Book Review

Book Review: Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Sci-fi / Fantasy
Length: 512 pages
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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. 

WHAT JUST HAPPENED.

I’m pretty sure I said that out loud multiple times while reading this. But also, I don’t know how to write a full review without shouting spoilers at you, so bear with me. STILL SPOILER FREE. Just…seriously…GO READ THIS SERIES ASAP PLEASE.

Okay okay, this book was glorious and also destroyed me.

I absolutely loved getting to know all of the characters more. I felt that was missing from Aurora Rising and appreciated the depth and back stories that were added to each of the squad. I have a love for each of them in their own ways and I usually have a main character I don’t like…I can’t hate anyone from Squad 312.

I was especially smitten with getting more of Auri and Kal because woo-wee I am low-key [let’s be honest — high key] ObSeSeD with Kal. NOT TO MENTION, his narrator, Steve West, is also a minor obsession. I will listen to any book he reads. The audio books for this series are fantastic with a full cast, sound effects, and just making you feel like you are sitting there truly listening to the characters. I would highly recommend this as an audio book if you haven’t tried (and are curious about them) before!

A many many things happened over the 500 pages. So much that I can’t recount it all, other than saying, it was intensely filled. There was maybe one slow-ish portion for me, but that was it. Everything hit its markers and kept me reading as fast as I could. I loved the character progression and where this story is going.

AH I DON’T WANT TO FORGET TO MENTION. I have a new ship. And I can’t say that ship because it would spoil some things, but if you’ve read it, and know who I’m referring to, lets discuss. Because I love them. Their dynamic and intensity. The banter and forced proximity. Oooooh boy I hope this is going in the direction I’m imaging or book three might sink me.

I honestly can’t tell you how it ends, because I don’t know how it ends. How twisted is that? And hopefully that sentence made you want to pick this series up because it’s faaaabulous.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi
  • Language: not very much
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; fade to black scenes, closed door scenes
  • Violence: plenty, and fairly gory/bloody; weapons, explosions, physical, torture, guns, magic

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Far From Normal by Becky Wallace

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 240 pages
Author: Becky Wallace
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From Stealing Home author Becky Wallace comes a Devil Wears Prada-inspired YA romance, in which “normal girl” Maddie must repair the image of Major League Soccer’s bad boy to ace her internship. A perfect read for fans of Morgan Matson and Miranda Kenneally.

Maddie McPherson is sick of Normal—both her hometown of Normal, Illinois and being the ‘normal’ sibling. But when she lands a summer internship with a sports marketing firm, she finally has a chance to crawl out of her genius brother’s shadow. Not to mention, a glowing letter of recommendation could secure her admission to her dream college.

But Maddie’s nickname is “CalaMaddie” for a reason, and when the company tasks her with repairing the image of teen soccer phenom Gabriel Fortunato, she wonders if she’s set herself up for embarrassment. Gabriel is a tabloid magnet, who’s best-known for flubbing Italy’s World Cup hopes. As Maddie works with him to develop “pleasant and friendly” content for social media, she also learns he’s thoughtful, multi-talented, and fiercely loyal—maybe even to a fault. Falling for a footballer is exactly how CalaMaddie would botch this internship, but with the firm pressuring her to get the job done, perhaps her heart is worth risking?

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

UTTERLY ADORABLE.

I basically read this in one sitting because of how flippin’ precious it was. I was completely smitten with this book and am going to sing its praises in this review.

Originally concerned about the length (under 300 pages), I didn’t know what to expect for my first book by Wallace. BLOWN AWAY sounds about right now. I found this quick, fast-paced young adult rom-com exactly what I needed at the time and had me grinning and laughing throughout. Don’t let the length deter you, this is an absolute gem.

Madeline was a great main character. She was under some intense pressure from multiple forces in her life and at only 17! I liked the way she handled herself, but also still felt like a teenager. It was a great combination that made me feel for and understand Madeline’s motives.

Now the precious soccer player, Gabe? I am SO HERE FOR bad boys with a heart of gold. I’m easy to please when it comes to books with this nature. Gabe and Madeline’s relationship moved well and the pace was steady and absolutely sweet. I love the little dates they went on and the support they were both giving each other.

I love the Devil Wears Prada aspects and started to see them more after I finished it when I sat there unable to think about anything else. There’s plenty of allusions that are fun and quirky that make me think this should be a movie, and that I also need to re-watch TDWP.

AH. I am just in love with this book. Think its the perfect, sweet, YA rom-com you should definitely read if you’re even the tiny bit curious. I can’t wait to read more books from her!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: bike crash

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Hunter and the Mage (The Raven and the Dove #2) by Kaitlyn Davis

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 495 pages
Author: Kaitlyn Davis
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: September 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Return to the world of The Raven and the Dove, where winged people rule the skies, a lost kingdom lives at sea, and two star-crossed lovers hold the fate of each in their palms. Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!

A mage written in prophecy…

When Lyana wakes in the Sea of Mist, adventure is the first thing on her mind. But between her unruly new magic and an unyielding young king, the world below comes with more responsibility than she ever dreamed. An entire civilization exists within the fog, and its survival depends entirely on her.

A hunter forged in blood…

Adrift at sea on a ship full of strangers, Rafe fights to cope with his new reality. He’ll do anything to return to the sky and the people he left behind. When a surprising offer comes his way, he instantly accepts, sparing no time to consider the consequences.

Loyalties are tested and an ancient war begins anew…

With rebellion in her heart, Cassi defies her king and befriends the prince she’s been ordered to kill. Oblivious to the threat, Xander welcomes her into his inner circle, determined to rescue his mate. As one works to help and the other to hinder, an ancient enemy stirs, forcing Cassi to choose between trusting the man who broke her heart and turning her back on everything she’s ever known.

Thank you to the author for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

ANOTHER GREAT BOOK.

I just really love this series y’all.

Admittedly yes, there’s some book two syndrome here, but nothing that truly detracted from this well built fantasy. By the time the ending was coming up things were wild and I was asking myself [again] how I was supposed to wait for the next book!

I love all of these characters. They each have a unique voice in their point-of-view chapters and it’s easy to know who’s speaking. Everyone has differing strengths and weakness that shape choices and desires. Even with characters I feel like I shouldn’t love, I find myself cheering on their future character arcs because everyone is that compelling. Lyana, Rafe, Xander, and Cassi all have these amazing and well thought out stories that I am so here for to see how they unfold.

One of my favorite aspects was how the prophecy rolled out. I tend to find these kind of gimmicky, but this was written beautifully. It even surprised me how things were unveiled, who was who, and how it all came about. I’m curious how more of the prophecy will unfold and love where it’s going.

I wish I had a few more romantic interactions (which, we know I’m a sucker for). Characters were more split up and facing their own challenges and I missed some closer interactions. Everything is so magical on screen that I crave more! [And I’m staying away from names since this is a second book and I don’t want to spoil ships/connections/friendships/etc.].

This indie series is magical, action-packed, and definitely one I would recommend picking up!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, magical, elemental, natural disasters, weapons

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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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