Book Review

Review: Evermore (Everless #2) by Sara Holland

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Sara Holland
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: December 31st, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The New York Times bestselling series!

Jules Ember confronts the girl who is both her oldest friend and greatest enemy in the highly anticipated sequel to Everless, praised by New York Times bestelling author Stephanie Garber as “an intoxicating blend of blood, secrets, and haunting mythology.” 

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: She is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Now Jules must piece together the stories of her past lives to save the person who has captured her heart in this one.

Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard, Kiera Cass, and Kendare Blake, Evermore is the high-stakes, star-crossed follow up to the New York Times bestselling Everless that fans have been waiting for.

MUCH TO BE DESIRED.

It almost pains me to give this book such a low rating because I loved the first book so much. This one however, left too much to be desired.

Jules Ember is not the sharpest tool in the shed. For a heroine who is trying to avoid the Sorceress and the law in general I don’t think it’s wise to let everyone know who you are. She was constantly going to places and events and letting everyone know her plans. Of course she was found!? Jules also kept sending mixed messages to everyone. She’d spit angry things at them, then turn around and basically shout her feelings at her friends/lover.

Liam is the only reason I hung onto this book. I loved his character from Everless. This was a total annihilation of his persona. “His face reddened” more times than I could count. Love struck fool was not a good look on him. It was rushed in comparison to how he treated Jules previously. Though, he was almost the real hero because he repeatedly saved Jules from her own mistakes. It was an odd, off-balanced pairing.

The original book captured my attention because of the blood as time and currency concept. I’ve seen other reviews that mentioned this isn’t totally new (in my case, I haven’t read others like this yet) so I was intrigued! It made things a bit twisted and confusing [in a good way]. Evermore never brought this into play. There was only mentions on the side about others doing using this alchemy.

All of Jules visions were throwing me off big time. They would come at random moments (That’s So Raven anyone?) and not make total sense. It was interrupting the flow of the plot itself. At least the last vision answered a lot of the questions I was stumped on about the actual relationship between The Alchemist and The Sorceress.

Lastly, I profoundly loathe obvious, cliche moments. Pure love conquers pure evil y’all. *sigh*

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Romance: a few kisses, one loosely implied love scene
  • Violence: knives, a bit of blood, murder
Book Review

Review: The Dark Days Deceit (Lady Helen #3) by Alison Goodman

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: YA regency/paranormal, no language, a little romance, violence
Length: 527 pages
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Books
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The thrilling, genre-bending conclusion to Lady Helen’s demon-hunting adventures, set in the glittering Regency world.

Lady Helen has retreated to a country estate outside Bath to prepare for her wedding to the Duke of Selburn, yet she knows she has unfinished business to complete. She and the dangerously charismatic Lord Carlston have learned they are a dyad, bonded in blood, and only they are strong enough to defeat the Grand Deceiver, who threatens to throw mankind into chaos. But the heinous death-soaked Ligatus Helen has absorbed is tearing a rift in her mind. Its power, if unleashed, will annihilate both Helen and Carlston unless they can find a way to harness its ghastly force and defeat their enemy.

In the final book of the trilogy that began with THE DARK DAYS CLUB and continued with THE DARK DAYS PACT, the intrepid Lady Helen’s story hurtles to a shocking conclusion full of action, heartbreak, and betrayal. 

I JUST…WHAT…No.

Y’all, I started skimming. And we all know, that’s never a good sign. Oh why did this book [mostly] let me down!? I’m a little bitter to be honest. There were some flaws I couldn’t look past. I had a good time, and I’m glad I finished this series. All together it was well done, this last book didn’t seal the deal as well as I’d hoped.

I’m going to try to remain as vague as possible as to not spoil this book for others. I dare say, almost all of my initial inklings were correct in regards to who was what and when. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the twists, but had gathered most of the facts through book two. I wish it would have been all out in the open WAY earlier than it was. The grand reveal [solid pun] is not til literally 90% of the way through this book.

The “love triangle” was so forced, and it has left me feeling sour. Lord Carlston is one of my top book beaus, and I am appalled at how he was treated! And the resolve was two paragraphs. NO NO NO. I wanted this to go a hundred different ways, but instead, Helen was over-thinking the tiniest things and made me completely aggravated at her choices. She’s better than that. And Carlston deserved an actual thought out ending. Not scraps.

The magic system went a little haywire for me and was pushed to its limitations to get a big finale of an action scene. It was fine. I mostly understood what was happening. The initial construct could have been left as is.

There was entirely too much repetition in this book. Of concepts, ideas, conversations, the book could have been 100+ pages shorter without this. I could live peacefully without ever hearing the words: Grand Deceiver, Grand Reclaimer and Ligatus again. Helen was too focused on all of the wedding drama and not her Dark Days Club work so it was a drag. I don’t care about your wedding dress, Helen.

Okay, I went and read this again and it looks like I hated this book. This unfortunately is how I feel literally after finishing it. Some things I did love though were the romance-y things between Helen and Carlston…when they happened. I truly enjoyed the side characters: Darby, Quinn, Hammond, Sprat, even Pike had me feelings things! I love all of the historical aspects that are taken into account to ensure the best accuracy. This was a good series and one I am still happy that I read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal [demons]/regency
  • No language
  • Romance: a few chaste kisses
  • Violence: physical, knives, gore
  • Trigger warnings: talking about miscarriage, infanticide, murder
Book Review

Review: The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA regency/paranormal, very little language, some romance, violence
Length: 496 pages
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Books
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

I WILL RIOT.

I thoroughly believe Goodman won’t let me down. The Duke is totally the Grand Deceiver (my personal opinion, not a spoiler because I have no actual idea) and this whole forcible nature he takes on drives me crazy. HELEN SAID NO, WHY CAN YOU NOT RESPECT THE NO. Men. Sheesh.

Also let’s talk Delia, why is she in this book? She’s too sly for me. I haven’t liked her from day 1. So she’s in on the GD business with Selburn (The Duke). I stand by this assumption. Speaking of people I don’t like, y’all, I hate Lady Margaret. She’s petty, jealous and throws tantrums like my toddler. I was pleased when she dropped out of the back half of this book practically.

“Amore mio.”

Just STAHHHP. If your heart didn’t feel like bursting when this happened. Don’t even tell me. Because mine did. I’m obsessed with Lord Carlston (and subsequently watched Pride & Prejudice because Darcy). His dark, brooding, protective nature has me swooning. And he actually thinks Helen is a capable woman. I live for this slow-burn.

“Yes,” he said, unnecessarily. Was he, too, looking for the chance to touch? Maybe they both wanted to play with fire.”

What’s also the best? How many balls are attended. I thought it very clever how much dancing + eloquent verbal warfare was occurring throughout the book. I love all things regency and this is so great. Goodman has clearly done her research and I love the author’s note at the end that explains the “characters” that are historical figures. I’m impressed by the way she’s added in this Deceiver realm to London 1812.

This book does start off a bit slow (which was my main reasoning for 4*). I marked in my notes that at 55% we still hadn’t fought any demons, or done much of anything besides make threats and plans. Not long after that point, everything picks up. Though, Helen could gain more of a back bone. I think she bothers me sometimes because of the time period so I can’t fault the author for this. It’s really very well to the time period. Helen is continually struggling with being a woman in a man’s world (true I do feel this way now sometimes). Things were more complicated back then for that kind of stuff so I wanted Helen to buck-up and not do the right thing and actually voice her concerns.

Tiny tid-bit. I’m low key obsessed with Darby and Quinn. They are so precious and I hope they get a happy ending too. Darby is one of my favorite side characters. She is faithful to Helen like no other.

“In my experience, life is always a question of courage. Which way do we run when we see danger: away from it, or toward it?”

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal [demons], regency
  • A little language
  • Violence: physical, knives, guns, demons
  • Romance: an intense kiss
  • Trigger warnings: intense descriptions of brothels, torture, grief
Book Review

Review: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA fantasy, no language, violence, romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world. 

THE SEQUEL SURVIVES.

I totally, thoroughly enjoyed this wicked tale. Was it the best sequel ever? Maybe not, but it was wrapped up in so many devious plots that I enjoyed it all.

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder.”

“Someone tries to betray the The High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.

– The High King, Cardan

I mean, look at that quote. Cardan for all of his twisted ways, is not a murderer. Unlike our lovely seneschal, Jude. This is what makes this series the height of amusement.

I love how cruel and tortured these souls are. Jude remains plagued by her obsessive need for power, yet struggles at some of the most basic emotions. She’s ambitious, reckless and morally gray. Cardan on the other hand has this complete layered sense of wickedness. He is so complex and I would totally love a POV from him. The High King is an amazing villain/anti-hero.

“I want to tell you so many lies.”

Now put those two together and the craziest level of sexual tension ensues. Oh, they drove me batty. They both lack the fundamental rule of a ‘relationship” (that being trust) and in losing this, have created a beautiful tragic love that will probably end up in flames. Though I’m truly counting on them working it out. I’m all for a reunion scene, am I right? They both deserve to love and be loved and I need everyone happy okay??

The pacing is a little slow in this book, as I feel it suffers the plague of the sequel. I wasn’t really invested til about halfway and then within the final few pages things darn well blew up. SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!? The most wicked of all the books will be coming next year, that ending about guarantees it. Jude completely gets what she deserves [and I secretly love it, but also hope she gets revenge all in the same breath].

There’s plenty of characters I would willing stab myself for Jude and I am eagerly anticipating how Black destroys them in the finale. Taryn, Locke, Nicasia, Madoc, Orlagh, I mean, y’all, I have a list.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Violence: some gore, knives, poison, torture, enchantments
  • Romance: a bit of kissing, a lightly detailed love scene, discussion of how faeries love to be naked
  • Trigger warnings: alcohol, bullying
Book Review

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: YA fantasy, a little language, some romance, violence
Length: 300 pages
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: McElderberry Books
Release Date: September 26th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. 

IT WAS CUTE.

I had seen this book floating around bookstagram for the gorgeous cover. So this became a total cover buy since it was created by one of my favorite artists.

We had some of the typical trope characters, a cocky fae-prince and a human girl. They were a pretty funny pair. I found myself laughing out loud on occasion. I’m a sucker for anytime a fae interacts with the human world. They say the darndest things.

“I was merely astonished that so many tools of your Craft can double as armaments. Is there anything you humans don’t use to kill one another?”

– Rook, referring to a skillet (which made me think of Rapunzel from Tangled)

There is definitely instant love in this book. But what I found as sort of it’s own dissection of the concept, Isobel realizes how ridiculous it is that she thinks she’s fallen in love so quickly. She was a true real human. Discussing how filthy she felt, the pimple on her forehead made her much more relatable and I was thinking, yeah girl same, that does suck.

My biggest issue was pacing. It’s a standalone so I understand the need for a bit of a rush. There was so much time spent on details that the story was getting shoved forward quicker than necessary. Pretty prose is nice, but I personally prefer when more time is spent on the scene, not the trees surrounding the scene. I was hoping for a deeper story line.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • A little bit of language
  • Violence: swords, some gore
  • Romance: a somewhat intense-ish make-out, kisses

Publishing Day

Happy Publishing Day: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden

Happy publishing day to one of my favorite series! I was so excited when I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Del Rey, through Netgalley.

Synopsis:

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

Y’all this series gives me life. I loved it so much. It’s so beautiful and you should definitely be adding this to your TBR stat.

My original review can be found here!

Book Review

Review: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency period paranormal/fantasy, young adult, no language, little romance, violence
Length: 544 pages
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: December 14th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Eon and Eona; a Regency adventure series starring a stylish and intrepid Buffy-esque demon-hunter

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

REGENCY PERIOD FOR THE WIN.

This was so fun. There was a lot of work that went into this by the author. Goodman did so much research to make sure that her world depicted London in 1812. It was fantastic. Regency books are some of my favorite and this was very well done. YAY!

Y’all I love Lord Carlston. Because I am a total sucker for brooding men with some dark secrets that are [hopefully] marshmallows. I have high hopes for him. He better not disappoint. I am however, completely on the fence about the Duke. I don’t know where I stand, but I’m not really shipping him at all right now. And we all know, my series love can fall apart if who I ship first off doesn’t end up happening. THE SUSPENSE WILL END ME.

I liked Helen overall. Since she unfortunately had no idea about her powers she is a bit naive in this book. Having to learn everything, and understand the world of the Dark Days Club takes over half the book. I’m looking forward to her character growing as the series does. I want an awesome, sword fighting, Jane Austen-esque heroine.

The magic system in this book is complicated. And that’s probably my biggest reason for 4 stars. It sounded awful to actually be a Reclaimer. The 101 things that have to be done just to see the Deceiver, destroy them, their progeny and the like blew my mind. It was too intricate for me to see the fun in being a part of the Club. I will give points for everything being explained even if I didn’t fully grasp it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical-fiction, Regency period, paranormal [demons]
  • No explicit language: use of the word whore and others like it for the time period
  • Violence: demons with whip-like extensions, knives, physical, gory-detailed scenes
  • Romance: a passionate kiss, discussion of some sexual things