Book Review

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 342 pages
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

*SHRUG*

I’ve been sitting on this review for a few days because I don’t know what I want to actually write. I’m sad to say this was not a hit for me, and even on audio where I listen to it at a fast pace (and it’s only 9 hours) I found myself bored.

Things started off on a good foot with our main character, Maya and her curse. I liked the initial set-up, then some insta-love got thrown in. But later you find out it’s not insta-love? Sort-of? I feel like I was taken on this convoluted journey that only made sense at the very end. And by then, I had already decided I didn’t want to read the sequel.

There wasn’t much depth to anybody. New characters showed up and didn’t make a name for themselves. So much so, I can’t give you any names of any other characters. I don’t remember them and that’s the crux of this entire novel.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexism, sexual assault by coercion, child abuse, domestic abuse (recounted), forced attempted suicide, stillbirth mentioned, death of loved ones, captivity, bullying, war themes

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Book Review

Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 14th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

ABSOLUTELY ADORED.

You might have seen that this book has A LOT OF HYPE.

THE HYPE IS WORTH IT.

I feel like I should just end my review there.

But, I’ll dive in a little bit deeper. The grump and sunshine trope was perfect. Adam and Olive were off the charts in banter and forced proximity moments where you know they’re both feeling it. I couldn’t get enough of each interaction they had. Those coffee dates were EVERYTHING. Not to mention I love a good, who did this to you, moment and TLH definitely had one for the books. Adam is the grumpy cinnamon roll of my bookish romance dreams and wow would I have loved getting chapters from his POV too.

I did notice some repetitive phrasing (like how many times Adam called Olive a smart-a**), and the spice was eh for me. But those were minor complaints in comparison to the whole. This had everything I love about romance books. Combining an engaging plot that supports the romance + plenty of times where swooning was the only applicable emotion. All of my heartstrings were tugged by the last page (because who doesn’t love a good confession moment?!).

The setting in STEM was amazing and the side characters greatly supported the plot. Every single thing just worked for this book. I consumed it because it’s nothing short of one of my top romance reads for 2021.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to very open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual harassment, sexism, death of a parent recounted

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Book Review

Book Review: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy / Retelling
Length: 449 pages
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: McElderry Books
Release Date: November 17th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

OH HOW VIOLENT.

This book really does live up to its name. It’s a bit gruesome and there’s a lot of violence in many ways. It was a great read though! Just gotta get past the absolutely disgusting creepy crawlies that take over this novel.

I loved all the parallels to Romeo & Juliet here! I loved how it was revamped for this setting and I believe it’s the only retelling I’ve read of Romeo & Juliet. These Violent Delights will stand as my favorite until further notice.

Juliette was so dang fiery. I kinda loved that she was more fierce in nature. She could wield weapons, take down foes, and spoke many languages. Roma was the more quiet and reserved nature type. Hating his position, but knowing its advantages. Add in more diverse side characters and this was a cast to keep an eye on. There’s a continual rotation of point-of-views that give an angle to the story (and character insights) from every side. The only thing I’d say was missing for me was a bit more romance. I hope book two delivers on this front.

The historical setting was amazing. The fantasy aspects colliding with the history of Shanghai in the 1920’s was really interesting to see. I don’t know much about this time period, but loved learning more about it. Really excited to read Our Violent Ends!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy / historical fiction / retelling
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs
  • Violence: very gruesome and bloody, people clawing out their throats, gun violence, murder, knives, explosions, a pandemic

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Ayana Gray
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s
Release Date: September 28th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Magic doesn’t exist in the broken city of Lkossa anymore, especially for girls like sixteen-year-old Koffi. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, she cares for its fearsome and magical creatures to pay off her family’s debts and secure their eventual freedom. But the night her loved ones’ own safety is threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi unleashes a power she doesn’t fully understand–and the consequences are dire.

As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six–an elite warrior–and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, a fire upends his plans. In its midst, Ekon not only encounters the Shetani–a vicious monster that has plagued the city and his nightmares for nearly a century–but a curious girl who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior.

Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani down and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani and selling it for a profit could be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon–each keeping their true motives secret from the other–form a tentative alliance and enter into the unknowns of the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

In this much-anticipated series opener, fate binds two Black teenagers together as they strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the ancient creature menacing their home–and discover much more than they bargained for. 

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

MUST HAVE SEQUEL.

There has to be more right?

Because I need ANSWERS.

Admittedly, it’s not an insane cliffhanger, but it definitely opens up for another novel with some questions and plot that need resolved. Crossing my fingers there’s more to come!!

I really enjoyed this one. It is SLOW though. Know that going in. It took about 30% before I fully grasped what the point of the plot was (as I only read the synopsis once I usually forget what exactly is supposed to happen by the time I read a book). Once I got an idea of where this was all going I was much more invested. Beautiful writing kept me engaged and turning pages and I melted into the slower pacing as I soaked up this world.

Koffi and Ekon were great narrators and main characters. I love the dual POV (+ a third one, that I won’t name for spoilers!). Moving back and forth between them helped establish the connection building in their relationship and the dynamics of reasoning for both of their situations. There’s a very subtle and light romance as well that I found really sweet. This is definitely not a romantic fantasy, but it’s a good little sub plot.

This is a solid debut novel filled with Pan-African influence. I loved the magical hunt and all of the wild creatures that were encountered. The action keeps ticking up as the pages increased leaving me flipping fast at the end. It’s a beautiful world, with a magic system I thought was well constructed and I look forward to [HOPEFULLY] a second book!!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: animal attacks, a large scene involving spiders, physical altercations, weapons use
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: physical/verbal abuse, loss of loved ones, drug use, kidnapping, murder, sexism, slavery/indentured servitude

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