Book Review

ARC Book Review: Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 544 pages
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

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

TRUE TO ITS NATURE.

I should first acknowledge, will I read this third book? YES. While Ruthless Gods let me down a bit (and was way too long), there is still enough in here for me to need a conclusion to this wicked tale.

The desperation and darkness that leaked from these pages was astounding. This isn’t some cute fairytale y’all. This will hurt your soul most of the time and leave you questioning if a happy ending is ever possible. And honestly, I’M NOT SURE THAT IT IS. The scope of what someone is willing to do for love of country, and person pushed boundaries that left me reeling by the end. I was pulled in from the beginning, the middle definitely dragged on way too long, and then the ending gave me a interesting enough conclusion that I know I want more. This was a big case of book two syndrome.

This was reallllll creepy and realllll bloody. Every time Malachiasz showed his truly monstrous self I cringed because the mental picture is WEIRD Y’ALL. My boy Malachiasz was *almost* everything I needed him to be. I felt we were missing a chunk of his personality that didn’t come out until the very end. I wanted more heavily wicked banter and more intriguing moments with Nadya. I love this wicked cinnamon roll though and wonder what he’s planning next, because I know it’ll destroy my soul.

Serefin and Kacper. Saw it coming. LOVE IT. And that is about the only tiny moment of happiness Serefin saw this entire book (I told y’all, nothing good happens in Ruthless Gods). His continual battle with a god was intriguing, but here is my real gripe from the whole book; There were way too many visions and flashbacks. They often confused me because the segue into them was abrupt to the story.

My complaint from Wicked Saints was that Nadya wasn’t nefarious enough. She did up her ante in this installment!! YAY. I loved seeing her wield some dark magic and fight her demons. What I didn’t love was how wishy-washy she was about her relationship with Malachiasz. I get that it’s supposed to be this push and pull because he’s wicked, cool. BUT FOR REAL. I had a hard time getting on board with how often Nadya was flip-flopping and using pages to be a bit melodramatic about it all. I think some COMMUNICATION would solve most of these issues, it’s not even a matter of who’s wicked enough, it’s a matter of flat out talking to someone.

While I did enjoy the writing, some scene changes and chapter turnover was not in any sort of flow. It felt like small scenes were being jumped over and I was being tossed into the *next big thing* when I would have liked a bit more movement between scenes. I really loved the last 100 pages and am very curious about the last book. How the gods will play a role, what will happen between the countries, who is going to betray who last, SO MANY QUESTIONS. It’ll be a showstopper I’m sure.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little, in the second half of the book
  • Romance: a few kisses/make-outs, one almost scene that has a little heat
  • Violence: everything is bloody and gory y’all; murder, knives, magic, monsters, it’s all here
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, self-mutilation through cutting (for use of blood magic), self-mutilation through removing an eye

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Book Review

Book Review: Veins of Magic (The Otherworld #2) by Emma Hamm

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy retelling + romance
Length: 350 pages
Author: Emma Hamm
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: December 19th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The conclusion of Heart of the Fae, where Beauty and the Beast meets Irish Mythology.

Once upon a time…

Heartache dogs the steps of Sorcha of Ui Neill. Although she is home with her family, she is unable to shake the memories of her time in Hy-brasil. She heals with a heavy heart, tells stories with melancholy words, and cannot forget the magic of the Otherworld. When an opportunity arises to return to her beloved Fae Prince, she makes a questionable deal. Dark magic, druidic curses, and a witch open a portal and send her tumbling into the middle of a war she must end for the sake of all who dwell in the Otherworld.

Saving the faeries will not be easy when she has become a woman they fear.

The once banished king battles his way through the Otherworld, freeing the Lesser Fae with each swing of his sword. Each attack turns Eamonn into something far more beastly than before. Geodes multiply and hinder his movements, harden his heart, and crystalize his resolve.

Together, they face the King of the Seelie Fae and his golden army to end the war that will change the fate of the Otherworld forever.

SUCH A GOOD RETELLING.

Oh what a magical and great ending to this duology. A great retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I love seeing the parallels between the two of them. This of course added a lot more to it and made the story adult (in a good way).

I absolutely loved Sorcha. LOVED HER. She was so brave and courageous. Bold and brash. Didn’t take anything from Eamonn and I absolutely was all for how she handled each situation that came her way. Sorcha always knew what she wanted and who she loved. She really held this book. Though, for real, I LOVE Eamonn too. I loved the way that he acknowledged his mistakes. How much he truly loved Sorcha and actually listened to her. What a power couple they were! Long may they reign.

This book dove much deeper into the backgrounds of the fae life and the stories behind why Eamonn and his brother were in the tides of war against one another. It really made the conflict stand out and made this book more a larger impact.

There were definitely a couple of heart stopping moments where I actually didn’t know how it was going to end. It kept me on my toes and the action moments balanced well with the romance and tenderness between Eamonn and Sorcha. I can’t wait to read the other books in this universe!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance retelling
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few mildly detailed love scenes
  • Violence: battles, swords, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: East (East #1) by Edith Pattou

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + retelling + romance
Length: 507 pages
Author: Edith Pattou
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 1st, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Rose has always been different.

Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home… but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.

So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it–in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family–she readily agrees.

Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart– and finds her purpose–and realizes her journey has only just begun.

REALLY WHIMSICAL.

This book screamed a very whimsy fantasy. A simple and sweet retelling of a Nordic fairytale. I’ve seen that a lot of people mention that they read this as a child (where have I been??) and I’m grateful that I’ve had a chance to read this now! I definitely can’t wait to pick up the next book.

I love how fast this was to read. It was written in multi-POV chapters that were usually on the shorter side. It made for fast flipping where you couldn’t even tell that it’s an almost 500 page read. I never felt like things were left about with the constant switching of characters. It really rounded out the three areas of this tale and made it all the more magical.

The romance between the bear [obviously he doesn’t stay that way], and Rose was incredibly sweet. The bonds they grew by having to communicate in unique ways had just the right flair of romanticism. I like that it never came off like it was overtaking the story and rather wove into Rose’s sense of adventure.

Rose was full of wanderlust and a desire to right her accidental wrongs. I loved her spirit and vibrancy. The way she helped her family and the polar bear had me cheering her on. She was an easy character to love.

All of the characters were well developed and multi-layered. I even found myself sympathetic to the villain. I love the way the conclusion wrapped up and gave the ending a happily every after AND a bittersweet moment as well. This book was magical and fantastical. And appropriate for the younger YA audience as well.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + retelling + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: nothing intensely graphic or gory

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Book Review

Book Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: New adult contemporary romance
Length: 306 pages
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 10th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Auburn Reed is determined to rebuild her shattered life and she has no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to become deeply attracted to the studio’s enigmatic artist, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is hiding a huge secret. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything Auburn loves most, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it—but can she do it?

COHO FOREVER.

I can’t think of a book by Colleen Hoover that doesn’t leave me emotionally distraught but also handing out 5 stars like it’s a meteor shower. I LOVE HER BOOKS. This a back list title of hers I happened to see at a used bookstore and I snatched it so fast and read it even quicker.

The way this romance is written in short time period, and yet feels like the best slow burn makes this book. I love being taken on a journey with these characters and feeling the intensity of their choices and situations.

I can never imagine how more tragic these stories can get until it happens. And yet, it never feels dramatic. There’s such a sense of real life and knowing these characters that make me love this story. Everything feels authentic and honest and I mesmerizingly read this in one sitting because I needed Auburn to have a happy ending at last.

Owen is another enigmatic and swoon worthy romantic interest. He’s filled with such longing for his own happy ending and struggling to cope with his own past. Auburn was intensely brave and an incredibly strong woman. Their connection and drive on their own was amazing, put them together and it’s dynamite.

I feel like I’m struggling to put this review into something fully legible. I JUST LOVE COHO BOOKS. The power and rawness of each story captures me and forces me to think. The ability to create these situations and not make it feel cheesy is the reason I love to read her books. This was another winner.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: throughout
  • Romance: a mildly detailed scene, a FTB scene
  • Violence: discussion of car wreck
  • Trigger warnings: arrest for possession, pain pill addiction, an abusive relationship (physical, emotional, manipulative and sexual), attempted sexual assault

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Worlds (Constellation #2) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult sci-fi + romance
Length: 469 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

This is the thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars from the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline.

An outcast from her home — Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people…if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate — On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them…or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider where–and with whom–we truly belong.

WHERE HAS THIS SERIES BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

I’m picky with sci-fi reads. I have no idea why, it’s a tough genre for me to love. When I find gems hidden in the wood works I shout for joy. THIS IS ME SHOUTING YOU SHOULD READ THIS SERIES.

Audio note: Once again, a beautiful audio book. It was recommend to me to read them this way if possible and I’m grateful my library had them. The narration is fantastic, the voices are great, it’s an easy listen. Seriously love it.

Alright, the story. This is delightfully twisted. Filled with action and space battles. Biological warfare that makes me cringe. Politics between worlds that are shiver-inducing. Romance that makes your heart beat just a little bit faster. It’s all there. I love the combination and play-out of the characters and world.

There’s a character in here that as an audio book, no lie creeped me out. If I go into more detail I may spoil it. So know if you listen to the audio book the voice for this character is perfectly fear inducing (as it should be) for the lengths someone will go for those they love. Even when it’s not the choice that should be made. There’s a fine line that is toyed with throughout these books about what constitutes a soul. It’s thrilling and captivating to question such humanity.

I am still so here for this romance. It’s sweet and tender. Makes me swoon and has me shouting at the page. It’s a simple, light romance that fuels their choices and directives. I love how both Abel and Noemi know what they’re fighting for and refuse to give up on those ideals, BUT also refuse to give up on each other. It’s a team I want to cheer for and after that ending I better get my happily ever after ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi / dystopia + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: space battles, guns, physical, sickness

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Book Review

Book Review: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + romance + paranormal
Length: 448 pages
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

VAMPIRES?

I hesitantly picked this book up because I love Ahdieh’s books, but I heard the hypeness over the apparent vampires in this book [note: not a fan of vampire books, never really have been]. My cautionary read turned out a lot better than I thought. And I know I liked this much better than others BECAUSE there were barely any vampires in the entire book.

Ahdieh’s writing is always wonderful. I was easily invested in the story and enjoyed reading it. I love the setting, especially having traveled there, it really added to the atmosphere and vibe of old world New Orleans. The mystery and mythical combination is a tune I can love.

The romance was good, when the love triangle wasn’t in play. UGH. It didn’t need that at all to add to it (though now apparently it’ll play a big part in book two). Jury is still out and how the rest of this will unfold, but I was definitely shipping Celene and Bastien. I love the sultry banter and romantic moments they had. The ending left me all up in arms and I need a resolution.

I liked Celene for the most part. Her lack of communication skills were obvious and annoying. Celene could have had a better friendship with Pippa if she would trust her for one minute. The amount of inner dialogue she had about not telling anyone anything was running me ragged. An inability to communicate anything can really sour a character. Otherwise, I enjoyed her braveness and her courage against her situation.

Oh yes, those vampires? Well throughout the book I really couldn’t figure out who the mystery chapters were (in the vampires POV). I honestly didn’t know until they showed up on the page. That was satisfying to be on edge the entire time with who was attacking Celene and her cohorts. I definitely think they underworld of New Orleans will play a much bigger role in the second book since all of the reveals didn’t come out until the second half.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal, historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little strong
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost love scene with a little detail
  • Violence: gory murder description
  • Trigger Warning: attempted rape (never in full detail, discussed as part of Celene’s past with a few paragraphs dedicated to how he attacked her)

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Sci-fi + romance
Length: 503 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She’s a soldier – Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine – Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel’s advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

Fast-paced, romantic, and captivating, Defy The Stars is a story about what it means to be human, about deciding what you truly believe in, and about finding your place in a dangerous world.

OH HI, A NEW FAVORITE SCI-FI.

When a Bookstagram friend shouts that she loves this book, you pick up this book. AND WOW, she was right. I without a doubt would add this to my favorite YA sci-fi lists. It was great. The audio book was fantastic too. Highly recommend listening to it if you get a chance!

It’s hard for me to formulate what I enjoyed, I just know the feeling I had when I finished it was an effervescent excitement to get to the next book. It sparked joy (that means I get to keep it right?) and that’s the best part about reading sometimes.

Totally smitten with this budding romance y’all. This kind of reminded me of LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff with the mechanical robots that essentially have souls. The books are totally different, tiny pieces reminded me of them. Abel and Noemi are PRECIOUS. I love the flawed people that they are. It made me connect with them on many levels. It’s a enemies to lovers slow burn that really grasps you. It doesn’t JUMP to a relationship. This building is only going to get better over the books and I never felt like it was draaaaagging along. Everything flowed as it should which made the romance all the better.

The plot and story itself is fascinating. I loved going to all of the different planets and seeing how people from Earth had colonized and changed them. The universe really seems fast when you have a spaceship to jump through wormholes everywhere. The politics are convoluted in a way that doesn’t leave you with an enigma, just curiosity at how everything will eventually unfold. The wickedness comes from many angles and has created a fast-paced, action filled story that has caused me to pick up book two immediately.

Religion places a bigger role in this than most fantasy books I’ve read. It was interesting to see how Gray wove those details into Noemi’s thoughts and choices. I liked this addition to it because it wasn’t screaming religion, but giving the character depth. This was the life Noemi has been living and she had to learn how her old world and new world fit together.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopian sci-fi
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: spaceship battles, physical, explosions

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