Book Review

Book Review: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 416 pages
Author: Joan He
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

SO MUCH POTENTIAL.

Ugh, y’all. I get so sad when I read a book and your expectations are not met at all.

Hesina desperately wants to be Queen after she finds her father was murdered so she can avenge him. Lofty goals I’m cool with, but she was obsessed over doing this. And once that was taken care of, did she grow and become a solid, stunning Queen? No. Instead she continually remained naive, annoyingly stubborn, indecisive, and blindsided by every single thing. The main character alone had me questioning a DNF.

I had a hard time emotionally connecting to any of the characters. Nobody had a background. I got bits and pieces for some of them, but nothing that made me want to cheer for them or hope they get stabbed. No emotions. When a few died, I realized I wasn’t shocked whatsoever.

The plot twists were seen from miles away, while this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, what did annoy me was what came after. For instance, one of the characters was clearly shady. But when all that came out it it turns out that they were doing this to protect Hesina. WHAT. I was ALL FOR THE VILLAIN, and when that sputtered it sealed the deal for my rating.

The Chinese inspired themes were the best part of this book. The descriptions of the beautiful clothing and the other pieces of influence were amazing. I loved the different breath it gave young adult fantasy, I was just wishing for more overall.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Romance: none
  • Language: a** a few times
  • Violence: poison, knives, torture, fire, murder
  • Trigger warnings: attempted suicide, and suicide

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Adult fantasy romance
Length: 391 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: 47North
Expected Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From ​the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.

Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.

Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.

Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.

What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.

I’M STILL STUNNED.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, 47North, for the e-ARC and opportunity or read The First Girl Child. All opinions are my own.

I’m sitting here trying to write this review, but I’m not even sure where to start. I absolutely love everything Amy Harmon writes. And this was no exception. TFGC was different from her usual books (generally contemporary, she does have 2 that are fantasy). It only goes to show she can write, regardless of the genre. AND I AM HERE FOR ALL OF IT.

One of the big themes I noticed was about mother’s. And all different types too. Ones who were unloved and unwanted, had their babies taken from them, ached to have a child, and more. This personally resonated with me (because I am a Mom) and struck chord after chord of the fierce love and protection mother’s have for their babes.

A lot was also focused on the true need and affect women have on the world. We are all so unique and divinely inspired and have immense amounts of talent to give to the world in various forms. It was interesting to feel what it would be like if girls did stop being born. And what an awful place that would be.

BAYR. I so deeply love this character. This book is around 400 pages and it felt long because of the intense connection that was built watching Bayr from birth to growing into a man. As he learns to speak it’s noticed that he has a stutter. The way Harmon uses his weakness as a strength was everything. There were some allegories woven in that were stunning. I cheered Bayr on in every way possible. Watching his relationship with Alba had me staring at my book contemplating what gods I was going to have to pray to for them to get a happy ending. This was a relationship built out of pure childhood love. It was so achingly sweet and precious and beautiful.

I loved so many of these side characters too. Dagmar, Ivo, Ghost, The Keepers, Dred, seriously, everyone. Dagmar was the best POV to watch Bayr grow up and his heart-shattering relationship with Ghost will bring you to your knees. It was tender and built on so many things they both needed. I loved Dred (Dagmar’s Dad, Bay’s Grandfather) because his immediate acceptance of his grandson has me feelings all the feels. I enjoyed every connection I built with these characters.

Amy Harmon is one of my favorite authors for a reason. Her ability to bring out these characters to life and create magnificent worlds filled with heartbreak and hope always leave me breathless.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses to make-outs, mentions of wanting to lie with another, some vague mentions of having done so, but not descriptive
  • Violence: knives, murder, battle
  • Trigger warnings: childbirth resulting in mother’s death, suicidal thoughts, someone with a disability being referred to as an idiot and bullied

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Book Review

Book Review: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA historical fantasy romance
Length: 464 pages
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The powerful third book in Robin LaFever’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins series perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Victoria Aveyard leaves Annith with a desperate decision to make that not only affects the future of Brittany, but the destiny of the god of Death Himself. 

In the powerful third book in Robin LaFever’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins series, tensions between Brittany and Frace continue to rise as Annith watches her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.
    Combining romance, action, and political intrigue, Mortal Heart delivers a breathtaking conclusion to the war between Brittany and France…for now. 

TAGLINE

As the final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy I was expecting a bigger finale. Unfortunately I feel like this was essentially the same book as the others.

The plot was still exactly the same. Annith is the final assassin from the convent to get intertwined with the duchess trying to save Brittany from France. A lot of the same issues are re-hashed as they were previously. A few side plots were added in to add some edge, but I have this story twice before already, I was hoping for something new.

I did really like Annith. I thought her character growth was strong. She finally started standing up for herself and demanding the answers she deserved. While it made some of her choices rash, it also showed her strength in her decisions.

Her love story with the knight was along the same lines of the previous two installments. While it did have a noticeable difference, it was easy to see that coming. I loved their banter and interactions every time they were together. I would have loved even more of them!

Some of the plot was obvious to fill in the blanks, there was one moment where I was like oohhhhh because I actually did not see that coming. It brought Annith’s story to a close and I was happy to have all the answers I wanted too.

All of these books expertly wove politics, history and religion. I liked seeing how each aspect affected characters and showed what they valued most. This book wraps everything up and I feel pleased with how things were tied together. I got my happy ending which is what I’m always after!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy romance
  • Romance: a few kisses, one tiny-detailed fade to black love scene
  • Language: none
  • Violence: arrows, knives, poison

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Uncategorized

Book Review: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: YA Dystopia Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 473 pages
Author: Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic. 

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT FOR THIS SEQUEL?!

Y’AAAAAALLLLLLLL.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED. Like Illuminae Files this duo has destroyed me. I buddy-read this with a Bookstagram friend and it was so much fun to go over things together with her!

This book is so good. I have no words.

I love this group of characters. Squad 312 is full of unique, emotional, interesting, creative souls. Everyone stands out in their own way and I love them all for different things. My favorite currently is probably Kal. I could go into a bunch of reasons for each character, but trust me, everyone has a reason to shine. The chapters rotated in a perfect way where the main POV was the right character to be observing from. This made the entire book soar.

There were so many twists and turns. Some you can pick out, others left me like WHAT. I’m still reeling from the last few scenes. Though, what’s really nice is that it doesn’t leave off on some major cliff-hanger. While absolutely crazy things happen, it also closes out the book. Leaving you begging for a time machine to get to book two.

The main antagonist is so complex. We only scratched the surface on what’s happening in the universe and I have so many theories. I love having theories about what’s going to happen.

A lot of relationships were thrown around and happened a little here, a little there, a maybe here, a maybe there. I think this nuanced banter and love was entrancing. Within all the action we got to the nitty-gritty of each characters flaws and dreams. Each one immensely different, but also intertwined.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopian sci-fi + fantasy
  • Language: a little (mostly phrases like son of a biscuit)
  • Romance: a no-details remembrance of a night together
  • Violence: physical, guns, magic

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Book Review

Book Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Middle Grade/YA Mystery + Fantasy (paranormal)
Length: 381 pages
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: August 29th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud’s internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series.

VERY SPOOKY INDEED.

I read this book based off of a recommendation from Bookstagram, and it did not disappoint.

I generally don’t read much middle-school books unless they come highly recommended, I had seen this enough from her to know I must have it (even better, if you’re a Prime member, the first book is free on Kindle!). While they’re some YA aspects, it generally leaned towards a younger audience, yet I can see how it captivates older groups. It’s a really underrated book.

This group: Lucy, Lockwood and George are a hoot to watch interact. They have funny banter, quiet moments and are a great team. Lucy and Lockwood especially made this book. It was narrated by Lucy (which I wasn’t expecting given it’s called Lockwood & Co.). I loved the world-building and how *just* enough was left out to keep me interested for further installments.

The Screaming Staircase is CREEPY. This is honestly the closest I’ll ever come to a horror book. They’re ghosts that can do all of these crazy things (including kill you). Blood coming off of ceilings, things jumping out, it was definitely intense at times.

I liked the addition of a mystery within the paranormal activity. It made me more invested as I am weary of reading paranormal books. It was another level of intrigue and wonderment as I flew through this.

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle school/YA Paranormal Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: descriptions of murders, detailed hauntings, physical, swords, guns, explosions

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Book Review

Book Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆   
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

THIS DUO DOES IT AGAIN.

I finished this book IN HOURS. That’s how much I loved it. Oh it was so cute y’all.

There were moments where I actually found myself laughing out loud at the antics that Olive would find herself in. The poor girl is always the unlucky twin and her stories show. But, over the course of this book she had a lot of growth as she realized she also possessed the power to change her course and not always assume she would draw the short straw.

Ethan was precious. I loved all of his interactions (and that massage scene you guys!! – the angst was real throughout this entire book) He and Olive made this amazing pair. This book could have been even longer and I wouldn’t have complained one bit. This is less enemies-to-lovers than it appears though. The whole reason she has an issue with him is a misunderstanding. Goes to show, communication is key.

I had heard that this one was less steamy than their other novels. I found it to be a perfect amount. I personally don’t love when the books feels like only sex, so by dialing this down I got a lot of great banter, sweet-heart moments and more plot.

I struggled with Ami because I felt she should have trusted her twin more (and Dane is seriously, the worst). Their plot line only really added to the conflict between Olive & Ethan.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, a little-detailed love scene, a few more that are mostly fade to black
  • Trigger warning: cheating spouses

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Book Review

Book Review: The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S.A. Chakraborty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Historical fiction + fantasy
Length: 619 pages
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Return to Daevabad in the spellbinding sequel to THE CITY OF BRASS.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabadand quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her familyand one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the maridthe unpredictable water spiritshave gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS.

First off, WE JUMPED 5 YEARS? After I got over that shock I was immediately drawn back in to this amazing and addictive world. This series needs more traction, IT’S SO GOOD.

Now now, I know I said all of that and gave it four stars. Four stars is still fantastic! And I have reasoning. This book was much more heavily focused on the politics and schemes of the kingdom. So much so that I missed a lot of action. I was definitely invested, but about 200 pages left and I was surprised at how long it was taking me to get through it. Especially because I was loving it! I think having to pay a lot more attention to make sure I didn’t miss anything caused me to be a little dulled by it all.

BUT. The last 150 pages? ARE YOU KIDDING ME. There was no way to put the book down. A lot of the politicking and scheming all made sense at once when all heck broke loose. We had some plot twists (that I’m proud of myself for figuring out beforehand), extra wicked parents and a city crumbling. YES TO ALL THE DRAMATICS.

Am I behind the maaaaaybe something between Ali and Nahri? I DON’T KNOW. I’m still stuck on Dara. The romance is truly a tiny piece of these books, yet anytime these *little* things happen I’m curious what part it will play in the finale.

Nahri is still brave, brash and bold. I love her so. She’s one of my favorite heroines. Stands up for herself, works hard, passionate about so many things. I think it’s amazing how much she does for herself which is why I think the romance is so low in this, GIRL AIN’T GOT TIME FOR THAT (it’s no lie I love books with a love aspect, but in some books it’s really amazing when I don’t even mind that there isn’t some).

Ali and Dara are these two souls that will run me ragged by the end of this. So complicated, tortured and unwilling to compromise. BOTH OF THEM. Ugh. I have hope and love for them though so I *believe* things will work out.

I just love how expertly crafted these three main characters are. Nahri, Ali and Dara all have a dramatically different perspective on their home and the issues within. It makes it feel like there isn’t a “weaker” POV because they are all so captivating.

I’m also not sure where I stand on about a handful of other characters either. A lot of people made a lot of mistakes in this book. Which I feel is total book two territory (another reason for my lower rating). Gotta build up for the last book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + fantasy
  • Language: a little (a handful of the f-word)
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: poison, knives, physical, magic, torture, murder, war
  • Trigger warnings: slavery, human trafficking, talk of past threats of rape

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