Book Review

Book Review: Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fantasy
Length: 460 pages
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Princess or adventurer.

Duty or freedom.

Her Kingdom or the Stormhunter she loves.

If Aurora knows anything, it’s that choices have consequences. To set things right, she joins a growing revolution on the streets of Pavan. 

In disguise as the rebel Roar, she puts her knowledge of the palace to use to aid the rebellion. But the Rage season is at its peak and not a day passes without the skies raining down destruction. Yet these storms are different—they churn with darkness, and attack with a will that’s desperate and violent. 

This feels like more than rage. 

It feels like war.

SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE.

This is how I feel about #teamcassius. Anyone with me?! We’ll come back and visit this in a few paragraphs.

Okay, so I maaaay have over-hyped this for myself a bit and maaaay have been a little disappointed. What picked up my spirits though was that by the end, it was clearly a book two. Book two syndrome is alive and well here. So while I was bit let down, and thought this was slow more often than not, the ending was ON POINT AND I AM SO HERE FOR WHERE IT MAY LEAD.

Where may it lead you ask? Oh yes, back to #teamcassius. It isn’t even a love triangle [yet] and I am pushing for it. Who am I? I’ve loved Cassius from day one (I can’t handle a brooding Prince trying to be a better person than his father). And this caused me to never be fully on board with Kiran. Kiran got better over the story, but his protective and dramatic streaks left me wanting to put him on the side. There were some really sweet and cute moments with Aurora though. I’m clearly conflicted.

I love the rotating multiple POV. I am a sucker for a bit that gives it to me in all the angles possible. The POV flashbacks with the Stormlord weren’t necessary though. It took up too much page space and I wanted to go back to the present. I don’t think it really gave new information (other than I supposed a deeper understanding of his mistreatment). Ooh, well, okay it did drop one HUGE tiny tidbit, but then nothing happened with it so I think it could’ve waited.

Aurora is not my favorite heroine. I enjoy her character and think she is pretty tough and mostly brave. She is trying so hard to be a good royal for her kingdom that she is making so many mistakes it’s distracting. We’re building through a character arc with blunders left and right. I have high hopes for her in book three (like being nice to Cassius – y’all agree with me right?!).

Claps all around for the ending. It was just what the book called for and had me begging for more. And you know what relationship I’m excited for? The brewing something between Novaya and Jinx. They’re SO CUTE. I was cool with all the screen time they got. That’ll be one to watch for. I also can’t get over the creativity of the storm magic concept. It’s a big ticket item here. It’s so cool and well thought out. I love the dynamics of this magic system!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, one little detailed fade to black scene, multiple mentions of *what they did* the night prior
  • Violence: violent storms, physical, swords, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary mystery
Length: 416 pages
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. 

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

UNFORTUNATELY. I WAS BORED.

The entire time y’all. I kept reading thinking things were going to amp up, and they never did. And I know it’s a series, but I was more annoyed that I felt like I got ZERO answers than wanting to read the second book. I even had a bookish friend who told me what happens in book two because I really didn’t want to read it (though I will say, it does seem moderately more interesting in case you want to pick it up).

It took til about 200 pages (halfway-ish) for anything to happen. I was way more interested in the flashbacks where the original murder had taken place than I was with Stevie at school. Most of the story focused on being in school and meeting other students (which were all trying way too hard).

The original story was interesting and I wanted that to play a bigger role in the present timeline. That really drove the story for me.

I hated most of the side characters other than Nate and Janelle. This group of three were building a solid friendship and I was enjoying seeing that dynamic. They were supporting each other and being kind when Stevie made some bad choices acting as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes (not on board with her going through people’s things).

I did NOT GET THE RELATIONSHIP WITH DANIEL. It came out of literally nowhere. Luckily, not in an instant-love kinda way, but just a flat-out, wait all of a sudden we’re making out kinda way. I did become a fan of Daniel towards the end of the story though. He was probably my favorite character.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a make-out
  • Violence: multiple descriptions of murder

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Book Review

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: September 2019

Okay okay.

Apparently I got real crazy this month. My life was a bit out of whack so I retreated to my books. That means I ended up reading twenty-five books. Hopefully October will chill out a bit and I’m planning on picking up some spooky reads (which is out of character so we’ll see what happens!).

And I would like to apologize ahead of time that none of the reviews are posted. They’ll be out in October though so please come read them then! Or ask in the comments if you have questions, I’m more than happy to discuss the books.

On a kind of sad note, I only gave TWO books a full five stars this month. Wish there had a been a few more!

  • Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers #1) by Nicki Pau-Preto – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • When the World Didn’t End: Poems by Caroline Kaufman – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • A Kingdom of Exiles (Outcast #1) by S.B. Nova – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves #2) by Kristina Perez – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Need by Helen Phillips – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Onyx and Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1) by Mindee Arnett – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Shadows of Self (Mistborn #6: The Alloy Era #2) by Brandon Sanderon – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Well Met by Jen DeLuca – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) by Deanna Raybourn – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff – (I haven’t finished, but will today; probably ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Vine Witch (Vine Witch #1) by Luanne G. Smith – (I haven’t finished, but will today; probably ☆☆☆ 1/2 or ☆☆☆☆)

Favorite of the month: Serpent & Dove

Least favorite of the month: The Need

How did your month for reading go? What was your favorite book? Least favorite? Curious about any of these? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Wiseman’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles #2) by Patrick Rothfuss

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Epic fantasy
Length: 994 pages
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Publisher: DAW Books
Release Date: March 1st, 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.

So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man’s Fear, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s Road.

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived … until Kvothe.

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

THIS WAS A LOT OF BOOK.

This was my second 1,000 page book in August 2019 and whoa, I thought I might not make it. I found that with this style of writing if I commit myself to about 100 pages/day I’m a lot more interested. It’s a lot to read, and a lot happening, and it really was nice to put this down, read something lighter and come back to it. I think it allowed me to really immerse myself in reading it and taking a slower pace.

I absolutely love Kvothe and only want happiness for his poor, tortured soul. Though with the interludes during the present, I’m not sure if that will ever happen. I love the interludes and find that it adds more intrigue to the mythical-ness of the story. Kvothe has to deal with so much on a daily basis and is able to take it all in stride. I find that his ability to be pretty much great at whatever he does not as in your face as it sounds.

Denna. Denna. Denna. I’m honestly not sure where I stand with her. I know she and Kvothe are both young, so I attribute a lot of her actions and choices to that fact (and her unknown history). Sometimes she annoyed me at such an intense level that I wanted to put the book down, other times, I wanted her and Kvothe to speak to each other much more plainly. Really lay it all out there. There’s an interesting relationship brewing between the two of them that I will have to wait to decide my full opinion on.

They’re a million + 1 characters in this book that I could spend forever discussing. I really don’t have anyone that sticks out as someone I can’t stand so I loved moving from location to location getting to know everyone on an even deeper level. Speaking of location change: they’re multiple in this book! YAYAY. Love a good adventure. It was definitely needed to spice up the book. I was bored of hanging around the University.

The 4 star comes in because this book is just too long. When I compare it to other very very long novels, every page really means something or stood out to me. I thought that some pieces of this book could truly be shortened and it still would be a great read. Way super, over the top curious where the last book will take us. Especially after this crazy long wait.

Overall audience notes:

  • High fantasy
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses, a good handful of light detailed love scenes, nothing explicit (from some phrases you can tell the implications)
  • Violence: magic, swords, poison, knives, explosions, fires, voodoo, physical
  • Trigger warnings: physical abuse, mentions of rape (off-screen)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fiction + Contemporary Romance
Length: 291 pages
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

A QUICK READ WITH ALL THE FEELS.

This is one of those books that came in hard and fast and left me reeling.

Annika is a brave, strong, caring and loyal woman. She is on the autism spectrum and while I can’t speak to whether this was a good depiction or not, I love how quirky, unfiltered, and sweet she was.

This was a second chance love story with Annika’s first everything love, Jonathan. I ADORED HIM. He was someone who may not have always understood Annika, but never tried to force her into something she wasn’t comfortable with or treat her poorly otherwise. I think we all want to feel that kind of respect and love in our lives. Their relationship flowed beautifully and I appreciated that this second-chance wasn’t because of some over dramatic break-up. Both Annika and Jonathan may not have handled the break-up in the best way (which they both acknowledged), they were at least finally able to discuss what needed to be said.

JANICE. What a friend y’all. I also think everyone needs a friend like her. She was absolutely wonderful and I thought her and Annika’s friendship was amazing. Their friendship grew and changed over time as well, and I love that they continually reached out to one another even when states apart.

I thought this was a great use of the back and forth timeline trope. Sometimes it can get bogged down in one area or another, but this one flipped back and forth at the perfect times. The chapters are shorter and easily flow. I literally finished this book in one day because I could NOT PUT IT DOWN.

The twist towards the end did blindside me a bit. There were definitely a few hints I am now looking back and realizing. Was it necessary to add that craziness? Maybe not, but I still panicked and flipped out nonetheless. I didn’t love how quickly it ended, but since I got my tender and sweet love story I’m okay with it. I could have definitely used an epilogue though.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction + Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few explicit love scenes (but not vulgar if that makes sense)
  • Trigger warnings: bullying, miscarriage, depression, suicide ideation, plane crashes

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Book Review

Book Review: The Last Magician (The Last Magician #1) by Lisa Maxwell

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy 
Length: 512 pages
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 18th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

WHOA TO THAT LAST 100 PAGES THOUGH.

I listened to this as an audio book and thought it was really well done. At first it was a little confusing with the changing time periods each chapter, but once they stayed in the same place (a few chapters in), it was easy to follow and enjoy.

This book was trippy. I picked it up on a whim and ended up buddy-reading it with a friend and we were both wholly impressed with how much we liked it by the end. Enough to seek out the second book soon.

Esta and Harte had all the angst and I am STILL WAITING. Their slow-burn enemies to lovers is a small fire currently and I am soooo wanting more for them. I love watching them interact and each time they ran into each other it was awesome banter and had me snickering. These two stole my heart. But mostly, Harte Darrigan. He’s the heart of this story (I’m not even mad about this pun).

The mystery kept me on my toes. I honestly didn’t realize who the bad guy actually was until late in the book, practically when it was announced. I MEAN WHOA. That was amazing. I love when books keep me guessing. There was an even bigger twist that I had NO IDEA about. I don’t know how much it’ll play into the next book, but it was still crazy. Those are the best kind of reveals.

I love all of the secret societies and magic gangs that were running around New York in the 1920’s. It was an interesting world and added even more danger as they went on increasingly risky heists.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: guns, knives, physical, ritual murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Crystal Crowned (Air Awakens #5) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 400 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Long live Solaris. One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

THIS IS JUST MY FAVORITE EVER OKAY?

I waited to read this book because I didn’t want this story to end.

I waited to write this review because I didn’t want to sign-off on my love for this series.

So now I’m sitting here, a few weeks after finishing Crystal Crowned still trying to put into words how much I love this series.

It had everything that I look for when it comes to a young adult fantasy novel. I got the romance (always y’all), battles, politics, friendships, magic, world-building and so much more that combined to make a stellar series. Crystal Crowned was no exception. It was an impressive finale.

VHALLDRIK FOREVER. I love Vhalla and Aldrik and they are without a doubt, my new OTP (hello Feysand, you now have someone tied with you). Their relationship grew and changed with them as time went on. They adapted and fought to be by each other’s side every dang time and I AM HERE FOR IT.

The magic system is intense, yet easy to follow. There were some small tidbits of other characters that popped in that had me connecting a thousand dots at once. I loved how it all came together! The villain was wicked and we got some back story on him which really brought him out as a character.

FRIENDSHIPS. Vhalla and Fritz, Elecia, Jax, etc. While yes, this is heavily flavored with romance, it is also very strong in friendships. The bonds formed between all of these characters make my heart MELT.

Vhalla remained strong, intelligent and fierce. Even when faced with some crazy odds and poor choices she persevered and endured. She has got to be one of my favorite heroines. I love that Vhalla never gave up for what she was fighting for. Yes, times got tough, but she continually strove to remember the peace she was seeking.

If you’ve ever thought about reading these, you should. I can’t wait to read the rest of Kova’s books because I don’t doubt I will obsess over them just as much as these.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: A handful of love scenes that are barely detailed and fade to black
  • Violence: demonic creatures and soldiers, elemental magic, physical, torture, swords, battle scenes; fairly gory
  • Trigger warnings: miscarriage

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