Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: September 14th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

Y’ALL, I LIKED THIS ONE.

I feel it should be said first, I didn’t finish this author’s previous series (A Curse So Dark and Lonely). After book two, I shrugged my shoulders and didn’t want to read the last one and I left it at that.

THEN. Many of my bookstagram friends raved about this book. RAVED. So I found myself downloading my library’s copy and here we are. I am much more thoroughly invested in this initial read and wow I can’t wait for more!!

What helped sell me on this was the romance. It moved beautifully. I loved the connection Tessa had with him and how things were unraveled and explained. The conflict worked itself out just the way it should and I want mooooore of them desperately.

A lot of this is predictable, but the plot is solid enough to still feel like it’s giving me new things to love. I liked the set-up for the next book and that this didn’t end on some massive cliffhanger. This is a fantasy I found myself not wanting to put down. One of those, shirk your duties, reads and I’m so glad it turned out that way. Can’t wait for more.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: battles, physical altercations, weaponry
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of parents (and other loved ones), executions, rape and sexual assault discussed, epidemic, torture

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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: 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

Book Review: The PAN (The PAN #1) by Jenny Hickman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: NA Urban Fantasy Romance / Retelling
Length: 414 pages
Author: Jenny Hickman
Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing
Release Date: October 14th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Since her parents were killed, Vivienne has always felt ungrounded, shuffled through the foster care system. Just when liberation finally seems possible—days before her eighteenth birthday—Vivienne is hospitalized with symptoms no one can explain.

The doctors may be puzzled, but Deacon, her mysterious new friend, claims she has an active Nevergene. His far-fetched diagnosis comes with a warning: she is about to become an involuntary test subject for Humanitarian Organization for Order and Knowledge—or HOOK. Vivienne can either escape to Neverland’s Kensington Academy and learn to fly (Did he really just say fly?) or risk sticking around to become a human lab rat. But accepting a place among The PAN means Vivienne must abandon her life and foster family to safeguard their secrets and hide in Neverland’s shadows… forever.

WHO KNEW.

Who knew that I would read a book that’s a retelling of Peter Pan and enjoy it? Nay, really enjoy it? NOT ME. [I’ve never been a fan of Peter Pan]

This had the romance that I’m clearly always on the look out for. Deacon and Vivienne have this insta-ish, heated romance that I loved! This connection felt right and their banter and antics had me lovin’ every minute of it. I like how both of them have flaws and things to work on and you can see the character changes over time.

The world set up is a fun urban fantasy type. There’s only a touch of magic, but it works so well! I love the HOOK take and how the battle between the PAN and HOOK shake out. It’s very interesting and I’m curious how it will continue to go in the series. I like that I found out a lot, but that there’s still plenty more to deduce in book two!

It went back and forth between a bit of younger YA drama/immaturity to some older more mature YA vibes. I hope it continues to hang out in the mature area because that’s really working for the story. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young Adult Urban Fantasy / Retelling
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs
  • Violence: physical, sexual harassment, kidnapping, loss of parents

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