanced by NetGalley for review purposes.

Unbalanced dumped the reader straight into the heat of action from the very beginning as we watch Asha single-handedly storm an alleged rebel fortress in the jungles of South America. Unbalanced is primarily told from Asha’s POV. With a glimpse into the catalyst that brought her to South America, the story truly begins at her guerrilla encampment and Clay’s entry. The story quickly picks up as the other characters were introduced and danger mounts for Asha and her siblings. The amount of detail included in the fight scenes kept me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t particularly fond of Asha. I felt like her emotional immaturity kept her stuck around 16 and as a result, I wasn’t able to connect with her character. Asha’s tendency to be quick to anger and overreact to information could be considered a trait related to her element (fire) and is a great opportunity for Shepard to incorporate character growth as the series progresses. For now, I found these habit to be frustrating.

Shepard did a lovely job introducing us to Avia, Clay, and Mere but the other brothers and Ivy felt overlooked. I hope this is rectified as the series continues because I would love to see the other differences in the siblings and how they complement each other.

The romance between Asha and Clay was rushed, at least on her end. There was a moment when she was angry about betrayal and loving him that forced me to stop and say “Since when? You’ve known him two days and haven’t said much beyond a gut reaction to trust him.”

The last quarter of the book had me on pins of needles and the ending was written to set up the next book in the series nicely. I am left with so many questions unanswered and need the next book sooner rather than later. An excellent debut novel!
Profile Image for Marta Tandori.
Author 11 books69 followers
November 22, 2016
Unbalanced is a wonderful paranormal fantasy that has just the right amount of romance to keep both lovers of paranormal and romance intrigued with this unique offering by talented Canadian writer, Courtney Shepard.

Since the Middle Ages, each generation has produced four unique sisters that have the power over the four essential elements of life: earth, air, fire and water. Hunted by a fanatical, secret sect called the Order, each generation has tragically lost their lives to the Order and with each conquest, the Order’s power grows exponentially. Now it looks like history is once again about to repeat itself. Sister Asha, who controls the element of fire, falls for the charismatic Clay, who has his own agenda where Asha is concerned. It isn’t long before she’s betrayed by him and imprisoned and stripped of her power. Asha, separated from her sisters since birth, is eventually reunited with them and together, they must join forces to change their fate and prevail against the evil that is the Order…

Unbalanced is a fast-paced paranormal romance that will leave its readers somewhat unbalanced as the story unfolds. At its most basic, it may be said that this is a story about good versus evil but essentially, it’s so much more. This is a story that’s peppered with danger, mystery, betrayal and intrigue. The author has a wonderful imagination and a solid creative bent that lend themselves well to this kind of story. As indicated earlier, Unbalanced will leave its readers ‘unbalanced’ – but in a good way. It’s engaging, well-written and intoxicating, the perfect trifecta for a good read – and a good read is exactly what is delivered!
Profile Image for Darrell Nelson.
Author 16 books31 followers
July 9, 2017
A title like that lends itself to puns. I'll try to avoid that.
Unbalanced is a fast paced Urban Fantasy with a bit a Romance. Overall it works pretty good on that level. However, it really could have used one more beta read for clarity. Entire chapters have the characters names mentioned once, then only pronouns of he or she. This distanced me from the characters. As I got farther into the book, as it switched from one character to another, I'd have to stop to remember which "she" this was.
In the prelude there is the battle between "The Master" and "she" and her sisters. The sisters with no names stand up to the "The Master" who is also, "a Master" and had the title of "the Grand Master" bestowed on him. In my first read of the battle, I missed the one paragraph describing the sisters by their eye color and hair. It first I thought it was one girl whose hair and eyes kept changing color. To add to my confusion their eyes did change color.
If I received this book as a beta-read, I'd think it was great. As all it lacked was a couple of spots where the person's name should be dropped in to replace the pronoun, a few times that singular titles and plural titles should match, some instances of downright strange wordings. The little things that make everything smooth and clear for the reader. As a finished novel, it didn't work for me, as those little things kept pulling me out of the story.
I have to give this one a 3 star. There is a good story in here, but a lot of little things made it hard to see. It's a little sad, as maybe changing less than a hundred words would have given this novel at least one more star.
138 reviews6 followers
December 28, 2017
'Unbalanced' is a fast paced urban fantasy novel, which includes a whole lot of action, magical powers and a bit of romance thrown in just for fun. If follows the story of four sisters as they begin to discover who they really are and there place in this world.The book itself included everything I expected too, with multiple characters, a couple of bad sort of good guys and the real bad guys.

Not going to lie the first thing I thought of when I read the blurb was Avatar: The Last Air-bender, the book itself definitely holds up in it's own right though with no pesky thought intrusion of the fire nation!

I loved the idea of this book and how it was able to suck me in straight away, although it did drip feed most of the information pertaining to the girls at no point was I confused as to what was happening. I will admit to being confused at points as to who the POV was for the chapter, especially when the boys started getting involved. Character development wasn't as much as I would of liked, but as this is the first book in the series and with being a lot of different characters it was to be expected. The book did contain a fair amount of action, none of which was overly surprising. I will definitely be checking out the next book as I feel this is one that could be full of potential.

Thank You to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
12 reviews
December 18, 2017
Unbalanced is a story repeated throughout history between the powers of Dark and Light, a story of destiny, a story of elemental magic, and of being persecuted simply for being born different and surviving thus far. It is also a story of ill-fated love and the precarious balance of self-protection versus trust that plays out in the lives of all of us.

Unbalanced is the opening book to a series by the same title. It is fast-paced and packed full of interesting turns of events that keep the reader engaged. Courtney Shepard is a master of description in matters of both love and battle. Both types of actions scenes are vividly written while, at the same time, not being overly done. While I was at first a little disappointed with the name, hair color, and eye color matching to the corresponding element, thinking these choices lacked imagination, I changed my mind after realizing that I would probably be more upset if there were no outwardly visible connections. For those who usually avoid books written in a series due to the high rate of abrupt unsatisfactory endings, this book stands well and ends well on its own. There are actually more characters than I introduced here, leaving Shepard with many options for continued writing. I would recommend this book and I would definitely be interested in reading the next book in this series.

Profile Image for Christine Vazou.
46 reviews12 followers
March 22, 2019
Unbalanced is a paranormal, fantasy romance. The plot revolves around an all-powerful Order and four amazingly powerful sisters: Asha, Mere Ivy, and Avia.

The sisters are chased by the Order. The Order is ruled by the Four and their sole purpose is to kill the sisters and steal their powers. They fear them but at the same time, they want to use them too.

This book focuses on Asha who has a fiery and strong personality. She has the power of fire and she had been through a lot during her childhood. Asha has suffered because of her power and the need to control it. She falls in love with Clay, a man she meets early on the story.

The attraction was instant but Clay had his own agenda on Asha the moment he met her. He succeeded in his task and their relationship for a while was a mix of manipulation, angst and burgeoning attraction. Later though when the truth was out, a fantastic romance happened.

What really surprised me, but I won’t write it here since it’s better to find out on your own, is an addition of characters that serve as the sister’s romance partners. I fell in love with all of them instantly and even though they all are practically strangers, when you picture them in the context of the world the author created, the relationships are not rushed.

I really can’t wait to read the next book of this story!! Congratulations to the author!!
Profile Image for J.D. Wilde.
Author 2 books13 followers
August 3, 2017
TLDR: A good, occasionally great urban fantasy.

The Review:

Unbalanced tells the tales of four sisters fighting against the Order who wish to sacrifice them in order to gain enormous amounts of power. This book has a fairly high number of important characters, but it focuses on Asha, which is great as she is a badass mercenary kind of woman. And I do love reading about badasses.

The action scenes are great fun to read, and the other characters are quite interesting to learn about as well. I always enjoy books with secondary characters that appear just as if not more interesting than the main character, and this book most definitely has this.

So why four instead of five?

The urban fantasy part of this urban fantasy/ romance novel is great, but the romance to me just feels a bit forced. And after pondering it for quite a bit of time, I really can’t pinpoint why. I’ve gone back and read the interactions, but I don’t know. There just seems to be a bit of emotion lacking between the two I guess.

Final Thoughts:

A fun, easy flowing urban fantasy. If you enjoy a quicker pace and a bit of action, you’ll enjoy this novel.
Profile Image for Maria Rivas-mc.
221 reviews4 followers
March 1, 2019
“The Order’s sole purpose is to find the sisters and take their power through sacrifice. We do it for the Four.”

So, this is not a ‘happy ever after’ kind of novel. People - the innocent to the very guilty - fight and die (often gruesomely) as the book proceeds. It’s in the urban fantasy genre with a Prologue which starts off in Spain in the Middle Ages and ends in Northern British Columbia in 1988.

This is our introduction to the story of the four Sisters who are more than human and may seem cold because of it. Enter our present day characters, including the four complementary Brothers. It is also the launching pad for a series of almost fated interactions that bring them together to destroy the Order that is seeking to destroy them.

I still feel as if I were missing a piece of the puzzle and admit that I may have missed it along the way: what was their overarching cause or purpose? Why were four ‘evil gods’ obsessed with killing them? I couldn’t quite love any of the characters, though Clay was the easiest to like and enjoy.

At the end, a final battle leaves them broken, if alive, but bracing for more in a follow up book.
Profile Image for Deyae.
39 reviews11 followers
March 30, 2019
This book is really such a great pick, it took me a few chapters to fell in love with it. I couldn't put it down, even if I did my thoughts would be about what would happen next, it was so intriguing to get so much engrossed and attached this quickly, so as I said before do not hesitate to give it a try, it's really WORTH it.
The story is basically about four sisters, each one of them has a nature power; fire, water, air and earth. In each generation, these sisters would be born, to end up killed by the Order members who worship the Four (they are said to be gods); to maintain "balance".
It's been years since they've been searching for the sisters, but to no avail, until they capture accidentally the fire one; named Asha. Then, she met her sisters (Mere, Avia and Ivy) for the first in her life. In fact, she didn't nor did they know that they are sisters before.
A lot of things happened and the sisters must separate, eventhough they're stronger together, to unit in the end when they fought the order.
The end is Really shocking, I didn't see it coming, but overall it's really really a great story. READ IT!!
Profile Image for Leon Huet.
Author 1 book6 followers
August 1, 2017
Unbalanced is a paranormal fantasy romance with plenty of thrills and spills. The story concerns a feisty young woman called Asha who can command fire. While falling for a handsome rogue she and her similarly powerful sisters battle against an ancient order intent on destroying them.

The beginning of the novel is a succession of intriguing and thrilling set pieces that immerse the reader in a compelling and dangerous world. The combination of bone-crunching military action, cultish magic and ancient sects had my attention from the off. The writing is well crafted and the scenes are unusual and vivid.

The character exposition sometimes felt a bit clunky but there is plenty in this book for those who enjoy strong female leads, magic, ancient prophesies, modern thrills, and romance. The author certainly has a bright future in creative writing.
Profile Image for Cordelia.
58 reviews
July 2, 2019
Unbalanced is a story about four powerful sisters. Each of them have the power of each elements; fire, water, earth, and air. Each time the sisters are born, they will be track and kill by The Order. Sometimes as babies and sometimes when they're older. To survive, they need to join force and fend for themselves with some help from their friends, ready for the upcoming battle.

Unbalanced is an interesting book where the story is unpredictable. I loves when it shows so much girl power and how they support each other. It really show how strong and independence a girl can be to protect themselves and their love ones especially during medieval era where we obviously knew men was the dominant during the era. Plus, it have romance in it where it is totally different from other typical romance book. I totally recommend this book if you want something new, and fresh to read.
Author 2 books
June 20, 2015
Unbalanced offers everything a lover of paranormal romances is looking for. The story follows one of four sisters as they discover each other and their own awesome powers. Tasked with responsibilities that will affect all of humanity, the sisters are kept ignorant of their enemies; enemies whose own survival requires the death of all four. On every page I had to wonder how Asha, the main character, could possibly survive, let alone help her sisters defeat their dark enemies, both human and otherworldly. The riveting action continues right up to the exciting conclusion, while at the same time Asha falls in love with a gorgeous hunk—who may or may not be plotting to kill her. Unbalanced is first in what will prove to be an exciting series.
Profile Image for Dess.
27 reviews
October 16, 2019
I am torn about this book.

There are parts that I liked, then there are parts that I didn't.

The story was promising, about 4 sisters with natural elemental gifts.

But, sometimes, I do not understand what is happening. I feel like there were 2 writers writing the story haha! Because the writing in one part is different from the other part.

It also switches POV without warning. It's really hard sometimes to know who was talking if there are 8 POVs. :D

Also, there are parts that felt rushed.

But I liked the story. It pulled me enough to finish the story and to wait for the next book. I have high hopes that Ms. Shepard will outdo herself in the next book.

Thank you Booktasters and Ms. Shepard for the free book.

Profile Image for Tesha Ham.
133 reviews6 followers
February 5, 2019
I think this title is a great addition to any library or young adult collection; its unique in its own way and fun to read. Despite having books written about people who control elements, I think this book stands out and offers a different take. The author put so much thought and detail into every chapter. My only critique is there are a few sections that feel a bit dull, but more so than not, this book is worth the time.

I voluntarily read and received a free ARC copy of this title through NetGalley in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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