Book Review

Book Review: Crystal Caged (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #5) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: NA Fantasy
Length: 426 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: March 11th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The highly anticipated and breathtaking finale of Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles by USA Today bestselling author Elise Kova.

One way or another… she will be the end of the world.

With powers that weren’t supposed to be touched by mortal hands, Vi Solaris is determined to free herself and the world from the deadly vortex it’s trapped in. This mission has taken her to forbidden lands and has transformed her from a sheltered princess to a fearsome warrior.

But the ultimate triumph requires the ultimate sacrifice, forcing Vi to choose between the last tethers to her humanity and the very people she’s sworn to protect.

Vi’s story of magic, sacrifice, triumph, and love reaches its epic conclusion in Crystal Caged. Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles should be read in order:Vortex Visions Chosen Champion Failed Future Sovereign Sacrifice Crystal Caged

FINALLY FINISHED.

It’s no secret I LOVE the original Air Awakens series (for real, please go read this). So I dived into this one thinking I would at least really like it, and I am sad that it overall was a let down. To show you, it took me 4 days to read the original 5 books, and 2 years to finish this series.

My biggest issue was the entire basis for the plot. I never got fully behind it. It continues after the first series, and yet, twists back to it as well? I don’t know. Things became very convoluted and I found myself staring down an enigma that I just didn’t feel like solving.

The romance was great at least. I adored Taavin. He was tender and kind. Full of support for Vi, but also willing to go toe-to-toe with her if needed. I thought they were a true match and grateful the ending worked out for them (I thought it was heading in a different direction and I was going to riot). This ship was the high point throughout the books and kept me going when I wasn’t interested in the wider story.

I mostly read this to read the next series in this world (you don’t have to do that, but I’m, in general, a big Kova fan so why not?). I’m ready to move on and see what A Trial of Sorcerers has in store for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • NA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses to closed and brief open
  • Violence: physical altercations, loss of loved ones, weaponry, magical attacks, near death experiences

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Book Review

Book Review: The Art of Victory (The Donovans #1) by Martha Keyes

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 290 pages
Author: Martha Keyes
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: June 15th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Diana Donovan was raised aboard a naval ship on a steady diet of war strategy, so when her orphaned friend, Lucy, is denied a perfectly respectable love match by her controlling guardian, Diana sees an opportunity to put her battle knowledge to use in service of a deserving friend.

But Marmaduke Russell is not the middle-aged curmudgeon Diana is expecting. He is a maddeningly cool, unmarried gentleman who seems uniquely able to parry her tactics—and infuse her with even more determination to win. As battle ensues, though, it becomes clear that there may be more hearts in the balance than just Lucy’s.

DUKE.

Oh, Duke, he might be my newest love interest fav.

I LOVE that he fell first (always a winner) and was so open about it?? What is that?! THE BEST THAT’S WHAT. He pushed Diana to open her eyes and heart to things she thought weren’t ever going to be apart of her life. I loved their chemistry from the get-go. That banter was fire and it was the perfect sentiment of rivals and angst without being true enemies or anything.

What I realize I do struggle with is when a romance book seems to center on a different characters life than the main couple. A lot of this book was turned to Diana’s friend Lucy and her love story. I wish that would have been much more minimalized because it took me out a few times when I just wanted Duke and Diana to have their moments.

All in all, this was a great start to a new series. I love this family and all of the different siblings. I can’t wait for more stories from them. Regency/Historical romances are such a nice break from other genres I read and I found them incredibly enjoyable. Martha Keyes is a reliable author in this category to bring the swoon and heart to any story.

Overall audience note:

  • Regency Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Sarah Suk
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 18t, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

IT WAS FINE.

I really liked this on audio and recommend that avenue if you love audio books like I do! Easy listen and quick to move through.

The unique setting with high school businesses is what initially drove me to pick this one up. It was one of my favorite parts of the book. I think it would’ve been cool if my school had offered opportunities like that. This was a unique high school contemporary plot.

Wes was my true hero. He was adorable and such a cinnamon roll. I love his shy self, and also the side of him that learned to stand up for his passions and choices. He exhibited the most growth over the story and his relationship with Valerie was precious. Valerie I struggled with because she was intensely stubborn until almost the very end. By then I was over the whole scenario and it created some unnecessary drama. It felt like enemies to lovers with only one person thinking they were enemies.

Lots of great learning topics too. From sibling rivalries and demanding parents, and having to prove yourself over and over again. I liked a lot of these conversations too because it felt true to the YA nature of the book and reminded me of many things I went through in high school too.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a grandparent with Parkinson’s

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Fantasy Romance
Length: 448 pages
Author: Megan Bannen
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: August 23rd, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.  

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest. 

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.  

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most—Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares—each other?

Set in a world full of magic and demigods, donuts and small-town drama, this enchantingly quirky, utterly unique fantasy is perfect for readers of The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Invisible Library.

Thank you to Orbit for a finished copy!

THE FEELS.

I have found myself on the side of LOVING this read. I think taking my time and really diving into the depth of the background of Hart and Mercy brought out the feels as this book wrapped up.

Letter writing books are some of my favorite. I love notes back and forth. As both parties released some of the tension and longing and trying to find more connection in life. The lonely nature of these souls spoke to something deep within me.

With nods to enemies to lovers and hidden identities the secrets poured out as Hart and Mercy got closer. But with some critical information left on the side the conflict was imminent. I thought it was handled well though and fit the theme of the story.

It’s a very quirky fantasy. The world building is a bit out there and I’m not sure it worked all the time, yet…it still did? It’s hard to explain, but I recommend leaning into the weirdness of this with talking animals delivering letters and zombies galore.

I was all in the emotions at the ending. I am completely smitten with Hart and love him so dang much. This does have a HEA, even if it was touch and go for a bit. I loved the reveals at the end and that Hart got everything he was after to feel fulfilled and ultimately, loved.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple open door (on the brief side)
  • Violence: med/high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved one, physical and weaponry altercations, zombie attacks

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