Book Review

Book Review: Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2) by Nicki Pau Preto

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 640 pages
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 11th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens.

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire.

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin.

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames.

I LOVE MY SHIPS.

What a good book.

I’ll get the iffy stuff out of the way, this was way too long. Some chapters and POVs really didn’t feel that necessary for most of the story. I found the beginning to drag a lot and was concerned when things would start to pick up. I’m sooooo glad they did, because that ending has me looking for the third book’s release date.

I am loving the relationships in here. Tristan and Veronyka have me feeling ALL THE THINGS. I like how slow and steady they’ve moved and how honest they have been with each other. Their bond is solid and I hope the author is a fan of happy endings or I will be gutted by the time this trilogy wraps up. Sev and Kade are super cute too. Their relationship has also developed at a perfect speed and I adored the little flirtations and shy interactions between them as the story moved. I’ll say it again, I better get happy endings for these four.

One of my favorite pieces of this series is that one of the chapter points-of-view is from the antagonist. Knowing Val’s thoughts and choices is disturbing and fascinating. I hate to love her and love to hate her. Val’s warped sense of self and what she thinks she is owed is a great aspect and counter-balance to Veronyka.

I like the way this story is moving. The way that the politics are starting to play out, there’s been some more skirmishes in the lands and things are starting to pick up. Yes, this definitely had some middle-book syndrome, but if you push through a bit the ending has set up for a fiery conclusion (look, I made a pun).

The magic system in this world is marvelous. I love that there’s bonds between animals and humans. Everything makes sense and as Veronyka learns more about her shadow magic, the more I am understanding everything as well. Veronyka’s character got a lovely arc learning about her magic (and herself) that made me fall in love with her more. I love her fierce and bold nature, but that she also really wants to love and be loved. It’s a good combo (not to mention, I’m totally smitten with Tristan, so for the third time, please give me a happy ending).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, swords, flaming birds (Phoenixes), poison

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

SO SWEET.

I am all over this series by Jen DeLuca. They’re adorable and easy to enjoy and get a few smiles out of me.

In differentiating from Well Met, this book follows Stacey as she goes through a lot of big life decisions. Some cards were handed to her unplanned and now she’s found herself stuck in a slump, wondering what to do next. I struggled with the way Stacey talked about herself at times. I liked that she had a good evolution over the book about finding her way. Learning to take those leaps of faith and following something you know you love.

Okay, Daniel? TOTES ADORBS. I mean, from the get go. Absolutely loved him. So flippin’ cute. He warmed my heart 100x over and was such a match for Stacey. I liked the way the initial conflict (trying to avoid spoilers) happened between them. The communication and understanding that went into seeing both sides of the story really set me up for loving this ship. And this was a continual theme that helped

Another magical setting at a Ren Fest and I am once again wishing I could go to one this year! I love the writing and magic I feel between everyone. Getting to see Simon and Emily again was also absolutely amazing. I did like Well Met more, ONLY because it had more of an enemies to lovers vibe (which is my favorite trope ever). This is more friends to lovers and I found it very sweet watching Daniel and Stacey fall in love.

And low-key, STOKED for the next book in this series and the fact it’s about Mitch and April.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little (strong when used)
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a full chapter open door scene

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Book Review

Book Review: Eleanor & Grey by Brittainy C. Cherry

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 350 pages
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: April 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Greyson East left his mark on me.

As the young girl who first fell for him, I didn’t know much about life. I did know about his smiles, though, and his laughs, and the strange way my stomach flipped when he was near.

Life was perfect…until it wasn’t, and when we were forced to go our separate ways, I held on to our memories, let go of my first crush, and wished for the day I’d find him again.

When my wish came true, it was nothing like I imagined.

I couldn’t have known when I took the nanny position that it would be his children I looked after, that my new boss would be that boy I used to know, that boy who was now a man—a cold, lonely, detached man.

The smile and laugh I had loved so much were gone, now distant memories. Every part of him was covered in a fresh pain.

When he realized who I was, he made me promise to do my job and my job only.
He made me promise not to try to get to know him, not to recall the memories I’d treasured all this time.

But, sometimes, I saw the boy I’d once known in his stormy eyes. I saw the Greyson who smiled and laughed, who had stolen a young girl’s heart, and there was no doubt in my mind that this boy was worth fighting for.

I was given a second chance with the one who’d left his mark on me. All I hoped was that somehow I’d leave a mark on his soul, too.

A BIT OF A FLAIR IN THE DRAMATICS.

Okay. I don’t know how I feel about this book which is why I’ve gone with 3.5 stars. There were some portions I enjoyed and was emotionally involved in and then I had this moment where I started thinking. And those thoughts led me to wondering how many more things can happen purely for the sake of adding a dramatic flair to the entire story?

Apparently, A LOT.

There were so many things jammed into this story to pull on my emotions that I was surprised by the end. I didn’t think it needed all of it to make a great story. A few of the dramatics were needed, yes. That’s how this became a second chance romance, but others were added that I had to shrug my shoulders over.

I did like the romance. I wished the time in high school was a bit longer so I really got a feel for Eleanor and Greyson’s relationship before they had to part ways. I was enjoying the precious romance that was brewing. I’m glad that in the present it took time for them to rekindle anything. I was going to be real upset if they jumped back together and was impressed that it took a bit to get there. I loved seeing the character arcs of both of them from the past to the present and even to the end. Greyson and Eleanor worked through a lot to be together.

I adored Greyson’s children. They were a great pair that gave this book a whole new side. Lorelei and Karla both had their own issues that allowed Greyson to step in as a father figure to address. Even better was watching Eleanor go mama bear on people when the girls were bullied or disrespected.

All in all, a good book. Especially if you’re into a bit of dramatics you’ll enjoy this. This was my first book by this author and I’m curious about her spin-off books from Eleanor & Grey. I think I’ll definitely take a look at those later.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance [trope: second chance]
  • Language: some
  • Romance: a few scenes mild to explicit, but brief; kisses/make-outs
  • Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, losing a loved one to cancer, bullying, description of an awful car wreck, suicide ideation, severe grief and depression

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
Length: 416 pages
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Returning to the dark and glamorous world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Thank you to Wednesday Books, and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own!

MY SOUL IS IN TORMENT.

Why you may ask? Well because THAT ENDING HURT ME. It was exactly what the book called for though. Not really a cliffhanger, but feeling a desperate need to see how everything is resolved in the last book. Ohhhhh how I need the last book. If these first two books are any indication (The Gilded Wolves review here!), this finale will rock.

The ANGST I felt in this book for Laila and Severin was on another level. Oh em gee. It was the kinda of slow fire, second chance, enemies to lovers-ish vibe that I was ALL OVER. My cinnamon roll Severin who is struggling to work through some things has caused him to push people away. This hard outer shell only makes me love him more. Seeing his inner dialogue is wonderful. I love the rotating chapter POVs because I truly feel for all of these characters now. I want to be apart of this dysfunctional family too.

I liked the way the story moved. I felt there was a steady flow of action, then a lull, then back up again, all at the right times. I was never bored because things were constantly moving. If they weren’t solving a mystery, someone or another was having a tender moment. This gave me a lot of scenes that brought this installment home. The writing was beautiful with plenty of sentences I wanted to highlight and save for later.

The villains are pretty easy to spot, but are quirky and have many layers that I need to sift through. They were a bit creepy and kept me on my toes, especially in the last 20%. I flew through pages trying to figure out what was going to happen next. While my heart shattered at some point, the pieces were picked back up and put in a jar for further introspection. Everything in this book is a few shades darker. There is a lot of pain, inner turmoil, and I feel like I’m waiting on half the cast to apologize to the other half. It’s forming great characters arcs though and I am appreciating watching everyone grow.

Still, I have so many questions!! There is a vast amount of open-ended issues when it comes to everyone. Who is into who? Who is upset with who? Who is alive? Where is who? Why can who do this? I barely had questions answered before I thought of a thousand more. While sometimes too many unknowns can be a bother, I felt this really convinced me I want book three (which I don’t mind in the slightest). I think everything will be answered and while I have no idea how this well end, I am here for it all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
  • Language: some language
  • Romance: a few kisses, make-outs, a no detailed quick fade to black, but mentioned love scene (very appropriate for a true YA book)
  • Violence: poison, animal attacks, magic, fire, knives, murder
  • Trigger warnings: a person disguises themselves as someone else with intent to do sexual things, mentions of child abuse, drugging people without consent

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