Book Review

Book Review: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of the Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA fantasy + romance
Length: 392 pages
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

THE MASH-UP I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED.

Ohhhhh I’m so happy I picked up this debut! Mulan? Project Runway? TOGETHER?

IT WORKED SO WELL. I got all of the Mulan vibes (my favorite Disney movie, by the way) from Maia’s actions and decisions. Then add in the competition to be the best tailor where there were even unconventional materials challenges?! Yessssss. The vibes this book gave off alone gave it a star. This was exactly what the synopsis gave me.

Maia and Edan were absolutely precious too. I had seen on multiple reviews that the banter is on point, and I’m here to put my vote in that THEY’RE RIGHT. It’s witty, sassy, and so stinkin’ cute. I really liked the way their relationship developed. I was surprised by a few bits of information about Edan that reminded me of other books and I was cool with it. I liked those additions and thought it gave another layer to who Edan is.

The adventure that these two went on was magical and enchanting. I was surprised that this was able to take only one book. I think it could have expanded into more if it wanted and still been captivating. Since this plot kind of wrapped up I’m curious where the next story will take us.

This is one of those typical YA fantasy books that WORKS. It’s why I love and read the genre regularly. The writing is delightful, the romance is on point, and the story is full of magic. I loved the world-building and the way the magic is set-up. Maia is such an easy character to love. I appreciate her loyalty to her family and how everything circles back to them. She’s brave, but also able to accept help. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, make-outs, one or two fade to black, barely any detail love scenes
  • Violence: magic, fire, physical, arrows

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Book Review

Book Review: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction + mystery
Length: 435 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco’s haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

STILL ONLY HERE FOR THOMAS CRESSWELL.

This wasn’t bad. I think it’ll probably be my favorite of the entire series.

I keep expecting these books to have a better plot line, because it keeps forcing whatever mystery is happening in my face rather than letting the romance really shine. And so far I’ve been disappointed twice. I think HPD would be better if everything was turned more towards the relationship between Thomas and Audrey Rose. BECAUSE THOMAS Y’ALL.

I fear every story will repeat the same saga. Murder, murder, run around, fight with Thomas, love Thomas, murder, solve it quickly. That’s what I see in my future, yet here I am already downloading book three. There’s something oddly catchy about these books and I think it all goes back to THOMAS Y’ALL.

Cleary, I have a new book boyfriend and he really holds all of the cards here. I love his banter, confessions of love and the general way he swaggers about. This paragraph may be small, but my love for Thomas is large. I understand why everyone reads these for him, I’m doing the same dang thing.

Audrey Rose is fine. She’s still one of those main characters that runs around scatter-brained and trying to accomplish everything while accomplishing nothing.

I liked the change in setting and though the mystery around Dracula was cool. We got to meet a lot of interesting characters and I didn’t pick the bad guy out super early so that’s a plus. I’m captivating by listening to these audio books.

Really though, THOMAS Y’ALL.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery + historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: murder, baths of blood, bodies being drained of blood, autopsies, near drownings

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Abbi Waxman
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

I CAN RELATE.

As an introvert extraordinaire, I could connect to quite a bit of what Nina was feeling throughout this book. That was probably my favorite part. The rest? Not as big of a fan.

I found it hard to read because I didn’t feel like there was an actual plot. Things were happening to Nina, but that was it. Nothing really moved forward. I did see a welcome change in Nina going from inflexible and unwilling to change to someone who was learning to adapt to the craziness of the universe and life in general. I did wholly appreciate this. I liked seeing this character arc.

The romance? Eh. I thought we were getting a cute story, but I felt it was allllll physical. They went on barely a date or two then sleeping together, to breaking up and I just shrugged my shoulders. I never felt an emotional connection to them and it made me not care either way what happened. It then got super cheesy at the end which only made it worse.

I also struggled with the third person point of view. I think I would have liked it more being only in Nina’s mind. The concept change to random characters was annoying and pointless. And there were so many random tangent paragraphs that I found myself often scanning.

This was a lackluster contemporary that I know I have an unpopular opinion about, but hey, can’t love them all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses, a few fade to black scenes
  • Trigger warnings: anxiety, loss of a parent

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR!

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I’m not quite sure what we’re counting as winter, but these are the books I’d like to get through by…February? Sure, February works! It’s definitely still cold then.

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War 1 by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

As per my last Top Ten Tuesday post I’m trying to read some Christmas books this year and I just picked this up from the library! I’ve been hearing great things and can’t wait to read it.


ARC: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2) by M.L. Greye

Super excited that I’m able to help out M.L. Greye and receive a copy of her new book (out January 3rd!). I loved the first book and can’t wait to see where this series is going.


ARC: Ashlords by Scott Reintgen

Okay, this cover though? So good. This is one of my Netgalley reads I need to get to! This book sounded super interested and I’m excited that I received a copy!


Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve been on the fence forever about reading this but a dear friend got it for me for my birthday because this is one of her favorite books EVER. I really want to see what the hoopla is about. Hopefully this winter!


East (East #1) by Edith Pattou

OBSESSED WITH THESE COVERS (check out my Insta post). This was another birthday book that I need to finally get too.


The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

I LOVE EVERYTHING THIS WOMAN WRITES. No seriously. Everything. I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS.


All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace

Oh guys. MERMAAAAAAAAAAIDS. There is no reason I won’t be reading this book, you better believe it.


Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson

But really. It’s time to catch up on these AMAZING SERIES. I’m ready to tackle another 1,200+ page saga.


The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud

This has nothing to do with winter other than I’m trying to make it through this series. Two more books to go!!


10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Totally a bookstagram-made-me-do-it book. BUT IT LOOKS SO CUTE.

What’s on your winter TBR? Do we have any of the same books? Lets talk in the comments! Happy holidays!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6, The Alloy Era #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 447 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

ANOTHER GREAT READ.

These have been some of my favorite audio books. Since I would highly recommend reading the original Mistborn series before reading this one it makes it easy to follow on audio. You already have the base for the magic system and religious aspects. All that gets added are some amazing characters.

I’m all over the Western vibes from these books. It’s still present and it’s still awesome.

Oh my goodness, I was thoroughly convinced I would never like a character, Steris, and by the end of the book I was LOVING her. She’s only played a small role in the previous books (hardly in them for that matter) and this one gave her more ample opportunity to shine. I love the slow and steady romance that formed between her and Wax. It always played a side role, but those tender moments when they are talking or just being there for each other had my squealing with delight. AND THAT ENDING. Oh yes *claps enthusiastically*.

This book really amped up the diabolic-ness of the villains. After finding one of their main bases, a lot the history circulates back from the original trilogy. Isn’t that crazy?! Sanderson has the ability to expertly weave two series (set 300+ years apart) with such skill that I’m blown away by that fact alone. Every little tidbit and Easter egg from the original series that’s thrown in only makes me love these more.

Wayne, Marasi, and MeLaan are such great side characters y’all. I LOVE THEM. They all have unique personalities with their own quirks. I like that we got to have POVs from both Wayne and Marasi because it only helps me understand them more.

Basically, I’m just happy these books exist.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: guns, physical, magic; all a bit detailed but not unnecessarily gory

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Book Review

Book Review: DEV1AT3 (Lifelike #2) by Jay Kristoff

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult science fiction
Length: 419 pages
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Expected Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Lemon Fresh has seen better days.

After the climactic battle in Babel, she finds herself separated from Ezekiel and Cricket in the wastelands. Lemon’s abilities to manipulate electricity mark her as a deviate, and deadly corporate operatives are hunting her to use as a weapon in the war between BioMaas Incorporated and Daedelus Technologies. Instead, Lemon finds herself falling in with a group of fellow deviates—a band of teenagers with astonishing abilities, led by an enigmatic figure known as the Major, who may hold the secrets to Lemon’s past.

Meanwhile, Cricket finds himself in possession of the puritanical Brotherhood, a religious cult set for a head-on collision with the Major and his band. Searching for Lemon, Ezekiel finds a strange ally in an old enemy, and uncovers a plot that may see him reunited with his beloved Ana.

And inside Babel, a remade Eve hatches a plan to bring an end to the world. 

I LOVE LEMON FRESH.

And I love that this book focused more on her.

This book started out with a nice little refresher of who was who and what happened (which I appreciate because lets face it, when it takes awhile to get to the second book some facts slip my mind).

So many twists yet again. I couldn’t keep up and was on my toes waiting for the next moment when I would stare at my page saying whaaaaat, nooooooo. I was kept guessing as to who some characters were and where others were located. I love the mystery of it all and it really helps me want to continue reading and flipping pages.

Lemon Fresh got a lot of the spotlight this time and she’s seriously, the best. I love her spunky personality and her loyalty to her friends. We got to see her struggles and her triumphs as she navigated meeting others like her. The dash of romance thrown in for her was sweet and not overdone. I totally ship them.

Ezekiel might destroy me by the end of this series. Frankly, this may be the case for any of our main four (Lemon, Ezekiel, Cricket and Eve). There is heartbreak and disaster literally around every corner and I DON’T KNOW IF I’LL GET A HAPPY ENDING. Going in blind to the last book may hurt, but I’m also stoked for it. The reveals and action can only go up from here.

The pacing is on point and the way information is rolled out never feels like an info dump or not quite enough to go off of. We’re given direction as needed and I love the world-building around a defunct society. It’s got a level of creep, some radicals, and those just trying to make it through the day. I’ve been real hesitant to read any dystopian as of late, but this one is definitely a hit.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi / dystopia
  • Language: very little light language (some cases of using funk as a bad word)
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: robots fighting, fire, magic, physical, swords, explosions, guns

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Book Review

Book Review: A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Mystery + Historical Fiction + Romance
Length: 338 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley Books
Expected Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task–saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if the real killer is not found.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. From a Bohemian artists’ colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….

THE TENSION IS PALPABLE.

Seriously, Veronica and Stoker. GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND KISS FOR REAL ALREADY.

Oh y’all. I’m LOVING these books! I know I’m only saying that after two of them, but they’re so good and quick to read!

I love that the mystery keeps me on my toes. Its the forefront of each book and it’s in enough of the spotlight that you’re intrigued, but it doesn’t overshadow the main character development. I always have my guesses on who’s the culprit, and whenever the unveiling scene happens I’m surprised with more information to round out the whole book.

Veronica is still the same sassy, full of banter, does what she pleases kind of character. I love that she has continued to make decisions for herself and isn’t swayed by others perceptions of her. It’s nice to follow a confident heroine who can also understand when she needs help or encouragement. I am living for her partnership with Stoker. I sincerely hope they are endgame by the time I finish this series or I’ll RIOT. That kind of chemistry and interactions HAS TO LEAD TO SOMETHING. I’m going to sit here tapping my fingers anxiously until I find out more. I’m hoping it happens soon or the waiting will then become ridiculous.

There were a lot of great scenes throughout this novel. I found myself smiling and laughing at different conversations and wittiness of characters. Veronica and Stoker are easy to love and cheer for. The side characters are charming themselves and don’t take up so much page time that they overshadow the story. I’m curious how Veronica’s background will continue to change the narrative as these mysteries continue.

I like that we got more information about Stoker at last. I believe the third book really focuses on him so it will be nice to receive even more. Learning about him and Veronica has been in bits and pieces over both books. I am grateful there’s not any info dumping, but rather a gradual increase in further knowing these two as they get to know each other.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + Historical Fiction + Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss, a lot of sexual innuendo and conversations (the mystery revolves around a sex club)
  • Violence: murder, guns, physical

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