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: 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!

Review: Sensational

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Experience at ALA

This past weekend (June 22 – June 24) I attended my first ALA convention in Washington DC. Being a first timer, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for it, but I was definitely excited!

Arriving an hour before the floor opened on Saturday, my friends Alexa, Morissa, and I stood in a calm line of about 100 people while we patiently waited for them to let us in. When 9:00am rolled around it was a calm wave of people checking badges as we descended the escalators down to the exhibit floor.

Within 1 hour I had filled my backpack and a large tote bag with books. It became so heavy, I had to transfer them to tote bags and check them in. We were so exhausted from all the books we were carrying, and the walking around, that we left early.

By the end of Day 1, I had a full backpack and two full tote bags. It was honestly painful walking the two blocks to the hotel next door to retrieve my car. Poor Alexa was also drowning in tote bags and a full backpack as we made our way to the car.

Here is what my day 1 haul looked like when I got home:

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For Day 2, I learned from my mistake and brought a freaking suitcase to haul everything back. I still had my backpack and tote bags, but fortunately I didn’t need to dump everything until about 11am that day. The plan for Sunday was to avoid the massive amount of books that we received on Saturday and stick to the most important ones:

  • A Heart so Fierce and Broken
  • The Burning Shadow
  • The Starless Sea
  • Tiger Queen

We not only got everything that we were looking for (SUCCESS!) but everything else that we were “trying” to avoid. And by trying, I mean accepting every ARC or book that was handed to us with minimal resistance. It was hard to say no! It was also hard to avoid asking or taking one that was being given away. Getting ARCs is never this easy and it was too hard to pass up on hundreds of them being given away.

While I didn’t get every book I wanted to (and there were SO many that I wanted to get), I got about 98% of them and for me, that is a crazy success.

After Sunday, with the amount we had accumulated, Alexa and I agreed that we were absolutely going to skip Monday. Which meant we missed out on probably 100 more books, but we had accrued almost 100 each and it was too much. Which is something I never thought I would say.

Here is my weekend ALA haul:

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The most surprising thing for me was 1) THESE WERE ALL FREE (wtf) and 2) It was so calm and easy. In my experience with book conventions, it’s always a massive struggle to get books, especially ARCs. Everyone is fighting over them and it’s pretty ruthless. At ALA it was as easy as saying please.

One shocking experience I had was at the Harper Collins booth, where they displayed titles of books that they brought with them to give away during the weekend. All you had to do was walk up, name the titles of books you wanted, and say thank you. That was how easy it was to walk away with six titles from them. Same with Penguin. And Macmillan.

As the convention wore on, some publishers became a bit more reserved in giving out books since a lot of people in attendance were readers and bloggers – which I understood. The point of the convention was the give out titles to librarians and book sellers so they can order the books. While bloggers are important, we weren’t necessarily the priority.

Overall, the experience was very relaxed for all the ARC drops and giveaways, with the exception of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. That was probably the most chaotic part of the entire convention as hundreds of people were trying to get that book. Thankfully, being the first person in line as directed by one of the Penguin reps, I snagged a ticket. Originally, the signing line would be first come, first serve, but since people were lining up 3 hours early, (sorry) they had to change the plan. Everyone in line when tickets were handed out were guaranteed a book.

Skipping Monday was a hard decision, but leaving the convention with almost 100 books meant that I wasn’t going to have space to store them, much less read them, if I went for another day. It also saved us some gas and parking money!

Compared to BookCon, ALA was a calm, easy convention. It wasn’t hard to secure the titles you wanted, so long as you got there first. Nor was it an aggressive, blood thirsty mess. No one was hurt in retrieving books. The only disappointing thing was missing out on a title you wanted. But hey, you can’t get everything you want.

If ALA wasn’t in Chicago next year, I absolutely would go again in 2020. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can afford a vacation like that or the shipping costs for all those books. While it’s promoted as the Librarian conference, everyone is welcome to join ALA, as stated on their website. If you’re looking for a relaxed convention with books, friends, and cool displays, check it out! I will definitely try to go again soon.