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: 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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August 2020 Wrap Up

Alright! Another month done, another list of books I read this month!

I did really well reading wise. Not only did I complete all the books on my TBR, but then I read a couple extra as well! I’m really impressed with myself – I didn’t think I was going to be able to read all of these titles in the span of 31 days, but I guess I shouldn’t doubt myself!

Check out all of the books I read in August! I have tagged reviews for most, if not, all of them for you to check out! 

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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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Review: The Gilded Wolves

I originally DNFed (did not finish) The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi last year. I had started reading in February 2019 and gave up after 100 pages in August 2019. The beginning was so slow for me, I just could not get through it. I tried to push through, but it felt like I was going nowhere with this story, like I was moving backwards. 

Then, November 2019 I got an ARC of The Silvered Serpents from YALLFest and decided I should give this book another try. And I finally finished it!

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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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Review: A Touch of Gold

I’ve been in this awful habit of requesting sequels I have the first book for and just haven’t read. It’s such a bad habit that it’s caused me to have more than 20 eARCs I had to read and simply not enough time. Which is why I’m basically bingeing off all the upcoming September and October reads right now. I’m overwhelmed!

I received an eARC of A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan through NetGalley from one of these requests. I owned the ebook of A Touch of Gold, so thankfully it wasn’t too much of a panic to receive book 2, but I was still panicking a little.


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August 2020 Mid-Month Update

I love doing mid-month updates because it allows me to not only see my progress, but think back on the books I read that month. I still can’t believe I’ve read as much as I have and I think I might actually finish my TBR this month! I keep surprising myself every time I set a high TBR, thinking I couldn’t possibly finish all those books.

August and September are my crazy months due to all of the ARCs I received from publishers, giveaways, and what I just currently had. I’m hoping things calm down quickly so I can read books that I have been dying to read (like Kingdom of Copper!) but just don’t have the time right now. Anyways, here’s what I’ve read, what I’m currently reading, and what I plan to read next!

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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!

Review: The Shadows Between Us

I am so happy I read this book when I did. I was reading some not so great books recently and now my luck has turned around, this one included! I’ve heard such great things about this story and it did not disappoint for me.

Today, I will be reviewing The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

Wow okay where to start with this one? I guess let’s start with characters.

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I loved Alessandra as a character. She’s tough, but not cruel. She owns her body and her sexuality, but doesn’t shame other girls for having different opinions (ie. while she may be sexually active, she does not shame other girls for waiting until marriage). She’s pretty funny and she gets stuff done! She’s pretty impressive. Then Kallias. Ugh – King Kallias is too much for me sometimes. Not because he’s ignoring Alessandra or being rude – which he definitely is – but because he’s so tortured and he just needs a hug. But, you can’t touch him, so air hug? Then we have Alessandra’s friends who are all so funny. It’s a perfect set up.

So plot wise, I couldn’t find any faults that I thought needed to be changed or were bad. In fact, I really like how the plot went and the ending is spectacular. I gasped, I was happy, I was sad, shocked, disturbed, and in the end, satisfied. This story had so many ups and downs between Alessandra and Kallias and even between other characters! So much is going on.

I was cheering on Alessandra the whole time, even when her goals changed because she’s a fun character. I liked seeing how cunning and smart she was and the fact that Kallias appreciated that! They’re one of my favorite couples now.

SPOILER ALERT!!! I will be discussing spoilers below. I will mark once the spoiler talk has ended!

SPOILERS START

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Okay so first off I have a question, because I realize this may not have been answered in the book. During Kallias’ assassination attempt at the ball, the little girl tells Alessandra that it was the man who made a toast and the woman in black who told her to come. And that the woman in black was now wearing green tonight. Lady Zervas matched the description but she claims it wasn’t her – do we know who this woman was? Is it confirmed or denied that it was Lady Zervas? And if it wasn’t – who was it?

I don’t know if we ever got that answer and I’m kinda of sad. I wanna know who it was. I was hoping that it was one of Alessandra’s friends, like Hestia or Rhoda who were actually in on the whole thing. But that didn’t end up happening.

I think that’s my only complaint plot wise – we never confirm or deny who this woman is and why she’s important.

One other thing I do want to mention too was I wasn’t a fan of how Kallias reacted to Alessandra’s murder charge. He doesn’t worry that she will try to murder him? He pardons her immediately? I just don’t understand his reasoning besides wanting to keep the engagement and letting it slide?

I was kind of hoping for some dramatic thing where he gets upset and locks her up or throws her out. Or even her Father and her sister get her and take her home. But that didn’t happen and I wish it did. I feel like that would have been pretty intense too.

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SPOILERS END

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I love the characters, the story, and certain scenes just made me fall in love with Kallias. I also really wanted to give him a hug, poor thing. All in all, this is a great fantasy standalone that I’ll probably be recommending for a while, so I think it’s obvious this is a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Tricia’s other series, Daughter of the Pirate King!

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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 City of Brass

HOLY COW WHY HAS NO ONE SHOVED THIS BOOK IN MY HANDS BEFORE NOW!?

I won an ARC of Empire of Gold, which is book three of the Daevabad trilogy so obviously I have to read the other books. I have been wanting to read City of Brass for so long and just never got around to it and DANGIT I hate myself for waiting so long!!

So here is my review of The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

First off, I love historical fiction fantasies. I love seeing how fantasy can fit into our past and shape the way we see history. We set our story in Cairo in the 1700’s and off the bat I was ready to go. I knew this was going to be insane and I was right!

The plot was so good. Like I’m speechless with how good the plot is and again, no one said anything? No one bothered to hit me on the head with the book and say, “read it!”?! I’m a bit disappointed. We have magic upon magic, a city filled with Daeva’s and djinn, a poor girl mixed in the middle of a mess she knows nothing about. And don’t forget the protective warrior with her.

The characters were perfection. Nahri is the kind of girl who can take care of herself until she’s thrown into this new world and has to rely on her warrior hero Dara to take care of her. Ali is like a german shepherd: tough, follows the rules, and yet is still a big softy underneath. And Dara? Well, he’s a psycho warrior, kind of like a pitbull, where he’s sweet unless you mess with him. Then he’ll mess you up. And there’s so many other fantastic characters in this story with completely different personalities. It’s great.

I found myself getting heavily invested into this story. The world building was intricate but not overwhelming and the writing made the magic come to life. By the time I finished this book I wanted to start Kingdom of Copper immediately, but I can’t and it’s killing me.

City of Brass has become one of those fantasies that I can’t stop thinking about and at this point, I’m becoming obsessive. Soon I’m gonna be hunting down fan art and bookish items for this series and all my money is gonna fly away. We’re entering the level of Throne of Glass obsession right here, so be warned.

I’m going to dive into some spoilers, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip down to the end!

SPOILERS START HERE:

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Okay so the ending. WHY!? First off, love the whole scene with Ali under the lake. Hearing the marid talk to him as he’s being eaten alive by this magical lake was intense and it didn’t help with the battle going on overhead. The battle on the ship was heartbreaking, especially Muntadir crying over Jamshid. And then when Ali literally rose from the dead to “kill” Dara – I WAS SCREAMING.

One thing I noticed and want to discuss is the relationship between Muntadhir and Jamshid. First off, they’re totally together and in love and I feel like Muntadhir is hiding his relationship because he knows he has to marry and have children. But then again, I’m not sure if this book discusses the Daeva’s feelings towards homosexuality and if it’s something they approve, disapprove, or are neutral on? I can’t remember. I just want everyone to be happy and if that means shipping Muntadhir and Jamshid, I’m all for it.

But as of right now, we have Muntadhir and Nahri betrothed and I’m so upset!! I don’t know what exactly happened to Dara yet and I really just want him to come back. Everything is just going to shit with them right now and it makes me so sad. I want Dara and Nahri to be able to be together even though I have a feeling that is not going to happen, at least not easily.

Plus now Ali has been banished!? What the heck!? I’m getting really invested into this world and it’s taking over all my thoughts now! I just want to know what happens next!!

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SPOILERS END HERE:

Overall, I loved this story. It mixes all my favorite genres into this one epic book that I can’t stop thinking about. I’m still recovering form the ending and I’m desperate to know what’s next. This is a strong starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang!

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

 

 

Stuck at Home Book Tag

I decided to do another tag today because why not? I don’t want to clutter my feed too much with reviews so we’re doing the Stuck at Home Book Tag! I might be a bit late with this one, but whatever. We’re all just trying to have fun.

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer all the questions down below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

No one nominated me for this tag but I will nominate Alexa @ Writing the Universe to do this tag!

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read for Forever

What haven’t I been meaning to read for forever? My TBR is so long I could probably just talk about those and never end. But honestly, I would have to say Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I got preoccupied with other books when it came out and just never got around to reading it. I know once I do though I’m not going to be able to put it back down, so maybe I’ll hold off until the next book in the series is out . . .

An Intimidating Book on Your TBR

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. I want to read this book so bad but I don’t know how I’m going to feel once I start. I’ve heard mixed reviews and have been told this is a series you have to reread because the footnotes are really distracting at first. I’m also worried if I don’t like it what will happen. Some people are very possessive over this series and I’m not trying to get virtually assaulted for not liking this book! (just kidding)

Top 3 Priority Books on Your TBR

  1. Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty
  2. Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard
  3. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Honestly, 2 is on there because I kept pushing off reading this book and it’s releasing in August, so I really need to read it! And 3 is because I’ve been dying to read this book and kept pushing it off due to other books releasing sooner. I will get to all of these books soon, especially Ignite the Sun because I am not holding off on that book anymore.

Recommend a Short Book

I have a lot of recommendations, but I’ll stick with fantasy, thriller and prose for now.

For fantasy, The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller. It’s just over 300 pages and it’s a standalone, so you get a quick read that is SO GOOD! I feel like this is going to become on of my go to recommendations now.

For thriller, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This book doesn’t even hit 250 pages and it is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There’s not much I can say about this besides – it’s really good, you should definitely read it!

For prose, Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew. It’s a contemporary novel written in prose that I read in one sitting. If you don’t know what prose is, it’s similar to poetry but with more of a storytelling aspect to it. So instead of the whole Roses are Red rhyming scheme, it’s more like Shakespeare. And this book is so good! I really like the set up of the book and how it flows. And, it has a really important story for young women.

Recommend a Long Book

Again, it’s so hard to recommend just one, so I’ll do a fantasy, contemporary, and maybe throw in a thriller!

For fantasy, I have to go with The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It’s a standalone fantasy novel that is 858 pages long. Some people have said they’re intimated by the book, and I was too at first, but it’s actually not that bad! There’s dragons, war, sapphic romance, and lots of crazy magic in this world.

For contemporary, I would say The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’ve noticed most contemporaries aren’t longer then 400 pages, but THUG is almost 450 pages. It’s the longest contemporary I’ve read at least and it has an important message.

Finally, for thriller, I would recommend The Diviners by Libba Bray. This one is a mixed genre book because its a fantasy thriller, but the main plot point is the murders, so I’m going with this one! This is the first book in a series and has 578 pages filled with magic, mayhem, and murder. It’s so good.

What Do You Plan on Reading Next?

I’m starting Ignite the Sun once I finish the current book I’m reading and then I’ll probably read Kingdom of Copper as well. I also really want to read Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker because I have the Stormbreak sitting on my kindle and I really want to read that before release. So that’s another TBR book I need to read.

If you decide to do this tag, feel free to tag me so I can see your responses!

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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 #2: Avatar: the Last Airbender Comics (4-6)

I finally finished the last few collections and wow, I have thoughts!

*Warning, this may contain spoilers for Legend of Korra, so if you haven’t watched the show, be warned!

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Smoke and Shadow synopsis from Goodreads:

The Fire Nation is threatened by a prophecy told by the Kemurikage–mysterious figures thought only to exist in legend: “remove Zuko from the throne or the country will perish!” Unrest is brewing as the New Ozai Society prepares to make its move against the crown, and children begin to go missing from their homes under mysterious circumstances! Avatar Aang and his friends are doing everything in their power to save them–but will it be enough?!

North and South synopsis from Goodreads:

When Katara and Sokka return home to the Southern Water Tribe, they are shocked to find that it has gone from a small village to a bustling city! Malina, a Northerner, is behind the change and plans to unify the two groups, but Gilak, a Southerner, leads a fierce rebellion to stop her. In the face of these two opposing tribes, Katara will have to make peace with her nostalgia and distrust to save the home she loves from being permanently torn apart.

Imbalance synopsis from Goodreads:

When Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph return to Earthen Fire Industries–the factory owned by Toph’s father–Aang is surprised when their arrival is met with a cold shoulder. As soon as the team is asked for help at a business council meeting, the reason for the slight becomes clear: a massive bender-versus-non-bender conflict has gripped the town and is threatening to turn violent. In order to heal the divide and save the town, Aang and the team will all face tough decisions about power and identity that could tear them apart.

Okay so – gold. This whole series is just pure gold. I feel like this review is going to be very short and very repetitive because I only have nice things to say about the show and the comics honestly! But I’ll do my best to get some kind of review out of this.

Book 4, Smoke and Shadow, Aang is in the fire nation as Sokka and Katara move on to the Southern Water Nation to visit their family. I’ll start off by saying I loved the way the Kemurikage are drawn in this book. It really amplifies the spookiness of what is going on as they are kidnapping children and taking them hostage. We get more time with Zuko and other friends like Mai, Ty Lee, and others. Without spoiling, we also get to see another character that’s been missing for a bit. While not ideal it is nice to see the gang back together, even if said gang is fighting.

Book 5, North and South, I think is on the same timeline as Smoke and Shadow, just showing what Katara and Sokka have been up to. If you haven’t watched Korra, I would definitely be warned cause there’s some spoilers coming. I loved how this book sets up the conflict between the Northern and Southern Water Tribes. As we see in Korra, the water tribe is now a large city instead of the small town that Katara and Sokka left. And it kind of foreshadows the sibling rivalry we experience in Legend of Korra book 2 which I thought was smart. Overall, I really enjoyed getting to see the water tribe and Hakoda again!

Book 6, Imbalance, is the final book in the comic series for Team Avatar and I loved so many aspects of this book. Warning, another Korra spoiler! I loved how the set up the situation of a town with benders and nonbenders, and the benders are from different nations which would ultimately lead to Republic City. Plus getting to see the little island Aang creates as Air Temple Island where I assume he and Katara raised their children. It was just heart warming and made me a little sad even. I also thought it was interesting that they had the bender vs. nonbender conflict. We see how years of “superiority” have lead to benders feeling like they are better than others and creates this overall conflict. I’m sure this scenario relates to many other issues going on in our world today even and I appreciate how this is discussed.

Overall, I thought this was a great end to the comics. I legit cried at the end of it because I know what comes later for Team Avatar and how their lives ultimately turn out. It was bittersweet getting a continuation on this series and I’m addicted! Now I just need to read the Korra comics and the Kyoshi books!

Obviously these books are starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me. Team Avatar for life!

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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: 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!

June 2020 Wrap Up

Going into this month, I honestly didn’t expect to get through any books. With moving, and work, and other stuff going on I expected to maybe read one or two books, but I went way beyond that.

I loved a lot of the books I read this month and I’m really excited for what I’m reading next month too! I ended up reading 2 of the books I planned to read in July (oops) so I guess I’m on track.

Here’s everything I’ve read in the month of June.

Books I read:

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Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew

Genre: YA Fiction

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

 

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Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Genre: YA Fiction/Thriller/Horror

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Greythorne by Crystal Smith

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Heir of Ashes by Jina S. Bazzar

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Rating: N/A

Goodreads

 

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Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Mayhem by Estelle Laure

Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

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Avatar: The Promise by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Avatar: The Search by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Avatar: The Rift by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

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Avatar: Smoke and Shadow by Gene Luen Yang . . .

Genre: YA Fantasy/Graphic Novels

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

It was so nice to be able to FINALLY read the Avatar comics. I love Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, so to be able to read the comics at last, it makes me so happy. Only two more books before they’re done, but my heart is full. After my rewatch of Korra, I’ll probably end up reading those comics too!

What are some books you read this month? Any books you’re excited to read in July?

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

Villains I love and love to hate

The best stories have a good plot, diverse characters, and a villain you can’t help but love. The more interesting a villain, the more I enjoy a book, and sometimes it’s hard to get that perfect balance of evil and likable. So, here’s a list of some of my favorite villains!

A Villain I LOVE

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The Darkling is such a charming, charismatic person you can’t help but love him. Every interaction Alina had with him had me anxiously waiting to see what happened next. He believed in his mission, he loved Alina, and he wanted to change the world. Those conditions and attributes combined created a villain I loved. I didn’t want to hate him, and I sort of understood his intentions, but we all knew they were skewed.

 

A Villain I love to HATE

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Maeve as a villain is someone I love to hate. She’s evil, vindictive, and had a lot of motivation for her actions. I still hated her though. By the end, I could see how she wasn’t the true villain of the story, but her actions in the series allowed for our true villain to appear. Man I hated that guy lol

 

 

A Villain I hate to LOVE

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Corien, who we get to learn more about in Kingsbane, is such an evil guy. And when I mean evil, I mean evil. But also such a good antagonist. I mean everything he does makes me want to smack him on the head and then we get to the kissy kissy scenes and I’m swooning. Damn him!

 

 

A (kinda) Villain I LOVE

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The premise of this book is that there are no heroes or villains. We just have anti-heroes really and that means I can love all my boys the same! Victor, our protagonist (I guess you could call him) doesn’t want to be a hero – he wants revenge. And Eli? Well, he wants to be seen as a hero, but I guess murder isn’t a good way of going about that as he eradicates everyone with a super ability. This pair of equally grey characters is such a fun read.

 

And a Villain I just HATE

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OOOOHHH LET ME TELL YOU. I hate Marcus, I hate the Commandant, and I HATE the Nightbringer. Oh my gosh I hate these characters with a passion. And it’s not even because they’re bad characters/villains, it’s because they’re so EVIL that I just want them out of the way so my cinnamon roll Elias and my baby Laia can FINALLY BE HAPPY. GOSH I GET SO UPSET.

 

I find myself loving books with morally grey villains, or at least charming villains, because they make things so much more interesting. Like how can I even be mad when your messed up plan actually makes sense? How can I hate you when you’re so lovable and charming?! It can be so frustrating.

What are some villains you love and love to hate? Let me know in the comments!

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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: Gravemaidens

I finally read Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon and I am so excited to read the next book, Warmaidens!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

I managed to grab an ARC of Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon during ALA 2019. It was one of those books that I put off reading because another, newer title was grabbing my attention. I managed to get an eARC of Warmaidens, so I thought now was probably the best time to start reading!

I thought this was an interesting book. Not sure how this is a fantasy as it doesn’t delve past basic herbology, but I’m hoping the fantasy elements come into play in the next book. I enjoyed Kammani’s passion for healing and her desire to save her sister. I felt so bad for her family with everything that they went through – anyone would be bitter after all of that.

I liked the plot, but I wanted more fantasy. This book didn’t feel like a fantasy novel to me, though I still like it, I just don’t understand where the fantasy element comes into play?

Besides that, it was a fun ride. The last 150 pages had my head spinning. I didn’t want to put the book down and miss anything that was going to happen next.

This was a really interesting book and I liked Kammani’s story a lot. This was a starstarstarstar // 5 stars. I’m really excited to see where this story is heading in book two, and thanks to NetGalley, I will get to read the sequel shortly!

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron.

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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 Theft of Sunlight Cover Reveal!

I am so excited for Intisar Khanani’s newest book, The Theft of Sunlight! I loved her novel Thorn, and The Theft of Sunlight is the first in a companion duology for the Dauntless Path’s world! EEEP!!

Cover Reveal

Here is a synopsis from Goodreads:

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away if I can make a difference.

Children have been disappearing from Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her best friend’s sister disappears, Rae knows she can’t stay silent any longer. She finds the chance to make a difference in an invitation to the palace.

But Rae struggles to fit in with the lords and ladies of the court. Instead, she finds unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges thief named Bren who always seems to have her best interests at heart. Soon even Bren can’t help her, and Rae must risk her life and well-being to face an evil that lurks in the shadows of the darkest hearts.

Without further ado . . .  here is the cover for The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani!

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Isn’t this cover gorgeous!? This cover was designed by Jenny Zemanek and I absolutely love it! I’m so excited for the next book in the Dauntless Path’s world!

This book releases on March 23rd, 2021 so be sure to mark your calendars and preorder a copy today!

Intisar is also doing an amazing giveaway to celebrate her new book which you can find on her website. If you haven’t read Thorn yet, here is a link to the Goodreads page, as well as where you can order Thorn today!

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Author Information

Intisar Khanani Author Photo 2018 CM closeup Low Res

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Intisar’s current projects include the re-release of her debut, Thorn, from HarperTeen (2020) and her indie epic fantasy series, The Sunbolt Chronicles.

To find out about new releases, giveaways, and so forth, subscribe to Intisar’s monthly author newsletter.

Here are some links to Intisar’s personal pages!

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

 

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!

Review: The Unspoken Name

I purchased this book back in February because 1) the cover and 2) the premise of this story. A sacrifice who avoids her duty and decides to live? UGH GIVE TO ME! A powerful mage who promises her freedom and safety? OMG! The Gods are angered by this? WHOA I NEED THIS BOOK NOW!

Yes, those were the exact thoughts going through my head! Once I was home, I realized that I had been approved for this title on NetGalley, but for whatever reason it went straight into being archived, so I couldn’t download it. But, oh well! I read the physical copy I bought and it was good!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

Csorwe, pronounced like doorway, is a human sacrifice who decides to live. Yeah, the premise got me really excited for this book. I wanted it to the be a five star read, I really did – but it’s not.

Let’s start off with the writing/chapters. The writing is good! But very descriptive and she explains a lot and generally kinda slow. While I liked the way she gives us everything that is going on, I felt like it was dragging a bit. And the chapters were incredibly long. Usually 20+ pages long. I don’t mind long chapters so long as the book progresses quickly and there’s a lot to push us forward, but it made this book feel extra slow.

Then we have the worlds. Though she tried to explain it well, the worlds still felt a bit unfamiliar and hard to imagine. It’s clear we travel through teleportation, I think, into different ports. Those ports equals different worlds in the same universe? See, I’m honestly not even sure how this whole thing works. It wasn’t very clear to me how the world(s) are set up nor how exactly they traveled, but that’s less important. What is important is getting there and knowing that these worlds can die.

Run on the power of gods, if those gods are forgotten/parish, well then the world will go too. Which is really cool! We get some awesome moments in those dying worlds and it leads us towards the somewhat scary reality of what they’re trying to prevent.

Next, the characters. OMG the banter between Csorwe and Tal was A+ witty sibling banter, even though they are not siblings. Not only is there lots of insults and cussing, but the genuine distaste and distrust is hilarious. There were several moments where Tal had me DYING from laughter due to his comments/his actions. While Tal is hilarious, he does undergo and complex and needed change. It was refreshing to see him grow and become a character that I really liked.

Sethennai, Csorwe’s savior, is an interesting character though. He comes across fun and adventurous in the beginning of the book, then switches to a more emotionless, calm character. Not sure why the shift happened, but I noticed that change in his personality. I’m not sure I necessarily like his character, but I thought he was a great motivator for Csorwe and becomes an obstacle in his own right for her.

Then we have our main character, Csorwe. She’s a complex person and I thought her backstory, her journey, and her self realizations were great development for her. She’s witty, smart, and wants to live life to the fullest. Which makes it difficult when you’re the human sacrifice.

Then we have Shuthmili, who was also super cute and a great character. Her innocence was a great contrast to Csorwe’s brutal experiences. The soft romance that blossoms between them is also really cute. I loved her kindness and desire to learn while also being an incredibly powerful mage. Her powers are unlike anyone has seen and the hoops she has to jump through to live and survive are immense.

Since the author is gay, and our main characters are all queer, I am not going to remark on the romance other than to say, Csorwe and Shuthmili are adorable and Tal deserves better (thank goodness he realized that too!).

So, writing was long and a bit slow, plot was interesting if not confusing, the characters were awesome, and the romances are cute.

It was honestly hard to rate this book, but I think a starstarstarstar // 5 stars is a fine rating. It wasn’t bad because I did enjoy the story, but there were a lot of things (mostly pace and lengthy chapters) that dragged the plot along. So I think this is a fair rating.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.

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

My Top Five Favorite Standalones

I am a sucker for a good series. Whether it’s two books or ten books, if I can get more out of a story and stay in a world I love, I’m happy.

But all too often, I see people suggest series over and over again and I realized we don’t give standalones nearly enough love! So, I’m going to change that. Here are my top five, favorite standalone novels you can pick up and read RIGHT NOW!

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

40367270 First off, if you haven’t read Astrid Scholte’s books, you should. She is an amazing writer! I read Four Dead Queens when it was first released as an exclusive ARC from Penguin Teen at BookCon 2018. And let me tell you – *chef’s kiss* – perfection. We have a great YA fantasy/science fiction novel here filled with murder, mayhem, and romance?

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but in fact, she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. Varin runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

46222824 You didn’t think I would list Four Dead Queens and not The Vanishing Deep did you? Astrid has a knack for writing amazing standalone novels that you want to be turned into series. I’m still crying over both of these books! This is a great science fiction/fantasy novel about sisterly love and the real difficulties over losing a loved one.

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.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

36443368. sy475  This is a Goose Girl retelling, and I recently posted by review about this book. If you read it, you would know that I adore this story! It’s fantastical, enticing, and it has lots of magic. The main character doesn’t want to be a princess and is genuinely excited when her life is switched with one of her traveling lady’s by a sorceress so that she can live a simple life as a Goose Girl. Except that same sorceress wants to kill her betrothed, the Prince. It’s filled with beautiful moments and it brings to light some serious issues.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

45872054. sy475  If you read my review of this book, you would know I am a musician. I played lots of Mozart and getting to read more about his sister (I didn’t even know he had a sister) was fun. So often we get Wolfgang’s life story and his views, while no one talks about his sister who was just as creative and talented. Not fair. This is mixed with the magic of a secret kingdom and a lost prince, Hyacinth, who wants to bring magic back to his kingdom. It’s definitely not a high fantasy as it switches between historical fiction and urban? fantasy – not 100% sure how to classify this, but it’s not high fantasy. So if you like magical realism and historical fiction, welcome to your next favorite book!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

43263520. sy475 This book destroyed me. I was not expecting to be so deeply affected by this story, but I was. This is a dystopian novel centered around the idea that girls are magical. Women are born with magic and as they go into puberty, the magic becomes stronger. Every year, at 16, the girls are sent off into the wilderness to burn all the magic in their bodies and it is heartbreaking. We cover misogyny, assault, bullying, and so many topics that affect everyone. I cried at the end for many reasons. This is a more serious book, so these topics are not to be taken lightly – but I think everyone should read this. It’s deep.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

I have so many more suggestions, so if you like this post, please be sure to like it and leave me a comment! If this does well, I might do another post with a variety of genres.

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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: 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 Bone Charmer

I have had an ARC of The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields sitting on my shelf for over a year. It was only when a friend of mine, Writing the Universe, moderated an event for Breeana Shields and Brigid Kemmerer, and had to read my book, that I realize I was missing out. This book is amazing and I’m honestly so upset it doesn’t have more hype around it! Nobody is talking about it, or at least I haven’t seen anyone talk about it, and it actually makes me upset. So after this review, go order the book and read it because you will love it!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.

On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.

I find myself not reading the synopsis of books before I pick them up/read them, but I remember reading the synopsis when trading for this, and yet I still forgot it. So when I realized we were getting two alternative timelines for the same person I had to put the book down and scream.

In joy.

I don’t think I’ve read a book that dealt with two different timelines, universes, whatever it may be called. And the way Breeana writes it is so clear and clever. Not only is each story supported by itself, but when put together they are still coherent and easy to distinguish. I have been blessed with an abundance of really good books and I’m so glad I have the ARC of book 2 available, because the ending killed me.

With two different timelines going on at once, I found myself wanting to merge them. Give us the moments in her village with her mother, but be around these people, and have this happen from this timeline, but not that. Of course, that’s not how time works and we end up seeing the two play out until they finally merge into one.

So not only did I really like this book, but I love the growth of the main character. We see how each timelines version deals with their situation and grows differently, but ultimately we leave behind the resentful Saskia as she comes to an understanding with her mother and her power. I love how the relationship between Saskia and her mother changes from the beginning of the story. As Saskia grows, so does her mother, and the relationship that blossoms between them made me so happy.

This book was star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png // 5 star read for me. I loved Breeana’s writing style, the plot, the character development, and the ending. Even if I wanted to scream at the end. Thank goodness for book 2! The Bone Thief comes out on May 26th, so if you have read The Bone Charmer, make sure to preorder or pick up a copy on release day! If you haven’t read The Bone Charmer, read it. You’ll thank me later.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett or 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!

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 Storm Crow

I signed up for Edelweiss a month ago and was rejected for every single book, except for one: The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson. Don’t ask me why I managed to get this book, cause I’m not sure. I haven’t been approved for anything since then either.

I had an ARC of The Storm Crow that I received from Fairyloot in their December 2018 box, but I never got the chance to read it. I even considered trading the ARC since I purchased a finished copy, but I decided to keep it just in case. Let me tell you, I loved this book. Like really loved it.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

My friend read the book when we first received it from Fairyloot and she loved it. She kept telling me to read it, but I was pushing it off for other books. Now that I’ve read it, and it’s sequel, I wish I had read it sooner. I may honestly make a post about books I put off and regret not reading sooner.

We meet Thia in a horrible way – her kingdom has been torched, the crows their society loved and relied on all dead, and her mother was murdered. Her older sister Caliza becomes the new Queen of Rhodaire and Thia is not doing well. One of the things I loved about this book was the representation of depression – what people can feel, what it looks like, and how to help those that are suffering from it. We see Thia unable to even get up from her bed, but her friends come together to help her heal.

The premise and the plot were so easy to get through, I read the entire book in the span of 24 hours. I couldn’t seem to put it down. We get action, adventure, romance, and revenge, well, the build up of revenge more like it. I liked Thia’s character a lot and the way she deals with her struggles, politically, physically, and mentally.

I don’t have anything bad to say about this book, like at all. I read it through and found myself on the edge of my seat, excited to see what happens next. Now, it’s book 2 that I had some minor issues with, but book 1 was amazing!

This was a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me.

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If you like this book, check out Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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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!

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: Kingdom of Back

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: House of Earth and Blood

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

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC Review: 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!

ARC Review: The Raven and the Dove

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

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

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

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Here is they synopsis from Goodreads:

A princess longing to be free…

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

A bastard aching to belong…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

NetGalley Update: April 2020

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

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

So far, I have been approved for these titles:

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Declined on these titles:

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

And still waiting to know about these titles:

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

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

From my last update I have read:

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Sensational by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

Top Five Favorite Characters … of ALL TIME

We all have a book crush. I have several. They could be friend crushes, relationship crushes, or even – holy cow that’s a well developed villain crush. Here are my top 5 FAVORITE characters of ALL TIME!

#1 Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices

First and foremost, you will see a trend between my favorite characters. They’re all sassy little shits and I love them for it. Will for instance is just someone who needs a really big hug. All the crap that he goes through with Tessa and Jem breaks my heart and while I was rooting for Jessa, I ended up loving Till by the end. 

#2 Altair from We Hunt the Flame

This guy. OH MY GOSH this guy cracks me up. The sass level is off the charts with him and it makes every encounter 100% better. Every conversation with Zafira and Nasir is one of pure enjoyment for the reader. And he has a big heart to go along with it, so while the sass might be high, the love is higher.

#3 Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy

So I looked up to Rose growing up. Her take no BS attitude mixed with her love for her friends was something I admired. I wanted to be tough and kick ass while also being a strong and loyal friend. I think I emulate a lot of those qualities in my relationships today and have become 100% a ride or die friend. Also, the relationship between her and Dimitri is FIRE!

#4 Gideon from Gideon the Ninth

So Gideon is an interesting person. Her internal monologue is not only hilarious and entertaining, but so unique. It was like the author just wrote down her own thoughts for every weird situation and boom! There’s Gideon’s inner monologue. Her reactions and relationships to the people are her also make her not only entertaining, but somewhat of a softy. I think there’s a trend going on here?

#5 Reid Diggory from Serpent & Dove

Last, but certainly not least. My witch killing baby – Reid. This man is the definition of a big baby who likes to pretend he’s tough in front of everyone, but is a total softy. And he’s hilarious. While being prude isn’t a bad thing, his reactions to Louise and her wild antics are hilarious. Like, have me rolling on the floor hilarious. And his interactions with her, especially as their relationship develops, makes my heart happy.

Overall, I have a type. I love the tough cookies with big hearts, who are also hilarious. Humor is necessary for my favs. And while I have plenty of other favorite characters, who also sit in a similar trope, these (so far) are my all time favorites. I love them to death and totally have book crushes on them.

Who’s your biggest book crush?

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My Reaction to Ember #4 Reveal

OH SOMETHING MAGICAL HAPPENED TODAY! If you follow Sabaa Tahir or have read An Ember in the Ashes, then you know the final book is coming out at the end of the year and THE COVER HAD JUST BEEN REVEALED!!

The title we have all been waiting for has finally been revealed. AEITA #4 is officially called:

A Sky Beyond the Storm

YO I AM HYPED!! This book comes out in December 1st, 2020 – which also happens to be my birthday, so I am extra excited!

If anyone needs me I’m going to be rereading the first 3 books in preparation for the final and hopefully my heart won’t be too broken. But with Sanaa’s stories, we all know we’re going to be crushed.

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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 NetGalley Waitlist

As a reviewer I am not big enough or lucky enough to go to every convention or receive physical ARCs, so I use NetGalley for my ARC review fix. If you haven’t heard of NetGalley before, it’s a site that allows you to request and download e-books. Some of them are released titles but a lot are unreleased titles, so if you are a newbie blogger or dipping your toe into review ARCs, this is a great place to start!

I’ve been using NetGalley since January 2018 and here are some of the books I’m currently pending on NetGalley for:

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Links to each book listed down below.

  1. All the Stars and Teeth
  2. The Shadows Between Us
  3. Night Spinner
  4. Witches of Ash and Ruin
  5. The Raven and the Dove
  6. Unravel the Dusk
  7. Incendiary
  8. Lobizona
  9. Of Silver and Shadow
  10. Girl, Serpent, Thorn
  11. We Are Blood and Thunder
  12. The Midnight Lie

I’m currently crossing my fingers that I can even get one of these to approve! I currently have to read and review Foul is Fair, Sensational, and Aurora RisingIt seems like Foul is Fair is going to be my next serious read and then we’ll go from there!

One thing I hate when I look through NetGalley, is all the rejections – especially since I’ve hit 25 declined books so far. Hopefully that number doesn’t rise anymore!

Do you use NetGalley and if so, what are your current reads from it?

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Tag: Fall Bucket List Book Tag

So I was tagged in this post about two weeks ago and well, I had bronchitis and pneumonia this past week so I got behind on things! But now, even though winter is mere days away, I will be doing the Fall Bucket List Book Tag! This tag was created by Read by Tiffany and she created the wonderful graphics that come along with this tag so thank you! (I’m awful with graphic design to I’m grateful I don’t have to create anything myself). I was tagged by Alexa from Writing the Universe to do this tag, thanks Alexa!

The Rules:

  • Link back to the original creator in your post.
  • Feel free to use any of my graphics in your post, or create your own!
  • Tag 7 other people at the end of your post, and let them know you’ve tagged them.

Light a Scented Candle22840421. sy475 I haven’t read a lot of light hearted books recently so I’m going back into the past past with this answer. I would have to say My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. This cute, somewhat historical, romance book has the humor and lightheartedness to get you zipping through the story without even realizing it.

 

Drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes

26032912. sy475 This one is so easy because there have been SO many hyped up books recently. I recently finished (and by recently I mean like 5 hours ago as I’m writing this post) Queen of Nothing by Holly Black which has been hyped from the start. I can’t say that this book didn’t live up to it thought, it was a really good ending.

 

Go Apple Picking

42036538So this may not seem like a story with great friendships, but trust me, it totally does. Gideon and Harrow’s interactions had me rolling on the floor laughing and could even get me to shed a few tears. This was a great enemies to friends kind of story but with so many other awesome friendships in between. Plus it’s a super epic sci-fi, fantasy novel in SPACE! Super fun.

 

 

Wear a Cozy Sweater

34323570Okay so this doesn’t seem like a heart warming book but it warms mine. This series has everything I love in it like magic, sassy but strong female characters, true character development, and like total hottie love interests! It has everything I could want in an epic fantasy and more and Claire’s writing always leaves me speechless.

 

 

Bake cinnamon Rollss

15749186Ummm, I’m honestly not sure of any books or characters with talented chefs. I would have to say the closest one is Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Her love for baking I assume would translate over to her talent for it, although I don’t remember off the top of my head if she is an acclaimed baker by her friends and family. I do know they love her baked goods, but talented chef? I don’t remember. Someone can yell at me in the comments letting me know if I’m right or wrong.

 

jump into a pile of leaves

41721210So, getting this book was a shock because I won it from Goodreads, which never happens, and it’s a book I ADORED. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the book since the synopsis was pretty slim when I requested it but WOW did it impress me. I loved it so much I’ve been collecting the ARCs/manuscripts for it and I’m in the process of finding all the special editions for it. Yeah, it really made me jump for joy. Also, the cover art is GORGEOUS!

 

Okay, this was fun! I nominate EVERYONE to do this tag because I don’t even know 7 bloggers and I think everyone would enjoy doing this.

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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: Queen of Nothing

So, it’s over. The Cruel Prince trilogy has concluded and there are no more books coming out.

i’M NOT CRYING – YOU ARE!

Okay, anyways, moving on. I’m honestly so sad about this. I love Holly Black and basically anything that she writes and to have an ending to this dark, wonderful series breaks my heart – BUT, it also means we have some answers.

Don’t worry though, this review will be spoiler free as the book hasn’t even been out for a month and most people haven’t even read it yet. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on Queen of Nothing by Holly Black!

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Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.

Now, first things first, one of the first things I noticed when I started reading this book was a complete tone difference. Maybe it’s because it’s been 17 months since I read Wicked King – maybe it’s because Jude is sad about her situation – or maybe Holly wanted to cut down on the wickedness to wrap up the book?

Honestly, I’m not sure. But there was a clear tone difference for me which I thought was weird. I felt like I was stepping back into the world but with a different lens on what was happening. It didn’t make the book unpleasant or ruin anything it was just … different.

Besides that, the only other issue I had was the convenience of certain scenes where someone should have lost but they don’t. Or things turned out the exact opposite from what the reader would think but with little explanation how. Holly has graced us with trickery, like in books 1 and 2, but the tricks weren’t as elaborate in book 3 as the other two and I was left with a lot of “Huh???” reading through situations.

Now, what Holly does do right are some wicked “HOLY COW” moments that I didn’t even see coming and they were AWESOME. This book is a great conclusion to the series and it feels like a solid ending, but somehow I wish for more. Did I want another 100 pages of action – yeah, or some more epic scenes that left me breathless – yeah, but did I still love this book with my entire heart – yeah!

Most of my complaints are opinions and there honestly wasn’t much in the story that left me unsatisfied. Which is why this book is still a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 star read for me. I said it before, I love what Holly writes and this book is not a disappointment.

Honestly though, I wanna know your opinions on the covers. Which one do you like the most? Comment below and let me know your favorite! Mine is a tie between the OG cover and Owlcrate for very different reasons.

                      OG                                                  B&N                                         Owlcrate

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out titles like Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, and  The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

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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: Gideon the Ninth

Guys … guys … GUYS!!! I finally finished a book! Holy cow! For the first time in 2 months I finished a book and thankfully, it was a good one. Here’s my review for the new adult fantasy series, Gideon the Ninth.

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Here’s the description from Goodreads:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

First off, this book has a slow start. I’m gonna say it, because it almost ruined the rest of the book for me, but it’s a slow beginning. There’s a lot of sassy, witty banter but it’s mostly history explanation and getting the character where they need to be. Then the fun begins.

I loved basically everything in this book, it was a perfect match for my taste. Snarky, sassy characters who are assholes but soft for certain people (eventually). Funny, witty banter. Amazing, intensive fantasy aspects such as necromancy and the ability to control the dead and their bones. Like what? It was everything I was looking for, plus lots of gay stuff. It was awesome.

There wasn’t much I disliked minus the beginning, although it was hard to fully understand everything happening. There were moments throughout the book where the explanations of events or items or even places didn’t click in my brain. That could be a me thing, but it made it frustrating trying to imagine what’s going on. I wish the word choices/images used were a little clearer. I’m not sure if it was what the author was saying or how she was saying it, but I got lost a few times.

Overall, I loved this book and it’s a definite star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars for me!

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones for a similar YA title and Red Rising by Pierce Brown for an adult 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!

October TBR

For this month, I’m going to TRY to actually read more than 2 books in the month (it probably won’t happen) so let’s go for like, 4.

Here is my TBR and hopeful reading schedule for October!

The Beautiful

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In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

The Light at the Bottom of the World

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At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture-and her father might be lost forever.

The Guinevere Deception

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There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

Fate of the Fallen

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The Shroud of Prophecy tests fate to discover what happens when the path of good and right, the triumph of light over darkness, the only path to salvation… fails.

Everyone loves Mathias. So naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

Mathias is thrilled for the adventure! There’s nothing better than a road beneath his feet and adventure in the air. Aaslo, on the other hand, has never cared for the world beyond the borders of his sleepy village and would be much happier alone and in the woods. But, someone has to keep the Chosen One’s head on his shoulders and his feet on the ground.

It turns out saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. Mathias is more than willing to place his life on the line, but Aaslo would love nothing more than to forget about all the talk of arcane bloodlines and magical fae creatures. When the going gets rough, folks start to believe their only chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the stories go. At all. To make matters worse Aaslo is beginning to fear that he may have lost his mind…

Gravemaidens

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The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

I am so excited to read (hopefully) all of these this month! If I can manage to finish the current book I’m reading right now. . .

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Which October release are you most excited to get your hands on?

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Halloween/Fall Reads You Need to Add to Your TBR Now

I love fall. It is absolutely my favorite season out of the four and that means I read a lot of fall and Halloween related books during this season.

These books are top notch to put you in a fall, spooky vibe so if you’re looking for something to make you check under your bed an extra time, check out these reads!

1. Bone Houses

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Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

2. The Grace Year

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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.

3. The Tenth Girl

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Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

4. Gideon the Ninth

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The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

5. Tunnel of Bones ***

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Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.***

 

*** This is the second in a series – the first is called City of Ghosts

6. House of Salt and Sorrows

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Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

7. Spectacle 

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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.

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I am such a fan of horror, thriller, and spooky reads. Let me know which ones spark your interest this Halloween season! And if you have any recommendations, pass them here! I tried to focus on books published in 2019 – so let me know which other 2019 reads I missed.

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

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

 

May TBR – Unrealistic Goals

I always find myself saying I’m going to read certain books and then I never actually follow through with what I say I’m going to do. So here is my HOPE – I want to read all of these books, but we’ll see. Also, enjoy my comments with these titles, I thought it would add a bit of pizzazz.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

      *** I’m already more than halfway through this book, I just put it down to review some other titles, but I’m going to finish it this month because it is amazing!!!

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Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

         This book is so beautiful and while I wasn’t a fan of Illuminae, I’ve heard nothing but amazing reviews – so I’m excited!

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

I have been putting off reading this for so freaking long, even though the ARC is currently sitting on my shelf because – idk! I just need to read it. Why am I scared? 

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The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

I will probably adore this book, I just need to pick it up and read it in a day. That’s how this works, right?

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I will probably never hear the end of this, but yes, I have not read this book yet. I will read it, and hopefully that will happen in May! Also, do not come for me. I’m taking my time, I know!!

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Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

LOVED the first two books and I know I need to read this before Bloodwitch – so I’m going to read it!

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Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

And of course if I read Sightwitch I’m going to immediately start reading Bloodwitch because that’s what happens when you read Susan’s books! 

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Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

I’m still in shock I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m going to! I just might wait until after a few other, not so heart wrenching books have been read. 

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All right! This is my TBR for the month of May. This will most likely, actually definitely, change during the course of the month. That’s just how it goes sometimes. I hope to read all, if not most, of these though. I guess we’ll see which ones I get to during my May Wrap Up! Stay tuned for some more unrealistic goals!

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

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!

The Best Travel Books

Vacations are a great time to sit down and actually finish those books that have been sitting on the shelf for months. One of the hardest things though, is finding books that are good vacation books. Not too cry worthy or emotionally scaring – something fun, relaxing, and maybe even thought provoking. Here are some of my favorite vacation reads so far! Let me know in the comments below some of your all time favorite vacation reads!

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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This YA Science Fiction/Romance novel is one that fulfills your swoon worthy, lovey vibes and also reminds you of life. The first book takes you on America’s journey through the process of being primped and picked for being a future Queen – even though she’s definitely not interested. This easy YA read is perfect for anyone 12+ and is something that most would glide through easily without utter destruction.

Everless by Sara Holland

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This heart racing, blood pounding YA Fantasy read is something I read on the beach last year and absolutely adored. The fast paced story kept me going, which made it very easy for me to read the entire book in one day. With all the time available on vacation – for the most part – this book is a great, gripping read with a few moments of shock or concern for the characters. Thankfully, this book isn’t heart ripping and makes for a great, quick, all day read while sitting in the sun or in your hotel room.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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This book is an amazingly funny, fantastical take on the classic story of Lady Jane Grey, the queen of England for 9 days! This historically “accurate” story of her rise and fall to power with the added humor of the time, makes this a great YA historical fiction/fantasy vacation read! I devoured this in one day and its lightheartedness made it easy to digest, leaving me happy and entertained!

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller 

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Looking for an action packed YA Fantasy about pirates and sirens that won’t leave you a puddle on the floor? This book isn’t entirely lighthearted, but Tricia’s story telling leaves you on the edge of your seat entertained, without being scarred. It’s an easy book to sit back, relax, and enjoy the events going on while on the beach – you might even see a siren in the distance!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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This YA Contemporary Romance is a light, delicate, and emotionally rewarding read that you can enjoy and then watch the movie on Netflix once you’re done! Lara Jean’s unfortunate love reveal to the five boys she loved before leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. Especially during scenes between her and her family. This is perfect for a relaxing vacation where you can sit back, enjoy the loving family vibes, laugh, and finish a wonderful read! It’s hard to not love this book and all of Lara’s quirky friends and family.

While there are so many different genres and tastes when it comes to vacation reads, these relatively easy reads allowed me to relax and enjoy the ride. That brief moment of escape during my escape was sweet and occasionally enlightening. I enjoyed every story in their own ways and it allowed me to escape from my vacation for just a moment. I’m always on the hunt for some great vacation reads, so drop some suggestions below!

 

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 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!

Furyborn

With the impending arrival of Kingsbane, I thought now was the best time to read Furyborn by Claire Legrand. I’m so glad I did!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

First and foremost, one of the things I loved the most about this book, and Legrand’s writing, is her ability to transcend centuries like it’s easy. Switching from Rielle’s POV to Eliana’s POV is seamless, not only from millennium to millennium, but from their previous chapters. The fact that Rielle’s chapter would end and Eliana’s would begin with no confusion was honestly amazing. I’m sure if I took out just Rielle’s POV and put them together, it would make its own cohesive story, same with Eliana’s. And that’s brilliant in my opinion.

Second, the character relationships are honestly goals. The interactions between Simon and Eliana were fantastic and every moment of banter between them made me love their friendship more. The way Legrand changes the relationships over time makes it not only seem realistic, but brings up a few issues that I’m sure most of us have gone through. Especially regarding trust.

Third, the imagery in this story was captivatingly beautiful. Ever turn of the page kept me enthralled and I had to read this book slowly to savor every description Legrand makes about the two worlds. Even in the most action packed scenes, she takes the time to thoroughly describe what is going on to and around each character, which is not something that always happens in books. It should also be praise that I took so long reading this book because it means I never want the story to end! And I don’t. When is Kingsbane out again?

To wrap things up, I loved almost every aspect about this book and I’m sad that I can’t experience for the first time again, or read its upcoming sequel yet. Overall I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars. It was honestly that good!

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand, the sequel to Furyborn, comes out on May 21, 2019!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, or you’re looking for something similar, I would recommend Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers for a more medieval/historical fiction side of Furyborn and Seafire by Natalie C. Parker for the strong female lead with awesome magic side!

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!

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!

Truthwitch

I recently started reading the Witchland series by Susan Dennard in the month of February in anticipation of Bloodwitch, which releases today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

 

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In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

I have heard some mixed reviews about Truthwitch, but from the negative reviews I heard, it didn’t sound like a book that would interest me much. Until I read it. This series is a high fantasy, soul crushing, mystical journey filled with snarky characters, a few crushes, and awesome magic. If you have heard about this book, but haven’t given it a chance yet, I would rethink your decision. I loved this book so much!

After reading Truthwitch I immediately had to start Windwitch, which was just as good! The book features several points of view, including Safiya, Iseult, Aeduan, Merik, and a few others. These main characters all have different witch abilities, such as the power of wind, blood, or truth detection and Dennard incorporates each POV and power effortlessly.

One of the things I liked the most about this book wasn’t that the world was so complex, it was that Dennard made it seem natural. There are a lot of rulers, powers, cultures, and languages in this book that you have to keep track of, but Dennard makes it easy on the reader, giving us a vast and intricate world that I loved. I also loved the distinct personalities that each person has – just like real people, everyone is individual. There are no personality repeats.

There wasn’t much I disliked about the book personally; I found it captivating and exciting, which had me hooked for the entire read.

Although I will say the transition between Truthwitch and Windwitch seemed off – like I missed a chapter or two in between and some things were not adding up. That could be my misinterpretation of the text, but I noticed it enough to think, “Did I miss something here?”. Besides that, both books were fantastic and I am so excited to read Sightwitch and Bloodwitch!!

Overall, I really enjoyed this world and I gave Truthwitch a rating of star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars and Windwitch star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting to you or if you like fantasy, then we suggest A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab!

 

Four Dead Queens

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is set to debut in February 26, 2019. Miraculously, we both managed to snag an ARC of it at BookCon 2018, even though we almost died trying to get it. Thankfully, the book was really good and made it worth the near death experience.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Get in quick, get out quicker.

These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:

Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community

When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.

OKAY! This book was so good. We both adored this story and every twist and turn that threw us against the wall, even if it almost killed us. (This book did not want us to live!) One of our favorite things about this book was the realm that Keralie lives in. A nation divided into four distinct and different sectors is not only cool, but sounds exciting enough that we want to live there! We love the idea that each kingdom has it’s own specific job to do and they never overlap, which would honestly make anyone’s life easier if they knew that they could do this one thing and that’s it. Every sector has a purpose and a job, and that made it much easier to distinguish the personalities of the different characters, based on where they live.

Another thing we loved about this book are the characters because each has a distinct personality and voice throughout the novel and it was not only refreshing, but intriguing. We were left wondering what is happening and wanting to sneak back inside their head to find out more. The more we heard from each character, the more committed we were to each character, their story, and their wants/needs. It was so hard to leave the world because we simply wanted to live there and hang out with some of the characters. Maybe talk a little. Make some new friends. These characters were so realistic and fleshed out, it was hard to not become attached to them.

We also loved the detailed descriptions of Keralie’s surroundings and events going on. Astrid does not leave you confused and wondering what is going on in a scene- at least not in the details. This murder mystery sprinkles just enough clues for you to think you know what’s going on, but do you?

The only thing we had an issue with was one character specifically. This character, whom shall remain anonymous, seemed a bit flat. The flatness comes not from their backstory, which is full and colorful, but their actions and speech. While this character has motivations to be evil, they still come across as two dimensional in all of their decisions and speech. Which is completely unfortunate, because they could be a rounded, exciting, and manipulative character (our favorite!) that brings another level to this already fast paced murder mystery. Now this issue hopefully was fleshed out through edits, so we are interested to see what happens in the final copy, but that was one of the issues we noticed in the ARC.

Overall, we absolutely loved this book! It is an amazing debut novel and we are so thankful we were able to receive an advanced copy from BookCon to review. We can’t wait until February for the final draft! Which brings our rating to star.png star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png stars!

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If this book sounds good to you or if you like murder mysteries, then we suggest The Diviners by Libba Bray!