April Wrap-Up

To preface this post, I wanted to let you all know that it took my two hours to do this. Partly my fault since I read so much this month, but it’s formatted a little differently from last month because there was so much and I’m lazy. As a disclaimer, some of the books I read have not been released yet, so I’m sorry if you wanted to pick them up immediately. If a review has been written, it will be tagged in the title, so feel free to check it out! Reviews for the other books I read will be up, probably sometime in May or June. Okay, moving on: I hope you enjoy what I read and what I bought/received this month!

Books I’ve Read:

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Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Shielded by Kaylynn Flanders

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 2//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

Genre: YA Science Fiction and Fantasy

Rating: 3.5//5

Goodreads

 

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The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Genre: YA Science Fiction and Fantasy

Rating: 4//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Hunting November (Killing November #2) by Adriana Mather

Genre: YA Thriller

Rating: 3.75//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Ruthless Gods (Wicked Saints #2) by Emily A. Duncan

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5//5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5//5 stars

Goodreads

Books I’ve Bought/Received:

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The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Format: ARC

Received from: Trade with a friend

Goodreads

 

 

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Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Format: ARC

Received from: Trade with a friend

Publication Date: July 7th, 2020

Goodreads

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The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

Format: eARC

Received from: Edelweiss

Publication Date: July 7th, 2020

Goodreads

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Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Format: ARC and eARC

Received from: ApollyCon and NetGalley

Publication Date: July 7th, 2020

Goodreads 

 

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A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Format: eARC

Received from: NetGalley

Publication Date: Sometime 2020

Goodreads

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Format: eARC and maybe physical?

Received from: Tor Publishing

Publication Date: October 6th, 2020

Goodreads

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Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

Format: eARC

Received from: Harper Collins

Publication Date: September 1st, 2020

Goodreads

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The Boundless by Anna Bright

Format: eARC

Received: Blog Tour

Publication Date: June 9th, 2020

Goodreads

 

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Crave by Tracy Wolff

Format: Physical Book

Bought from: Amazon

Goodreads

 

 

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Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

Format: Physical Book

Bought from: OwlCrate

Goodreads

 

 

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Format: Physical Book

Bought from: Illumicrate

Goodreads

 

 

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Format: Physical Book

Bought from: Illumicrate

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

ARC Review: Kingdom of Back

So not to surprise anyone, but this is the first Marie Lu book I’ve ever read. I managed to trade for an ARC of this book from a friend and it was so good! I love historical fiction and as a classically trained flute player I’ve played a lot of Mozart. To get to see a new side to the composer and his lesser known sister was an experience for me. And to mix fantasy into it? Even better.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish–to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age–her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true–but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

As a musician, reading about their playing and composition struggles hit home for me. I had composed some small pieces myself in music theory classes, including a duet I co-composed between flute and clarinet. It was very relatable for me to see struggles that they were going through and sympathize with the doubts Nannerl felt. While my flute playing never brought in any money, even though it could have, it was interesting to see the historical differences for Wolfgang (Woferl) vs. Maria Anna (Nannerl).

As a woman, Nannerl can only perform until she is of age to marry and can never compose. Meanwhile, Woferl can play and compose until his dying breath (which he did). When Nannerl wishes to be remembered, she is approached by a Guardian spirit – Hyacinth, who strikes a deal with her: if you complete three tasks for me I will make sure you are remembered forever.

So, first off this is not high fantasy. This is more like urban fantasy where the fantastical elements are hidden from the modern world, except the modern world is 18th century Austria. While the Kingdom of Back moments are filled with faeries and monsters alike, it is written more like a dream than a world beyond. I thought the tone of it fit the story well as the Kingdom was “created” by two children looking to escape from their world of societal expectations and music. But don’t be fooled, this is not a high fantasy novel and most of the book is not set in the fantasy world.

Once you get past that expectation it does fluidly mix the fantasy world and real world together. Most of the story takes place in the real world and is primarily historical fiction mixed with some fantasy, but I love historical fiction so it wasn’t an issue for me. We have moments of hidden faces and unexpected images which I thought was even better than spending the entire book in the Kingdom. We get to see the children grow up and face real things that happened to them: Wolferl getting sick frequently, Nannerl’s secret compositions, and their journey around Europe.

There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about the story honestly. I enjoyed seeing a young Wolfgang, since we really only hear about his scandalous days at court as a young man and not his childhood, and getting to learn about his sister Maria Anna. We see their relationship, their home life, their music careers. It reminds the reader that these were real people.

The thing that sealed the deal with this story was Marie’s author note at the end. This book was a decade long project for her and her objective made me cry. Nannerl did not get to grow up and be a musician and composer like Wolferl, but her music lives on, hidden in his work. Now, for the most part, girls can be whoever and do whatever they want. Nannerl’s wish was to live on forever and now she can, inspiring girls everywhere to live their dreams.

This book was a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 star read for me. The ending made me emotional and brought back the reasons why I love music. I miss the experience of performing someone’s creation long after they are gone and bringing to light the world as they saw it.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ApollyCon 2020 Giveaway Winners

Let Alexa and I start off by saying thank you to everyone who entered this giveaway! You all blew our expectations out of the water. Alexa and I each have posts announcing the winners, so make sure to check out her post over on Writing the Universe! We are super thrilled at your excitement for these bags filled with books and bookish goodies. So far, 2020 has been a bit of a mess but we hope these prizes brings a little joy to the chaos that has been 2020 . . .  so far. We can only hope that time becomes relevant again, as of right now it feels a bit nonexistent. Days seem to blur into one another, and the most enticing thing is staying in bed all day. But in the meantime, here are the new books and goodies for you to enjoy!

Each of these boxes are stuffed completely full of books of various genres and formats, including some exclusive book box swag of various fandoms. We are both very, very grateful for your help in promoting this giveaway – we saw all your retweets and comments. It was so much fun seeing which Jennifer L. Armentrout books were your favorites. There were some that surprised us. And others that we expected to see, though really there isn’t a bad choice.

Initially we planned for four US and two international winners, but we don’t appear to have any international entries. Since this seems to be the case, we opted to pull two more US winners who will get an e-book of Jen’s From Blood and Ash. Winners will be emailed a google form to fill out with their shipping/mailing situation. You will have 24 hours upon receiving the email to fill out the form and email it back. Once we have your information, we will ship out the box containing your prize. Due to COVID-19 and potential shipping delays, we will be emailing you your tracking information when we have it available. The plan is to pack and mail the boxes hopefully by the end of the week upon receiving your filled out Google Form.

Now without further ado, the moment you are all waiting for THE WINNERS:

THESORBETJOURNEY: Giveaway Winner Announcement !!

4 ApollyCon Bag Winners:

  1. Kati Zollinhofr
  2. Allisa White
  3. Belle Ellrich
  4. Lindsey Smith

From Blood and Ash e-book Winners:

  1. Linda Cruz
  2. Robyn Besthuffman

We want to thank you all again for participating in this giveaway, it wouldn’t be possible without you. We hope to do more of these in the future together and individually, so make sure you continue to follow both of our blogs. We even post giveaways over on our other various social media platforms, keep you eyes peeled for those there. Alexa and I hope that you enjoy your boxes of books and bookish goodies. Winners will also be tagged on Twitter and emails should be in your inbox by 12:00pm EST on April 29, 2020. Please let us know if you do not receive an email by this time. Thanks again to everyone who entered, you’re the best!

Review: House of Earth and Blood

Before I get into this review, just a reminder that the giveaway my friend Writing the Universe and I are holding ends on Monday! Here is the link to enter – please make sure you enter through Rafflecopter (link in the giveaway post) and are doing all FIVE of the mandatory tasks to be entered properly! Good luck!

After a lot of pushing, I was forced to start reading House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas. I wanted to wait to read this because once you’ve read something, you can’t read it for the first time ever again, but after being pressured to read it, for my own good, I did. And wow. Sarah J Maas is always a favorite.

As a warning since Sarah has written both a young adult and new adult series, this is 100% adult fiction. While it is similar to her younger series, there is a lot of cursing, violence, sex, and other adult references. If you are not prepared to read an adult series, this book is not one to read right now. You can check out her other younger series Throne of Glass which is YA or A Court of Thorns and Roses which is New Adult.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

As an avid lover of Sarah J Maas, this review is going to be biased. I’ve read every book she’s written at this point and have loved everything she’s written and I can safely add this title to the list.

To start off this review, I’m going to go over a few different areas/concepts. To start, let’s look at characters.

We meet Bryce Quinlan and her partner in crime Danika – two party queens enjoying their youth. After meeting these friends, we only get a glimpse at their shallow lives. It’s all about drinking, sex, drugs, and enjoying themselves but we don’t get a lot besides that and their intense friendship. As we move along, we learn more about Bryce and Danika revealing they are much more than shallow party girls, but real genuine people who care deeply about the people around them. Among other things.

As Bryce shows her true colors and her development over time, it shows that people can be big hearted, have fun, and be smart and sophisticated. Nobody is one dimensional. While she may be a party girl in the beginning she also proves that she was and is much more than that. Other’s perceptions cloud her true personality and people make assumptions about who she is, which we can all relate to. I love seeing a realistic look at bullying (yes, even adults get bullied unfortunately) and how she responds to it. Bryce allows people to make assumptions about her and doesn’t correct them, proving you have to get to know her to see who she truly is.

Another person we see growth from is Hunt. When we meet him, he is a cold angel of death. As he encounters Bryce after the murder of her best friend there is no love or sympathy behind his eyes. When the two start working together we see both of them start to slowly change over time as they both relearn to love. Another thing about getting to know Hunt was his struggles with mental health as well. Often we don’t see men shown as weak or needing help and I thought that the way Sarah portrays both of them helping each other is just what society needs. Everyone sees Hunt as this tough guy, but he shows Bryce that not only is there more to him than being a killer, but he is just as much of a softy as anyone else.

When I look at the plot – I love it. We have a classic murder mystery mixed with high fantasy in a modern-ish world. It’s like mixing everything I love into one story. I do have to admit that the first 400 pages are slow. We get world building, backstory, and plot build up which takes away from the rush of action sometimes. The plot of the story starts around page 200 or so, about 25% into the story, but it starts to accelerate 50% of the way through and doesn’t stop. Once the halfway mark hits, everything goes crazy and you’re dragged along for a wild ride. There are so many twists and turns in this story I’m sure my head spun a full 360 degrees by the end.

Besides the character development and plot, I love the world of Crescent City! We get different factions of beings who serve different purposes. A whole world of vampires, fae, angels, werewolves, shifters, merpeople, demons, and more alike to keep you entertained. There was a lot of laughter and tears for me reading this story and I think it’s equal to the TOG series, if not better. I discovered Maas’ books just after Empire of Storm was published and ACOMAF close behind so while I haven’t been a fan for years like others, she is definitely one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Now, to get to the review. Would anyone be surprised that this is a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 star review? I loved this book so much and it was so refreshing to see someone deal with trauma and mental illness in a such a realistic way. It feels like myself and other people suffering from mental illness are finally being seen and it makes me so happy.

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If this book sounds good to you, check out Sarah’s other series Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses for similar content. Another fantasy epic you’ll love is Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. 

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Goddess in the Machine

Before I get into this review, just a reminder that the giveaway my friend Writing the Universe and I are holding ends on Monday! Here is the link to enter – please make sure you enter through Rafflecopter (link in the giveaway post) and are doing all FIVE of the mandatory tasks to be entered properly! Good luck!

My friend Grace and I were lucky enough to snag a YallFEST exclusive of Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson this past November and decided to buddy read it while in quarantine. It was a rocky start, but a solid finish and now I’m so excited to read book 2!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.

Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists–including her family and friends–are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.

Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne–if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.

With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?

So the biggest issue we both had at the beginning was the language. Lora Beth shows how the language has changed within those thousand years with different spelling and their own slang. At first it’s very daunting trying to understand what these people are trying to say but as we continued to read, we found it easier to understand the characters and her writing. This was a huge relief for us. Both of us were considering DNFing the book due to the inability to fully grasp what was going on, but I’m glad we stuck it out.

The other thing I had an issue with was the main love interest. Because of the language change and confusion, Zhade came off as a child to me. It was so hard to think of him as a teenager, or an adult, or however old he was. I could only see him as this 11/12 year old kid helping Andra with the way that he talked. Which is not what you want for a love interest. Over time, it got better, but the beginning was rough especially when trying to picture him flirting, which he does a lot.

Now, I didn’t get fully invested into the story until 200 or so pages in. That’s a lot of pages to read before I’m excited to see what’s next. I had been mildly interested in what was going on before the 200 page mark, but the events that happen after page 200 is what really brought me in and got me excited to read what happens next. Not everyone has that patience though.

Once we got into the thrill of the book, it was really good. Good enough that we both want to read the sequel when it is released. Yay! This book isn’t supposed to release until June 30th, 2020 so the early draft we got could have changed a lot in that time between when we got the ARC in November and release date. So take my criticism with a grain of salt on this one.

Again, besides the language, and a slow beginning, I really enjoyed this story and thought it was a great sci-fi mystery! This was a solid star.pngstar.pngstar.png.5 // 5 stars for me and I think anyone who likes science fiction will love this story!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman or Skyward by Brandon Sanderson!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

ARC Review: Where Dreams Descend

I received an eARC of Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

FIRST OFF. This review would have been MUCH higher if not for two things. 1) Half of the book is filler. I am not joking. Half of it is filler. There was so many unnecessary scenes that just slowed down the flow of the book it was driving me mad. I stayed at 30% for almost two months because the second the “plot” started and the main character arrived in town, it felt like LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENED FOR 100 PAGES.

2) THIS BOOK IS SO CONFUSING. I don’t mean, “oh wow, this is really complex and might be hard to grasp”. No, I mean like it was not explained well and the twists and turns don’t make sense at all and you’re just sitting there going “huh”??? Now, maybe I’m dumb, a definite possibility. But after talking to my friend who also finished the book and revealing that they don’t know what happened either, I’m gonna go with bad writing on this one.

Was the plot super cool and interesting? Hell yeah! Were the characters complex and engaging? Absolutely! Did that cover up the bad writing? No. And it’s unfortunate because the writing itself is beautiful. She went for a mystical, mysterious feel and she succeeded, but her ability to explain concepts and plot points clearly was lacking. It was so hard to get through at points due to the writing and not understand what she was trying to say/show. It made me want to skim so I could get to dialogue or clearer lines to clarify what was going on. Even with the temptation, I stuck it through and read the book and just didn’t like it. And trust me, I really wanted to like it!

In the end, I could really only give this book star.pngstar.png//5 stars. Again, not because I hated the book (I really didn’t hate the book) but because there was a lot going on that left me bored, confused, and unsatisfied. It made me dislike reading it and made it difficult to get through.

Now, granted, I read the ARC, so the finished copy may have fixed a lot of these issues and might be clearer. And you should definitely give this book a try because I loved the concept, just not the execution.

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If you’re looking for a dark, mystical fantasy, check out Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

April Mid-Month Update

March was crazy and April is following closely behind for me. This month I have focused on the books currently sitting in my NetGalley queue and other giveaway books I’ve won. I’ve also allowed my self to read some TBR books this month to keep it fresh and motivate me, as well as some buddy reading! Here is my mid month update on what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read for April!

What I’ve read:

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What I’m reading:

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What I plan to read:

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I’m currently buddy reading The Kingdom of Back and Goddess in the Machine with some friends, which is why it’s taking so long for me to read them. If you follow me on Goodreads, then you’d see I’m reading about 50 pages a day for each of them. I am also almost done with Where Dreams Descend and plan to start The Vanishing Deep next!

I’m hopeful that I can read the rest of these books by the end of the month, but it might change depending on how I’m feeling. Most likely, one or two of these will need to be pushed into May but again, I’m hopeful that I can get through them all. Now one of these books is HUGE (cough cough, SJM, cough cough)! I’m excited to dive into two of my favorite authors, especially since most of my friends have read their books already and are waiting on me to finish. I love Astrid’s debut novel Four Dead Queens and I’ve been hearing great things about The Vanishing Deep!

As I set up my May TBR, what are some titles you’re looking to read? I have a few ARCs, some new releases, and old TBR books I’m hoping to get through. I also want to push myself to read more books this month and next month so I can get ahead for my reading goal.

Don’t forget, I am currently co-hosting a giveaway with Writing the Universe! You can enter through the Rafflecopter we have set up (entries will only count if you enter through there!). I will link the post to our giveaway – please feel free to check it out and enter!

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

I Need to Rant

Okay, I’m not normally a ranter.

Alright maybe that was a lie, but I don’t rant on my blog often. Today I feel like I need to get this off my chest and maybe that will be the catalyst to turn this around.

I am finding it extremely hard to find a book that I want to read right now. After reading several amazing books this month (check out my latest reviews!!) nothing seems to catch my attention the same way.

As of today, I am currently reading three books: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles, The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu, and Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson. While I’m enjoying them for the most part, I am .01% away from DNFing Goddess in the Machine and I’m just trying to get through Where Dreams Descend because this is my 3rd? 4th? attempt trying to finish it. The only book I’m not pulling hair to get through is Kingdom of Back at the moment.

Now, the most annoying problem is, is that normally I would love all of these books. They fit right into my favorite genres and have amazing plots, characters, pacing and tone is great. But, still, I just can’t love them.

I’m worried that not only am I about to fall into a reading slump, but my slump will turn books that I should love, and probably would love, into books that I can’t stand. And I’m so frustrated with this! The second I get myself into a reading frenzy I can’t bring myself to like the books I’m getting through. I can’t figure out what is causing this or how I can fix it, so I guess be prepared for some not great reviews on these books because my stupid brain can’t detach the stress of life and wants me to hate them.

And I really want to like them.

I’ve found myself in these slumps before and it usually marks the end for my reading. I get through a couple really good books and then BAM! I can’t reading anything else for a month and I’m stuck. Really frustrating for a book blogger. I’m hoping I can turn this around and keep going since I have been doing much better with finishing and reviewing books in a somewhat timely manner right now, but we’ll see.

Anyways, that was my rant. I’m just frustrated with my brain and my reading at the moment. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for staying with me. 🙂

Okay, I’m going to get back to reading and hopefully get myself out of this rut.

ARC Review: The Raven and the Dove

***If you haven’t seen, I am currently co-hosting a giveaway with my friend Alexa who runs Writing the Universe. We are giving away four bags full of books, ARCs, and swag from ApollyCon and our personal collection as well as two prizes for our international people! Here is the link to enter. Please be sure to enter through the Rafflecopter link in order for your entries to count! Okay, now back to the review 🙂

I received an eARC of The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

So I requested this book on NetGalley solely because of the cover. Don’t ask me why I was judging this book on its cover, but I was. After requesting the title I looked at the tag line and was instantly hooked: Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo! This screamed my name and I am so happy I got a copy because it lived up to its tag!

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Here is they synopsis from Goodreads:

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

When I started reading this book, I thought to myself “Wow! This is a great read, it’s so fun, I’m very interested. What happens next?” As I continued to read I found myself unable to put the book down. I would read pages upon pages of the story before I could convince myself to stop because the story is that engaging. We have free-spirited Lyana or Ana who’s big heart and big sense of adventure makes you want to follow her and her journey. Cassi, who’s air of mystery keeps you guessing from one page to the next. Xander, who is so sweet and loving that you just want to give him the biggest hug and shield his eyes to any wrong doings. And finally, Rafe, who is so tortured that you can’t help but want to make it all better.

These 4 POVs each bring a different personality and view point into the mix and it makes the story so good. I can’t imagine reading it from just one of their POVs for the entire story. Each view point brings so much to the plot and the depth of the story it makes it a wild ride!

So yeah, I really liked this book. I thought the characters are awesome, the plot is new and interesting (but also familiar enough to like), and the author’s writing is enjoyable. Did I dislike anything? Honestly, no. I was captivated from the first page and loved every second of the ride. I’ve already preordered the second book so I can read it once it’s released in September.

So for this book I gave it star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars. So you might be asking yourself, Sammy, why didn’t you give this 5 stars then? Well, I don’t know. I thought the book was great and everything about it was awesome but it didn’t bring about that excitement. The exhilaration and heart pounding certainty that I’ve just read something so amazing words cannot explain. Did I find myself glued to my chair the entire time, unable to put the book down? Yes. Did I love it and have nothing to complain about? Yes. Is it a story I can’t stop thinking about and need to dive back into immediately? Well, no. And that might be why it’s not a 5 star read for me. But, I still adored this story and I cannot wait to read book 2! In fact, I’m anxious to find out what happens next.

If you want an adventure filled with big personalities, multiple POVs, and a solid plot – well, what are you waiting for? Go read it now!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

NetGalley Update: April 2020

So I wanted to update my NetGalley waitlist/stats since the last one went up end of January. I have been reading a lot more since being forced to work at home. Less commute time = more reading time.

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With all that reading time meant I had to request more titles too! So here is my updated NetGalley waiting list 🙂

So far, I have been approved for these titles:

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Declined on these titles:

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*Cries softly at all of the books I got rejected for these past two months, including Deck of Omens which was actually devastating! Especially since I was approved for an eARC of The Devouring Grey. Okay, I’m not going to cry! Moving on!

And still waiting to know about these titles:

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I would be so excited to read any of these, but I’m anxiously checking my inbox to see if I get approved for Addie LaRue because if I don’t, I will cry. No, I will sob. This is a unicorn for me and getting to read it early would probably give me a heart attack from pure joy. So fingers crossed that I can cry happy tears instead of sad ones.

At the moment I am currently reading Shielded by KayLynn Flanders and will be reading The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte next.

From my last update I have read:

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Sensational by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis (review to come!)

Aurora Rising and Sensational were two “overdue” books that I had sitting in my cue for well over three months and finally finished them! I had Aurora waiting for about a year and Sensational was about five months – but I completed them and I am somewhat up to date on my reading! Yay!

I have linked my reviews of each book that I have read for you to check out – these six books were AMAZING! I can’t wait to continue reading the new books I have and hopefully, read some of the others I’m waiting for.

What is a title you’re anxiously hoping to be approved/waiting to read? The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is by far my top choice but, if I could request it, I would also die to read Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

You may or may not have seen that I am co-hosting a huge giveaway through my blog and my friend Alexa’s blog, Writing the Universe. I will link the post to enter to win ARCs, books, and ApollyCon swag! You must enter through the Rafflecopter in order to count your entry. Thanks for looking, good luck!

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ApollyCon 2020 + Giveaway!

***Just a reminder: If you want to be entered to win one of the 4 bags or if you’re an international reader, you NEED to enter and do the task via the Rafflecopter. If you do the tasks and don’t track them in the Rafflecopter, you won’t be counted as a possible winner.

So I’m a bit peeved at COVID-19 because, well, everything. I had planned to go to ApollyCon 2020 and was so upset when the event was cancelled. This would have been my first time going to this event and I was so excited to see some of my favorite authors and meet new authors, but alas, it was not meant to be. While I am in support of Jen’s decision to cancel the event and move it online, I’m still really sad I wasn’t able to experience it in full, but I loved the online experience. Getting to hear from different authors and the different giveaways they did were so much fun! While ApollyCon 2021 is not confirmed, I really hope it can put be on and I can experience the event for myself next year.

While ApollyCon may have been cancelled, the fun continues on! I am so excited to be able to co-host this HUGE ApollyCon giveaway with Alexa over at Writing the Universe. I met Alexa just after ApollyCon 2019 and we quickly became friends after meeting up for a trade. Her giveaway last year looked like so much fun that I had to participate this year.

For 2020 we are giving away FOUR ApollyCon prize bags. Each will contain a mixture of books, ARCs, ApollyCon swag, and book box swag. There will also be TWO international giveaway winners who will receive a choice of a Jen Armentrout book through Book Depository (if BD ships to them) or a kindle copy of her newest book From Blood and Ash!

I will post the Terms and Conditions of the giveaway below, but I wanted to post a sneak peak of some of the items you could win!

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We will be randomly choosing the winners through Rafflecopter and I will provide a link in my post. Here are the terms and conditions for this giveaway:

This Giveaway is split between my blog Lady and Star and my friend Alexa’s blog, Writing the Universe. We each will post 2 of the 4 ApollyCon Bags. These bags are what were included with the purchase of a Titan ticket for the event, plus extra books and book box swag. These bags are packed completely full of books and bookish items. Each bag is a mix of genres, fandom, and items. Each bag is different but may share similar/same items.

4 winners will be chosen, but you do not get to choose your bag.

There is a list of 10 things you can do to enter this giveaway, 5 of them are mandatory, the other 5 are bonuses – giving you a possibility for 10 total entries.

These are mandatory:

  1. Follow Lady and Star (My Blog)
  2. Follow Writing the Universe (Alexa’s Blog)
  3. Follow Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Twitter (@JLArmentrout)
  4. Follow my Twitter (@SuchABadBASS)
  5. Follow Alexa’s Twitter (@lexacourtney)
    *Email followers count as well; you do not need to have a WordPress account to qualify. We just have to be able to determine you are actually following our blogs

Extra Entries:

  1. Retweet Pinned Giveaway Tweet on My Twitter
  2. Retweet Pinned Giveaway Tweet on Alexa’s Twitter
  3. Follow My Blog Twitter (@ladyandstar)
  4. Comment on this post with your favorite JLA Book
  5. Comment on Alexa’s Giveaway post with your favorite JLA Book

All of these tasks are listed in the Rafflecopter, as well as all the terms and conditions listed below.

Here is the link to enter! RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5b9c1f832/?

This Giveaway is going to run from April 6, 2020 8 AM EST, to April 27, 2020 12:00 AM EST . Winners will be announced April 29, and notified via email with a Google Doc to fill out.

***Due to circumstances surrounding COVID -19 and various forms of Stay At Home Directives in place, we will notify you when we are able to ship. Of course, we will do our best to get them out as soon as possible after announcing the winners.

NO GIVEAWAY ACCOUNTS FOR EITHER KIND OF PRIZES.

NO FOLLOWING TO UNFOLLOW AFTER  THE GIVEAWAY ENDS.

We will be checking, and you will be blocked from any future giveaways.

For the 4 Apollycon 2020 Bags

Bags contain a mix of Apollycon 2020 books and swag, plus a variety of ARCs and Book Box swag. Each bag is different, but there may be some similarities. The above photos contain what you may receive, but are not a guarantee of what will be included in your prize if you win.

– Must be US residents with a US mailing address

– Must be 18+ or have a parent’s permission

The four Apollycon bags will ship in a Medium Flat Rate USPS Box.

We wanted to include our international friends in this giveaway, while keeping it Apollycon related. Since Jen, the creator of Apollycon, surprise released a new book at the end of March, we wanted to give people a chance to acquire it.

For the 2 Books* – 2 Winners

*This is for International People ONLY, please do not enter if you are a US resident!

– Must be 18+ or have a parent’s permission

– If Book Depository ships to your country, you can chose any Jennifer L. Armentrout Book up to $15, OR get a Kindle version of her Newest Book FROM BLOOD AND ASH.

All the same rules apply, 10 possible entries, but only 5 are mandatory. If chosen as a winner, you will be notified via email with a Google Doc to fill out.

Alexa and I are so excited to be able to put on this giveaway for you and wish everyone the best of luck!

***If/when you head over to Alexa’s blog, you’re going to see a lot of the same information. Know that it doesn’t mean double, the Rafflecopter’s are the same, with all of the same tasks. It does not matter which link you click on, or who’s blog you access it from.

Thanks for entering! ❤

 

ARC Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

I received an ARC of Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust through a giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

I was lucky enough to receive a manuscript/early ARC through YallFEST but was so disappointed when it was a black cover. If you haven’t seen the cover art for this book, it is absolutely beautiful (as shown below). On a whim, I entered a Goodreads giveaway for a newer ARC because it had the cover art and with the expectation that I was not going to win. Normally, I don’t – but this time I did. And let me just say, the cover art is more beautiful in person.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

 

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Reading the synopsis was one of the first things that pulled me into this story. I knew I was in for a wild ride after reading that and I was right. We meet Soraya, a poisonous princess locked away in her room for others protection. While she does have access to the secret tunnels in her “castle”, she is aware that were she to run into anybody it could be deadly. The feeling of isolation and loneliness due to being locked away from Soraya really resonated with me. Everyone has felt lonely at times, but true loneliness is a difficult and cyclical feeling for people and it broke my heart when we first encountered our protagonist. I think Melissa writes this out beautifully though and shows the conflict in Soraya’s mind between finding a connection and keeping boundaries while also not only keeping it realistic, but unique to our character.

As we go on our journey, the twists and turns never stop. The way I thought this plot line would go was nowhere near the truth of this story – we go from point A to C to G to Y and my head is spinning (in a good way). I really didn’t expect the book to go the way it did but I think it makes it that much better. The self love Soraya is encouraged to find is an amazing message to anyone reading this and it feels genuine. The reader and Soraya learn some valuable lessons along the way and see the motivation behind every decision and their consequences. This book is not boring to say the least.

Now, there wasn’t much that I disliked, but, there are certain moments I wanted the author to write more into and extend and others I wanted to shrink. I won’t go into details, for obvious reasons, but some scenes I wanted more of! I really enjoyed reading Soraya’s story and I think anyone who loves a fierce heroine who can not only save herself, but learn to love herself in the meantime, is going to love this story.

I gave this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars with no regrets. I loved this book and while I have a strong feeling this is a standalone, I would be so happy to read a sequel just to spend more time with these characters!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Review: Sensational

I received an e-ARC of Sensational by Jodie Lynn Zdrok from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review:

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris is full of innovations, cultural displays, and inventions. Millions of visitors attend over the course of several months…so no one would notice if a few were missing, right? Maybe—but someone is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the guillotine with a display of their own: beheaded victims in some of the Exposition’s most popular exhibits.

Nathalie Baudin’s ability to see murder scenes should help, but she’s suffering the effects of her magic more than ever before. Fortunately she has other Insightfuls to team up with—if they can be trusted.

 

I genuinely enjoyed this book and thought it was a great conclusion for this duology. We follow Nathalie as she continues her work helping the morgue and police with murder investigations. She has a suitor, is still working with Le Petite Journal, and while everything is going well, is still recovering from the Dark Artist murders two years earlier. It was sad to read that even two years later Nathalie is still suffering from the murder of her best friend. While I’m aware that grief does not have a timeline, I would have hoped she was feeling more comfortable and secure than we see her at the start of the book.

I also enjoyed getting to see more of her friends in this book. In Spectacle, we see a lot of the morgue, Le Petite Journal, and Aunt Bridgette. In Sensational, we see Nathalie with her friends more, going out and about. It was a nice change of pace from the first book and I liked the social interaction as well.

I thought the plot was great and even when I thought I knew the killer, I was still shocked to find myself wrong. It was interesting having the events coincide with the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris and to see what the exposition would have looked like through Nathalie’s eyes. It’s always fun to include a big historical event in a murder novel!

My only complaint was that there was sometimes too much of nothing in between scenes. The filler slowed down the book a lot in certain areas and it was preventing me from devouring the story like I did with Spectacle. Regardless, I like the plot, I like the ending, and I thought it was a great way to wrap up Nathalie’s story.

This book was a solid star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars for me. I loved book 1 and book 2 was just as great.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!