September 2020 Wrap Up

I didn’t read nearly as much this month as I did the previous months. And that’s okay. But you know what’s not okay? The fact that I can’t format this post like the rest of my posts because, for whatever reason, WordPress is messing up the formatting no matter what I do! So this post is going to look different and I’m sorry about that. I hate it too.

Anyways, here’s what I read in the month of September!

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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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NetGalley vs. Edelweiss

I didn’t realize that I didn’t have a post scheduled for today so I’m kind of writing this last minute – SORRY!

I am having trouble finding posts other than reviews to write right now because I have been a reading machine. So far, I’ve been reading a new e-book every 1-3 days which means I’ve gotten through a lot of books so far this month. Which means a lot of reviews! I’m sorry if you’re looking for other content because I might have to post a lot of reviews, especially since a lot of them are upcoming August and September releases and I want to get them out near release date.

Any way – I wanted to talk about two different platforms that I use to review books: NetGalley and Edelweiss. If you don’t know what these are, they are a way for booksellers, librarians, authors, and reviewers to get their hands on upcoming book releases for purchase or review. And when I mean purchase, I mean for their library or their store. Bloggers can also receive books on these sites, but are not quite as lucky to get them as a librarian or bookseller would be.

Today, I’m going to be reviewing them and I have a lot to say – especially about Edelweiss!

First off, acceptance rate. NetGalley, by far, beats Edelweiss in this for me. While it’s hard to say how many books I’ve been denied on Edelweiss since once they archive them, they disappear from the site, the ratios can’t even compete.

For my primary NetGalley, I currently have 11 books to read and review and I have reviewed 39 so far. So far, I’ve been denied 63 books and I am currently pending and waiting on 16.

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Meanwhile, on Edelweiss, I have been approved for 2, currently pending 9, and have been denied 24. Although, technically I have been approved for 4 because I was initially denied for The Boundless, then received it through a blog tour. And I was denied for Wench but then re-requested it and received it through the publisher.

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Just from that alone, I have a better chance of getting approved through NetGalley than on Edelweiss any day! But I’ll put some (poorly done) math below! Approved / (Pending) + (Denied)

Chance of getting approved on NetGalley: 63%

Chance of getting approved on Edelweiss: 6%

Yeah, my math is probably flawed, but just looking at the percent difference makes me want to cry!

Moving on, website layout.

Personally, I like NetGalley’s look and request option more than Edelweiss.

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NetGalley is pretty simple. In your bio, you include your stats and anything that the publisher should take into consideration when looking over your request. That’s your place to shine! Then you would find the title, click on it and it brings you to this page. Then you select all the things that made you want to select the book and hit request! Although in that case, it was read now since it was an excerpt, but you get the idea! There’s also books you can Wish For, and for those you just click Wish For It and hope that you’re one of the lucky people to get it!

Edelweiss on the other hand is more complicated.

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At the top, the part I cropped out, it includes your saved profile and your profile strength.

In your profile you have a bio just like NetGalley that the publishers see, which should be as detailed and extensive as you can. You want to shine. But Edelweiss also wants you to write a whole thing on why you’re requesting the book. Which I feel is utterly pointless if our bios include the same information.

I’ve tried writing it very professionally (like my bio), very casual, included stats, didn’t include stats, any combination you can think of and it never gets me any closer to getting the book for review.

And then, if you get approved for a book, the actual review process is totally different.

NetGalley rates things on a 5 star system, you can copy that review over to your connected Goodreads, tweet that you reviewed this book, and provided tags/information to the publisher.

Edelweiss does their score out of 10 stars and includes multiple things you can rate. Writing, originality, overall, etc

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Plus, there are icons to choose to shelve the book, write notes to the publisher, share your review and more.

While NetGalley’s is more user friendly and a bit simpler, I actually appreciate Edelweiss’ system. I like that I can provide an overall rating as well as more specific ratings to explain why that might be. Then you have other icons to choose to tag, shelve, and what not which makes it a lot more organized than NetGalley.

Another thing I really like about Edelweiss is that you don’t have to have been approved for the book to review it, unlike NetGalley where you can only write reviews for books you’ve been approved for. This makes it a lot easier to increase your stats if you end up getting the book before release another way (like NetGalley or a giveaway) or if it’s still up after release!

Overall, I like NetGalley WAYYY more than Edelweiss. Not only for the fact that I actually get approved for books on their site, but because it’s a cleaner, simpler site to use. Although, I wish NetGalley had the option to re-request the book, like Edelweiss. That would save me so much heartbreak.

Which site do you like to use more?

 

 

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!

ARC Review: Wilder Girls

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Hunt the Flame

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingsbane

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

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Here is the summary from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Killing November

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smoke and Key

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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!

The Cerulean

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

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Here is the description from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spectacle

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

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To start off, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

Paris, 1887.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Book Is Not Yet Rated

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

 

OwlCrate July Box

***WARNING!!! THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR JULY OWLCRATE BOX!!!***

Today I am going to be reviewing the July OwlCrate Strange and Unusual Box. I have received OwlCrate boxes for almost two years now and with any subscription box there are going to be months you LOVE and months you HATE. This was neither.

I kinda liked this box: it was amazing, but it wasn’t horrible.

For one, I liked only about half of the accessories:

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The accessories I loved were the painted Whale print, skull push pins, Luna Lovegood sticker, and Ouija mints! Personally, I thought all of these were adorable and somewhat useful (except for the print, which I just thought was gorgeous). I’m so excited to use the skull push pins, once I have my own place and a cork board. (I swear these will not sit on my shelf and get dusty!!) I’m tempted to frame the whale print or hang it somewhere; it’s too pretty not to show off! And honestly, I will most likely end up eating all of the mints in a week and be left with a cute container that I can use for other things! (Yay!!)

On the other hand, some of the accessories I got I either didn’t like, want, or need: and I am currently selling them.

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While I adore the wallet, it is not a practical thing for me to use and therefore would end up sitting on my shelf for a long time, so it is just easier to sell it. The other items, specifically the Peculiar flag and the Eleven funko, I’m not part of the fandom, so I thought selling them to people that would actually want them is better than having it collect dust on my shelf. Lastly, I have so many OwlCrate pins that I don’t need the skull one and would prefer to not have it (again) collect dust on my shelf.

While I loved the accessories, just practicality wise, or fandom wise, some of these items will be re-homed and hopefully I can get some of my money back!

Finally! The book for this month was (drum roll please!):

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As you guys have seen, I have already read this book and I was super excited to see I got an exclusive cover of it! And it’s signed by all three authors! I love the change in cover colors from blue and yellow to purple and green; it definitely gives me ghostly vibes, much more than the original.

Overall, I thought this box was so cute and spooky, even if I am going to end up getting rid of some of the items. I honestly love OwlCrate, and even their “worst” boxes are still amazing! I would give this box star.png star.png star.png.5 stars and the company  star.png star.png star.png star.png star.png stars!!!

If you’re interested in learning more about OwlCrate, check out their website here:

https://www.owlcrate.com/

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If you love YA or any book subscription boxes, there are so many to choose from! I will shout out LitJoy Crate because their boxes look amazing and their merch is fantastic!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is a contemporary young adult novel about Lara Jean, the girl who’s secret love letters are now, not so secret.

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Personally, I’m not a fan of contemporary novels, especially romance novels, but this one seems to have found a special place in my heart. Going into this story, all I knew was that Lara Jean’s love letters were sent to her past crushes without her knowledge, and now all five boys know she likes them, including her sister’s boyfriend.

Here is the official synopsis from Goodreads:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

To be completely honest, this book was so cute. I only read the book because I am buddy reading it before the show debuts on Netflix and I assumed I wouldn’t be that into it. I was wrong! It’s hard not to grow to love Lara Jean’s quirkiness or Kitty’s (Lara Jean’s younger sister) spunk. I really wanted to not enjoy this book, but I couldn’t. It was good and cute and I’m dying to read the next two books!

My favorite thing about the story line is that it’s not relationship based. On the contrary, Lara Jean’s motivation to avoid relationships made me interested in this story line and want to figure out 1) why and 2) is this actually going to remain like that? I also enjoyed the fact that our main character is not a popular girl or an absolute freak. She’s – normal. She has friends but isn’t a known somebody in the school. She has a close relationship with her family, but not too close. That’s one thing I can definitely appreciate! The trope of the popular girl or outcast is too over done and this story brings a refreshingly interesting main character.

Another thing I enjoy about this story is that it shows a family that realistically loves each other. It’s not all perfect sunshine and rainbows. There are fights and arguments and other things going on that occur but don’t utterly destroy the relationships. This realistic family makes me actually smile, instead of rolling my eyes. As I read about Margot (Lara Jean’s older sister), I’m reminded of myself. As an older sister I have to take care of my younger sisters and make sure they’re on the track to success – not because I have to, but because I love them and I want to. It was so refreshing to see an older sibling that cared, but wasn’t overly involved.

Another factor that made this book so enjoyable was the humor. I loved the inside jokes, or jabs at friends/family, or snarky comments that occurred between different characters. It not only kept the conversation interesting, but made it realistic. I’m a sucker for realistic characters and conversation!

I also really enjoyed how short the chapters were. It made the book fly by for me; I read it a lot faster than I would have assumed for a 350 page book.

Overall, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars! I thought it was a cute, romantic read that wasn’t your ordinary contemporary romance! I’m very excited to continue the series and read the next two books!

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If you like this book, or this review sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Selection by Keira Cass!

 

They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is a heartbreaking story about two boys that receive a death call notifying them that within 24 hours they are going to die.

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Here is the official synopsis from Goodreads:

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

This story was so sad, but so incredibly good. I think I learned more life lessons from this book than anything I’ve read recently. I learned a lot about life, death, happiness, and what it means to truly live, which is rough on someone in general, but I was on vacation (cue the sobbing).

Overall, I loved the fact that Adam uses different POVs throughout the book, not just Mateo and Rufus’ view of things. We get to see other perspectives from friends and strangers which makes this book even more well rounded. When we do hear from our main characters, I love the distinct differences in their personality – I don’t feel like I’m reading the same thoughts just under a different name. Mateo’s personality is radically different from Rufus’ and we see them change over time, just in that one day.

Adam’s narration skills are also amazing. Every scene has a purpose and is detailed enough to make me feel like I’m there, without being told too much. I also really enjoy the conversations between characters; like personalities, each has their own distinct voice and it makes it so enjoyable to hear them talk to each other, even about something as morbid as death.

While this book is mostly realistic fiction, I do love the bit of science fiction thrown in through Death Cast. As explained in the book, Death Cast is the system that keeps track of when people die. Between 12:00am and 3:00am the company calls people that are going to die that day. There is not time stamp on when or how, just that within the next 24 hours, that person is going to die. I think this idea is not only horribly morbid, but an amazing technological advancement that I’m not sure I would want.

As the two boys go on with their day, knowing they’re going to die, it was hard for me to not get attached to them (I totally got attached). Their new friendship made their experiences and journey bittersweet: I didn’t want it to end, but everyone knew it was going to.

Besides the slight science fiction of Death Cast, this book is purely realistic fiction and it terrified me. The book frequently talks about death, what happens after death, and how they don’t want to die. Honey, me neither. It was so hard for me at some points to read through their speculations and fear, but it was honestly a genuine way of looking at life. The death conversations lead to some heart wrenching moments savoring life and those were the moments I cherished in this book.

When I saw reviews of this book, I was told that I was going to bawl my eyes out at the end. I mean, the ending is literally in the title, although the how and when are still a mystery. I was so ready to sob when it came time for the ending, but I didn’t. There were certain parts in the book before the end that I cried ridiculously hard (maybe too much) but when the book ended, I felt, nothing. Why? Because I was confused on what happened!

The ending kind of confused me, and maybe it’s just me and I need things to be spelled out, but I wasn’t sure what happened. Now, I won’t spoil the ending, but for anyone that has read the book and knows how it ends, please don’t judge me. Besides the ending, the book is a scary look on life and death and will leave you with an existential crisis. At this point, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

Overall, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars! I’m not a huge fan of contemporary, but this book was thought provoking and heart breaking, it definitely deserves 4 stars!

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If you like these books, or this review sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas! Another young adult thought provoking book on police brutality in America.

Escaping From Houdini

Escaping from Houdini is the third book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco and will debut on September 18th, 2018. I received this as an ARC at BookCon and nearly died from it! (Seriously, I was almost trampled getting in line for this!) But, it was totally worth it! If you haven’t read Stalking Jack the Ripper or Hunting Prince Dracula, I will link their description on Goodreads so you can check them out!

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Here is part of the synopsis from Goodreads:

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. . .

(Please follow the link attached to read the rest of the synopsis!)

I read both Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula last winter (I know, I know, I’m late to the party!) and absolutely adored them! If you have not read Stalking Jack the Ripper yet, here is the synopsis from Goodreads and here is the description for Hunting Prince Dracula on Goodreads.

These books are historical, young adult fiction and they are fantastic! They are all murder mysteries (I think I’m starting to see a trend here with my taste) but are so creative and witty at the same time. Audrey Rose is one of my favorite characters as she embodies the sass of the late 1800’s with grace and side eyes.

Meanwhile, Thomas, her uncle’s assistant and Audrey Rose’s soulmate (in my opinion) is hilariously sarcastic and witty with Audrey Rose, while also being aloof and professional. I loved both of them in the first two books and I loved them in this one too!

Just like books one and two, the plot leaves me questioning what the heck is happening! Every time someone is murdered, I find myself examining the scene along with Audrey Rose and trying to piece together the clues. I think Kerri does an amazing job hinting at who the killer is without making it too obvious, but not making it so hard that we’re all dumbfounded at the reveal.

The characters are all amazing and spunky, including the new ones introduced in this story. I thought each of their backstories and arcs were well defined and heartbreaking, while also being completely realistic. It was so refreshing to get to know these characters and add another layer to Audrey Rose’s character.

The one thing about this book that I disliked was the ending! Now, Kerri has confirmed that the ending is different in the final draft and the book is overall 40 pages longer. So, I am not going to talk about the ending, since it is being changed anyways and I am disregarding it in my review and rating until I’ve read the finished copy.

I honestly adored this book and I am so sad to hear we only get one more book after this and then it’s done! I want to keep following Audrey Rose and Thomas on their murder mystery journeys and see where their life goes. Unfortunately, my dreams will not come true and I am stuck enjoying these four books from Kerri.

Overall, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars and I would definitely recommend it to a friend!

If you haven’t read Stalking Jack the Ripper yet or Hunting Prince Dracula, make sure you do so before September 18th because you do not want to miss out on this book!

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If this book sounds good to you or you enjoy historical fiction, I would suggest A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee!

My Lady Janies

My Plain Jane is the sequel to My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton. This review is going to be a double whammy as I’m going to talk about BOTH MLJ and MPJ! 

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Here are the synopses for both My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane from Goodreads,

My Lady Jane:

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

(The synopsis continues on Goodreads, feel free to click the link to read more)

My Plain Jane:

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

(The synopsis continues on Goodreads, feel free to click the link to read more)

I first read My Lady Jane on January 10, 2018. As a huge fan of historical fiction, I was so excited to read this spin off novel and I was not disappointed! I not only adore the concept of rewriting history, but the narration that Jane gives is hilarious! I honestly feel like we’re the same person (kinda). The book offers three different narrators and each of them are funny, witty, awkward, and brave. I loved the fantastical/magical aspect that was thrown in while also keeping the realism of the time, language, culture, and aesthetics.

As the story progresses, I’m not only drawn in by the utter sass, but the mystery. This novel not only turns history upside down, but throws in a murder mystery into too! (Which, are my favorite!) These ladies do it all.

While the characters are phenomenal, so are the history behind them. The authors keep a lot of the original history/story in the novel while explaining why it’s wrong, or simply changing minor details to make it work in the story; which is not only an amazing way to add to the story, but a lot of research, which I appreciate!

While I really enjoyed the story, I did feel like some parts of the novel flew by, and not because I was reading quickly (although sometimes I was). There are definitely times, especially leading up to or during big events, that it feels like the scenes are rushed through. I want more of the juicy details and sometimes I don’t get those.

Overall, this book is adorable and a great, fast paced read for anyone, especially historical fiction lovers! If you know the original history/story it not only makes the book more enjoyable, but funnier in my opinion.

As a result, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars!

Now, for My Plain Jane, I first read this book on July 9th, 2018. After reading, and loving, My Lady Jane in January, I was so excited to read the sequel!

While I loved the story line, and the added paranormal aspect to it, I felt like this story lacked what MLJ had. Both had fantastic, witty, and odd characters, but Charlotte’s point of view was sometimes, dull.

In MLJ I never felt like the character’s narration was boring, but sometimes I felt like Charlotte’s chapters dragged on in MPJ or were not important. While I adore her character, and think she added a lot to the story, there were times when her POV was boring, which I think is sad. She has all the potential to be an amazing character and I didn’t get that every time we saw her.

On the other hand, I loved the plot of MPJ much more than MLJ! My Plain Jane takes ghosts, which I love, and throws them into high society England, also something I love. The romance aspect of the book is something I found utterly hilarious, especially when explaining how quickly people fell in love back then!

While I loved the plot more, the lack of character spunk in this book (specifically Charlotte) made it harder for me to get through. I still love this book, but I would have to say that My Lady Jane was a better story.

As a result, I would give My Plain Jane Image result for starImage result for starImage result for star.5 stars!

Even though I liked My Lady Jane more, both of these books are wonderful, amazing historical fiction reads (with some fantasy thrown in) and if you haven’t read them, I definitely recommend them!

In total, the average between the two books would be Image result for starImage result for starImage result for star.75 stars! And both are available to check out at your library or for purchase!

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If you like these books, or this review sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead! It’s historical fiction blended with science fiction and it’s a great young adult read!

City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab debuts in August 28, 2018. We both received this ARC at BookCon as part of a three pack for the Epic Reads event. Personally, I am not a giant fan of middle grade books, but stop the presses! This book was so good and so cute!

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Here is the full synopsis from Goodreads:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Going into this story I was excited, because I adore Victoria Schwab, but also nervous. As a not-so-big fan of middle grade, I was scared this book would be dull, boring, or too easy. On the contrary, this book was fun, exciting, witty, and action packed. While the language was dumbed down (obviously!) it was such a fun and enticing read.

My favorite thing about ALL of Schwab’s books are her amazing characters. Cass and Jacob are complex and three dimensional throughout the entire novel. Their choices reflect who they are as people instead of what the author or readers want. I think that Schwab’s use of realistic characters (even the side characters) not only make this book easy and fun to read, but also scary. This ghost story does include actual ghosts (shocker) and the humanity in each of those ghost scenes sometimes make it less scary, and sometimes terrifying.

Another thing I loved about this book was the strong detailed descriptions of what is going on around Cass and where she is. I never felt like the screen in my brain went dark because Schwab keeps it lit with her avid and, sometimes, scary descriptions. I loved reading scenes just of Cass’ surroundings because even that is interesting and I loved viewing Scotland through her lens.

The plot of this story was also adorable! Being a middle grade, I thought this book was actually scary. If I were a elementary or middle schooler reading this now, I might need to leave the lights on for a few weeks (I’m also just a giant scaredy cat!). I think this book is a perfect intro to supernatural, horror, and other spooky subjects for kids and does so without scarying them half to death (cough cough Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark cough cough!).

The only problem I had with this book was that I felt it ended too early! I wanted to hear more about Cass and Jacob’s adventures and see more of Edinburgh, Scotland! Thankfully, Schwab has confirmed book two, and it appears it takes place in Paris!

Overall, I would give this book Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars!

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If you liked this review or this book sounds interesting, I would check out either Coraline or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman! Both are middle grade scary/suspense novels by another amazing author!

The Thousandth Floor

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee is a not so classic murder mystery novel.
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We are introduced to the characters by the ending – someone falls off the top of the thousandth floor of the Tower to their death. McGee uses multiple points of view to explain what happened and how this person died, while also allowing the reader to guess the possible victim. As we are pulled into New York City a hundred years in the future, it is revealed that the area that used to be central park now inhabits a thousand floor tower, called the Tower. This tower has everything for its occupants, including schools, spas, clubs, shopping centers, apartments, and more. And it’s the location of a horrible murder.
We follow our main characters: Avery, Leda, Eris, Rylin, and Watt – all occupants of the Tower and all possible victims. As we learn more about their lives, and how they’re all connected, we learn that things aren’t always as they seem. Each of them are keeping secrets and putting their reputation, and life, at risk.
“Nothing mattered except this moment. She felt invincible, untouchable, like she would be this way forever: young and dancing and electric and alive.” – The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
When I read the first chapter that was it. I was sucked in. I wanted to know who died and how and I couldn’t avoid picking this book up. Every chance I had to read what happened, I did. When I realized it was multiple points of view, five to be exact, I was afraid I was going to get lost or confused. Surprisingly, not only did I not get lost, but the multiple POVs worked really well for the story! I like how they added a sense of mystery and also allowed the reader to get to know the different characters better, without being able to guess who dies until the last minute.
I also enjoyed the plot and character arcs from beginning to end – I think sometimes authors have an issue keeping track of characters and making sure they all experience a solid arc, but McGee seems to breeze through this like no problem. All of her characters have their own fleshed out subplots and their character arcs are not only complete, but engaging. I wanted to find out what happened next with every page turn and new clue.
Some of my favorite things about the book are figuring out, or trying to, on how all of these characters are related at first. When I originally started reading it I was unsure how all of these characters knew each other and their role in the murder, but as the book goes on, those fears are subdued. Another thing I really liked about the book was the advanced technology that McGee incorporates into their society. Their high tech not only seems cool (I totally need it!) but makes sense. Any gadgets that she mentions in the book have a logical purpose and sound like devices that could actually work in the future!
Overall, I didn’t have any dislikes or things I would change about the book, except maybe the ending. I think McGee wrote an amazing murder mystery using multiple POVs and pulled it off stunningly!
I would give this book a Image result for star image Image result for star imageImage result for star image Image result for star imageImage result for star image review for the amazing plot, intriguing characters, and for pulling it off in an intricate and exciting way.
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If you like murder mysteries with multiple POVs, I would recommend Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte which is out in February 2019!