Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Raven and the Dove (The Raven and the Dove #1) by Kaitlyn Davis

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy retelling + romance
Length: 506 pages
Author: Kaitlyn Davis
Publisher: Self-published
Expected Release Date: March 9th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

Three shocking betrayals. Two star-crossed lovers. One unforgettable journey. If you like fierce heroines, brooding heroes, forbidden romance, and action-packed magical adventures with twists you’ll never see coming, don’t miss The Raven and the Dove!

Thank you to the author Kaitlyn Davis for providing an e-ARC through Netgalley. All opinions are my own!

IF YOU’RE A BIRD, I’M A BIRD.

Wait a minute, hold on, come support an indie author and get this book on your TBR! It has everything I’m looking for in a YA fantasy and the 500 pages really felt like nothing. Let’s get into this review.

It’s a Tristan and Isolde retelling, and if you’re not sure who those people are, please Google the story like I did after reading Sweet Black Waves and getting my heart ripped out. I love the way this version was written and like the twists Davis put on it. I could definitely see some of the similarities, but it swayed far enough away that this is it’s own novel, on a whole new fantasy level.

I am in love with my cinnamon rolls Rafe and Xander. These brothers are so tender, and kind. They’re loyal to one another and I appreciated the strong family bond they have. Lyana and Cassi were great friends too. I love that everyone had a support system with them. They brought the soft moments, and the hard ones together.

Ships were flying all over the place. This is a rare example of a sort of love triangle actually not bothering me. I know, I can’t believe I said it either. But really! This was so well done. You can see where [I think] the ships will eventually end, but I like how it flowed back and forth just enough to add intrigue and another layer to the story.

THE ENDING WAS WILD. Oh my goodness so much happened. It luckily didn’t end in a dramatic cliff-hanger. Enough happened though that the next book is definitely on my radar. I love how much action and characters came onto the scene. Betrayals were flying all around, people getting tossed off of worlds, INSANE. Oh, and did I mention, THIS WORLD HAS DRAGONS?

I liked the world-building as well. I still have a few questions, but I feel like those will be answered over other books so I’m not concerned. The way the world is set up with one group on land and one group in the air is CRAZY COOL. And the way the people become birds? I need someone to tell me more about that! I love the way the Houses are all split to different types of birds and their strengths. Everything was well thought out and I am so happy I picked this up!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: VERY little
  • Romance: some kisses, a no detail fade-to-black scene
  • Violence: dragons, fire, swords, earthquakes, magic, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: Shadows of Self (Mistborn: The Alloy Era #5) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 383 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

TALK ABOUT HOLY PLOT TWIST.

I’m still shook. Story: my husband and I have been listening to this together-ish (both when we can but not actually at the same time). He finished the day before I did when I had ONE hour left. Well, the biggest drop in the entire came during that hour and I literally ran out of my bedroom shouting WHAT?!?!? **and more spoiler-ish content I will not say here**. Sanderson is trying to break my heart, I can feel it.

Any who, this was another great installment of his shorter books. I loved listening to it. Michael Kramer is such a great narrator and does all of the voices SO FLIPPIN’ WELL. He’s read all 6 Sanderson audiobooks I’ve listened to so far and it’s been fantastic.

The dynamics between Wax, Wayne, and Marasi are THE BEST. They are a great team with different strengths that pick each other up when their weaknesses show. I love the banter, the love they have for one another and just everything. This is a team I want to be on.

There’s still a Western vibe to this with the gun-slinging vibes. And I’m still into it. I thought I might waver, but the way Sanderson crafts a story has continually left me breathless. I’m seriously trying to work my way through all of his books. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO DO THIS.

These books are much shorter and easier to follow. The amount of twists and story lines that play in from the original trilogy amazes me though. Even if this is a spin-off that I know some people aren’t a fan of, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I love seeing old characters, hearing about the original crew, and learning how their choices have shaped this newer world.

SOMEONE GIVE ME A HAPPY ENDING PLEASE?!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy / Sci-Fi
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: guns, murder, knives, swords, dueling canes; occasionally a bit bloody

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Book Review

Book Review: American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 448 pages
Author: Katharine McGee
Publisher: Random House Books
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

KARMA COMES AROUND RIGHT?

Because seriously, this one character. I can’t handle it if they don’t get what’s coming to them. She caused a crazy amount of drama all on her own. Was I impressed? Maybe a little, but also YOU’RE NOT A NICE PERSON.

Any who, back to my review here. This book made my heart huuuuurt. It was a darker book than I was expecting. Not that anything intense happened, but a lot of hearts are broken, smashed and tossed around. I felt like I was watching one of those historical TV dramas where you just can’t look away. I’m used to seeing this kind of drama unfold from McGee because of her previous series (The Ten Thousandth Floor). I think if you know that going in you’ll enjoy it more because you’ll know a bit of what you’re going to see.

I wish the character profiles were a bit deeper. Everyone dove into relationships that I wasn’t hating, but also wasn’t sure how much I was loving them. Later into the book I did feel for them more. I was frustrated with the lack of plot, but I know this is more character/life driven than anything REALLY happening.

The ending was expected, and still made me sit their after contemplating WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. I think the next book will hold a lot more substance because we get to see a few characters stand out a bit more. There’s a huge entangling web of point-of-views, story lines, romances, and more that I’m sure will only cause more drama.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: none
  • Romance: lots of kissing, some sleeping overnight together (but no sex), one sex scene that is very fade to black and not detailed whatsoever (you know what they did of course though)
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying

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Book Review

Book Review: The Need by Helen Phillips

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Fiction/Thriller
Length: 272 pages
Author: Helen Phillips
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.

But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.

Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.

In The Need, Helen Phillips has created a subversive, speculative thriller that comes to life through blazing, arresting prose and gorgeous, haunting imagery. Anointed as one of the most exciting fiction writers working today, The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives.

THIS BOOK STILL WEIRDS ME OUT.

I’m honestly not sure where to start on reviewing this book. This was really hyped on Bookstagram by a few people I follow as a good book but it’s best NOT knowing anything about it before going in.

And I feel that’s the way this review is going to go too. I don’t want to give much of anything away because [to me] the intention of this book is to truly form your own opinion on how it ends.

This starts out really trippy, creepy, and I had to read with the lights on right next to my husband (if you’re new to this page: I am scared of all things even remotely creepy). After we got to what appeared to be the biggest twist everything else got psychological, philosophical and odd.

I really felt and understood her portrayal of motherhood. As a parent myself a lot of those pieces I was able to connect with. This work of fiction though was more of a miss for me besides that.

As you can see, my review is a bit scattered, because this book is a bit scattered. I still would recommend this for those interested because it’s a very short, very quick (small, choppy chapters) read and I think it’ll bring out a different reaction in everyone!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction / Thriller
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: some kisses, two a little detailed love scenes
  • Violence: falling into a pit

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Book Review

Book Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks (Waiting for Tom Hanks #1) by Kerry Winfrey

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance/Chick-lit
Length: 259 pages
Author: Kerry Winfrey
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?

DID I JUST READ A HALLMARK MOVIE?

Yes, I’m pretty sure I did. This book was everything you expect when you choose to sit and watch a Hallmark movie (which I know we all do sometimes).

This was really cute. I was into the romance between Annie and Drew. They had some great banter and I could feel their chemistry with each other. Things felt like they developed at a good speed (even though it was only over a two week span, remember: Hallmark-esque).

I adored the side characters. She had a great friend who was truly their for her and helped Annie get out of her shell. Annie’s Uncle Don was fun too. He showed a lot of unconditional love and had some tender moments. They were both sweet and had enough pages in the story for me to feel connected with them too.

As someone who hasn’t seen any Tom Hanks rom-coms (don’t @ me), this was a bit heavy in the analogies to these movies. IT WOULDN’T END. I got tired of the crazy repetitiveness of her talking about romantic comedies. I get it, Annie is obsessed. This influenced her ideas and decisions so much that I would get frustrated that she couldn’t see past her rose-colored glasses. There were waaaay too many metaphors.

This is quick and charming. That’s its best feature. If you’re looking for something that has some witty banter and a cleaner romance this would be a good pick. I wish it was a bit longer so we got some more depth from the characters, but it’s fine! This was still a nice read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: some kisses, one love scene that has no details (literally says: “we had great sex last night” but that’s it for details – it’s very clean for a romance)
  • Trigger warnings: discussion of death of parents

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Book Review

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves #2) by Kristina Pérez

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + retelling
Length: 420 pages
Author: Kristina Pérez
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Stars is the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within… 

CAN I HAVE BOOK THREE PLEEEEEASE?

Whoa y’all. This was one of my top TBR books for 2019. After last years Sweet Black Waves, I was left SHOOOOK. And here I am, still feeling the same. I seriously have no clue where book three is going to go. Many, many things happened in the last 50 pages of this book that really brought home this solid 4 star rating.

Branwen is a mystical MC. I never know quite what to do with her. I like her most of the time, other times I want to shout at her, but all in a day’s work right? I feel like she has a lot on her shoulders that have heavily influenced her decisions on motives. Branwen doesn’t always make the right choice, yet I can tell her heart is in the right place. That ending though? Oooooh boy, I can see myself being utterly devastated by the last book. I’M SPECULATING WILDLY.

I’m here for Branwen and Ruan though. As soon as he walked on screen, Tristan was out of my mind (well, that happened at the end of book one). They have great chemistry and while I didn’t love how their relationship started, I loved how it formed from that point. What read as a bit rushed, was well thought out. I want to see more of them ASAP. I get a happy ending right?

Ugh, you know who I hate? Tristan and Eseult. BYE FELICIA. Goodness gracious. Both of them are whiny, immature, and selfish. I can’t handle them and need them to be taken down a few pegs. I wanted to feel more remorse for them, but really struggled too. They definitely weren’t making it easy on me.

Marc. This man grew on me. Made my heart hurt. And i just wanted to find him and give him a hug. I think he needs one after that hand he was dealt this book. THAT POOR MAN. HE JUST WANTS TO BE A GOOD KING. I want him to get the story he deserves, though I’m worried if that will happen. I also don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil it for y’all. You will love Marc by the end of WSS.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop in here. And i gotta say, I’m not sure that happened? There were some moments at the end where secrets started spilling out. I am excited for book three (and did you see the cover reveal? GORGEOUS). Really though, I love this setting and the way this re-telling has been done. It’s all fantastic.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + retellings
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, one mild-detailed love scene, a few others (that are not even fade to black, whatever is considered before that, she says “I need a distraction” then the scene ends, but you know what they obviously did), a lot of discussion of maidenhood (being a virgin by the standards of the religion for this fantasy)
  • Violence: murder, poison, knives, swords, battles, skirmishes; fairly detailed/bloody at times
  • Trigger warnings: miscarriage resulting from a bad fall

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Book Review

Book Review: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

REID & LOU: NEW OTP.

In recent memory I can easily say that this was a book that actually lived up to the hype. I LOVED IT. Barely 50 pages in, I was hooked, and I wanted to savor the rest of this amazing story.

Loved this setting. Loved the writing. Love these characters.

Speaking of, REID y’all. I love how passionate he was (and rather stubborn too), but also very tender and had a big heart beneath it all. I liked the influence his religion played on all of his decisions and emotions. He stayed true to who he was, but also learned to be open and adapt to previously misleading information. He was SO CUTE and I adore him. His love scene with Lou was also unique for YA and I found it absolutely amazing and well done (and that’s all I will say on that to avoid spoilers, but you’ll understand if you’ve read it!).

Lou was a great MC too. I love how much she chooses love. Lou wanted more out of life than what she was handed and sought after those things and I applaud her for it. Her growth was immense and she learned a lot about herself too. It was so appealing to have both Reid and Lou see outside their boxes to learn and understand about one another.

Best friend alert: Ansel & Coco. OH MY GOODNESS. The side characters were fabulous! I loved this just as much as the MCs. They had a lot to offer and actually brought something to the table. Ansel was my sweet baby and I just want to love him forever okay? I beg the universe not to kill him off in the next book, I might shatter. HE WAS PERFECT. Coco was her own fiery beast that I would so be BFFs with. Easy to love, sneaky, loyal, yes yes yes. Beau was a great addition towards the end too. I’m very curious how he’ll play a part in book two.

Lots of action and intrigue in this book. The pacing kept me constantly intrigued. There was a steady flow of things happening, to slowing down a bit, and to not notice that this book was 500 pages is a stellar job all on it’s own. I enjoyed the villain immensely more than I even considered I might. They threw in some twists I didn’t see coming and were seriously, heinously evil. I will clap for that because I hate a wishy-washy bad guy.

BOOK TWO, I NEED YOU.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a detailed love scene
  • Violence: magical, blood magic, physical, knives, swords, poison, paralysis via drugs, torture, arrows

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