Book Review

Book Review: The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy (mythology)
Length: 394 pages
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release Date: March 6th, 2008
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When demonic cheerleaders invade his high school, Percy Jackson hurries to Camp Half Blood, from whence he and his demigod friends set out on a quest through the Labyrinth, while the war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near.

JUST MOVING RIGHT ALONG THROUGH THESE BOOKS!

Another fun, quick read. I am loving the audio books! It’s amazing how quick they go by when you’re listening.

This one took a bit of a different turn with following Annabeth on a quest! I initially loved this idea and was here for it, but her teen jealousy streak with Rachel kinda annoyed me. I’m still confident that Annabeth & Percy are endgame so the addition of Rachel was a bit superfluous. I’m curious how this plays out in the last book.

I also thought Grover was over staying his welcome too. I LOVE his character, but since his story line is so different it might have been good as its own novella or something, I’m not sure.

I do love the friendships between everyone. Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Tyson (with occasional additions of Rachel and Nico) are who I want to cheer for and be friends with myself. They have such a tight bond and care deeply for one another. I love that this read has its focus there. It’s a nice change of pace from the romances I generally read.

The labyrinth was SO COOL. I thought it was fun and inventive and a great change of location. This book needed a better edge and the maze gave it. You never knew quite where they would end up and there were so many mini adventures along the way.

This build-up for the final battle has me on my toes. WHAT HAPPENS. I have a handful of thoughts and preferences to what happens, but no idea what is actually coming. I know this last book is going to be the best one.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult/middle-grade urban fantasy + mythology
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: some, but never very bloody/full of gore

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Book Review

Book Review: Fire Falling (Air Awakens #2) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 359 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: November 19th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Fire Falling is the second book in the Air Awakens Series.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT KIND OF CLIFFHANGER?!

THAT WAS THE BIGGEST CLIFFHANGER I HAVE EVER READ. At least I think so, it’s the most recent one in my memory that had me literally buy the next book (YAY KINDLE) at that moment and read the first chapter to make sure I had a handle on what happened.

I’M NOT OKAY.

This book drew me in, loved me, THEN BROKE ME. I am so hooked by this series now.

The focus here is the love story. And I know that not everyone loves stories like that and I understand, but for me? ALL DAYYYYYY. I love love. Anywho, Aldrik and Vhalla just broke into my top five OTPs. I absolutely can’t get enough of their interactions and I was pretty sure this slow burn was going to be the end of me. It was slowww and so well built. By the time I actually got a kiss scene I squealed. That’s all I wanted y’all. Some declarations and some kissing. YES.

“My Vhalla, my lady, my love.”

There’s a lot more going on than this relationship (but am I honestly paying that much attention? Okay, not as much as I should). I am loving the politics of finding out more about the Emperor. His character is a bit of an enigma still. I want to know all the reasons he’s really trying to conquer the lands around him.

All of these side characters are amazing. I am devastated by some choices Kova made for them, but I will prevail. It’s too great of writing for me to be that upset. Everyone is easy to love (or hate) and I feel connected to the story through all of them. I love the roles everyone is playing and can’t wait to see those continue.

This book surprisingly takes place over a couple of weeks on the way to the battle. I didn’t even realize this because I was so focused on everyone else. I was entranced by this book and I’m pretty confident that Elise Kova is going to be an auto-buy author by the end of this.

HERE FOR IT ALL Y’ALL.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none (or maybe one word, but so little I didn’t notice)
  • Romance: some kisses/make-outs, sleeping in the same bed but actually sleeping, no sex scenes
  • Violence: knives, swords, a bit bloody, elemental magic, murder, loss of loved ones, poison

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Book Review

Book Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 456 pages
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry Books
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

A FANTASTIC SOPHOMORE BOOK.

I initially went into this book a little nervous because I was iffy on her first book, An Enchantment of Ravens. I LOVED this book so much more! Oh I’m so happy I picked this up, it was an easy 4 stars to give (which yes, still means I enjoyed it!).

One of my previous issues was that the writing was too flowery for me personally. I don’t need a page describing a tree for me to feel like I’m there. This book really cut back on that, but still built an amazing setting and world. It was such a relief. The way the grimoires were crazy clever. I loved the idea of the books being able to come to life and having their own personalities.

The sass from Nathaniel was on point. I love a good cheeky sorcerer as much as the next fantasy reader. The relationship between Elisabeth and Nathaniel was a great slow-er burn. I never felt like it was rushed and actually wondered at times when it was coming back on screen. This was another big step-up from book one. They had great chemistry and it was easy to ship them.

I could have used a little less of Silas *shrugs*. At times I felt he was a bigger piece of the book than Elisabeth was and she’s the main POV. I’m cheering for her, and I don’t want the focus to continually be on a side character. I did like his arc and thought he was the perfect dose of a creepy, good-at-his-core, demon. Those are hard to find.

Elisabeth was a great character. She had emotions, ambitions and went out and did what needed to be done. I appreciate that she didn’t wait around to move the plot forward and took matters into her own hands. She was brave and strong, and I would definitely love to be her friend.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost love scene (clothing is beginning to be removed), make-outs
  • Violence: magic, poison, explosions, swords, murder

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Book Review

Book Review [Re-Read]: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA fantasy romance
Length: 355 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

RE-READ WAS SO WORTH IT.

I listened to this on Audible with narration by Justine Eyre. I really loved it on audio and thought the voices and accents were great. Highly recommend in this format.

Oooooh I missed this book, Ooooooh I missed these characters and this romance that still felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest when I finished it.

THIS OTP Y’ALL. Kestrel and Arin are all mine. I can’t get enough and love the absolute slow, angsty burn they give off the entire book. Coming from two different sides in their world they have a lot to conquer to realize they want each other. They slowly build from a tentative friendship to a passion-filled moment where the pieces start to fall into place. I love that the power dynamic flips between the two and we get to see how each responds to their struggles. While still fighting for their country, Kestrel and Arin realize they have started to fight for each other too.

Sneaky politicking and schemes abound in this entire series, but I love seeing the start-up in TWCurse. There’s a glimpse of the players laying out plans and putting others into action that really build over the books. I love the sharp mind Kestrel has to flush out and strategize. It’s even cooler how their game, Bite and Sting, has its own roll in the books.

So much action. I love how things are constantly fluctuating from slower, quiet moments to big, WHAT WILL HAPPEN moments. I found myself this time (it’s been 3 years since I’ve read it), still guessing a bit and LOVING IT. I generally knew what was going to happen, yet, when a book can provide the feels a second time around, you know it’s good.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few passionate kisses
  • Violence: battles/skirmishes, duels, poison, swords

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Book Review

Book Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Historical fiction + Romance
Length: 346 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life–and heart–to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. 

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez–her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future–but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything–not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart…

SOPHOMORE BOOK IS EVEN BETTER.

Oooooh, I loved this even more than Next Year in Havana. Let me also say, I love the Audible narrator: Kyla Garcia. She did another amazing job and kept me completely entranced in this book.

I love Beatriz Perez so stinkin’ much. She was an amazing MC and brought out all of the feels. I love how strong and independent. Beatriz has so much loyalty and love for her family and her country. This control and defines all of her decisions. And even when I wanted to shout out her, I also understood her choices.

THIS ROMANCE THOUGH. Okay, didn’t start out in the best light (trigger: cheating), but guys. I will firmly stand by that this might be the only case where I accepted and was okay with it. Her relationship with Nicholas made me swoooooon. Oh, it was so good. And also destroyed me, but I’ve already accepted that this is how Cleeton likes to torture us. I was happy with the resolution and felt relieved at how it all came to a conclusion.

My reasoning for being 4.5 stars vs. 5 stars was that, at times, it was too political (for me personally). It would cause some scenes to drag on a little long when I had already gotten the point.

BUT, what was really cool was having Beatriz work with the CIA. It was really interesting to have that plot line and her relationships with the agent was intriguing and intense. I loved watching Beatriz navigate the crisis in Cuba, the JFK assassination and the beginnings of the Cold War. History was woven perfectly into the timeline.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, and a handful of light detailed FTB scenes
  • Violence: guns, murder, threats of warfare, mentions of the JFK assassination
  • Trigger warnings: cheating (while engaged)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor’s Kingdom (The Traitor’s Circle) by Erin Beaty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 400 pages
Author: Erin Beaty
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Unlikely alliances are forged and trust is shattered in the stunning conclusion to The Traitor’s Trilogy.

A new queen under threat. 
An ambassador with a desperate scheme. 
Two kingdoms with everything to lose.

Once a spy and counselor to the throne, Sage Fowler has secured victory for her kingdom at a terrible cost. Now an ambassador representing Demora, Sage is about to face her greatest challenge to avoid a war with a rival kingdom.

After an assassination attempt destroys the chance for peace, Sage and her fiancé Major Alex Quinn risk a dangerous plot to reveal the culprit. But the stakes are higher than ever, and in the game of traitors, betrayal is the only certainty.

A FANTASTIC HAPPY-ENDING FILLED CONCLUSION.

OH HOW I LOVED THIS SERIES.

I question why it took me so long to get to this. I had heard mixed things, but should have trusted my gut. After I picked it up I never looked back. Perk of waiting so long? I barely had to wait to have all three books in my hands. A top series of 2019.

Sage went on an amazing character journey. I love that she realized her faults and choices had caused harm to her friends. She was able to apologize and actually become a better person for it.

The only tiny issue I had was how much Clare annoyed me. I could not handle her woe is me style and thought she was going to be a downfall to the plot. LUCKILY, things highly improved on this front and I loved how her story came to an end and thought it made sense for her and Sage’s relationship.

ALEX AND SAGE. One of my new OTPs. UGH HOW I LOVE THEM. They infuriated me a lot less in this book, but I distinctly had a moment of being reallllll angry with Alex, WHY DUDE. But, hot dang, did he recover with fireworks. Their quiet moments WERE MY EVERYTHING. Typing this review makes me want to reread this book purely for their interactions. Oh, how I love them so.

A lot more drama and actual plot progression here too. It was easy to flip pages, and slowly read, savoring all of the moments this book had to give. I loved how much more intrigue this book had. There was less battle and more focus on the politics (and this change was done well). It kept me on my toes, when even I was pretty sure I knew who was behind everything there was still so much more to explain! I was interested in this as much as I was making sure Sage & Alex got the happy ending THEY DESERVED DANG IT.

Lots of female power in this too. Sage and her friends, Lani, Clare, and Queen Zoraya are a force to be reckoned with and I like that their subplot allowed a lot more insight into all of their lives. I learned more about them and their journey which had me really invested in them getting happy endings too (OHEMGEE the very end *shrieks with joy at how cute that scene was*).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: a little light language
  • Romance: kisses, a few tasteful little detailed FTB scenes
  • Violence: arrows, murder, swords, fire
  • Trigger warnings: PTSD (from an extreme burn), mentions of past drug dependence

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Book Review

Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Sci-fi fiction + thriller
Length: 336 pages
Author: Blake Crouch
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them? 

MY HEAD HURTS.

I have an unpopular opinion coming your way. I liked Dark Matter more. This book was only okay. On the lower half of my 3 star rating.

This started out great. My head was exhausted trying to grasp all of the scientific concepts, BUT I was still having a good time. I knew we were building up and the back and forth timelines were keeping me intrigued.

Then at a bit past the halfway point I started to notice the repetitiveness. And over and over again the same situation kept happening. Way more times than I thought was necessary to get the point across (and how awful that Helena kept having to go through the same time frame?!?). At this point I stared scanning the pages til we brought up some more action…but none ever came.

The book felt more dedicated to the relationship between Barry and Helena than it did to the drama and thriller aspects I felt I got in Dark Matter. Yes, I was invested in them and thought their relationship made sense. But, it was dragged out and I only wanted to know the answer to how to stop the world from ending.

What was also totally trippy was thinking about this actually happening and what could result from this. A lot of current aspects were taken into account for this book which made it feel all the more real. I dearly hope our government isn’t hiding some memory machine planning to control the fates. There’s a point to this book, you can’t play God.

Overall audience notes:

  • Science fiction mystery/thriller
  • Language: f-word a lot (too much for me personally)
  • Romance: some kisses, mentions of “f-ing” each other, but not descriptions of the event
  • Violence: murder, guns, see trigger warnings for me
  • Trigger warnings: suicide ideation, multiple descriptions of peoples suicide and mass suicides

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