Book Review

ARC Book Review: Winterkeep (Graceling Realm #4) by Kristin Cashore

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 19th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The highly anticipated next book in the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Graceling Realm series, which has sold 1.3 million copies.

Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.

But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.

Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.

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

LEFT WANTING.

I’m going to say it: I was disappointed in this highly anticipated release. It left me wanting many things.

First of all, there’s no way this needed to be 500+ pages. Holy wow, it just kept going and going and going with little direct focus on and overall plot. I felt spun in circles about getting to the bottom of what Bitterblue and her friends were really trying to accomplish.

This was a very nostalgic read for me. I adore the Graceling realm and had high hopes for how this world was going to continue. Even if I was let down, it was still fun to be back and to see characters I’ve missed. I did love seeing Bitterblue again. And her new love interest was sweet and I loved how their ending came about.

I enjoyed the new characters even if there were so good and bad. I also had a hard time with some of the aspects of the multiple romances. This book mostly hung out in a young adult place, but would tend to jump up to mature young adult or border new adult, but only in regards to the love scenes. It left me wondering where it was trying to go.

Lovisa was a strong addition and had a large character arc. I appreciated her resilience against what she knew was wrong even if it was hard going against those she loved. Add in some talking foxes and it was a nice whimsical touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; some mild open door scenes and closed door
  • Violence: physical, kidnapping, drownings, explosions, arson, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 332 pages
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: March 31st, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz. Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she’s done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There’s only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take. Her solution: she needs a fake boyfriend. And fast. Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around-hottie, and Sally’s best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He’d do anything for Sal–even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she’s “more than pretty,” and expertly kissing her at parties. The problem: Sally’s been in love with Becks all her life–and he’s completely clueless. This book features two best friends, one special edition Yoda snuggie, countless beneath-the-ear kisses and begs the question: Who wants a real boyfriend when faking it is so much more fun?

CUTE AND QUIRKY.

A quick young adult contemporary romance. Filled with friends to lovers and fake dating.

I found this to be a really easy and fast read (I listened to it as an audio book). The characters were fun, definitely high school, and made me laugh and roll my eyes.

The romance was without a doubt my favorite part. It’s usually hard for me to be smitten with a friends to lovers trope, but I adored Becks. He was precious, angsty, and I love a soccer player so all good things. I thought Sally was a mostly charming heroine. A bit aloof and clueless at times, but didn’t find her overly annoying or anything of that nature.

What I did find annoying was Sally’s best friend, Hooker. Holy cow, she would NOT leave Sally alone and it was infuriating. I would hate to be continually put on dates, at 17, JUST because I haven’t dated anyone yet. Who cares? Maybe Sally didn’t want to date? Nobody, especially her best friend (and also her Mom was in on the blind dates) should be forcing her to meet all of these guys. It’s her choice and I couldn’t handle how ignorant Hooker was.

There were a lot of pop culture references. A lot. Most landed well, but at times I felt they were forced and putting them in didn’t enhance the story. A cute, and quick read, and at least a nice change of pace from the heavy books I’d been reading.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some mild/strong
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs
  • Violence: physical alteraction

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Arlem Hawks
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: January 12th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

1811, HMS Deborah

A Regency romance on the high seas.

As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.

Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband have slipped away.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for a copy of Georgana’s Secret in exchange for a review.

A HIGH SEAS SECRET ROMANCE.

I was fairly swept away by this tale. I found it full of adventure, some daring antics, and a romance. A great combination for an affair on the high seas.

The development of the connection between Dominic and Georgana was sweet. I liked how it grew out of friendship, but that also her secret didn’t stay secret too long. I hate when it’s dragged out and then leaves me flustered when everything comes out. This worked really well in that there was still plenty of time for them as well as the story as a whole.

I loved Georgana’s strong yet reserved nature. Trying to do the best she could in the situation she ended up in. Her nature to reach out rather than fight back was great, but I definitely loved when she fought back too. She and Dominic really had chemistry from the get go and I adored their banter and tender moments.

This was filled with a lot more than a bunch of people on a ship. I liked having scenery changes with landings, crossings with other ships, and back at home. This mix up kept everything from getting too stagnant and like I was stuck on a ship. It’s a regency story that has a vibrant and different setting.

I enjoyed the sweet little epilogue at the end and felt satisfied with how things worked out for all of the characters.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Proper Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: ship battles, physical altercations, severe wounds and illness

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Book Review

Book Review: Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Urban Fantasy
Length: 498 pages
Author: Fonda Lee
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: November 7th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

NEW FANTASY SERIES FOR ME.

I am a lover of all things fantasy, though they do tend to lean towards fantasy with romance. So this is more outside of my usual. Aaaaaaand, I loved it! Definitely can’t wait to continue with The Green Bone Saga.

These characters are something else. Ambiguous, complex, loyal [to a fault sometimes], and so much more. I have a soft spot for Hilo, but I was pretty smitten with everyone by the time this book ended. There’s many tough choices, and rough scenarios that bring out the best and worst in everyone. I love that I could never see quite what was coming, who was dying, and what choices each person was going to make. Being kept on my toes is my favorite aspect.

This magic system and world set up is fascinating. I appreciate that this magic system has clear limitations and rules. It made for a concrete structure that I could easily follow and understood in minimal time. I love the Asian inspired and clan setting amongst the world. Things were centered more around the Kaul siblings and their lives rather than any major romances. Did I miss the romance? In this books case, no. It worked beautifully just the way it was.

The ending was open enough to make me want the next book, and closed enough to not be left on a major cliffhanger. I can’t wait to follow these characters through the next book (which I’ve heard is even better!!)

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy
  • Language: strong throughout
  • Romance: 2 small/brief open-door scenes
  • Violence: very bloody/gory and detailed; physical, magic, swords, guns, skirmishes and battles
  • Trigger warnings: brief mention of a characters family member passing away from suicide

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