Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Bitterwine Oath by Hannah West

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Paranormal Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Author: Hannah West
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: December 1st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Every fifty years, a cult claims twelve men to murder in a small Texas town. Can one girl end the cycle of violence – and save the boy who broke her heart?

San Solano, Texas, is a quaint town known for its charm, hospitality, and history of murder. Twice now, twelve men have been brutally killed, and no one knows who did it. A shadowy witch? A copycat killer? Or a man-hating murderess?

Eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter is sure that the rumors about her great-great-grandmother’s cult of wronged women are just gossip, but that doesn’t stop the true-crime writers and dark tourism bloggers from capitalizing on the town’s reputation. It’s an urban legend that’s hard to ignore, and it gets harder when Nat learns that the sisterhood is real. And magical. And they want her to join.

The more Nat learns of the Wardens’ supernatural history, the more she wonders about the real culprits behind the town’s ritualistic murders. Are the Wardens protecting San Solano from even darker forces? There are shadows in the woods, bones on the outskirts of town, and questions Nat needs answered.

But everything becomes more urgent when people start getting “marked” as new victims–including Levi Langford, the boy whose kiss haunted Nat for a year. With Levi in danger, doing nothing would be harder than fighting back.

Nat knows that no one is safe. Can she and the sisterhood stop the true evil from claiming their town?

Thank you to the publisher, Holiday House for an ARC. All opinions are my own!

PRETTY SPOOKY.

I had an overall good time with this. I even found myself completely spooked out after the first couple of chapters. Hidden cult in the woods murdering men? Yeah, that’ll do it.

The story was intriguing and I liked reading the author’s notes at the end about creating it. While there was only one full point-of-view, there were many story lines to wrap together. Everything did weave together well and I didn’t feel by the the end of the mystery that I was missing anything. I love when a mystery based book ties all of the endings off before closing!

The main character, Natalie, completely blind-sided by her own past kept up with everything. I like how brave she was and really went for it in regards to breaking the curse. She had a little romance with a side character. This fit in better than I thought, but could have used a little more *something* to it. I appreciate the passion of both Natalie and Levi in wanting to be with each other, and figuring out what the heck was out there in the woods.

This atmosphere was haunting and without a doubt creepy. Those creatures made me shiver and I love a good old, back country town, with a sordid past. I thought some of the plot was repetitive and multiple issues kept being re-hashed over and over again. It caused me to skim some of it by the end so I could know how everything resolved.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery
  • Language: a little, light
  • Romance: kisses / light make-outs
  • Violence: creature attacks, guns, physical altercations, people being possessed by something supernatural

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Book Review

Book Review: Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of the Stars #2) by Elizabeth Lim

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

MISSING.

*sigh*

A second book that didn’t have the same flare as the first.

*deeper sigh*

First off, WHERE WAS EDAN? Practically all aspects of his character were taken out here. He occasionally stopped by to confess his love and give Maia a kiss, and that was about it. I really would have loved more of him.

The demon aspects were kind of creepy and kinda cool. I can’t remember reading a YA fantasy that really had a character dive into the realm of demons and almost become on themselves. The lore of it all was interesting and kept me reading when I struggled to pick it up.

Speed and writing were great. It’s a short book and things kept moving. I liked the pace, but lost the overall emotional connection. This was definitely a different and darker stroke from Spin the Dawn. The ending wasn’t anything I didn’t see coming.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses; a closed door scene with on detail
  • Violence: physical, animal attacks, weapons, depictions of war/battles

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Book Review

Book Review: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Marisa Kanter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

REVEAL TOOK TOO LONG.

I finished this in a day, a testament to the quick-readability of a contemporary. And I enjoyed the first half, but started to find myself more annoyed as I went on.

Why you ask? Halle.

What started out as an honest mistake/nervous moment, quickly became something dragged on WAY TOO DANG LONG. I was cool with it up to a certain point because I love a good reveal moment, but all my hopes were dashed. It felt like a missed opportunity and a severe lack of communication between close friends.

Without that glaring issue, this book was pretty adorable. I loved the bookstagram / cupcake combination. It was fun to have elements I am currently immersed in. Nash and Halle were also cute themselves when they got to hang out and really get to know each other.

I thought that Halle DID learn a lot of about herself and her actions in-person and online. This really had some great aspects for a younger audience. It was clearly heavily geared towards them (as YA usually is).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-out

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Book Review

Book Review: The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 766 pages
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: June 11th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

FINALE OF MY DREAMS.

Opening up the last book in a series is always a momentous, and nerve-wracking occasion. Will this meet all my expectations and give the ending I’m hoping for? I can easily say for The Empire of Gold, that was the case. This was an amazing finale and I’ll shout again, YOU SHOULD READ THIS SERIES.

I loved how everything moved and flowed. The action kept my heart in my throat, I truly didn’t know who was going to survive this series. Many, many scenes of politics, which usually I struggle with, changed my mind here. They were intense meetings and moments trying to decide the fate of a beloved city. The intensity of emotions really compelled my own feelings.

The villains in this are legit. Oh wow, so complex and convoluted, that you maybe don’t cheer for them, but you get it. The ability to weave such a dynamic character for an antagonist kept me intensely interested. I wanted to know how things were going to happen, because the utter ruthlessness had me gasping.

Now to my loves, Nahri, Ali, and Dara. AH I LOVE THEM ALL. I can’t put into words how amazing these characters are. I love the diversity and clearly unique personalities between them all. The weaving interactions and moments between them had me catching my breath. Even brought some tears to my eyes as the book started wrapping up. The words between them were powerful and this ended in all the ways it needed too. It’s one of those endings that you can’t say is glaringly happy, but fits so perfectly, you know you’ve just finished a book you’ll remember.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-out
  • Violence: often and bloody/gory; physical, torture, mutilation, war

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