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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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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DNF Review: Sanctuary

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

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

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

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Bookish This or That – Guest Post Edition

So we’re doing something a little different today. Today, I am doing a Bookish This or That but with a twist! I teamed up with Alexa @ Writing the Universe to guess what I think her answers to these questions would be. Alexa and I have been friends for a year and a half now and I think I know her reading preferences enough to at least guess.

I am going to post my guesses for Alexa first and then below I will be posting my own responses! If you want to see Alexa’s guesses about me and her responses, make sure to check out her post!

We got this post off of Kim @ KimberlyFayeReads so be sure to give her some love!

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ARC Review: The Whitsun Daughters

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

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

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ARC Review: Wicked Fox

I have been holding off reading Wicked Fox by Kat Cho for a while. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book honestly but it sounded so good that I didn’t want to ignore it. When I got approved as a Penguin Teen Influencer, one of the first books I received was an e-ARC of Vicious Spirits, so I knew I had to read this book.

And here we go, adding another book to the “WHY THE HECK DID I WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK!?” list. Because I cannot believe that I didn’t read this book sooner!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

So when I moved, I didn’t bring the finished copy of this book with me, I decided to bring the ARC. So yes, technically this is an ARC review – don’t come for me! lol

So off the bat, from page one, I was invested in this story. I don’t know much about the gumiho legends, so reading this book was so much fun for me! I loved learning about the legend and how these gumiho survive in today’s society, especially since people are so crowded together now.

Miyoung’s character is complex and realistic. She’s not overly friendly and good, but she’s not evil – she’s pretty human in that respect. While she’s cold to most people as a way to protect herself, she warms up around Jihoon enough for a friendship to blossom. And they’re friendship is really cute!

I loved Jihoon’s character a lot. Reading from his POVs made me so happy, except when he’s going through some not so fun stuff, because he has such a positively infectious attitude! Every time he’s positive, or nice, or optimistic, I found myself emulating that. It was so refreshing – especially compared to Miyoung’s cold, calculating demeanor. Usually we see the guys as reserved and cold and the girls are peppy and sweet, but this flip was great! It was way more realistic and showed that girls don’t have to be peppy or sweepingly optimistic to be good people.

I think my favorite thing about this book, besides the legends its based off of, are the characters. I found myself connecting with them easily and getting a good feel of their personalities and emotions. It was refreshing. Not to say that the plot isn’t great, because it is! This book was so well thought out I couldn’t stop myself from reading what happens next. In fact, most of the book I read in one sitting because I had to know what was going to happen next.

I’m so glad I have Vicious Spirits already!

This book is really, really good and I think fantasy lovers will adore this book! Especially people who enjoyed The Mortal Instruments. You have the fantasy world mixed with the real world and all the mess that comes with it!

I love it so much, it’s a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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

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

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: The Companion

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


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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The other orphans say Margot is lucky.

Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2020 Wrap Up

Every time I do these wrap up posts, I feel like I barely read anything, but then I compile it together and I shock myself. This month I read 11 books, which is about the same as last month, although two of them were graphic novels so they weren’t as time consuming as the other longer or more wordy novels. I have linked all reviews for these books in the title, so if you’d like to see my thoughts, feel free to click the link and check them out!

Book I Read:

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Crave by Tracy Wolff

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Genre: YA Fantasy

Goodreads

 

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Warmaidens by Kelly Coon

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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North and South by Gene Luen Yang, etc

Genre: YA Fantasy (Graphic Novels)

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Imbalance by Faith Erin Hicks, etc

Genre: YA Fantasy (Graphic Novels)

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

I’m hoping to have a good reading month for August, especially since I have to focus on a lot of ARCs I received through NetGalley. While I wasn’t intentionally trying to do the ARC August Readathon (hosted by Octavia and Shelly @ Read. Sleep. Repeat.) I basically have only ARCs on my TBR that I need to read and review, so I guess I’m participating!

If you want to see what my August TBR is, check out my TBR post here.

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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: Steel Tide

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


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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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


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

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

It did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC Review: Ignite the Sun

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

 

 

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: Splinters of Scarlet

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC Review: A Wicked Magic

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

July 2020 Mid Month Update

I feel myself slowing down this month. I can’t seem to finish books as quickly as I usually would and I’m stressed. Especially since I have to read two books by next week for a blog tour. After that though, I can read what I want – so hopefully once the stress is gone I can read what I feel like and get back into the swing of things . . . hopefully.

Books I read:

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Reviews for these should be up or coming up soon, but I liked all of them so far! Especially Crave by Tracy Wolff and Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco. I’m on such a fantasy kick right now I can’t seem to branch off!

Books I’m reading:

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I’m about 25% into A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens and just starting The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty and Spinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy. I’m doing a tour for Splinters of Scarlet and was supposed to do a tour for A Wicked Magic, but that fell through. Nonetheless, I’m obviously still going to review A Wicked Magic on the day I said I would, which will be Monday! I hope to finish these two soon, so fingers crossed I can get my two review books done in time!

Books I want to read:

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Some of these are a mix of review books, like Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard, Hush by Dylan Farrow, and To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini – while the others are just for fun! I’m trying to mix it up during the month so I get a good balance of requested/required reads and for fun reads each month. Not to say that I don’t want to read my review books (I wouldn’t have asked for them if I didn’t), I just like to add some other books that are more flexible. So if I end up not in the mood or mindset to read them, I can push them aside guilt free!

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

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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: Warmaidens

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review #1: Avatar: The Last Airbender Comics (1-3)

This review is going to be for the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic book collections. I thought about writing reviews for each, but honestly – that’s too much, even for me. So here is my overall review of the first three comics!

These comics take place immediately after the end of the show, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The comics, in order, are:

  1. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise
  2. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search
  3. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift
  4. Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow
  5. Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South
  6. Avatar: The Last Airbender – Imbalance

Today I will be reviewing Avatar: The Promise, The Search, and The Rift!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads for The Promise:

The Avatar’s adventures continue right where the TV series left off, in this beautiful, oversized hardcover of The Promise, from Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko! Aang and friends must join together once again as the four nations’ tenuous peace is threatened in an impasse between Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei! As the world heads toward another devastating war, Aang’s friendship with Zuko throws him into the middle of the conflict! Featuring annotations by Eisner Award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artist Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), and a brand-new sketchbook, this is a story that Avatar fans need in an edition they will love!

And the synopsis from Goodreads for The Search:

The biggest mystery of Avatar, the fate of Fire Lord Zuko’s mother, is revealed in this remarkable oversized hardcover collecting parts 1–3 of The Search, from Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko!

Featuring annotations by Eisner Award–winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artistic team Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), and a brand-new sketchbook, this is a story that Avatar fans need in an edition they will love!

And finally, the synopsis from Goodreads for The Rift:

Avatar Aang and friends honor an Air Nomad holiday that hasn’t been celebrated in over one hundred years, but when cryptic visits from the spirit of Avatar Yangchen lead Aang to a refinery operating on land sacred to the Airbenders–they soon find themselves in peril as a dangerously powerful ancient spirit awakens with vengeance and destruction on its mind!

This collection of The Rift Parts 1-3 features annotations by Eisner Award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artists Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), with a brand-new sketchbook section!

After my rewatch of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix, I had to read the comics. I had been wanting to read them for years and it made sense to read them now that the show was fresh in my mind. Since these comics pick up right where the show left off, it really was like another season, just printed instead of animated.

Since I had watched Korra several years ago, I knew that Aang and Katara end up together, but seeing their fresh relationship in the comics is really cute! And Toph and Sokka’s reactions to it make it that much cuter.

For The Promise, we get to see Zuko as the new Fire Lord and what happens to the Fire Nation after Ozai is overthrown. I really liked the story line and the overall changes that happen in this world. How separate nations can not only live together, but become integrated into their own world – kind of like how our world is now. You can have people from different nations living in different areas of the world and people aren’t restricted to loving people solely from their group.

For The Search, I was just happy to find out what happened to Zuko’s mom! We never got resolution from the show and to finally know what happened to her is so nice. Plus all the stuff that comes afterwards. I thought her story was not only really cool, but also really sad. We get a lot of backstory into Zuko’s relationship with his mom, her relationship to Ozai, and how this all affects Azula as well.

For The Rift, we get some closure for Toph. We know from Legend of Korra that Toph teaches other people how to metal bend and in this story, we see her first students at her new school. And we also find out about some history with the last airbender Avatar along with some other cool things in the spirit world! The thing I love the most was this one scene with Toph, which I will not spoil, because it just gives everyone some much needed closure and it’s really sweet!

Overall – I’m a huge Avatar nerd. I love the show, I love the comics, and I love the spin offs! After I finish the rest of these comics I am definitely reading the Korra comics and the Kyoshi comics too! I just need more Avatar in my life overall. I don’t even have to rate these because it’s very clear that these are all a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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I haven’t read many comics in my life, so I’m just gonna suggest you watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legen of Korra because they’re great shows. Also, read the comics!!!

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

Review + Blog Tour: Mayhem

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

Book Information:

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Here is the synopsis through Goodreads:

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Information:

AP Estelle Laure_Credit Zoe Zimmerman

Author Bio:

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

Author Note:

Dear Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Estelle Laure

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Pre-Order the book here!

 

ARC Review: They Wish They Were Us

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

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a bit weird.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Review: Aurora Burning

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is the second book in the Aurora Cycle series. If you have not read the first book, Aurora Rising, feel free to check out my spoiler free review here! While this post will be spoiler free, I cannot guarantee that it will not spoil the first book, so if you have not read it yet, thanks for checking out this post and hopefully I’ll see you again once you’ve finished Aurora Rising!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.

So I had seen some … adverse reactions to this book. And I’ll be honest, I was nervous. After finishing Aurora Rising, and crying for hours afterwards, I knew Jay and Amie were out to get us.

The beginning of this book was sad. Everyone was still sad and sore about Cat’s death (honestly, me too) and we’ve now unlocked a piece of the puzzle. Seeing everyone go through their mourning for Cat, as well as continuing to fight to help Auri save the world, is hard. Especially for Tyler.

While the beginning started off slow (for like a few pages lol), we quickly jump back into action and into galaxy saving mode. This whole book was an action filled revelation waiting to happen and the last 150 pages had me locked in.

And the ending. Well, I think I summarized my feelings on the ending with this tweet. Also Jay’s reaction was pretty funny!

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Yeah, I was pretty upset. Not sure why Amie and Jay decided to end the book this way, but it ripped my heart out and I’m mad! If you know their writing style, you’ll know what kind of ending I’m talking about.

One of the things I loved the most about this book were the characters. Tyler, while always the golden boy, breaks out of his strict mold. Zila speaks up more and I love it. We see a change in every character throughout this book and I’m here for it. And after that ending, I’m really curious to know what happens to them now.

One thing that annoyed me though was a certain moment in the book. I won’t go into detail, but this revelation came about and I don’t know how I felt about the reaction to it. Like, it didn’t seem fully fair and I think some biases came into play here. It made me really upset and this character did not deserve it one bit.

Besides that, I love this series. I’m really upset I don’t have the next book in my hands ready to go. I really want to know what happens next!

If you’re surprised that I’m giving this book starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars – why? I loved Aurora Rising and I loved Aurora Burning – each for their own unique reasons. I can’t wait for the next book to come out and hopefully we don’t have to wait too long!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Series) by Marissa Meyer or Zodiac by Romina Russell. 

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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: Deck of Omens

I loved The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. I remember how hyped everyone was for this book. The ARC trading world was going nuts trying to get a copy, blogs were posting 5 star reviews, and generally everyone was really excited for this book! But once The Deck of Omens was announced, I didn’t see that kind of energy and it was really sad. I was surprised people weren’t cutting off limbs to read this book early and I was seeing no press or reviews floating around.

Y’all are missing out! This was such an amazing sequel and I’m mad no one is talking about it more! People, get your bullhorns out and start shouting about this series because it’s so good!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.

Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.

May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.

Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.

With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.

But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…

We leave off The Devouring Gray with a team of kids who all need a hug. The Beast is subdued and the Gray is quiet, but there are still a LOT of things that need to be discussed. Soon, we find ourselves in some trouble as The Gray is overcome with corruption which is leaking out and attacking the occupants of Four Paths.

While The Devouring Gray was more plot driven, this book is WAY more character driven and I LOVED IT. Often times I wish for more character development in stories either because so much is going on in the plot that we aren’t shown their changes or the changes never occur – but this book is the opposite. So much character development happened in The Devouring Gray and is now seeping into The Deck of Omens. We see characters self reflect, have ground breaking realizations and acceptance, and the relationships *chef’s kiss* perfection.

Chefs Kiss GIF by Nick Jonas - Find & Share on GIPHY

Not to say that the plot isn’t a big factor or good, because it is. I mean, it’s Four Paths guys, everything is pretty messed up there. The beginning was a reintroduction to the town and to our characters, then we are quickly moved along to our problem and our potential solution. With the introduction of new characters, like Justin and May’s father and Issac’s brother Gabriel, we get some additional background on our characters, but an increased tension through the group.

It was the perfect storm.

All in all, I love this series and I think it’s so spooky and disturbing that you can’t help but read more to find out what terrifying thing happens next. This gets a starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars for me. I can’t wait to read more from Christine, hopefully I can get my hands on another one of her books soon!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, or Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee!

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

 

 

ARC Review: Greythorne

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

ARC Review: Bloodleaf

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what a sticky situation we have here folks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC Review: Raybearer

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC Review: Unravel the Dusk

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 2020 Mid-Month Update

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So far, I’m pretty happy with how much I’ve read this month! Some of these books I started at the end of May and finished in the beginning of June, but I’m counting them! My goal is to read eight books this month and so far, I’ve done really well and I’ll definitely going to meet that goal. Let’s just hope I continue reading such amazing stories for the rest of this month.

What I read

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bloodleaf   greythorne     52746973. sx318 sy475

What I’m reading

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What I plan to read

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I’m surprised I am able to read so much this month. Before moving in I thought I would have no time to read and would be lucky to get through 2 books a week. But it looks like I’m getting through a book about every other day or so, which is awesome! I hope to continue to have as much reading time going forward and hopefully, you’ll be seeing reviews of these books soon!

What books are you currently reading? Are you close to your goal for this month?

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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 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: Hunting November

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC Review: 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!

 

ARC Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

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

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

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Aurora Rising

I received a copy of Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I know, I know, I’m late on this one, but better late than never right? This book has been sitting in my NetGalley queue for like a year now and I finally read it. In less than 24 hours. Why did I wait so long!?

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

So first and foremost, OW. Like, OWWW. I wasn’t expecting my heart to be ripped clean from my chest like that and honestly, I’m hurt. I know Jay is well known for his ability to sever heart strings and murder his readers, but damn Jay! Damn Amie! You didn’t have to destroy me like that! So yeah, the ending hurt. I was definitely holding back tears and this is my warning to you.

Besides that, WOW this book was amazing. I’m a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy books and this one filled my heart with joy (you know, until it was ripped from my chest). We had a rag tag group pushed together and struggling to work with each other. We have sass and lots of it. An epic space adventure. Spy work. It was everything I could have asked for and more.

There really wasn’t much I didn’t like about the story. It was fast paced and had me sitting on the edge of my seating waiting for the next twist and turn. Even the cheesy moments, and there were a few, didn’t make me roll my eyes. I was elated reading them and shipping characters together.

Overall, a total win for me. star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s other series, Illuminae.

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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!

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!

ARC Review: Foul is Fair

Macbeth meets Kill Bill in this crazy intense retelling featuring badass witches and murderous women. If you’re looking for a revenge story with a satisfying ending, here is your next read!

I received this book for review through an eARC from NetGalley as well as a physical galley from the publisher.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

First and foremost, as a trigger/content warning, if you have a history or are sensitive to materials containing abuse/assault/sexual assault – please be careful reading this. The main character is brutally assaulted and the images she remembers can be very detailed and gruesome. It was hard for me to read at some points and triggered feelings/emotions from my own past that I was not looking to experience nor did I want to open up about.

Besides that, if we are looking at this book solely as a Macbeth meets Kill Bill retelling – holy hell this book is great! Our MC is her own mix of witch and Lady Macbeth with her coven not too far behind. Her clever plans to get back at the boys who wronged her leaves you speechless – 1) at how brilliant some of the ideas are and 2) badass she is.

Most (if not all) of Jade’s motivation in this book is revenge and while it was a bit much at the beginning, it soon opened up into a conversation about victims and how they deal with what they’ve been through, which was a good thing to start mentioning. While I’m sure going after those who have wronged you is a great motivator, it was a little repetitive and kind of boring as that was the ONLY motivator. Jade is a fleshed out character, but I didn’t just want to hear “revenge” going through her brain but more of a focus on the other things that may have motivated her.

One thing I loved about this book was the fact that the other characters, such as Mack or Duncan, clearly relate to their Macbeth counterparts and it’s really interesting how the author so easily mixed these roles into a teenage school hierarchy. It was also cool to read the similar plot progression and events translate from the play to this story, with its own twists of course.

One thing I did have an issue with was timeline. One plot point is getting Macbeth with Lady Macbeth, which happens in a day. And the entire book events occur in two weeks, which honestly isn’t a lot of time. The intricate plan Jade/Elle comes up with is not something that a 16 year old girl could come up with in one day nor execute in less than two weeks. I wish the story had taken a bit more time and spanned it a bit farther than what we got. Maybe a month or two instead of two weeks?

Overall, I loved the idea of this book but a little “eh” on the execution. The writing was gorgeous but I wanted more out of the “retelling” and more development out of the characters. I understand how hard it is to make characters you’re trying to recreate also emulate who they are recreated from, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied. I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.5//5 stars solely for time line issues, slightly underdeveloped plot, and the gang rape plot line.

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If you like revenge plot lines with strong female leads, check out The Grace Year by Kim Liggett.

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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!

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!

 

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 Last Voyage of Poe Blythe

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

Let’s dive in!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

Revenge. 

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

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

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

It’s a quality book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Devouring Grey

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

Let’s get started!

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Here’s a synopsis from Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!