ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked

I finished Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco in the beginning of September and wrote my review immediately after, but wanted to wait until AFTER the #GetWickedTour ended to post my review. Thank you JIMMY Patterson Books for sending me a copy! We’re so thankful you got to be our first ever tour! 

I’m going to be formatting my post as if I am a part of the blog tour, though technically, I’m not. So if you’re confused, sorry about that! It’s just a fun way for me to include everything and express my love for this book!

If you haven’t been following along, please take a minute to check out the other posts from the tour and give the bloggers and bookstagrammers some love! You can access the schedule here

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ARC Review: Hush

I received an eARC of Hush by Dylan Farrow from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hadn’t heard a lot about this book when I requested it except that it was a fantasy novel, so I didn’t have any preconceived thoughts going in (besides what the synopsis said). I didn’t know if I would like it, but I’m here to report that I loved it!

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ARC Review: The Silvered Serpents

I saw that The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi was Read Now on NetGalley and without thinking, I downloaded it to my kindle. I hadn’t read The Gilded Wolves, in fact, I had DNFed it originally. But I downloaded it anyways because *cue the theme song* I’m an idiot!

But I ended up loving The Gilded Wolves and, not surprisingly, I loved The Silvered Serpents even more!

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ARC Review: White Fox

I received an eARC of White Fox by Sara Faring from Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review.

I have been on such a thriller kick lately that this book sounded like exactly what I wanted to read. A ten year old disappearance? A chance to investigate what really happened? Spooky, creepy clues as to what may have happened popping up? It was too interesting to resist – and I loved it!

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ARC Review: The Hunter and The Mage

I received an eARC of The Hunter and the Mage by Kaitlyn Davis in exchange for an honest review. Kaitlyn sent this to me a couple of months ago and I finally got a chance to read it!

The Hunter and the Mage is the sequel to The Raven and the Dove – so if you haven’t read book 1, be sure to order a copy today! I’ll also link my review here if you want to check that out!

This will be a spoiler free review, but I cannot guarantee that this review will not include spoilers from The Raven and the Dove – so if you haven’t read it yet, you have been warned!

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ARC Review: Legendborn

Today I am reviewing Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and I’m so glad I got to read it early. This book has quickly become one of my all time favorite books and I was so happy to find out it’s going to be a series!

This book is filled with magic, adventure, and some American history and it is AMAZING

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ARC Review: The Bone Shard Daughter

I received The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart from Goodreads from one of their giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

I was hesitant to read and review this book due to some drama on book twitter, but I had won the copy and felt I should at least read it. 

So, here are my thoughts.

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ARC Review: Meme

I received an e-ARC of Meme by Aaron Starmer through NetGalley from Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been on such a thriller kick recently I couldn’t resist requesting this book. This is one of the titles from Penguin’s Influencer group and it was a really good pick. I honestly think I’ll re-read it for the spooky season and if you’re hunting for spooky books to read this year, you’ll want to check this one out!

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ARC Review: Watch Over Me

I received this book from Penguin Teen through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

First off, can we just admire this cover? Like, I absolutely love how beautiful it is. And the contents match it. This book was so beautiful and healing for me, I couldn’t put it down. With less than 300 pages, this was a book I devoured in two sittings – 50% before bed, 50% when I woke up. I really enjoyed Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour and couldn’t stop myself from reading.

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ARC Review: Fable

Today I am reviewing Fable by Adrienne Young. This was a Read Now option on NetGalley and I absolutely dove for it! Thank you Wednesday Books for letting me snag a copy of this book for review!

Before I start this review, can we just admire how beautiful this cover is! And Namesake is so cool too for being the other side of her face. I just love it!

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ARC Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

I had to take a few days to really digest this book, because if I wrote my initial thoughts after finishing this it would just be screaming (AAAHHH) across the screen.

I won an ARC of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini from Bookish First and Tor in exchange for an honest review. I’m going to start off by saying that I love the Eragon series (though I haven’t read it in many years) so I was a little biased going into this. But let me tell you, this book is so good, it blew my expectations out of the water!

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DNF Review: Sanctuary

I received an ARC of Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher from Penguin Teen through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t think I’ve ever written a DNF (did not finish) review before, so this is a first. Usually when I DNF a book, it’s not an ARC I’ve been given by the publisher for review, it’s one that I decided to read on my own. After the whole debacle on Sunday regarding an author calling out a reviewer for DNF-ing and posting a “bad” review on Goodreads, I am a little nervous to post my thoughts.

But, the whole point of reviewing books are to review them, good or bad. So I’m gonna talk about why I DNFed this book and what my thoughts are. Surprisingly, they’re not bad at all!

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ARC Review: The Whitsun Daughters

I received a copy of The Whitsun Daughters by Carrie Mesrobian from Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review.

So my initial read of the description got me really excited! Until I got to the ending. There were so many good things in this book and then it ultimately flopped for me. There will be some spoilers in this review, but I have marked them in case you want to remain spoiler free.

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ARC Review: The Companion

I received an electronic galley of The Companion by Katie Alender from Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review. This review will be spoiler free.


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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The other orphans say Margot is lucky.

Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family.

Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night.

And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.

But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha–and getting to know her handsome older brother–seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself.

Margot’s bad dreams may have stopped when she came to live with Agatha – but the real nightmare has just begun. 


I’ve been on a thriller/horror kick recently, so when I received this book from Penguin Teen, I was jumping for joy! I really enjoyed this story and how it builds up on itself. We go from a somewhat calm beginning to terror filled mayhem and it was pretty epic!

For starters, poor Margot is suffering from nightmares after she is the sole survivor in a car crash that killed her entire family. After losing all her friends and no family to take her in, Margot ends up at a group home. Luckily, her father saved the life of Mr. Sutton, who wants to repay his debt by taking Margot in.

But Margot is not brought in selflessly – they want her to be a companion for Agatha, who has come down with a mysterious illness. Unable to talk, barely take care of herself, and generally absent from reality, Agatha isn’t much of a bother. Weird things start happening in the house and Margot realizes that things aren’t what they seem.

There were some moments in this book where I thought this was going to be a ghost story. If you’re not into that, don’t worry, it’s not! But from the creepiness level of this book it was a strong possibility. Margot experiences some scary and weird things in the house and those experiences alone would have made me run screaming for the hills. I don’t know why she didn’t run on the first day!

This book was not only very well written, but the story, the cast of characters, and Margot’s experiences made this book one of my favorite thrillers. I had suspicions on what exactly was happening, but the ending still blew my mind! I really liked the set up of Agatha and Margot’s friendship. Even though Agatha is not coherent, they still manage to communicate and cultivate a trusting friendship. It was really cool to watch this progression, especially later on in the book as Margot starts to figure out that something isn’t quite right.

One thing I didn’t like about the story though was the ending. Specifically, the fact that it ends so shortly. We get some kind of resolution, but not enough details that I felt satisfied. The book leads up to the climatic moment and the resolution afterwards fell flat for me. I either wanted a better recap of what happened or another scene before the end that explains what is going on. The ending is just too short and quick in my opinion. It’s why I can’t give this book 5 stars.

While the ending may have not been to my liking, the rest of the book is so well thought out and planned, I’m still reeling over what happened. The last 25% of the book was so fast paced and intense I didn’t want to look away to take a sip of water. With a different ending, this book probably be a 5 stars for me, but with what we have, this is a starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars. The Companion releases on August 25th, 2020, so be sure to preorder your copy today!

Thank you again to Penguin Teen for sending me a copy for review!

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If this sounds interesting, check out They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

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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: Steel Tide

Today I am going to be reviewing Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker, the second book in the Seafire trilogy. I received an ARC of this book back in June 2019 from the ALA (American Library Association) Convention and just never got around to reading it. Finally, after getting an eARC of Stormbreak, I knew I had to make time to read this book immediately!


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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The second book in a heart-stopping trilogy that follows the captain of an all-female ship intent on taking down a vicious warlord’s powerful fleet.

Caledonia may have lost her crew, but she’s not done fighting yet. After nearly dying at the hand of a powerful foe, Caledonia is pulled from the sea and nursed back to health by a crew of former Bullets that call themselves Blades. The Blades escaped Aric Athair’s clutches and now live a nomadic existence, ready to disappear at a moment’s notice should trouble come their way.

But Caledonia wants to do more than just hide. She wants to find the Mors Navis and her beloved sisters. She wants to continue fighting Aric’s fleet and to take back the Bullet seas. She’ll need to do everything in her power to convince the Blades that fighting is their only option, that there has to be a life better than the one under Aric Athair’s reign, and that finding the women of the Mors Navis is the first step to revolution.


It’s been awhile since I last read Seafire, probably two or so years now, so jumping into this book took me a minute to get reacquainted. But once I got myself situated and familiar with what happened, it was like I never left! This book picks up where Seafire left off as Caledonia is resting and recovering from her near deadly fight with Lir. She is nursed back to health by a group of Blades, ex-Bullets who have escaped Aric’s clutches.

Maybe this was just because I had to figure out what the heck was going on, but the beginning felt a bit slow to me. After Caledonia starts to recover, she’s living life with the Blades and I was just waiting for something to happen. I remembered the first book being filled with action and adventure and I was patiently waiting for it to start back up again.

It did.

Okay, so once the action started it was actually nuts! There was so much fighting, sneaking, danger, and sailing my brain didn’t know what to do. And as we make our way to the end of the book – dread filled me. I knew what was coming.

But I guess I didn’t, cause I was totally wrong and the ending was way better than I could have guessed! I would crack open Stormbreak right now if I didn’t have other books to read right now.

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I really enjoyed the storyline and the challenges that Caledonia has to face. While revenge is always on her mind, she shifts her focus to helping the people around her too. I also appreciate the new cast of characters we get acquainted with – Pine being my favorite.

There was a certain thing that I wasn’t a fan of, but it was kind of minor in the scope of things. Overall, I really like this book, and the series in general, and can’t wait to read the final book in the series! This is a starstarstarstar // 5 stars for me.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow!

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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: Ignite the Sun

I received a copy of Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Once upon a time, there was something called the sun… In a kingdom ruled by an evil witch, the sun is just part of a legend about light-filled days of old. Luckily for everybody in the kingdom, Siria Nightingale is headed to the heart of the darkness to try and restore the light–or she will lose everything trying.

Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.

Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria’s need to please them is greater even than her fear of the dark. So she heads to the royal city–the very center of the darkness–for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel’s court.

But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball sends her on a quest toward the last vestiges of the sun with a ragtag group of rebels who could help her bring back the Light … or doom the kingdom to shadow forever.


This was a surprisingly quick read, even though the book is 352 pages long. Though this book is a quick read, it is not an “easy” or “light” read. This book discusses some serious topics like genocide, parental neglect, and war. But, there are some moments of light in this book between Siria and her newfound family, Yarrow and Linden.

From the beginning, I was interested in the Darkness covering their town. There is no sunlight, only lamps and a heating spell to keep everyone from freezing. I couldn’t imagine living in a world of pure darkness, controlled by an abusive Queen. All the magical creatures locked away or slaughtered to make sure she stays in power. The only thing people had were stories of the time before and even then they were just viewed as stories.

Once we get into the thick of this book, I found that I got some information about the world of the sunchildren and other mythical creatures, but not a complete picture. I wanted to learn more about the culture and the world, but we mostly learn about their powers and how to use them. While helpful, and cool, I felt like I didn’t have the full picture of this world. For one, it sounds like the sunchildren are like genetic mutations – it’s not a group of beings, they can be born to humans or nymphs, and some siblings can be sunchildren while others aren’t. Which, I don’t understand how that happens and it’s not explained much.

In fact, there was a lot of missing information by the end and too many unanswered questions. Besides the obvious, what is a sunchild and how do they appear, I wanted to know more about nymph and elf powers. Mages were kind of explained, but it was basically “they have a magical item that channels their magic. The end” which isn’t super helpful.

Plus, we’re told that sunchildren have all of these great powers, and while we see some, it sounds like it’s not even a drop in the bucket. It was actually really frustrating to read such an interesting plot only to have the world building lack. And the forced romance, while cute, felt off. These characters were friends for years, Siria barely spoke to him for four years, and suddenly she’s in love? I just don’t understand.

While I enjoyed the story a lot, those discrepancies and unanswered questions bugged me and made the story more confusing at times. So while I liked the characters and the overall book, I would give this a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis! The sequel, The Hunter and the Mage releases on September 21st, 2020!

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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: Splinters of Scarlet

This was another book that I was supposed to review for Fantastic Flying Book Club as a part of their blog tour before I ended contact with them. Obviously, I’m going to post my review of this book, just not in relation to FFBC.

Today I will be reviewing Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy. I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by HMH.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A YA historical fantasy set in nineteenth-century Denmark, where secrets can kill and magic is a deadly gift.

For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy: it flows freely through her blood, but every use leaves behind a deadly, ice-like build-up within her veins called the Firn. Marit knows how dangerous it is to let too much Firn build up—after all, it killed her sister—and she has vowed never to use her thread magic. But when Eve, a fellow orphan whom Marit views like a little sister, is adopted by the wealthy Helene Vestergaard, Marit will do anything to stay by Eve’s side. She decides to risk the Firn and uses magic to secure a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household.

But Marit has a second, hidden agenda: her father died while working in the Vestergaards’ jewel mines—and it might not have been an accident. The closer Marit gets to the truth about the Vestergaard family, the more she realizes she and everyone she’s come to love are in danger. When she finds herself in the middle of a treacherous deception that goes all the way up to the king of Denmark, magic may be the only thing that can save her—if it doesn’t kill her first.

From the start, this book had my full attention. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t enthralled with what was going on. We have a historical fantasy, set in Denmark, and a mystery all packed into one? I was smitten.

I loved the alternating POV’s in this book. We get to see the story through Marit and Philip’s eyes with Philip going between the past and the present. I thought it added extra mystery to the story instead of just seeing the world through Marit’s eyes. I kind of wish we got to see the world through Eve’s eyes as well, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t add that much to the story.

Plot wise I loved this book. We are shot forward from the very beginning as we follow Eve and Marit from the orphanage to the Vestergaard home and meet all the new people in their lives. As Marit tries to uncover what happened to her father, please Mrs. Vestergaard, and prevent the Firn from killing her, this story gets intense. The last 25% I was absorbed as we find out what exactly is going on.

Another aspect I love about this story was Marit and Eve’s relationship. Sister’s by choice stories just make me so happy and the love these two girls have for each other is endearing. It melted my heart every time they interacted with each other, especially with how Marit treats Eve. As the oldest of three girls, I know the feelings Marit has towards Eve, even if she doesn’t go through moments of rage like any normal sisters might. The love and protectiveness she has towards Eve hits home, even if they are much kinder to each other than me and my sisters are.

There wasn’t much I disliked about the story except I wish we got more background on some of the other people in the house. Liljan and Jakob become friends with Marit quickly, but we don’t really get to learn about them as much as Marit or Eve. I wanted a bit more time to get to know some of these other characters before we’re thrown into action.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I adored this story. I was so sad to finish because I didn’t want it to end. I have to give this a starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

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If this story sounds interesting, check out Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.

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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: A Wicked Magic

This book was given to me for review by the publisher and Fantastic Flying Book Club. After hearing all the awful things that FFBC was doing, I formally left the tour. I was supposed to post my review for their blog tour, but instead, I will simply be posting my review for the author and the publisher.

Today, I am reviewing A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens, a debut YA paranormal novel about two teenage witches who unwillingly band together to fix the magical mess they’ve made. This title releases on July 28th, so be sure to preorder a copy today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.

Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.

During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?

Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.

When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?

Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

I really enjoyed this book. It was magical and fun with some very interesting characters. The beginning pulled me in quickly, but I found that the middle was pretty slow. I felt like the beginning and end were well thought and executed, but the middle was lagging in terms of action. It began to feel repetitive as the same issues rose up for Dan and Liss that they had to work through.

Alexa’s story on the other hand got my attention. I wanted to read more about her and what was going on with Lorelai’s investigation. The whole first half of the book was focused on Dan and Liss’ situation with occasional sections on Alexa – but in the second half we get to see her a lot more and that’s when things get interesting.

Focusing on the plot, this book was so good. The actual events that go on and what these girls have to face was insane and super creepy. I wish I had read this book for Halloween with the amount of creepy, eerie things that happen. I also was a bit upset about who Alexa ended up with, because I was kind of rooting for someone else. On the other hand, she ends up with a really sweet girl and seems really happy.

For the characters, we see a lot of growth between the three, especially for Liss in my opinion. Honestly, I didn’t like Liss’ character at all in the beginning, but after finding out more about her home situation and her motivation for things, I just feel sorry for her. The changes she goes through made her into a much healthier person and I loved seeing her growth. Dan also goes through a much needed change and comes out a healthier, hopefully happier, person.

One thing that I think the author was trying to make cannon was Dan’s sexuality. We know Liss is straight (or at least very interested in her boyfriend Johnny) and Alexa is gay, but we never learn about Dan. Not that it’s important, but I can’t help but wonder where the author was going for her. See, in the book, Dan comes across as ace (asexual) or somewhere along the ace spectrum. But it’s never confirmed, denied, or really discussed. Part of me wants an answer, but it doesn’t really affect the story much whether or not she is. I’m just curious, I guess.

Overall, this book was written beautifully and it dives into things like self harm, depression, abusive home life, and other important conversations like that. These issues are discussed and handled carefully and I appreciate the work the author put in to represent these topics well. Though the middle was really slow for my taste, I think this book was still awesome. I loved learning about how magic worked in this world and pairing it with real teenage problems.

I think a lot of people will not only enjoy this book, but learn that things aren’t always what they seem. So, I’m giving this a starstarstarstar // 5 stars!

 

 

ARC Review: Wicked As You Wish

I received an exclusive advance copy of Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco from Fairyloot and I loved it! My review is not in affiliation with Fairyloot and I paid for the box the book came in.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

When a hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, and a legendary firebird come together…something wicked is going down.

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left encased in ice when the Snow Queen waged war. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them.

A new hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala must unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

I was worried, going into this book, that I wasn’t going to like it because a friend of mine didn’t like it and DNFed it really early. But once I started reading it I was immediately sucked in! There is a lot of American history and politics at the start (because this world is set in an alternate universe from ours), but it quickly moves along quickly.

The plot is immaculate. I mean such good plotting and storytelling goes on in this book. Even with all the crazy politics that have to be followed, and there are some crazy politics in this world, it’s so captivating. Especially once we meet the Snow Queen’s minions.

With a diverse cast of characters we’re off to save the world and the kingdom of Avalon from the evil Snow Queen. One thing I really like about this world is that it’s not only a magical version of ours, but incorporates actual fairytales into the history. Snow White, Sleeping Beaty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Robin Hood, King Arthur, any and all fairytales you can think of are real people in this world, just not all at the same time.

Our rag tag team is so much fun too and each personality adds another layer to our group’s overall personality, and makes the team that much more interesting. I love a lot of the jokes between these new friends and I kinda miss them. Each has their own weapon and their own skill to help Prince Alex, or just Alex, as well as their own distinct trait/thing that they add and feed off of each other.

Because this is a political fantasy, if you don’t want to read about American politics then I would avoid this title. But, I would recommend looking past the few pages of political history for this epic fantasy if it really bothers you. I personally loved the history and the discussion of America’s current political climate and thought it helped me connect with the story and the characters better.

Overall, this book is really good! I can’t wait to read the next one, especially after that ending! This was a solid starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir or Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton.

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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: Warmaidens

Warmaidens by Kelly Coon is the sequel to Gravemaidens and releases on October 20th, 2020. If you have not read Gravemaidens yet, feel free to check out my spoiler free review here. This review will be spoiler free, but I cannot guarantee it will not spoil content from Gravemaidens

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Warmaidens is the dark, action-packed conclusion to the heartwrenching Gravemaidens fantasy duology. Kammani and the maidens are now going to war against the ruler who tried to entomb them.

Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.

But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.

Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war.

After reading Gravemaidens, I wasn’t sure how there was going to be a sequel. After reading it, I now realize there was a lot more that needed to get done after the maidens fled the tomb. 

I really enjoyed Gravemaidens and was excited to hop back into this story. Warmaidens takes place nine months after they escaped the tomb and fled Alu to Manzazu. In those nine months we see the changes these characters have gone through, especially in Kammani’s sister, Nanea. Nanea went from a wishful thinking child to a more mature women very quickly. Escaping death might do that to you. 

I found myself not liking Kammani in this book in comparison to Gravemaidens. I’m not sure what about her rubbed me the wrong way, but I was really frustrated reading through some of her thought processes. It was always brought back to being a healer and wanting to not do any harm. I felt like that was her only personality trait and it was so repetitive. Any time something happened that she was involved in, it was always brought back to this thought point. I wanted more out of her personality than that and I thought we lost some of her from Gravemaidens.

I can say though that I appreciate her growth through this book a lot. Her ability to change her viewpoint allows her to continue to develop her relationship with Dagan and Nanea in a more loving and fulfilling way. It was so sweet. 

Another thing I didn’t really care much for are the fighting scenes. Again, not sure what about them rubbed me the wrong way, but I wasn’t a fan. Except for the final fight scene – that was intense! I also didn’t like the pacing. It was a quick book, but it felt like it dragged at some points. It ended up being the same sequence of events. Plan, attack, fail, retreat – over and over again and it got repetitive. Maybe that was the point as Kammani is stuck in this loop and tries to find her way out and save herself and her friends? But it was rough reading. 

Plus, with all the jumbledness of their failed attacks and other people’s interference, the book felt jumbled as well. I liked the character growth, I liked the ending, and I liked certain scenes, but the book has some issues. 

Warning: there are remarks of rape and an attempted rape. There is also a comment of someone being “broken” after losing an arm. This definitely was hard to read through and didn’t feel right, so I did want to make note of that. Other possibly concerning things discussed are child brides and the common mention of the lack of rights for women. I understand why this was included in the book and it is discussed, but this might be upsetting so I wanted to include it. 

Overall, it was an interesting book. I wanted to reach inside the story and nicely smack some of the characters but unfortunately, I can’t. But, it was a quick read that nicely wrapped up the series for me, even if there was a lot going on. So I think I’m gonna give this a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

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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 + Blog Tour: Mayhem

I am so excited to be a part of the Mayhem blog tour through Wednesday Books! I was lucky enough to win a copy of Mayhem by Estelle Laure through the Wednesday Books giveaway, Nostalgia Hour, a couple months ago and when I saw the opportunity to jump on this blog tour, I had to take it!

Book Information:

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Here is the synopsis through Goodreads:

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Review:

When I read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book. Feminist mash up? Inspired by The Craft? Sign me up! I was so excited to read this book, until I start reading it. This was a really intense book that I honestly didn’t expect and I have a lot of thoughts on it. 

One thing I wish I knew going into this book was that the beginning (and some of the tones in general) are pretty heavy. In the final draft there will be a note from the author discussing some of the more serious topics in this novel, but I didn’t get a letter or a warning for the ARC. There is a lot of heaviness to this book, including rape, suicide, assault, murder, and drug abuse. I didn’t realize how intense this book was until I started reading, but Laure does a great job in discussing these issues and not just using them as a shock factor or background. While I would have liked to know those topics would be discussed, I think the author did a good job in discussing them.

I will include Laure’s note, which will be printed in final copies, below in the Author Information section.

The beginning was a bit “slow” in a way as we’re introduced to Mayhem and Roxy, as well as their past. We learn about why Roxy left Santa Maria and why they’re returning home after all these years. I like how Laure mixes in the past with the present to give one cohesive story. Though, I found that the plot of the book didn’t start until more than halfway through.

I wanted more of The Craft, feeling wise, and I didn’t get it. The majority of the book felt like a contemporary novel as Mayhem deals with her and her mother’s past once they return to Santa Maria. The fear of Mayhem’s step-father coming after them, relearning how to feel safe, dealing with her mother’s addiction – it’s a lot for a teen. And honestly, if that was the whole book, I would have been satisfied. The focus on Mayhem and her mother’s relationship, and working through their trauma, would have been a beautiful book.

But once the magic is added in, about 50% through, it changes the feel of the story. I liked the magic, though I didn’t understand it fully. My only complaint is that since the magic and this new storyline comes in late, I wish we had more time with it.

The main climatic event is fast and it left me unsatisfied. I wanted more to solving the mystery, more to the magic, and more in general.

Overall, I like the story and I loved watching Mayhem and Roxy reconnect. I thought the murder mystery was a cool aspect, though it wasn’t really touched on much. And the magic had so much potential, but it just felt underdeveloped unfortunately. Though I do love Laure’s writing and the Mayhem’s overall journey.

In the end, I would give this book a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

Author Information:

AP Estelle Laure_Credit Zoe Zimmerman

Author Bio:

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Author Note:

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying. I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and

I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure

Related Links:

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Pre-Order the book here!

 

Review: Crave

I have wanted to read Crave by Tracy Wolff since way before it came out. Alexa (Writing the Universe) won an ARC box for this book and absolutely loved this book! She talked so highly about it I wanted to read it ASAP.

Well, you know, life happens! I didn’t get a chance to read it when it came out, but finally, FINALLY, I read this book and OMG I LOVED IT.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

I will admit, I was a die hard Twilight fan back in middle school. It was the book that kicked off my obsession with vampires. After Twilight I read Vampire Academy, Cirque du Freak series, Marked series, Vampire Kisses series, Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, Night World series, Vampire Diaries series – literally anything vampire related, I read it.

So when I picked up this book my inner middle schooler was SCREAMING. I mean I was thrown back in time and feeling all the same feelings as a kid. Especially the way Grace describes Jaxon and her surroundings. It’s very reminiscent of the Twihard era. Then we have Jaxon Vega. Our main love interest who’s mysterious, sassy, and all together swoony who can’t help himself when he’s around Grace. UGH, the teenage hormones in this book were WILD.

I loved the addition of other magical creatures though. This world doesn’t just have vampires – we have dragons, witches, and werewolves together bringing us a magical story that I could not put down. And those are just the creatures we know about. I can only imagine there might be more magic just around the corner and honestly, I need to read Crush like NOW.

Wolff does make fun of the vampire tropes, like instant love and insatiable attraction, and it’s hilarious. I loved the humor throughout this book and I think that’s what made it so much fun to read. I wanted more with every page and those chapter titles: gold.

The beginning is a bit slow and the revelation Grace has comes in pretty far into the book. While I like how it was revealed, part of me wanted it sooner so we could jump into all the magic!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to rate this book, but after the ending, it’s a definite starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars from me! I can’t wait to get sucked into Crush when it releases on September 29th, 2020!!!

Plus, check out this gorgeous cover!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out the books I read/recommend up above! They’ll satiate all your vampire needs!

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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: They Wish They Were Us

They Wish They Were Us by debut author Jessica Goodman is a YA Mystery/Thriller that releases on August 4th, 2020. Be sure to preorder this book and find out what really happened to Shaila Arnold.

This was, once again, a buddy read book that I read with my friend Grace, but this time we also read with our friend Bliss! We read about 50 pages every day, except for the ending which was about 70-80 pages.

And our group chat was going CRAZY talking about this book!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying with a dash of The Secret History in this slick, taut murder mystery set against the backdrop of an exclusive prep school on Long Island.

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player–a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill is vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

For starters, we talked extensively about who we thought the killer was. It was a lot of back and forth, but in the end, we guessed correctly – we just didn’t guess HOW it ended. This was a rollercoaster of a book as we’re lead with Jill through all the possibilities and all the obstacles in finding out what really happened to her best friend.

Besides the mystery, we also talked a lot about Jill’s perception of Shaila and her friends in general. Mostly because they don’t seem to act like friends. Maybe it’s the Gossip Girl like situation, where everyone wants to act mature for their age and show that they don’t care, but it just came across really fake. Especially when Jill would remember moments with Shaila or interacts with Nikki. They just seem nasty with each other and overall rude at times.

It was a bit weird.

But besides this weird dynamic, I was more invested in the mystery overall. I wanted to know who did it and why – because it really didn’t seem like Graham was the killer, even during the flashbacks Jill was having.

I thought the build up to the reveal was awesome and it had me on edge, waiting to see what would happen. It was also really interesting getting to hear about this “secret society” they were initiated into called the Players – it was like a sorority and fraternity mixed together, but high school.

Overall, I liked the story and the ride in general, but the friendship dynamics were really weird. Jill’s relationship with Shaila, and even with Nikki, don’t seem genuine at times and it was at times uncomfortable. They claimed to be best friends but then pitted themselves against each other. Overall, I think this was a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars for me.

If you like murder mysteries and/or Gossip Girl, you will definitely like this book. I thought it was set up well and the ending was really intense!

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban!

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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: Greythorne

I received a copy of Greythorne by Crystal Smith from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had a physical ARC of Greythorne that I received at YallFEST 2019. I got it during a mystery ARC drop where there were only 25 copies and they handed out this title. I had not read Bloodleaf but I heard great things about the first book, so I was excited! I requested a copy through NetGalley because digital takes up way less space, but I find myself loving the series too much to part with my physical copies. Regardless, here are my thoughts.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Princess Aurelia’s life is turned upside down when the kingdom she thought she saved turns to ruin, a loved one is tragically killed in a shipwreck, and her home country refuses to respect her brother’s legitimate claim to the throne. With no place left to call her own, Aurelia returns to Greythorne Manor—her best friend’s family mansion—only to get swept up in a coup d’état on the night of her brother’s coronation.

With everyone turned against her and enemies closing in on all sides, Aurelia has nothing left to lose in a mad fight to protect the only people she has left—her family. But in her darkest moments when all seems grim, will Aurelia find a spark of hope from a love she thought long lost?

After finishing Bloodleaf I wasn’t sure where the story was heading. The plot was finished right? WRONG. Clearly, there is much more to the story. Jumping into Greythorne I found myself really confused. We start a few months after the end of Bloodleaf and Zan is dead!? I was so confused and thought that the ending of Bloodleaf had changed between the ARC and the finished copy – but I just had to be patient.

I am not patient. I really wanted to find out what was going on and when I did, I was not happy. Crystal – why do you have to mess with us like this!?

The trend of middle book syndrome concerned me. I thought Greythorne was not going to be as good as Bloodleaf because we’re in the middle of a story right? WRONG AGAIN. It was so much better! My only fear now is what’s going to happen in Ebonwilde! But, I’ll have to wait another 18 or so months to find out! (cue the endless sobbing)

So I loved this book and the series overall – and we’re adding it to the list of “books I regret not reading sooner”. I should make a Goodreads shelf for them one day!

I thought the plot was so good, all the puzzle pieces were coming together in a way that the only word I can think of is, relieving. Like you see everything building up and then finally, you understand what is happening and it’s almost a relief. Okay maybe relief isn’t the best word, but it’s the only one I can think of.

And I’m not going to get into character development because it was superb. Not just from book 1 to 2, but through book 2 our characters change and grow and I loved it.

It was also nice to get to spend time with characters from book 1 we didn’t get to see much. Overall, I really like this book and this series. It’s new and different and fun and yeah – I’m rambling. Let’s wrap this up. starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars from me.

Greythorne releases on September 1st, so be sure to preorder your copy today!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

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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: Bloodleaf

I had an ARC of Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith sitting in my house since November/December 2018. Two of my friends went to YallFEST 2018 and while I wanted to go, I couldn’t. They asked if there was anything they could pick up and I said, yes – Bloodleaf! They were so sweet and managed to grab me a couple other titles as well as Bloodleaf – but I never read it. Until now.

Flash forward to YallFEST 2019 and I find myself in line for a “mystery” ARC drop that only had 25 copies. Some speculated what it might be, but we were all shocked when they handed us Greythorne. Then, I also managed to receive an eARC through NetGalley and finally, I realized I needed to read this book.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Aurelia is a princess, but they call her a witch.

Surrounded by spirits and burdened with forbidden magic, she lives in constant fear of discovery by the witch-hunting Tribunal and their bloodthirsty mobs. When a devastating assassination attempt reveals her magical abilities, Aurelia is forced to flee her country with nothing but her life.

Alone and adrift in an enemy kingdom, Aurelia plans her revenge against the Tribunal, desperate to bring down the dark organization that has wrought terror upon her people for hundreds of years. But there’s something deeply amiss in her new home, too, and soon she finds herself swept into a deadly new mystery with a secretive prince, the ghost of an ancient queen, and a poison vine called Bloodleaf.

Aurelia is entangled in a centuries-long game of love, power, and war, and if she can’t break free before the Tribunal makes its last move, she may lose far more than her crown.

I’m going to have to make a category or a list of all the books I say, “I wish I read this sooner” because there are a lot now, and this is one of them.

Why did no one tell me this book was so good? Why did no one mention how amazing this book was and let me go a year and a half without reading it!? I was gonna trade away my copy because I thought I wasn’t going to read/like it. Who let this happen!?

Okay, so it’s my fault for not listening to my friends when they told me how amazing this book is. And I regret not listening to them. This was such a fun read, also really intense, but I really enjoyed myself! I liked a lot of things about this book including the magic system, the history, and our group of characters.

Sure, Aurelia/Emilie does give off the “I’m doing this for the greater good, it’s best no one knows” ideology even though I want to smack her for it. But her character was also fun to read about as she explored her magic and the actions of her predecessors that brought herself and everyone around her into this situation.

And what a sticky situation we have here folks.

The characters can not catch a break, at all. There were several moments I gasped, shed a tear, or even full on cried. It’s like I forget how powerful YA books can be when they play with your emotions.

Especially that ending. Was not emotionally prepped for everything that happened and everything I KNOW is gonna have to happen for two more books to appear. I’m worried but also excited.

I really liked this book and I’m really excited to read my copy of Greythorne now, so this is going to be added to my starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars list.

Let me know if you’ve read Bloodleaf and whether or not you’re ready for Greythorne because I am NOT.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson or Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. 

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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: Burn Our Bodies Down

I received an eARC of Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Burn Our Bodies Down releases on July 7th, 2020 – so be sure to preorder your copy today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.

Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.

But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.

Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?

The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

I read an ARC of Wilder Girls by Rory Power and I liked it. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but I wasn’t sure how much I really liked the story. But after reading Burn Our Bodies Down, it’s clear that I didn’t like WG nearly as much as I like BOBD. I’m a sucker for thrillers and this book brought some interesting characters to light.

For one, we have a morally grey main character, who follows in the footsteps of her morally grey mother/grandmother. I think characters that are morally grey, especially in thrillers, is much more interesting and entertaining than people who are inherently good or bad. Margot is seventeen and wants to know more about her family and she’s willing to ditch her neglectful mother to do so. Arriving in town, she makes a friend, Tess, who helps her figure out why her mother left and the mystery of her family.

I loved Tess’ character. I thought she was great opposite Margot. Where Margot is cold, Tess is warm. Margot is quiet and to herself, Tess is outgoing and bubbly. It made the scenes with them together more fun honestly. And of course we have Tess’ mother Jo and her grandmother Vera/Gram who are like cats fighting on the street. Nasty, ruthless women who are not only manipulative, but solely care for themselves and occasionally for their family.

Tess’ relationship between her mother is heartbreaking. She honestly just wants to be loved and her mother can’t bear to even show her the slightest bit of affection. It makes her motivation to run away and find out about her mother’s past reasonable in comparison to the life she was currently living. And of course Gram, who we learn to love then hate before we can blink. I felt so bad for Tess, not having a good relationship with anyone in her family and then suffering the trauma of discovering the reason why her mother left. It’s messed up.

So, let me just add this – this book is gruesome. There are some scenes that I WISH I could get out of my head and I might be permanently scarred from it. There is some scenes with gore and other scenes with weird stuff to up the creepy factor. If you are not a fan of dark fiction/science fiction – do not read this book. For the most part, it’s pretty tame, but other moments are really intense.

Overall, this was a starstarstarstar // 5 star read for me. The beginning was a bit slow as Tess makes her way home, but it really picks up about 30% of the way through. Once you’re past 60% it’s like a jet racing past to the finish line. I couldn’t put this book down after that.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus.

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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: Raybearer

This was another book I received from YallFEST 2019 and buddy read with my friend Grace. We’ve been buddy reading a lot lately!

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko releases on August 18th, 2020 – so be sure to preorder a copy!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The epic debut YA fantasy from an incredible new talent—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir

Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.

The beginning was like a fairytale. I think that’s what got me really interested in this story. We see Tarisai’s introduction to life and her childhood the same way a story teller would weave the images for you, speaking so rhythmically and songlike, you’re entranced. As we move into the story line, I found myself liking the story even more. I wasn’t sure what path this was going to go on, but the surprises it has in store will definitely shock you.

I really liked this book and thought this was well written except for the ending. The ending kinda confused me. On Goodreads, it says this is a standalone. But the author, and other people who have asked the author, say that there is a sequel. We end like there is supposed to be a sequel – and I hope there is one! – but if it’s supposed to be a standalone, then I think the ending needs to be wrapped up better. We have so many loose ends not tied up that need to be in order for this story to properly finish. I want there to be a sequel, but since I don’t see one announced, I have to look at it as a standalone.

So, the ending was kinda confusing and a bit disappointing because of that. We leave off in such a way that there is a call to action when we should be getting closure. And it made me want more to the ending.

Besides the ending, I thought the plot was concise and well written, the characters are definitely interesting people, the challenges our MC go through are not easy – a perfect set up for a good book. Tarisai goes through some pretty serious stuff throughout this book and by the end, I feel really bad for her. There were moments that I wanted to give her a hug because she could really use it.

Raybearer has faeries, fantastic journeys, lifelong friendships, and a found family mixed with African folklore to make an epic fantasy debut.

This was such a great book and I have to give it starstarstarstar // 5 stars. Please be sure to preorder a copy for yourself through any major retailer – Amazon, B&N, or any other place you buys books.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi or A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. 

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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: Unravel the Dusk

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim is the sequel to Spin the Dawn, which releases on July 7th, 2020. I managed to get an ARC of this book and I was so excited! I read Spin the Dawn last year and ADORED IT. I have never read a story like this before and it was one of my first reviews on this blog. It’s crazy to think that a whole year has gone by. If you have not read Spin the Dawn, feel free to check out my spoiler free review here. This review is spoiler free, but may spoil events in the first book.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

We pick up right where we left off in Spin the Dawn and are immediately thrown back into Maia and Edan’s mess. And what a mess there is.

Honestly, I adore this series. I’m so sad that it’s only a duology and not a trilogy (I swear I thought it was a trilogy) but I will take what I can get in this series! I love the world, the storyline, the characters. Everything about this book is fun and yet also awful – I hate seeing characters turn into literal monsters.

I didn’t find myself disliking anything in the book overall. I think the only comment I would have though is that I wanted more EDAN!! He was so present in Spin the Dawn and his interactions with Maia made me so happy. I wanted to see more of him in Unravel the Dusk. I also wanted to see a different kind of ending. I won’t go into details, and I thought the ending was beautiful, but it felt … easy? I guess that’s the word I’m gonna go with. I just wanted to see a different kind of ending and I’m curious what kind of outcome a different ending would bring. Besides that, I thought this was a great wrap up of the series.

We see Maia’s internal struggle, external struggle, her actions are presenting clear consequences and obstacles for her to overcome, and we get to see different sides to familiar characters. What more can you ask for in a story? Oh yeah – awesome dialogue/character interactions – which this book definitely has!

If I hadn’t been moving these past few days, I would have finished the book ages ago, but I’m glad I got to finish the book in my new apartment. First book finished in my new home! (woo!)

There were multiple points in the book that I was tearing up or about to cry – they were so beautiful. And some parts really painful. As Maia undergoes these changes in herself she fights a literal demon inside of her, but I think anyone can relate to fighting against the voice in their head. Whether the author intended it or not, it had great symbolism to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, and seeing Maia struggle to feel like herself and keep her head above water was beautifully written.

So, I love this series! And I really liked this book. There were certain things that I thought could be changed or a bit “easy”, but I won’t go into anymore details than that! This was a great ending to the series and I think everyone should read this beautifully written story. starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars from me.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. 

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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: The Crow Rider

I recently started using Edelweiss after hearing how some people have become active and successful on the site. So far, I have been approved for the one book, The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson. I loved The Storm Crow and I was so excited to read the sequel!

This e-ARC of The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson was given to me in exchange for an honest review. This review will be spoiler free, but may discuss events that occurred in The Storm Crow. If you have not read book 1, feel free to visit my review on The Storm Crow and be sure to order it to read today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.

But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.

As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be.

I have to say it, I thought the first book was better. Hear me out! The Crow Rider starts off with us traveling to rally the other kingdoms and save their home! But then, things start to slow down. We’re hit with immediate action and fighting then there’s a lull. And it felt like a lull for most of the book.

Now, though there was a lot of talking, the banter was awesome. Thia makes new friends, we get some sassy Prince in the mix, and everyone has moments of genuine happiness. It was a good mixture of politics, relaxation, and sprinkles of fighting to the death. 

But let’s talk about one thing that I thought could have been done a little smoother and cleaner, the relationships. We get lots of back and forth on the relationships – who is interested in who, people ending things – and what not. I felt like a certain relationship that came across strongly, ending suddenly. I’m not mad it ended, I’m mad it went from intense to dead within seconds.

I wanted it to end a little more subtly – especially since there was so much time at the beginning to show the relationship fizzling!

But besides that, I loved this book. I mean yeah, there were some slow moments when I didn’t feel like that in the first book, but that’s it! Maybe that’s because we get a lot more intense fighting and action in this book compared to the first, so the slower moments feel slower. I’m not sure. And ok, I wished the relationships were explored a bit more, they felt a little rushed – but honestly, those were minor things in comparison to the intensity of this book. The continuation of the plot was seamless, characters didn’t feel different or unfamiliar, just changed. We get to see how other nations in this world think and work. And, I mean, the writing! It’s so good!

But lets talk about what I loved – because I did love this book. 1) We get to see more of Thia’s background in terms of memories, relationships to other nations, so on and so forth. 2) As I said before, we get to know more about the other nations in this world, which was exciting. 3) We explore the effects of war in terms of depression and PTSD which I think doesn’t get talked about enough.

I loved the new people Thia became friends with, they added a new perspective to the story. Also, Res is grown! And he is a sassy character and I love it. And through it all, I found myself excited and genuinely interested in what was going on and what was going to happen next. It’s a great ending to this duology and I think people are going to love this book.

So, though there were some moments I wish had been changed/improved on, this is still one of my favorite duologies. I am definitely giving this a starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

If you haven’t preordered your copy of The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson, here are some links to popular sites you can get this book from! This book will release on July 7th, 2020 – so be sure to preorder your copy asap!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

One More Page Books

Amazon AU

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If this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis

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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: The Kinder Poison

I got an ARC of The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae a couple of weeks ago and, after reading a sneak peak, I had to pick this up asap. The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae releases on June 16th, 2020 – so be sure to preorder a copy!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.

Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.

All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.

With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.

I read the first two chapters on Bookish First, a site that gives you a preview of a book that you can read and rate and possibly win! I’ve never won anything from them before, but I had read the excerpt on there and really wanted to read this book. It seemed like such an interesting fantasy novel and I wasn’t wrong.

I adored this book. It was an easy fantasy to get into and from start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. I love the aspect of different magic’s having different societal implications – such as a Whisperer (someone who can speak to animals) being seen as a lower member of society and therefore not eligible for royalty, or even schooling. While I don’t think that system is right, it sets up our character for her first mistake – making her way to the banquet where they choose the Firsts for a race through the desert.

Then of course, we have the Princes’ and their personalities and rivalry. The toxic sibling dynamic throws poor Zahru into the worst possible situation: becoming a human sacrifice. I loved the plot, the characters, and the humanity behind the story. Kindness is important and it matters – we can all appreciate Zahru for reminding us of that.

It made me laugh every time poor Zahru was thrown around from one person to another. Or I guess I should say stolen from one person to the next. But I got so frustrated every time Zahru would make a valid point about not sacrificing her, since she’s not supposed to be sacrificed, and everyone would go “eh”! Like, people! Don’t kill innocent people!! This story was a rollercoaster for sure.

This fantastical story is one that I not only wish I could read for the first time again, but I need the second book right now. The ending made me gasp and I need to know what happens next! If you like magic, near death experiences, budding romances, and complex characters – this book is one you’ll want to add to your list!

I loved this book and after the epilogue, this is a definite starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me! Be sure to preorder this book before release day and get ready for a wild ride.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

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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: Cinderella is Dead

I received a copy of Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Let me start off by saying – there are some big themes in this book that the author covers. If you want more POC LGBTQIA+ representation, fierce female main characters, fighting the patriarchy energy, and overall discussion on oppression – Welcome! You’re going to appreciate this book. Cinderella is Dead will release on July 7th, 2020 so be sure to preorder this amazing retelling!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

First off, I love this feminist anthem. An all encompassing feminism sweeping through the land, in a place where women are seen as property. I thought the plot was not only unique, but exciting, because it’s every woman for herself (kinda). I read this book in a single afternoon – I couldn’t put it down.

The twists and turns of this story just prove how versatile the story of Cinderella can be. And I thought this was a great tale to tell. We have a POC main character who is also LGBTQIA+, because representation (woo!), and she is not a demure girl. She is ready to change the world.

I really enjoyed this new take on a classic fairytale, because sometimes it’s too male dominated. And this book proves that men are trash. Well, most men are trash. In this world, men have all the power. Women have no rights and are property owned by their husbands – if they can manage to be married. The king hosts a ball every year allowing suitors and girls to come together and get engaged. Except it’s mandatory for the women to attend while it’s optional for men. Also, women only get three years to go and find a husband before they are forfeited and forced to work in the castle as a spinster.

Yeah – these men are TRASH.

I thought the writing was great, the message was great, and we have some awesome representation for girls everywhere. I don’t think there was anything I disliked about the story, except maybe Sophia’s obsessed with her crush Erin at the beginning. It was borderline creepy how pushy she was, but it’s as indicative of a man as any might be with a girl, so maybe just proves once again that men are trash. AKA, guys do a similar thing and are called persistent – but it’s not, it’s just creepy. Though I do want to point out that Sophia doesn’t pressure Erin to love her or be with her, she’s pressuring her to leave with her. Which is a different dynamic that still felt not good because Erin is not down with the idea.

Erin tells her multiple times to leave her alone and stop trying to push her to leave. Sophia is not taking no for an answer and for the first quarter of the book is trying to persuade Erin to leave with her because they love each other. While I get her want to be with her, especially since she technically can’t, it was a bit uncomfortable to see Sophia so pushy and not listen to Erin’s wants. Even if it went against Erin’s true feelings.

Besides her pushiness at the beginning, and her quick ability to fall in and out of love, this was an awesome story and I am going to scream about it for a while. The imagery is amazing, there are twists and turns that you won’t see coming, and it’s an overall fantastic book.

Also men are trash lol

So with that being said, my review is a solid starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars! I mean there wasn’t anything huge, too upsetting, or bad about this book. There was no strong reason for me to downgrade it and I loved the story. So it gets a perfect score from me. I mean, I couldn’t put it down physically so it’s a top read for me. This book is filled to the brim with representation, so if you’re looking for gay, POC, feminist, patriarchy smashing characters (and that’s just the main character) – welcome to your next favorite read!

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If you like this book, check out The Court of Miracles (out on June 2nd) by Kester Grant or Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin.

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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: The Bone Thief

I received an e-ARC of The Bone Thief by Breeanna Shields from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved The Bone Charmer and I was so excited to read the sequel! I will keep this review spoiler free for book 2, but cannot guarantee it will be spoiler free for the first book, The Bone Charmer. If you have not read The Bone Charmer, feel free to check out my spoiler free review!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Saskia returns to Ivory Hall to train in bone magic, determined to stop Latham from gaining the power of all three Sights—past, present, and future. But danger lurks within the fortress’s marrow. Trials are underway for the apprentices, and the tasks feel specifically engineered to torment Saskia, which is exactly what Latham wants.

As she grows increasingly more suspicious, her thirst for revenge becomes all-consuming. Together with the friends she can trust and the boy she loved in another lifetime, Saskia traces clues from Latham’s past to determine what he’ll do next. Their search leads them across Kastelia and brings them to a workshop housing a vast collection of horrors, including the bones Latham stole from Gran, and the knowledge that the future isn’t all that’s in jeopardy—but the past as well.

So for those that aren’t aware, The Bone Thief releases today! (WOO!) If you have read the read the first book, pick up this book NOW. If you haven’t read The Bone Charmer yet, you should still pick up book 1 and book 2 because I love this duology.

It has taken me a while to write this review because I wanted to get my thoughts in order. I loved the first book and I loved the second book, but there was ONE thing in this book that makes me not want to rate it 5 stars like I did The Bone Charmer.

For those of us that did read The Bone Charmer, we know that Latham is our bad guy, he’s a super bad guy. We don’t know why he’s going after Saskia and the mystery of this is what made me love this series. Obviously we find out why he is doing what he’s doing and let me tell you, I wasn’t impressed with the reasoning. I thought it could have been a stronger motivation. You’ll understand once you read it.

Besides that issue though, everything is great. The ending felt a little too easy in a way, but I’m just here for the drama and the happy endings.

I enjoyed getting to see Saskia learn and grow from Bram a second time, although I just wanted them to just fall in love already! We meet up with some old friends and the story is like watching a movie from your childhood as an adult. There are certain things you remember, things you thought occurred but didn’t, and things that occur you don’t remember at all. It’s kind of a fun mind trick.

Besides my slight disappointment with the ending, I would still rate this book a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars. Honestly, the creativity of this series and the growth we see in all of the characters outweighs my thoughts on the ending.

If you haven’t ordered a copy of The Bone Thief please go do so! It’s a great series and it’s worth the read.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Thorn by Intisar Khanani, a Goose Girl retelling about a princess who’s robbed of her identity and her title by a revenge seeking sorceress. 

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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: The Court of Miracles

I received an eARC of The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book releases on June 2nd, 2020, so make sure to preorder a copy today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

First off, the tag line for this story is what caused me to request it and it’s pretty accurate! Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution. I love the rewrite of Les Mis because I think we can all agree that Eponine deserved better. And she got that new ending in this story and not only did it make me jump for joy, but it made me love this book more.

We enter France after the first revolution has failed Eponine (Nina) must go to the Court of Miracles and pledge her allegiance to the Guild of Thieves in order to survive. Her sister has been taken by the Tiger and gave Nina the chance to get away. She’s one of the best thieves in the Guild and while she is surviving, she also is plotting her revenge. Years later, she adopts a young Cosette and cares for her. When the Tiger realizes Cosette’s beauty though, Nina does everything she can to take him down.

So adopted sisters are something I don’t see often and I loved it. Second, historical fiction of the French Revolution is exactly what I needed. From start to finish Nina not only proves she’s a tough cookie and a survivor, but that she has maintained a somewhat good heart through her trauma. We love morally grey characters. Another thing I really liked about this book was the fact that there wasn’t really a love interest. Ettie jokes with Nina about certain people being in love with her, but there is never confirmation and acceptance of Nina loving anyone in a romantic way.

I not only thought that it fit with the story well, but for once we don’t have a teenage girl falling in love during a revenge plot or a secret agent, thriller style plot. Nina is too busy formulating her revenge, taking care of Ettie, and looking out for herself to fall in love which I thought is pretty badass. We stan an independent queen. Now, I’m not sure if Nina is Ace, because she hints she might like a certain character, but she never fully confirms her feelings or talks about loving anyone romantically, so until the author says otherwise, I’m going with she’s Ace.

Overall, I didn’t have any complaints about this book. I thought it was a great rewrite and having this secret criminal society working in the underground of Paris was so exciting to read. This was a solid star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png.5 // 5 stars and people are going to love this book!

So, if you like historical fiction, books set in Paris/Les Mis, morally grey characters, thrilling adventure, and a top notch revenge story – you’ve found your next favorite read!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok for your mid-1800’s Paris murder mystery vibes or The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi for your mid-1800’s heist novel!

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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 & Author Interview: Shielded

I received an eARC of Shielded by KayLynn Flanders from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. And stick around for an interview with the author after my review!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

This is such a badass book with a badass main character. Jenna, our main character, is a Princess who lives her life training, studying, and hiding the fact that she has magic she’s not supposed to posses. Her father sends her off to the neighboring kingdom to be wed to the Crown Heir, Prince Enzo, but tragedy strikes when their caravan is attacked on the way there. The princess, in all her glory, takes us on a wild journey through magical forest, epic battles, and love rollercoasters.

I loved this book! It was a fun ride with action, mystery, and love – all the things you could ask for in a great YA fantasy novel. The beginning was a little slow, which makes sense since we are being introduced to this kingdom and their history, but the plot quickly picks up and takes the reader on a wild ride. I loved how the magic system was explained and how it worked. The rules that could and could not be broken upped the antics and made the stakes much higher for Jenna.

Speaking of Jenna, I love this character. She’s fierce, smart, but so kind. It was nice to see a badass female character also not be a jerk. I think all too often we get the rough girls that can’t be loved and never enough of the tough girls who love just as fiercely. It was so refreshing. We meet a lot of snarky, sassy, lovely characters in this series and the villains are top notch. Their motivation is clear, their path is set, and while they lack a bit of one on one interaction, they are still a serious threat.

This book is great for anyone who loves action, adventure, and tough girls. Jenna is not only a tough cookie, but such a sweetheart and I love her interactions with everyone she meets. She’s the kind of MC you want to be friends with. This was a solid star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png.5//5 stars for me.

Now, let’s get into the real serious stuff with the author of Shielded herself – KayLynn Flanders! I was fortunate enough to be able to interview KayLynn about her experience writing Shielded and her life as a writer overall.

1. What inspired you to write Shielded?

Shielded started from a dream. The dream was really different from what the book turned into (there were neon yellow tanks in the dream?), but the emotions for the moment in the dream stayed. I won’t share spoilers, but there were people in danger, and I woke up before they were safe. My heart was pounding so hard at the cliffhanger, and I needed to find a way for them to be okay so I could go back to sleep. So I came up with a solution, but the characters stayed with me. I let that idea grow over a few months, asking questions about who the characters were, why they were in danger, and how they got out of danger, and eventually, it all became Shielded.

2. If you could choose to live in the world of Shielded, would you and where?

Definitely! I’d love to see all of the Plateau, but I’d probably feel most at home in Turia. I love farmland and orchards.

3. Hardest part about writing your book?

Keeping the little subplot pieces tightly weaved throughout every chapter is hard for me—I forget things really fast. But I’m always learning new ways to revise to help me keep track of everything better!

4. Can you tell us about any deleted scenes you wish could have stayed in the book?

Enzo used to have point-of-view chapters. I loved them, but it was the right choice to take them out. If you’re screaming WHY right now, it’s because the story is Jenna’s—Enzo didn’t have the arc that she does. I’m hoping to release some of them after the book comes out, though!

5. Favorite thing about writing/publishing a book?

I love creating the kind of story I want to read. I love seeing my drafts get better and better and closer to the original inspiration (or take a turn for the even better than I’d planned).

6. Any writing advice you can give?

Don’t be afraid to re-write. If something isn’t working, find different ways to see your story and use different mediums (paper and pen, white board, etc.) when brainstorming. Don’t be so locked in to an idea that you get stuck.

7. Any current works or plans for writing in progress?

Yes! I’m working with my editor on a sequel to Shielded, and it’s shaping up to be a lot of fun—high stakes, new lands, two POVs. I’ve also got a retelling I’m working on that I really love (and hope you all get to see someday).

8. If Shielded became a movie/TV show – who would be your dream cast?

So, the ages aren’t quite right on this, and I’ve only got a few I’ve thought about, but I’d go with a younger

Saoirse Ronan (Jennesara)

Ben Barnes (Enzo)

William Moseley (Ren)

But I’m open to suggestions!!

9. What is your favorite book and did it have any affect on your writing? 

I don’t think I can name a single Most Influential Book. Every book I read leaves its mark inside me and helps shape who I am and how I see the world. Growing up, I read several classics with sweeping language that captured emotion, I read sci-fi with mind-blowing twists, and fantasy with epic adventures. I try to bring all my favorite parts about reading into every story I write.

Thank you KayLynn for taking the time to answer my questions! If you’re looking for a great debut novel, check this one out! You won’t regret it.

And be sure to preorder Shielded before it releases on July 21st, 2020! I will provide links to order below and be sure to preorder from your local indie store if possible! 🙂

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

One More Page Books (my local indie)

Book Depository

Indigo Books

Waterstones

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If this book sounds interesting, I would also check out Of Silver and Shadows by Jennifer Gruenke or The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White.

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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: The Vanishing Deep

Today I am reviewing The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte. I read her debut novel, Four Dead Queens and absolutely loved it! The ARC I had received was a BookCon exclusive and it almost killed me to get it. Her second book is just as good, asking the question “What would you do if you could have more time after someone has passed?”

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.

But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.

This is Astrid’s sophomore novel and just as good as her first! I got an advanced copy of 4DQ at BookCon 2018 and it was so good! Getting an ARC of Vanishing Deep was awesome – I love Astrid’s writing and was so excited to read this book.

The hardest part about this book was the beginning. I recently had three deaths in my family this year and the death of a friend. To read Tempe’s struggle of her parents and sister dying hit me really hard and reminded me of the feelings I had experienced and am still going through. As she talks about the revival and getting to see her sister one more time alive, it almost broke me. I wanted to continue but also had to stop for my own sanity.

I’m glad I kept going though. While the beginning is heavy, the action picks up and pushes towards a different message thankfully. As the plot progresses, we get more details about the characters and find out that everything is not as it seems.

I thought the main characters were well set up and had clear motivations and intentions. The only person who I thought was under developed was the director at Palindromena. We get a character shift from her, or at least a bad perspective of her from other characters. She starts off as a nice characters we meet, but then we find out she’s a horrible person, and then we interact with her again and she’s okay to be around? It was confusing for me. I wish there was more development with that or at least a better explanation for why they somewhat ignored warnings about her.

Overall, I had fun with this story, even though it was heart breaking at first. I give this story a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars for the unique plot, sisterly love, and fun adventure. This was a fun read and it showed a realistic look at loss and what people will do to see their loved ones one last time.

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If this story sounds good for you, check out Seafire by Natalie C. Parker for an all girl, seafaring adventure. 

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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: Ruthless Gods

Spoiler warning: If you have not read the first book in the series, Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, then I cannot guarantee this will be a spoiler free review. If you have read Wicked Saints, this review will not spoil Ruthless Gods

I am torn. On the one hand, this took me forever to read because I knew this would probably hurt me, so I didn’t want to finish it. The other part of me is mad I put it off and should have just finished sooner. Not sure which side will win the argument, but the fact is I took months to finish this book and the ending almost killed me, so here we are: writing this review in anger and resentment. Enjoy!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

So to be clear, I read the ARC of this book. Now that the finished copy is out, even though ARCs are basically final drafts, there are some editorial changes that can occur, meaning some things may be different. For the most part though, we should all be on the same page, though I’m not going to go into detail as this is a spoiler free review.

Let’s start off this review with the obvious: Emily wants to murder her readers. The emotional rollercoaster that was Ruthless Gods not only gave me several heart attacks while reading, but almost slew me at the end. Wicked Saints was a journey of its own because of the new characters we meet and grow to like – and then hate to love. Now we have characters undergoing big changes and it’s hard to watch your favorites change before your eyes.

Then theres also the fact that the previous book ended with attempted and actual murder.

My journey with this book was difficult. I often have a conflict with books I like: one part of me feels starved and needs to read it, the other is terrified of rushing through the book. I want to know what comes next without the aspect of finishing the book. Once the book is finished, there’s no more – until the next one comes out.

I have had a long time to reflect on this review because the emotions were high for me when I finished, but I’m going to be honest. It does suffer from middle book syndrome.

Now before anyone raises their pitch forks and torches, let’s remind ourselves what middle book syndrome is. It is essentially the idea that the middle book is a sort of filler between the events of book 1 and book 3 or books whatever, depending on how many books there are. Since this series is a trilogy, it’s books 1 and book 3. Now, I say this because the entire first half of the book I felt like I was going nowhere.

Nothing really happened. Why? Because we had to recoup from the ending of book 1, set up the driving force for book 2, and make sure that the momentum takes us into book 3. Middle book syndrome is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be a good thing, but it does mean that the book can lag. And Ruthless Gods lagged in the beginning.

But once the action started – OH MY GOSH. The last two hundred pages grabbed the collar of my shirt and dragged me along, whether I wanted to go or not.

So besides the apparent middle book syndrome, and character changes, what else is there. Well, nothing bad. I loved the driving force in this book and the chain of events that seemed inevitable, but really weren’t. One thing I did have to pick a fight on is Nadya. Sweet, stupid Nadya. Her actions and her decision making irritated the shit out of me. I wanted to smack her upside the head and scream at her. Now, I get the motivation behind it, but come on! So many bad choices were made and now I’m left to suffer because of it?

Why are you making me suffer?!

To wrap up my convoluted thoughts I really liked this book. Now don’t act all surprised because of what I said earlier. I was mad. Even with the lag at the beginning, once the plot gets going, you won’t be disappointed. I threw the book and was SCREAMING at the end, so that should tell you the mindset I am coming from as I write this. Just like with Wicked Saints, this book is a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png // 5 stars for me. If you haven’t read Wicked Saints yet, get on it. It’s a fantastic series!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Cruel Prince by Holly Black, or Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

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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: The Priory of the Orange Tree

I buddy read the BEA ARC of this book with my friend Grace and it took us about a week to read through it. This monster of a book is 800 pages of pure fantasy awesomeness. We have dragons, witches, mages, dragon riders, and so much action. I was a bit nervous to read this, but I read Kingdom of Ash which is almost 1,000 pages in the span of three days, so it can’t really be that intimidating. Spoiler: it wasn’t intimidating at all and I loved it!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

At first, I was unsure if this book was part of a series or a standalone, but looking at Goodreads it appears it is a standalone. This is a monster of a book, in the fact that not only is it about 850 pages, but there are multiple perspectives and places that this story jumps between. Once you’ve become acquainted though, the jumps become much easier to go with. I really go into it about 150-200 pages in and found myself sucked in until the end.

We read 75 pages at a time, until the last chunk where I read about 200 pages at once. Once you get to the last 300 pages, the action gets really intense and you just want to read right through it. First off, we are introduced into a world where a great dragon was defeated and locked away for a thousand years, and now might be coming back. There is the West where they worship the six saints of Knighthood and they believe the Queen of Inys is what keeps the Nameless One at bay and her future daughters will do the same.

Then there’s the East, who worships dragons, but a different kind than the Nameless One. Fire breathing dragons are feared, but there are others that are worshiped, kind, and even are ridden. These two sides of the world do not cooperate but as the threat of the Nameless One grows higher, they may have to put their differences aside to fight a common threat.

So the multiple characters we get to meet are all awesome, except I hate Dr. Roos. I won’t go into details about why but he is such a little snake and I could do without his POVs. Everybody else was a wild ride to read about. We get love affairs, battles, pirates, and such much stuff going on! Some chapters do drag a little because of background information, but for the most part the book starts and you’re immediately getting into action.

This was an easy read for me and I found myself glued to the edge of my seat unable to put the book down. The last three 300 pages of reading I suggested increasing the amount of pages from 75 to 100 then ended up binging the last 200 pages. The ONLY thing I thought could have been better was the epic battle this book was leading up to! It was intense, it was wild, and it was short. I wanted like the last 200 pages to be this epic battle going on and it just wasn’t that. It really disappointed me and my friend Grace that it couldn’t be longer.

Overall, the fantasy is fantastical, the characters are captivating, the plot is superb, and the battle was okay. This was a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png.5 // 5 stars for me. And honestly, the only thing that prevented it from being 5 stars was Dr. Roos and the battle scene.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Samantha’s other series The Bone Season or Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. 

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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: Hunting November

I received an eARC of Hunting November by Adriana Mather from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is the sequel to Killing November, so if you haven’t read the first book, check out my review!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Surviving a few weeks at the world’s most lethal boarding school was one thing. But now comes the real test: Can November Adley find her missing father before her enemies find her? Subterfuge is the name of the game in this thrilling sequel to Killing November, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch.

After surviving a crash course in espionage at the mysterious Academy Absconditi, November has only one purpose: finding her missing father. Along with fellow student (and heartthrob) Ash, November follows the clues that her father left, embarking on the deadliest treasure hunt of her life. The first clue is in her hometown, where old friends beckon and unexpected enemies lurk around every corner. The second clue is in Europe, where revelations about her family’s history will plunge her into an international web of deception, lies, and intrigue. The third clue is deep in enemy territory, surrounded by the most skilled assassins and master strategists, and where everyone wants her and her father dead. Can one girl with limited training infiltrate a centuries-old organization that is powerful enough to topple empires? November only knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to save her father . . . or die trying.

To start off, we pick right up from the action at the end of Killing November, which was a little disorienting since I haven’t read the book in a year. We immediately jump into action as the characters race off into action, getting the party started. Once the action starts it doesn’t stop for November. It was so intense, especially at the end, that I ended up staying up until 3:00am to finish this story.

I thought it was a great end to Killing November. There was action (duh, they’re like spies), drama, and good endearing moments. I loved the moments between November and Ash specifically cause teenage love is cute, but it also broke up the high risk action scenes. There was a lot I liked about the book, but I want to keep this spoiler free, so I won’t say what it is.

The biggest reasons why I didn’t give this a higher rating though is 1) I was immediately thrown into action with no recap, or explanation, just action. I’m not a big fan of that. 2) There were some moments where certain characters experienced a total personality switch between book 1 to 2. And it remains unexplained through the entire book. 3) I thought the ending was sweet, but it was predictable and felt a little lack luster to me.

I was a little disappointed at the ending actually. We get this intense story with a huge climax and then the ending felt flat after that. I wanted the action to keep going but it just suddenly stops. While I’m happy for November, I wanted the spy action to continue “of screen” and keep the momentum going.

Besides those issues I thought this was an awesome sequel! We get a nice, even end to November’s story and I’m fairly satisfied. This was a solid star.pngstar.pngstar.png.75 // 5 stars for me.

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If this series sounds interesting, check out Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo or Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte.

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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!

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!

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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ARC Review: Night Spinner

I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Before the massacre at Nariin, Enebish was one of the greatest warriors in the Sky King’s Imperial Army: a rare and dangerous Night Spinner, blessed with the ability to control the threads of darkness. Now, she is known as Enebish the Destroyer―a monster and murderer, banished to a monastery for losing control of her power and annihilating a merchant caravan.

Guilt stricken and scarred, Enebish tries to be grateful for her sanctuary, until her adoptive sister, Imperial Army commander Ghoa, returns from the war front with a tantalizing offer. If Enebish can capture the notorious criminal, Temujin, whose band of rebels has been seizing army supply wagons, not only will her crimes be pardoned, she will be reinstated as a warrior.

Enebish eagerly accepts. But as she hunts Temujin across the tundra, she discovers the tides of war have shifted, and the supplies he’s stealing are the only thing keeping thousands of shepherds from starving. Torn between duty and conscience, Enebish must decide whether to put her trust in the charismatic rebel or her beloved sister. No matter who she chooses, an even greater enemy is advancing, ready to bring the empire to its knees.

So the beginning of this story was kinda boring. I don’t say it because I’m expecting great action from the start but it wasn’t until about 30-40% of the way through the book that things got really interesting. There were some seriously slow moments in the story that had me going “do I even want to finish this”? Well, I read the whole thing and I really enjoyed it. I thought the plot was good and loved the aspect of the world. Besides the slowness there were some things I wasn’t a fan of – like the main character’s demure. She kept repeating how weak and small she is even though previously she was one of the strongest and most confident warrior. It wasn’t very believable that someone’s personality would change that drastically. Would I believe they would doubt themselves more? Yeah. Would I believe they wouldn’t take as many risks? Yeah. But to go from warrior to a soft noodle didn’t comprehend for me or for the character.

Another thing I wasn’t a fan of was the unanswered plot point. I won’t spoil it, but this point was made over and over again but after every twist, turn, and reveal, this question still was not answered. I hope it will be answered in future books because I’m curious why it was brought up so frequently with no answer or follow up. Besides that, I liked the book. Some characters annoyed me but you don’t get a long with everyone you meet and that’s fine. 

Overall, I liked the book. Once you get past the beginning and the backstory has been explained it picks up a lot. There were still some dull moments which is why this isn’t a higher rating for me, but generally a good book. I would give this a This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.png//5 stars.

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If this story sounds interesting, I would check out Everless by Sara Holland.

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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: Lobizona

Lobizona was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and it did not disappoint. If you haven’t read Romina’s other series, the Zodiac series, you need to check it out! I snagged an ARC of her new series and here are my thoughts!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Reading Manu’s story brings up issues of immigration through a fantastical lens, as well as a realistic one. The separation between the real world and the fictional is a thin line that is crossed about 1/4-1/3 of the way through and highlights similar issues between these two worlds. Between the review version (300 pages) and what seems to be the final version (400 pages) there is a lot of details that could have been added, moments that changed, or even new scenes that I didn’t get in the review, but I hope are there. I feel like the beginning, which takes place in Miami, is more fleshed out than the fantastical world. It’s not clear whether it’s due to lack of explanation, or that it’s a completely different world these characters are living in, but I felt a bit lost. 

In some moments I find myself not fully comprehending what Romina wants me to see or getting confused on the technicalities of what Lobizóns can and can’t do. It made it difficult to fully immerse myself during those moments and I felt pulled away. With 100 pages being added to the final copy, I assume, and I hope, that the fantastical world is fleshed out a bit more. If so, then I think the book is going to connect and resonate a lot more with readers than it would right now.

Overall, I really liked the story. I’m a fan of Romina’s work in general and I’m excited to see this new story come to light soon! I would rate this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars but I’m excited to see if I like the finished copy even more.

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

My First Time at YALLFest: My Thoughts and Honest Review

I am loving these long titles recently. Sorry to anyone who can’t read the whole thing and is thinking, “what in the world?” at these. Next time I’ll make sure the title is an entire paragraph – that will be fun!

So, I went to YALLFest 2019 last week (more like 2 weeks now but whatever) and let me say, wow. It’s on the same craziness scale as BookCon with just a 1/50 of the booths and the people – also it’s outdoors. I went with my friend Grace and we were so excited. Grace is a veteran at this, having gone multiple years in a row, but this being my first time, I basically relied on Grace to lead me through the event with no issues. There were no issues thankfully.

Day One – Friday:

Friday is mostly a signing day so we went and got some books signed (to rephrase, Grace got some books signed and I stood in line for her) and then we wandered around Charleston. Grace had won tickets to the Red Carpet Preview hosted by Penguin Teen which we went to after meeting some wonderful authors. On our seats were these cute tote bags containing stickers, tattoos, a preview of 2020 books, and an ARC of They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman.

The event was a lot of fun and included authors such as Ally Condie, Renee Ahdieh, Tochi Onyebuchi, and other fantastic authors! If you ever go to YALLFest and want a fun panel to go to, Red Carpet Preview was awesome and I highly recommend it.

Day Two – Saturday:

The day started off at 4:30am when our alarm went off and we woke up for the day. We waited in the car in front of the museum (where the ARC square was located) at 5:30pm until we saw other people arrive. We parked and waited outside from 6:00am until 9:00am when the Fierce Reads booth opened for their ticket drop.  I grabbed tickets for Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan and Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust.

9:01am – after tickets were acquired, I went right to the Fierce Reads booth next door where they were selling finished copies of books. As they stated in their email, if you purchased certain books you got some ARCs included. So in addition to tickets to two ARC drops later in the day, I also snagged ARCs of The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves #2) and Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles.

After that, rushing over to Epic Reads to acquire another book, everything started to blur. For most of the day I ran around to different drops that were happening for books I knew I really wanted and occasionally stepped in line for mystery items. Besides running around to different drops, my friend and I also attended the I Love YA A Waffle Lot! event hosted by HMH Teen.

The event was a lot of fun and hey, free waffles! I took some photos at their Instagram station, pictured below:

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Towards the end of the day, Fierce Reads offered another promotion like the one from the morning, buy a book and get an ARC. I bought two books, Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok. Included with those books were the ARCs to the sequels of each, Ruthless Gods and Sensational. It was a nice surprise for everyone as they cleared out books and ARCs from other events.

The ARC square closed at 4pm, with raffle winners being announced at 4:30pm, for the most part. I didn’t win anything but that’s typical. Finally, after a long day of running and waiting in line, we headed for the car.

To sit down for an hour until our final event.

We went to the Smackdown event at the Music Hall and it was very interesting. I didn’t know what to expect at this event but I was still somehow surprised at the different segments they hosted. There was singing, dancing, shoving hand into mayonnaise, and a lot more.

It was a great way for Grace and me to relax and have some fun at the same time. The drive home was bittersweet because 1) the event was over which means we were going home soon but 2) yay for beds and sleeping!

After ordering pizza and marveling at our hauls, YALLFest was over!

Here are some crappy photos of my haul from this year, taken in the hotel after a 15 hour day! Enjoy!

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Overall, it was a fun festival to attend. It’s a bit annoying that the event is outside because rain or shine, you’re going to feel it, and with the cold it was brutal. The ARC square is also very close together so lines would often intersect or be side by side, which got confusing as the day wore on. The last real complaint is that there is absolutely no food nearby. If you are not prepared to bring some snacks or a lunch with you, and you’re trying to stay on top of ARC drops during the day, you are going to starve.

Besides the usual festival complaints, I really enjoyed meeting everyone at YALLFest and I am planning on going again next year for the 10th anniversary! Now that I know what to expect, and how to optimize my time, I’m excited to see what next year holds for us!

Did you attend YALLFest this year? If you did, what was your most exciting find?

If you didn’t go, what would you have been on the hunt for?

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Review: Serpent & Dove

So while I read Serpent & Dove pre-release, it is now out in the world! So pick it up because this book is so good, especially if you’re a fan of Throne of Glass! There’s witches, witch hunters, magic, and good old fashioned enemies to lovers – now lets find out why I love this book so much!

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Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

First and foremost, AELIN AND ROWAN VIBES. The relationship between Louise (Lou) and Reid is one that makes you want to hit someone because you just want them to finally kiss. Louise is a snarky, bad mouth witch who doesn’t care what others think of her, she’s there to protect herself and her best friend Coco. Reid is a disciplined Chasseur, aka a witch hunter, who follows orders, doesn’t take bullshit, and hates witches. Ironic. The two together is just a mash of snark, sass, and hatred – it’s great. Every time they interact, it just makes my heart warm because “the mean one is soft for the other mean one” – awwww. While it is definitely not a good relationship at first, it evolves into something so sweet and heartwarming, I just love them.

Second off, the plot is wonderful. It’s action filled, fueled by wants and needs, and written beautifully. I’m a definite fan of this story. Shelby brings you along on a journey that has you on the edge of your seat for the entire ride. I was up until 2AM finishing this off because I had to know what happens next – I couldn’t put it down. And the uniqueness of the witches was also wonderful; there are different types and groups, it’s not a general witchiness. Love it!

Third, Ansel is my sweet little baby and I love him. As a Chasseur in training, he is put on babysitting duty for Lou and his innocence is just so endearing. He’s a friend I would love to have and his willingness to defend those he loves is a trait I love the most about him. He is just such a fun character to watch grow and progress, especially in comparison to the other Chasseurs.

This book is such a fun, exciting read – it pulls you in from the first chapter and getting to read both Lou and Reid’s POV makes it that much better. I can’t imagine what book 2 has in store for us. Especially after that ending!

As you can tell, I adore this book and it’s a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png / 5 read for me! If you want sass, action, romance, witches, and personal growth – what are you waiting for? Go pick it up now!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas or Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

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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: The Grace Year

I managed to snag an ARC of The Grace Year by Kim Liggett at ALA and there are no regrets here. First off, let me just say, the description is awful because this book is that and so much more. I really found myself invested in the story and message behind it and I think the way this book is described, it just falls a bit short. This review is going to be very in depth because Liggett talks about a lot of important issues that I think should be touched on and talked about. So if you’re looking for short and sweet, this is not a review you will enjoy reading. But if you’re looking for my opinion on topics such as female relationships, female sexual agency, and other important topics – tune in!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. 

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive. 

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other. 

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

First and foremost, we have an outcast main character. Some people don’t like this trope, but Tierney is different. She doesn’t understand why women are seen as inferior to men, why she has to purge herself for a year, why the girls she’s with can’t bring themselves to help each other instead of hurt. I like that Liggett talks about this issue, because it is one, of why women tear each other down even if it ends up hurting everyone. It’s important for young girls to read this story and feel the frustration of wanting peace between characters and instead they get none of that.

Another thing this book touches on that I adore is sexual freedom for women. Why some may not think this topic is important for YA, I absolutely believe it is. Even if a girl, at whatever age, is not having sex, she should still understand that there is nothing wrong with and that she is meant for more than just pleasuring men. This topic can be very awkward to explain to young adults, but to show a healthy sexual relationship is very important. Liggett mentions that the women are simply vessel’s for sons in Tierney’s town, but shows each time how that is not right and shouldn’t be the standard – A+.

Along with a woman’s sexual agency, Liggett also reveals another important idea – women are not objects. It should be obvious to people alike, but women are not simply present to serve men. In Tierney’s society, that is exactly what they are though. Women are subservient to their husbands and are actually possessions. They are bargained over for marriage with no say from the girls themselves. They cannot do or say anything not approved by men and it’s infuriating. Liggett shows the outcasts of this society as free though, showcasing how women should be allowed to have freedom and be treated as equals. With each issue she raises, she presents a healthier alternative which is really important. It should be the standard and Liggett makes that clear to her characters and to the reader.

She makes it obvious that its not right to treat women as objects – which should be obvious but for some girls, this kind of story is reality. Making sure we educate people all over the world how important fair treatment and healthy relationships are. I appreciate the fact that she covers these topics and showcases how insane it is that Tierney’s world isn’t fair and probably will never be.

Overall, important topics talked about in an amazing way, plus an interesting plot mixed up with it makes this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png / 5 stars for me. If you’re looking for a crazy, heart wrenching read put this on your TBR. You will not regret it.

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If this book sounds interesting, check out The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

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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: Tiger Queen

This was the first Annie Sullivan book I’ve read. The author of Touch of Gold has released a new story about Princess Kateri, who is fighting her way through suitors in order to win her place as Queen. If she fails, she has to marry her competitor and he will take the throne.

Meanwhile, the wells are drying up and there are thieves stealing the water from the people. What the hell, am I right? But things aren’t as they seem – who really are the good guys?

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Heres the synopsis from Goodreads:

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

First and foremost, I love retellings. This book is a retelling of a short story and I’m all for it. It’s a bit slow to get into plot wise but it definitely starts to pick. One of the things I like about the plot is that its familiar but still original. There’s the oppressive family, a crisis, an unlikely love interest, and of course – a strong willed female main character, but theres a lot of originality to it as well.

Following a formula doesn’t mean a book is bad, it’s following a path that is common and familiar. Sullivan adds a unique and fantastical backstory to this world and brings an intense story. I genuinely enjoyed reading Kateri’s story and was silently rooting for her during my read through!

One thing I had a problem with was pacing. Some moments that were slow I wanted to speed up a little, other moments were too fast. Since this was an ARC I read, the pacing may have changed and scenes may have been extended or shortened, so it’s hard to take my word or judgement on that one. I also had an issue with Kateri’s dad. To me, he felt too villainy. Like unrealistically evil personally. I wanted a bit more of a humanistic approach to him instead of some person who was always awful. Villains are understandably hard to write, but it was hard to read scenes with him, it was just a bit too much.

Overall, I liked this story and I think it’s a great YA read. A strong female lead, morality is judged, and good triumphs – or does it? I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.5 / 5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton!

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ARC Review: Treason of Thorns

A friend of mine had an ARC of Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Waymouth that she graciously sent me to be able to read! It releases on September 10th, 2019 so keep a lookout!

I was so excited to read this story and see what happens! Unfortunately, it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic kept both the countryside and Violet happy.

That is, until her father’s treason destroyed everything.

Now she’s been given a chance to return home. But Burleigh isn’t what she remembered. Wild with grief, Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain. As its tormented magic ravages the countryside, Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.

A house left unchecked will lead to ruin.

But I will not let it ruin me.

This synopsis sounded AMAZING to me! But I noticed problems within the first chapter. I thought the magic system in this story was crazy unique – the house has all the power and its Caretaker wields a key to help hone its power responsibly. I haven’t heard of a system like this before and it was really interesting to read. My problem with it though, was that I didn’t get a true sense of the magic system until more than halfway through the book. This not only made it confusing as to what was happening, but kinda boring. Which was unfortunate, because I thought the premise was really cool! It also made it hard to understand the issues going on with Burleigh and why it was having such a destructive response.

Reading this, I really wanted to see and understand more of the House’s magic system and then be thrown a problem, not the other way around. While I understand Laura wanted a sense of mystery, it didn’t connect with me and made it harder to enjoy the story.

Another thing that irked me was the repetitiveness of the main idea. Caretakers put their houses first, before anybody or themselves. Violet consistently repeats this in her head, out loud, to Wyn, and anybody who will listen. It gets a bit annoying after awhile. I understood the author was trying to make a point, and have Violet learn something by the end, but it was a struggle to read the same line/thought over and over again. It also occurred with several other ideas, such as the house magic, the house dying, saving the house, and other main issues with the book. It was like everything had to be repeated on every page lest the reader forget what is going on. It was so hard to get through, I almost DNFed at one point. Thankfully, more than halfway through the story, it redeems itself and gets crazy good. I absolutely loved the ending!

Besides those issues, I really enjoyed the story and thought it was a fun read. I did want to see more of the “side characters” we meet, because they brought a lot of personality to the story. It was a shame they weren’t included more. Especially since Violet felt a bit flat in some parts (might be the result of the repetition but who knows).

Overall, interesting new read that I haven’t seen before and think everyone should give a try once it has been published in September! I’m excited to reread and see what changes have been made.

I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars, because the ending really did redeem the book and the other characters were so fun to read!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert!

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

Book Haul: April

April was a big month for new releases and spending money on new books! I had a lot of trades and purchases that occurred this month (much more than last month) as well as several preorders! Some of these I have more than one copy that I got, so I will include how many I actually received.

Some of the ARCs I received this month are:

  • And I Darken by Kiersten White
  • Bright We Burn by Kiersten White
  • The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
  • You Owe Me  A Murder by Eileen Cook
  • Everland by Wendy Spinale
  • The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Goodreads Giveaway)
  • Diamond City by Francesca Flores (Goodreads Giveaway)
  • Fall, Or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson
  • The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
  • A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

Some of the Finished Copies I bought this month are:

  • We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
  • The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman
  • How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
  • Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan x2
  • Enchantee by Gita Trelease
  • Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  • Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu x3
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  • The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  • The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

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After looking over how many books I’ve received this month, I have a feeling I’m going to have to sit down and stop spending money. Yikes!

If you have purchased, read, or are interested in any of these books, let me know! I’d also love to know what books you purchased for April – let’s share the love!

ARC Review: Wilder Girls

I managed to snag an ARC of Wilder Girls by Rory Power at NoVa Teen Book Festival this past March and I was so excited to read it! One of the biggest things that attracted me to this book was the gorgeous cover (can we just drool over this together?)! I hadn’t heard much about the plot but I was ready to jump in and read what was going to happen.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

One of the things I really liked about this was the storyline – an apocalyptic sickness taking over the school and the entire island it resides on. Turning the girls into deformed monsters and killing everything in its path. I’ve read and seen apocalyptic illness stories before, but never like this. Usually they take on a zombie standard, but most of the girls remain the same and keep their sanity – for the most part. It was interesting to see how they changed overtime because of this illness and to read about their new normal.

The new social survival standard was interesting too. Loyalty was still present even in the dog eats dog world as the girls fought each other over everything. Even between friends, Hetty still has to fight to survive as she continues to look out for the people she cares for.

One thing I wasn’t a fan of was Hetty and Reese’s relationship. They weren’t friends but they were more than strangers and it was hard to accept that they were loyal or cared for each other. Hetty was much closer with Byatt and clearly cared for her deeply – so to make it seem like Hetty and Reese had an intense relationship felt false. While it’s clear their relationship changes, there are some aspects to it that don’t feel right or could have been developed more.

Another thing that was somewhat explained but I didn’t fully understand was the sickness itself. There’s some explanation of symptoms and what happening to them, but it doesn’t explain why some people survive while others don’t. Or what is actually happening to them. It kinda hinders the story for me as we continue to see the effects of this illness on everything. I think this will impact book 2 in two ways: 1) We’ll get more explanation of what’s happening or 2) We won’t and we’ll still be confused. Or at least I will be.

I think the story is an interesting take on something that has been done before. Strange illness kills the population and changes the landscape. Survivors have to figure out how to live in new world and continue to survive. It’s a plot that has been done before but Power does something different with it, which I liked. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t super impressed with the storyline and honestly, Reese and Hetty’s characters annoyed me. I would have loved to have read the entire story through Byatt’s perspective though!

Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t a winner for me. The synopsis is a little misleading because it makes it seem like a grand adventure but most of the story takes place at the school. While there is a lot of action, it’s not as action packed as I hoped. I am definitely interested in reading what happens next though! Definitely a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.75/5 stars for me.

We Hunt the Flame

I won an advance copy of We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal from Goodreads and I am so thankful. This book is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and it ABSOLUTELY lived up to the hype. I knew I was going to like this book, but I did not expect the roller coaster ride of emotions that Hafsah included in order to KILL ME. I am deceased from this story. This book releases on May 14th, 2019 – so make sure to preorder now!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

So first and foremost – the setting is magical and gorgeous. Literally. The world has been abandoned by magic and as a result, leaves the Earth desolate and in distress. Where there was once a sprawling desert is now snow. Rich, fertile soil now barren. A seaport city is cut off from the ocean by a dark forest. The images Hafsah evokes just from the land is so amazing and intense I felt like I was there. I also felt the suffering that the people living there felt; the struggle of this relatively new land they have to navigate. Hafsah’s prose pulls you into the story and places you down with the characters and that means suffering with them too.

Onto her writing – it was so lyrical and amazing I’m stunned. I’ve always been a fan of lyrically descriptive prose. I want to see what the characters see because it helps me envision the story better and Hafsah does it in such a beautiful way; some scenes almost made me cry with how beautiful or intense they were. Because of this writing technique though, the beginning can seem a bit slow. Not to say that nothing happens, because a lot happens in the beginning with setting the characters up, but it can feel sluggish compared to the rest of the book. Honestly though, I didn’t mind it. I enjoyed getting to see and know everything that was happening in a descriptive way – it makes the world more real to me.

For her characters, there’s a lot I could say. 1) Love the distinct personalities that each character has. While there is a little overlap between two characters, each person is an individual – which doesn’t always happen. Even with multiple “main” characters (the important characters that are not the protagonists), everyone has a distinct voice and brings something to the story that nobody else could. 2) I ABSOLUTELY LOVE NASIR AND I JUST WANT TO CUDDLE MY CINNAMON ROLL. Okay – yes, Nasir is one of my favorite characters for one BIG reason: his evolution. The way he changes and morphs throughout the story is honestly the biggest reason I adore his character. I love the person he becomes by the end of the novel. I find myself loving the male characters more than the female characters too, including Zafira for some reason though.

The only issue I had with the story though – was Zafira’s repetitiveness. I found that this happened only with Zafira’s main POV and was a common thing about her thought process. She would think the same thing a lot: same phrases, analogies, sayings. It’s not horribly noticeable, but it was something I noticed and it irked me a little by the end. Thankfully, it wasn’t something that ruined the character for me because I still adore Zafira, even with her flaws. Actually, for her flaws. I find myself having trouble really thinking of things I disliked about the characters because so much of these dislikes are the quirks in their personality. It’s what makes them unique and I can’t hate that. I don’t hate it.

Finally, the plot. Loved it. I can’t think of anything wrong with the events that happened other than sometimes things would happen and not be explained very well. Or a character would conveniently black out so it’s hard to say exactly the events that occurred. While this wasn’t a common thing, it happened twice which is something I immediately noticed. I don’t mind plot points like that, but I hope to see a different or revised version of events in the final draft. I want to know how a problem is solved!

Overall, I ADORED this book, the characters, the plot, everything about this novel. I am stunned at how amazing it was for Hafsah’s debut and I cannot wait to read the second book. I would give this book a definite star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars! No questions asked!

Thank you again to Goodreads for picking me as one of the winner’s for this giveaway! Even if it was just a random name generator.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (out July 9th, 2019!)

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

Kingsbane

I just finished Kingsbane by Claire Legrand and all I can say is WOW. Finishing the book left me hollow and broken – I’m not sure how I’m going to wait until next year for the final book. If you haven’t read Furyborn – the first book in the series – check out my review and pick it up! This review will still be spoiler free, but just in case, if you haven’t read it, check this out when you have!

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Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

I read Furyborn back in February (technically finished it in March) of this year and I was hooked. Picking up from where we left off, Kingsbane hit me in the feels immediately. As we continue on Eliana’s journey, and Rielle’s history, I find myself understanding the struggle Rielle experiences in maintaining her appearance. It was hard to see her character consistently berated and tested by those around her while she keeps up her image and resists the temptation to smack them all down. I feel you girl. Meanwhile, with Eliana struggling to accept her truth, while helping the Red Guard, it’s clear she’s going through a similar struggle as Rielle.

The similarities between mother and daughter continue throughout the story up until the end. Which, by the way, destroyed me. To find out more of Rielle’s story, and Eliana’s journey, not only made their characters feel more realistic, but allowed the storylines of the characters around them to come to life more. In the first book, while I loved several of the side characters, they didn’t feel fully fleshed out until the second book. And while it’s hard to see the events leading up to Eliana’s world unfolding, it gives the perfect edge to the story and and still leaves questions to be answered.

Warning: if you hate crying and horrible middle book endings – you will not want to read this ASAP. Buy the book ASAP (because it’s gorgeous), but maybe wait until book 3 is closer to release. Trust me. I was not prepared. Overall, I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars. 1) I’m biased and ADORE this series and 2) this is a well written story with so many emotions, lessons, twists, and turns, it’s hard not to give it all of the stars! I think everyone should at least try these books (not everyone will love this series and that’s okay!) because I think they’re fantastic – if not crazy!

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If you like Kingsbane, you’ll love Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers OR Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas.

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

Killing November

I received an eARC of Killing November by Adriana Mather from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was also late on this one, but I read and reviewed it, so it counts!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.

When I started this book, I was honestly so confused as to what was supposed to happen. We start off with November ending up at her new school, with no recollection of how she got there or where it is. With no information from her father, and the school an honest death trap, we are left with no information and just as confused as November.

As we move on, we meet November’s roommate and her twin brother, as well as the rest of her class, who are obviously not the friendliest people. The secretive private school gave me a “I’d Tell You I’d Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You” Vibe, but with some higher stakes. This book was fairly stereotypical, but the more the book progressed, the more unique it became. By the end, I was in love with the story and the characters. I honestly can’t wait for book two!

One issue that I had throughout the book was the push towards a love interest for November. It felt like the author was trying to force a relationship between these characters to add tension, especially since they can’t date at the school. It felt so forced and it was a bit uncomfortable to read honestly. If there wasn’t this romance, and other random romances in it, the book would be really good!

Overall, I enjoyed this read and I’m interested in reading the second one, if there will be one. I rated this star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars, because while I had trouble with the beginning and the romance, it was a fun, exciting read!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross.

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

Smoke and Key

I received an eARC of Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While I was a little late, I reviewed it in time for opening week, yay!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start. Bodies that are burned to a crisp. And after being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she loses her life for good…

The first moment I picked up the book, I knew I would love it, but it was not the right time for me to read this. This short, creepy, fantastical mystery sucked me right in, but after finding out that a close friend died, it hit a little too close to home. To read about how Key died, and everyone around her, made me a little uncomfortable after dealing with a death myself, but it got easier as I read on.

This story is not just a mystery, but a good conversation on death and what happens after we die. Uncomfortable, I know, but an important conversation nonetheless. One thing I loved about this book was the simplicity of Under. When I read books regarding the afterlife, it tends to be a smokey city or unclear that the person is dead. In this story, Sutton makes it clear that they are in the ground and their city is meant for the dead.

Another thing I loved was how the mystery was slowly uncovered and solved. Death mysteries are fun with detectives, but to realize what is going on through flashbacks or memories is a “fun” approach. It was a nice break away from the typical detective mysterious I’m used to.

While it wasn’t the best time for me to read this story, I loved it. I read it that day and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would give this book a star.png star.pngstar.png /5 stars. It would probably be higher if not for the circumstances, honestly.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman!

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

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe

Today, I will be reviewing The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie. I received an ARC of this book from another reviewer who would not have a chance to read and review before publication. So thank you Whitney!

Let’s dive in!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Who do you become when you have nothing left to lose?

There is something Poe Blythe, the seventeen-year-old captain of the Outpost’s last mining ship, wants far more than the gold they tear from the Serpentine River. 

Revenge. 

Poe has vowed to annihilate the river raiders who robbed her of everything two years ago. But as she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine and realizes there might be a traitor among her crew, she must also reckon with who she has become, who she wants to be, and the ways love can change and shape you. Even—and especially—when you think all is lost.

Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched trilogy, returns with an intricately crafted and emotionally gripping story of one young woman’s journey to move beyond the grief and anger that control her and find the inner strength to chart her own course.

First off, I wanted to like this book. I really did. But the biggest thing I had an issue with was Poe herself. Her characters only motivation is revenge against an oppressed people who killed her boyfriend during a robbery. That was the basis of her whole personality, her motivations, everything she thought and talked about. It was a bit much. While revenge is a great motivator, the fact that it was the only thing interesting about Poe, besides her being an orphan, made it so hard to read what was going to happen. Besides that, I loved the general plot and overall idea! I thought it was a cool, science fiction young adult novel that reminds us that not everything as it seems.

It’s a quality book!

But the lack of personality in Poe, is not. Besides Poe’s lack of personality, every other character was super fleshed out and had pizzaz, spunk, motivations besides avenging someone. They seemed more fleshed out and realistic than her. While there was some interesting moment between Poe and the other characters, I really liked their interactions.

Another thing I had an issue with was Poe’s personality change. While it was sudden, like some authors in the past mistakingly do, it seemed off. The fact that the core of Poe was her intent on revenge made it hard to accept her growth, because it was so prominent throughout the entire book. It didn’t seem realistic that she could let that go over the span of a few days/weeks. And her aggressive nature suddenly turned demure was also hard to accept.

While I wanted the change, it honestly didn’t feel right.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. I kind of wished the author got a chance to develop Poe a bit more throughout the book, but besides that, it was interesting story. I would give it star.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If you’re looking for a science fiction voyage, check out Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston!

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

The Devouring Grey

I received an e-ARC of The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I ended up receiving a physical ARC too, which is how I read the book and what this review will be based off of!

Let’s get started!

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Here’s a synopsis from Goodreads:

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

The first thing that struck me about this book was the take on the stereotypical new kid in town. Violet is not some shy, awkward new kid moving to a small, close knit town. She’s a firecracker who is grieving and desperate to escape the loss of her sister. She comes to this new town and doesn’t back away from the people, but quickly embraces them and remains herself through it – which is not something that is usually done in these tropes, but I appreciated.

The second thing was the openness of the magic in the town. Everyone in Four Paths is aware of the Grey and the monster lurking inside. There is no secret that must be kept by the kids and their families regarding what they’re protecting the town from, which I thought was awesome. It also made it almost better that the “heroes” were not hiding the monster, but embracing it and making everyone aware. It also really helped the plot of the book later on and I thought it was very well done.

Third, the characters. I had a few issues at first with Harper and Justin’s character (mostly because I found them annoying) at the beginning, but began to love them as the story progressed – especially by the ending! I thought all of the characters were realistic, and even the secondary/side characters were fleshed out. The fact that she also includes bisexual main characters made this story less … vanilla. While the characters love lives are not very important to the overall story, including LGBTQ+ characters is important and realistic. And the fact that she doesn’t exploit a characters sexuality for plot/emotional gains shows why there should be more Own Voices stories. Herman does a great job giving her characters personality, and while sometimes they have annoying attributes, everything is cleared up by the end and I adore them!

Finally, the plot itself. The only thing I can say about it is – WOW! When I originally finished the book I was staring at it, my mouth dropped open, and angry that book 2 isn’t in my hands currently so I can devour it. The storyline of The Devouring Grey is not fully original (monsters, must protect town, kids save the day), but Herman’s spin on this concept surely is. The way she incorporates magic, witches, monsters, and real people made it so easy to get sucked into the story. I found myself not being able to put it down.

Overall, I adored this book. I thought it was well written, dark, funny, engaging and so many other words I could use to describe it. I gave this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees!

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

The Waking Forest

I received an eARC of The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review: and here it is! This book comes out on March 12, 2019 and will be available for purchase on all platforms. So, lets get started!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and thankfully, it did not disappoint! The first thing I noticed about this book was the distinct writing style; it’s mysterious and enchanting and gives an almost Hazel Wood vibe, but better in my opinion. Next thing I noticed was the overall plot.

This book gave me a chilling, creepy vibe in the beginning with no explanation and I loved it. It was like a slow start to a horror movie – where you see creepy things are happening but you’re not sure why and you don’t quite know what is going to happen next. That was my initial reaction. As the book goes on more, the creepy vibe always remains but it changes and forms into something more than just suspense or horror – it turns into true fantasy.

One of the other things I noticed and liked in this book was the characters – sometimes, especially in YA, characters all come across the same or there is a distinct them vs us kind of divide – but not here. Wees makes sure to make each character their own individual throughout the story and makes sure to keep them consistent. I also loved the quirkiness of the sisters and how each of them has a quirk or thing to them that separates them from each other. It makes distinguishing between the four of them easier throughout the story.

Another thing I liked about this book was the set up – the switch between Rhea’s POV and the Witch’s POV was done very well and each switch back and forth helped build Rhea’s story more, instead of hindering it. The way that Wees also formats the book helps distinguish the Witch from Rhea, making sure to make an obvious switch in her own writing style that the POVs are different so that there is no confusion as she goes back and forth.

Lastly, I loved the imagery of this story. It was written so beautifully that I could clearly visualize everything on the page before me. Even when the book became intense, I could still see what she wanted me to see and feel like I’m right there with the characters.

My only issue with this book was the ending. And not because of what happens, but the way it was written. The entire first three quarters of the book includes some plot, but its a lot of descriptions, dialogue, and other things included rather than just action. At the end of this book, the shift to more action made it feel choppy and hard to follow. Going from the almost lyrical story to an action filled ending was shocking and hard to transition into. Besides that, I really liked this story and I’m excited to read more from this author!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think its perfect for anyone looking for a short, quick, creepy YA fantasy read. And with that – I would rate this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars!

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If this book interests you, I would suggest checking out The Cruel Prince by Holly Black or A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer!

The Cerulean

Okayyyy, wow. That’s how I’m going to start off this review because – wow. I read The Cerulean by Amy Ewing, which is currently available to buy or borrow from the library. I read the ARC of The Cerulean with a friend of mine recently and both of us were severely disappointed – let’s get into why!

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Here is the description from Goodreads:

Sera has always felt as if she didn’t belong among her people, the Cerulean. She is curious about everything and can’t stop questioning her three mothers, her best friend, Leela, and even the High Priestess. Sera has longed for the day when the tether that connects her City Above the Sky to the earthly world below finally severs and sends the Cerulean to a new planet.

But when Sera is chosen as the sacrifice to break the tether, she doesn’t know what to feel. To save her City, Sera must throw herself from its edge and end her own life. But something goes wrong and she survives the fall, landing in a place called Kaolin. She has heard tales about the humans there, and soon learns that the dangers her mothers warned her of are real. If Sera has any hope to return to her City, she’ll have to find the magic within herself to survive.

So first things first, when I read the description and first received this book I was so excited. Not only did it sound amazing and new, it had such a unique plot I had to read it and see what it was all about.

My first reaction to this book was, what is going on? The premise of the plot does not even cover the first 50 pages out of 500. There is so much more that goes on during this book that it gets so confusing and sporadic it’s hard to keep up. And the layout of it did not help. For one, there are so many different points of view (POVs), it’s hard to keep up in the sectioned setup. We have Sera, Leela, Agnes, and Leo all somewhat thrown together based on location – which made it so difficult to establish a timeline when switching POVs.

To further explain why I did not like this book, I’m going to break it up into a few sections.

1) The fact that the main character Sera is the only straight woman in her society, which consists of polyamorous lesbian couples, is unnecessary to me. Besides the fact that she claims she is different, Sera acknowledges that some women do not feel attraction and choose not to marry – which would have been fine. But making her straight added nothing to the plot in this entire book, which makes it feel like she’s trying to make her feel like an “other” to the reader and I was not a fan of that. The author continually makes a point of mentioning that Sera is different, but does nothing to explain why her being different matters. I would have been much more impressed if she had made her Ace/Aro than making her straight, because at least then she would be different without countering the idea that straight people are somehow “weird” or “different”. Because they’re not – they’re the norm.

2) The character Leo had a weird and sudden character shift that was somewhat explained, but so underdeveloped it felt wrong and out of place. It felt like he was made to be the bad guy and then changed his mind and decides he wants to be the good guy? He starts off wanting to do anything to please his father with no regards to other people around him, but suddenly when it affects Sera, he changes his mind and becomes a good person and wants to help her. It seemed so sudden and out of character, I’m not sure if it was Ewing’s intention to make it that sudden or not, but regardless, it was very confusing. 

3) I adored Leela and Agnes’ character so much and honestly I just wanted to read from their POV and nobody else’s. The way they were written and portrayed in the book not only made me love them, but it made it much harder to read from Leo or Sera’s POV later in the book, especially since they both came across so childish and whiny in comparison to Leela and Agnes.

4) The set up of the book by location did not make sense to me and made the story so choppy. Instead of sprinkling different character POVs in to explain what’s going on in the meantime, we get six different sections and have to connect the dots that way through four different POVs. Not only would it jump to different POV by location, but we mostly get Sera, Leo, and Agnes’ POV until suddenly about 75% of the way through, we finally get Leela’s POV and it’s such a sudden shift, it was honestly annoying. I would have much preferred if it was a constantly changing POV and the author can set the location so we know where they are, instead of splitting up by section and then POV. To sum it up, it was not enjoyable to read it that way for me.

Now to give the author the benefit of the doubt, I did read the advanced copy of this book, so some of those issues may have been resolved in the final draft, but if they weren’t I would not recommend this book to a friend.

Overall, I really wanted to like the story and the mystery of what was going was enticing. But the setup and some of the characters killed it for me and unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like this book, I didn’t. I would give this book star.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If you’re looking for a cool science fiction, space getaway, I would honestly suggest anything else at this point – I’ve heard Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff  is amazing and so is Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston.

February Wrap Up

I decided to wait until the end of February to write my February Wrap Up, which is why this is getting published on March 1st!

This month I read less than January and purchased/traded less books than I normally do. Typically I read between 10-15 books a month but in February I only read 5. Some of these books I’ve already reviewed or will be reviewing, so I won’t go in depth – but I will go into whether or not I would recommend it! I will also be discussing some of the March releases I’m most excited for!

To start, this month I read:

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Windwitch by Susan Dennard

 

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The Cerulean by Amy Ewing

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The Book is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni  

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The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

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Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

Honestly, I loved every book I read, except one, which is not bad! Out of all of these titles, the only one I would not recommend is The Cerulean by Amy Ewing because of certain issues with the book, which I discuss in my review. While this is significantly less than what I read in January, with all of the craziness that life handed me I’m happy that I reached 5 books this month and I hope to double it in March!

Now for my purchases; I mostly did trades with people and got some titles I’m excited to read! Some of these include Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, Enchantée by Gita Trelease, and The Fever King by Victoria Lee! Recently I’ve been into trading with people for ARC’s (advanced reader copies) which is not something that I did in the past. In fact, I didn’t really know about ARCs until this past summer when I went to BookCon and saw people reading titles like The Wicked King and Priory of the Orange Tree early.

Of the books I did purchase, I finally got a UK first edition of Caraval with the hidden clock! It took me so long to find this book and while the book is in okay condition, I’m glad I didn’t spend the $50+ that most people charge for the book. Besides that, I also got the February OwlCrate and February Fairyloot box (which I’m still waiting on). I did preorder Courting Darkness, Bloodwitch, Four Dead Queens, and Priory of the Orange Tree – although I’m still waiting on the last two to arrive to my house!

Some of the new releases I’m most excited for that release in March are:

 

  1. Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith
  2. The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
  3.  The Fever King by Victoria Lee
  4. The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees
  5. Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta
  6. Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
  7. Killing November by Adriana Mather
  8. Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck
  9. You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook
  10. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

And of course so many other titles that I have not had the chance to read about/know about yet that are coming out in the month of March too! Let me know in the comments what your favorite book from February was and your most anticipated March release!

 

Spectacle

I received an advance copy of Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok from NetGalley and I loved it. This book is currently published and available on all platforms, so if you like this review, feel free to purchase a copy for yourself or pick it up at your local library!

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To start off, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

As a historical fiction buff – I loved this story! The slight fantasy of it also made it that much more entertaining for me, especially since it added a lot to the story. Even though I wished it had a more prominent role, the biggest part of the story I loved was the historical fiction aspect of it, especially since it was 1880’s Paris – post Napoleon era.

The characters in this book, since most are women, seemed restrained, which makes sense for the times. While there were times I wished I saw more of a “screw the patriarchy” type of attitude from the characters, I can’t blame them for their reservations and their fears. It does show itself at times, but I had hoped for more moments of it.

Honestly, I loved this story so much, I couldn’t put it down at times. Since NetGalley gives out e-ARCs, I had to read this story on my kindle, which is something I don’t do often, so the fact that I couldn’t put the book down is saying something. As a person who has trouble reading on a kindle at times, the fact that I was obsessively reading this book means it’s good!

One of the problems I had with this book was the ending. It felt like it came out of nowhere and I was not prepared for the reveal when it happened. Usually with murder mysteries, there are some clues given to the reader so that they can start to guess who the killer is, but with this book I felt blindsided. I wish there had been a little more of a hint as to who it was and why they were doing it before the sudden reveal. On the other hand, it was also nice to be completely surprised at the fact that I didn’t guess the killer immediately. So if you like knowing who did it, this book is not for you! Get ready to be surprised.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book and thought it was not only a suspenseful, enticing read but historically accurate, which is always lovely to read. As a historical fiction/fantasy buff – this book itched all my scratches and left me wanting more. I’m so excited to see what Zdrok comes out with next!

To wrap this up, I loved this story and I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction as Zdrok does an amazing job incorporating history and fiction seamlessly.

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If you like historical fiction murder mysteries, I would recommend Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco or Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers!

This Book Is Not Yet Rated

I received an advance copy of This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni from a giveaway on Goodreads. The book is available on April 9, 2019 so only two more months!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A smart and funny contemporary YA novel about 17-year-old Ethan who works at the crumbling Green Street Cinema and has to learn, along with his eccentric, dysfunctional work family, that fighting for the thing you love doesn’t always turn out like in the movies.

The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it’s because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it’s because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it’s a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos.

They say it’s structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don’t understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years.

Now it’s up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema–Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as “Wendy,” the leader of these Lost Boys–to save the place they love.

It’s going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan’s oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she’s been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren’t always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he’s not been ready to say: “they grow up.”

This Book Is Not Yet Rated is the story of growing up and letting go and learning that love can come in many different forms and from many different sources like the places that shape us, the people who raise us, the lovers who leave us, and even the heroic rodents who were once our mortal enemies. 

Going into this story, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me say that I was blown away by how deep this story was. The author discusses serious topics such as death, identity, self worth, and finding our place in this world – something I didn’t expect to be hit with. It was a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

The beginning was a bit boring for me and I had a bit of trouble getting into it, but once I was invested, it was an engaging story. I did have an issue connecting with the main character though, although I’m not sure what about him made him distant for me. His personality seemed odd, but it makes sense as the story progresses why it might come across that way, so I’ll excuse it.

The biggest issue I had with the story in general was the relationship between Ethan and Raina. It was a weird love story between them that I’m not sure was resolved, which was irritating because I felt so much of the book was Ethan avoiding his feelings for Raina and once he accepted them, the tension dissipated and I’m left with nothing. I wanted more out of this love story between them and I felt a bit disappointed in it. Besides that, the interaction between Ethan and Raina were a mix of sad and emotional to fun and light hearted – it was a good, realistic mix.

Besides that, the story is engaging, funny, and deep. The other characters, like Anjo, Sweet Lou, Griffin, and Lucas helped lighten up the story and make it more entertaining and less emotionally scarring, especially in regards to the fact that this theater is going to be torn down. I also think Ethan’s friendship between these characters helped make him seem less lonely and whiny, like he does with Raina at times, and makes him appear more like a normal teenager.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and it was a good, fast read. I’m excited to read the finished result in April! For my rating, I would rate this book a star.png star.png star.png/5 stars. It was a good contemporary read and I would definitely recommend it!

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If you like this book, I would recommend To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han