Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Keeper of the Night (The Keeper of the Night #1) by Kylie Lee Baker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Kylie Lee Baker
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: October 12th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

MURDEROUS.

That’s pretty much the whole vibe of this one. Dark, twisted, and oh so murderous. And while that’s not generally my jam, this grim YA fantasy was pretty good. I cringed a lot and the mental pictures painted are a bit horror movie style, and that’s its charm!

I really enjoyed the main character Ren. Struggling with her identity as biracial and not feeling like she fits in anywhere, she goes to Japan in hopes of finding a new home there. Upon arriving with her brother are when things start to turn, ahem, deadly. She’s very much morally grey and you’ll want to follow her down to the dark side.

The lore behind all of the terrifying monsters had me keeping the lights on. The writing was vivid, and I felt myself on the journey with Ren. I adored her brother Neven and the opposite views he created. He was the necessary dichotomy to a wicked story.

Plot wise, it did drag sometimes and it took me awhile to understand all of the different things Ren was trying to accomplish and why. But I loved her journey and her ability to express and acknowledge her emotions and standing in her feelings while she worked through what life had handed her.

The ending was wild. Did not see the majority of it coming and am so dang curious how the second book rectifies it all. There is a dash of something akin to a romance, but I don’t want to say more because it would definitely be spoiler-y. It was rich in explorations of family, identity and place to be who Ren wanted to be and I can’t wait to follow her journey further.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: intense kisses/make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: ableism, racism, many blood & gore depictions, mutilation of bodies (dismemberment, etc.), death of a parent, multiple murders, exile, bullying

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her writing is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, and Irish), as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Emory University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she watches horror movies, plays the cello, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl #1) by Mara Rutherford

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 432 pages
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press, and Netgalley for the digital ARC. All opinions are my own.

REALLY FEELIN’ THIS.

Oh wow. I am so excited I received an ARC for this because it was fantastic!

At first, I was worried. I didn’t realize this was a duology (once I checked this, it also quickly got better and made more sense). It took about 40% of the way through the book to get Nor off her home island, Varenia. I still think too much time was spent there, but it seems it was being used to really build a background for Nor and her family/lifestyle.

Once off the island and in Ilara, things start really going down. I was all for one of the princes because I imagined him as this rough bad guy who has a soft side that would slowly come out. HOT DANG, I was wrong. I kept flipping pages trying to see if we would get a redemption for him, and it still hasn’t happened. I thought I would be frustrated with this, but instead…I am here for it. Own your evil. He’s an amazing villain that I know has many more layers that I can’t wait to see in book two.

Nor’s love interest is growing on me. Since I wasn’t for him at first I had pushed him to the side for a bit until it was clear what was brewing between the two. I love the mystery and intrigue behind him as well. There’s so much to still learn. We got plenty in this book and it felt like it left just the right amount out for further solving the puzzle of the princes of Ilara.

I really loved Nor as our main character. She grew on me over the story. I liked that she had such a tight sister bond with Zadie and that that never wavered. Family continually remained important to her. Nor was sneaky, a bit impulsive, and full of love for those close to her. I am behind her as a heroine for Varenia.

I thought the pacing at times was slow, but things continually picked up. It made this hard to put down and I was always wondering what would happen next. The ending was left open, but not in a CLIFFHANGER kind of way.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little light language
  • Romance: a few kisses, occasionally a little passionate
  • Violence: poison, torture, blood-letting, swords, knives, near-drownings, throwing people off of cliffs, murder

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