Book Review

Book Review: Deathcaster (Shattered Realms #4) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 656 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

SPLINTERED ALLEGIANCE.

Warrior Alyssa ana’Raisa would do anything to protect her home, the Fells, and her legacy, the Gray Wolf Line. But as a prisoner of Empress Celestine, Lyss is forced to turn her fearsome talents as an army commander against her beloved homeland. Refusal would swiftly lead to her death, and her death would end the Gray Wolf Line.

ANCIENT DANGER.

In Lyss’s absence, Fellsmarch Castle swarms with intrigue, deception, and a primordial threat. Destin Karn, a Southern spymaster with a hidden agenda of his own, might be the queendom’s only hope of defeating the forces aligned against the Seven Realms… as well as the enemies within the castle.

THE DEADLY COST OF PEACE.

Master storyteller Cinda Williams Chima delivers spellbinding action, bittersweet reunions, and dazzling revelations in this indispensable conclusion to the Shattered Realms series. 

FANTASTIC FINALE.

Oohhh this book was so good. I am distraught that this world is at last at an end. I enjoyed the Seven Realms series more, but I definitely had a good time reading through Shattered Realms.

I love that I couldn’t figure out who the traitor was. Every time it would lean one way and I was convinced they were the culprit more facts would be laid out and I couldn’t believe it! Well, I believe the character who committed the fraud is capable of such a thing, I was hopeful that they were better than that, but GUESS NOT.

The ever changing POV was on point. I was left feeling suspense on a feeling of suspense but also that the scene had finished. It was smooth and easy transitions as things were utterly ruled by chaos before the last moments of battle.

“He cocked his head, grinning charmingly, exposing teeth the size of rock slabs. Flame female?

Y’all, dragons. Dragons. And, oh, did I mention dragons? There was a whole cadre vibe with the family of dragons and there interaction and dialogue was seriously the best. I’m so happy they played a much bigger role and dealt out vengeance to all.

The plot was heavy story driven vs. character driven. I wished there was a bit more relationship building among the couples, friends and the like. It would have really put the whole book over the top.

The characters all stepped up their game too. Each reunion scene has me holding my breath. Shouting, AT LAST!! I needed those scenes, and I got those scenes. Destin was one of my favorites. He was sassy and conniving, but also could shed some tears, and when he saw Evan again? I couldn’t even handle it.

Getting Lyss and Hal back together was also momentous. Their final scene was the nice little cherry on top. I love happy endings. I like knowing where things are going. All the questions I had were answered and I fully understood the angle of the antagonists and well as our heroes.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: a handful of mild words
  • Romance: two glossed over love scenes, some kisses
  • Violence: knives, poison, fire, physical
Book Review

ARC Book Review: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary
Length: 304 pages
Author: A.K. Small
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Expected Release Date: May 21st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

Thank you to Netgalley, and the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

SURPRISINGLY DARK.

I went into this book blindly reading because the synopsis was intriguing and I haven’t read any dance books before. I was really happy with how much I enjoyed it! I devoured it in hours.

This is one of those very rare instances where insta-love works. Dear independent Kate, really struggled in the boy department. And I was so angry and upset at her and for her. Her mental health is so poor and turning to boys only made things worse and this broke my heart.

Marine is the softer of the two and is completely wrapped up in her own grief. I liked how she overcame her personal struggles and allowed love into her life. Luc was way too precious and I LOVE him. He was the real hero of this story if you ask me.

On the other hand I’m going to personally destroy the snake, Cyrille. While I think the nickname “The Demigod” is a bit lame it made sense from a teen perspective. He was seriously the worst though y’all. Don’t even get me started.

The real danger is when passions rule your life. This ballet school is a deadly mash-up that kept me on my toes. I legitimately was concerned that this book wouldn’t have a happy ending. I’m grateful that the story was wrapped up and everyone went the direction they needed to.

One of the few issues I had with it was the amount of unexplained dance phrases. Anyone without a full knowledge (like myself) would be a tad confused with the dance scenes. I gathered enough, but I did get confused on occasion. The transitions to flashbacks was also a touch perplexing. I often didn’t realize we had gone to the past when the book had already come back to the present.

Overall audience notes:

Second Note: The Trigger Warning section will contain mild spoilers. I generally try to keep it free of those, but I feel it’s important to know what you might stumble across because this book has some difficult themes that shocked me and I would want others to know before reading.

  • YA Contemporary: difficult themes, please see Trigger Warning section
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: lots of kisses/make-outs, a few very little detailed love scenes
  • Violence: personal (detailed in trigger section)
  • Trigger warnings: anorexia, general obsession with weight, smoking, drug-use, underage drinking, self-harm, abortion, sexual exploitation, and suicide

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Dysasters (The Dysasters #1) by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 320 pages
Author: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: February 26th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Foster Stewart knows she’s different. Her life has never been “normal.” Talking to plants and controlling cloud formations aren’t things most seventeen year olds are into. Tate “Nighthawk” Taylor is perfect. Star quarterback and all around dreamy boy next door he never thought about his “extra” abilities. What quarterback wouldn’t want night vision? That’s not weird, right? It’s cool! 

But on the night of their first meeting a deadly tornado brings them together and awakens their true abilities – the power to control the element air. Unbeknown to Tate and Foster, they are the first in a group of teens that were genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements. Which truly sucks for Foster, as she has to face the fact that Dr. Rick Stewart, her beloved scientist father, betrayed her and now wants to use her and the others for his own nefarious world domination plot. 

Foster and Tate must stop Dr. Stewart and his minions before he destroys their lives and the world.

Note: Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for sending a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

I was really excited about this book, mainly because of the summary. It sounded Michael Vey-ish (and I loved that series!) and was hoping for more of the same. It’s completely crazy that some mad scientist messed with embryos for his own gain! How evil right? While the concept and premise is there, the story itself never came together for me.

I also did like that they repped my alma mater, Texas A&M, a handful of times. That was cool. And jumping all over the U.S. was interesting. I liked that it wasn’t a stagnant story in one location. There was a lot of change in POV as well. I personally like that because I get to see the story from multiple sides and understand the characters on a deeper level.

I felt this book could be much more appropriate and fun for a younger audience, if it wasn’t trying so hard to be more adult. I’m fine with language, unless it crosses a line that leads into unnecessary. Calling the bad guys the “F**ktastic Four” and having Tate continually calling Foster a “witch” really rubs me the wrong way. I couldn’t get behind the relationship because heaven knows I would never allow someone to call me that than kiss me a few days later. I even physically cringed during some conversations that were added to no benefit of the plot.

I didn’t much care for any of these characters. With typical teenagers, I get it, they are still figuring life out. But in this case I felt everyone was contradicting themselves. Saying/doing one thing, then within the same chapter completely flipping on that narrative. Personalities were way too stereotypical and flat. The villains basically do nothing other than sit around and complain. Dr. Stewart, the supposed evil scientist, is hardly in this book. His minions aren’t even that nefarious. They were all bark and no bite, making them awfully dull.

I wasn’t a big fan of the comics in this book either. I generally enjoy coming up with an image in my head of what a character looks like, and not being forced into it by pictures that make you pause in the middle of reading (truly interrupting you). They took away from the story rather than added to it.

The writing wasn’t my favorite and felt forced at times. There was a lot to happen, but yet, didn’t happen. And side characters all of a sudden best friends, and love interests with very little connection other than teenage “oh look how hot they are” angst. I was confused by the addition of more high caliber words (like fuliginous) next to simple phrases. It really felt like two separate people wrote this book rather than a meeting of the minds.

I have more, but don’t feel it’s worth the time to continue. *sighs*

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (in contemporary world)
  • Language: a word in just about every paragraph
  • Romance: some kisses, thoughts of how hot everyone is
  • Violence: natural disasters (tornadoes)
  • Trigger warnings: verbal sexual harassment, a near plane crash

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Book Review

Book Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult romance, thriller
Length: 314 pages
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Independently published
Release Date: December 10th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

WHAT. DID. I. JUST. READ.

I have read the darkest book I believe I will ever read.

“I hear the crack of his skull before the spattering of blood reaches me.”

I mean, I cringed at the first sentence as the mental image ran through my head! That was only the beginning for the maliciously wicked book.

I sat there moments after finishing not knowing what I had read. I haven’t read any CoHo books in awhile, but picked this up for the different nature from her usual NA romances. AH, I am finding it hard to put this review into words.

So much happened. My heart was racing and I could only focus on finishing this (which I did in hours). That’s how intense things became. I thought I had figured out where the book was going, and I thought I was right, until I got to the ending. I love unreliable characters making morally iffy choices.

Whoa. If you have anything for romance thrillers, try this one out.

But please, this book is not for the faint of heart. CoHo wrote a completely unpleasant story that is a lot to take.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult romance thriller
  • Language: a lot: cursing, vulgar, slurs, etc.
  • Violence: physical, murder (in various forms, but don’t want to spoil!)
  • Romance: a LOT of sex & very very (too much honestly) descriptive
  • Trigger warnings: death of a child, death of a parent, car accident, attempting to abort, child abuse
Book Review

Book Review: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Epic fantasy
Length: 572 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 14th, 2008
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world.

UPDATE: THIS IS THE LAST BOOK TO MAKE ME CRY.

Note: I listened to this through Audible (not an ad, just a FYI). The narrator was Michael Kramer — as all 3 books have been — and it was fabulous. He’s a great narrator and did the books a lot of justice in this format.

I’m really disappointed in myself for taking so long to get around to reading these. The Mistborn series is everything a fantasy should be.

Emperor Elend becoming a firm ruler was amazing. I loved it. I love how he grew over the books and became the King his people needed. Vin was absolutely stunning herself. Sanderson’s ability to create these flawed, strong, unique souls is utterly captivating. The only thing that would have floored me is a little more romance between them (No, not sex or anything like that! Maybe some deeper acknowledgment of feelings). Though, y’all, that ball scene with them dancing together, YES YES YES!! I had all the heart eyes for that. So presh.

Dark Sazed had his own amazing story-line. To think he went from being a servant, to falling in love, to greater things was mind-blowing! I never thought that is where his story would lead, but I thought it worked out best.

There were so many times that I’d be listening where information would come forth and I’d be like “Oooooh, I see I see,” then shout WHAT!? right after because how did I not see that coming!? Sanderson weaves this tale where all of the little details actually mean something and create a completely thought out ending. I felt like no stone was left unturned.

Hero of Ages is a bleak book. I felt like things were only ever getting worse and since this is the first series I’ve read of this author’s, I wasn’t sure that it was going to end well. While it wasn’t the happy ending I usually go for (tears were definitely in my eyes as I got to the end) it was still the best situation put forth. The epilogue made my heart understand and be at peace with how the world is now.

Overall audience notes:

  • High/epic fantasy
  • No language
  • Romance: a cute ball scene
  • Violence: a lot (it was a war); physical, swords, allomancy (magic system), fire, blood & gore
  • Trigger warnings: contemplation of suicide, depression
Book Review

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: New adult fantasy
Length: 699 pages
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could dstroy them all.

Note: Below is a very spoiler filled review. I have re-read this series multiple times, but wanted to get a review onto my blog, but I also have a hard time being vague when it comes to ACOTAR, so spoilers it is.

This series really has my whole heart. I highly recommend it to everyone looking for a fantasy filled with romance, friendships, actual feelings, and so much more.

What I love most about re-reads (though I don’t get to do them as often as I’d like) is that I notice all of the other pieces I normally wouldn’t if I was reading it for the first time. The first time through this I was ALL about Feyre & Rhysand, but now I have really come to appreciate all of the other characters (yes, even Tamlin) from reading this again and again.

Feyre and Rhys are my OTP, and I mention this frequently. I am so happy that their relationship grew and that they got the blissfully ending they needed. A lot of random sex? Maybe, but Rhys also has a mate and is 500 years old, I understand. Feyre has grown so much over this series and I loved how her arc came to an end.

I absolutely am team Elucien. YOU CAN NOT CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE. I desperately hope they get their own spin-off in the coming years. He deserves happiness and I need him to be happy. Azriel will get his own story and first needs to have a reckoning with Mor. So after that, we can focus on him.

Tamlin made me so bitterly angry in this book (but yet I feel for him in ACOFAS, who am I?) I think he took his jealousy to a whole new level and being an immortal, somehow never learned how to cope with his issues and being told “No.” In this case, I was all for destroying him, and will let him stew awhile before he gets his story.

Now, I’m struggling with Nesta. I LOVED her here, but had a hard time connecting in ACOFAS. I think her and Cassian would be EVERYTHING. I can’t wait for 2020 to get this entire novel. I think Nesta is going to have this amazing character line (i.e. makes me think of Manon from ToG, but different, of course). Cassian is my favorite sassy Illyrian and I need him to be happy too. His friendship with Feyre is my favorite non-romantic plot line. I love how they appreciate and help each other when they are working through their demons. Feyre is a wholy better sister than Nesta AND, AND Elain deserve. There, I said it.

Fact: I need everyone to be happy. Though, low-key felt like sobbing when the Suriel died. That moment was the saddest the book made me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult/New adult fantasy
  • Language: some
  • Romance: a handful of detailed love scenes, kisses, innuendos
  • Violence: physical, swords, knives, magic, verbal
Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

Howdy to everyone! Hope your day is going splendid and that your week has started off well.

This weeks theme is all about finding those diamonds in the rough. Though upon looking through my Read list I realized, most books I have read have way more than 2,000 ratings. It honestly makes me want to find more books where fewer people have heard of them.

With so few to choose from, these weren’t all books I LOVED, but at least 4 stars and enjoyed overall. Here’s to Top Ten Tuesday!

Evenfall (Shadowfire #1)

By Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

Number of ratings: 161

I called this book, a tale of two stories. It was almost a DNF til about half-way, then I felt like I was reading a whole new tale and it ended really well! I was lucky enough to receive this from Netgalley and I am looking forward to book two.

The Cenote

by: Chelsea Dyreng

Number of ratings: 177

Unfortunately, I read this four years ago and hadn’t gotten into review writing quite yet. From what I remember it was a romance filled with a lot of allegories. A big theme of redemption that will tug at your heart strings. I even hosted this as a book club book at my house!

The Wren Hunt

by: Mary Watson

Number of ratings: 675

I read this through Netgalley and thought this was so stinkin’ good! (Review here). I’m actually really surprised it has such a small amount of ratings. It was loosely based on Romeo & Juliet. I found it a unpredictable and stayed up way too late flying through this book. Did I mention the romance is my favorite trope? Hate to lovers!!

What the Wind Knows

by: Amy Harmon

Number of ratings: 1,327

I finished this a few weeks ago, this was one on the list that I LOVED. Oh so good. Swoon-worthy romance, beautiful writing and a heartfelt story. Makes me want to discover my own history.

Sweet Black Waves (SWB #1)

by: Kristina Pérez

Number of ratings: 777

I happened to go into this without knowing the legend behind it, and honestly, I think that made me love it even more. I had no expectations. And wow, holy twists Batman! I saw none of that coming, and can’t believe I still have to wait til the fall for the next book.

Where the Watermelons Grow

by: Cindy Baldwin

Number of ratings: 821

This book is all about mental health. This sweet daughter struggles to deal with her Mom having schizophrenia. A lot of poignant moments and tough conversations. Books like these are important, and as this is a children’s book (recommended for 8-12) , I thought it was all approached in a thoughtful way.

A Thousand Perfect Notes

by: C.G. Drews

Number of ratings: 1,774

Ooo, this book will make you want to throw things. It is a heart-breaking, growing-up story that was fabulous. It was her debut novel and I am stoked to order her next one!

The Lost Queen (The LQ Trilogy #1)

by: Signe Pike

Number of ratings: 1,830

A little known historical fiction/fantasy based off of the wizard Merlin, but focusing on his sister, Languoreth. If you take this as a fantasy only, I think you’ll really enjoy it. There’s romance, war, and making hard decisions.

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1)

By: Emily A. Duncan

Number of ratings: 521

While I figure this will actually eventually have more than 2,000 ratings since it isn’t out yet, BUT that means I can currently use it for this TTT. Y’all, this book is good. I’m excited to see where the series goes. A solid foundation has been built.

Pride & Prejudice: Baby Counter

by: Jennifer Adams & Alison Oliver

Number of ratings: 1,239

Okay, adding this because it is totally adorable. If you have kids and love P&P I would definitely look into this board book! My babe loves it and I found it really clever. [I was also basically out of few ratings books too *shrugs*]

Have you read any of these? What’s one of your few rating favorites? Let’s talk in the comments!