Book Review

Book Review: A Kingdom of Exiles (Outcasts #1) by S.B. Nova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 600 pages
Author: S.B. Nova
Publisher: Night Owl Publishing
Release Date: December 17th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The brightest of stars are always born on the darkest of nights.

Serena Smith is unusual.

Growing up in a backwoods village, her life is lonely and dull. Then, on her eighteenth birthday, she’s gifted a magical heirloom only to be snatched by fae and condemned to a lifetime in chains.

Dragged to Aldar, a fae kingdom ruled by a tyrant witch, Serena discovers a forbidden love, and meets fellow outcasts, each with their own dark secrets.

As the lives of warriors, rebels, and witches clash, they find a shared destiny. For only together, and with Serena’s unique gifts, can they survive long enough to build the flames of a revolution. Only together can they go to war …

DID SOMEONE SAY FAE?

Yes, I come running to a book when I hear that. And this was no different, and was a great read!

Oooo boy, finally finished this one. I read it through Amazon Prime so I didn’t pay attention to the page count, did you know this book is 600 pages? NEITHER DID I. Yet, somehow, I consistently found myself wanting to come back and read this. I would put it down to read a few chapters from another book and wouldn’t feel as invested because I wanted to dive into this story more. Yes it’s long, but it somehow feels like everything was a necessary piece of the puzzle.

I would desperately like to know who Serena’s mate is though y’all. WHO WHO WHO…who. There was kind of a roulette situation happening with multiple fae where I was convinced each time, oh this is her endgame, and then was thrown off that to someone else! I still have no inkling. The romance in this book is a bit all over the place. Her relationship (that’s supposed to be family based) seems way more than that. The one that was more romantic, didn’t have me really shipping them, AND I’m JUST LOST. If you can’t tell by my rambling sentences.

Serena is definitely a work in progress. Since this is only the first book, I am totally cool with not LOVING her character, but seeing where she can go. I wish she could do a little more for herself, yet I see that she needed to form all of the bonds because she was dealt a crappy hand in the human world. This allowed her to have friendships and people truly close to her.

I love the bit of squad goals we had with Serena’s pack. Frazer (LOVE HIM) needs to be my best friend. I would love him so! I love the team dynamics and the protectiveness that forms through the trials they go through at the military training camp.

The setting and world-building is a bit confusing at times. I really wasn’t grasping the view of the world until way deeper into the book (and a thorough read through of the map). I love maps, but feel like when I’m reading the book itself I shouldn’t have to keep checking back to confirm where I am. The story should be able to narrate that.

Some of the twists near the end had me stunned. I genuinely didn’t see them coming. I thought the lead up was great and can’t wait to get the villain on screen.

I also spent some time looking up information on the next book and stumbled upon the fact that this is supposed to be a four book series. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT THAT LONG.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, one detailed love scene
  • Violence: magical, physical, skirmishes, arrows, poison, murder
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault (unwanted touching, Ch. 2)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fiction + Contemporary Romance
Length: 291 pages
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

A QUICK READ WITH ALL THE FEELS.

This is one of those books that came in hard and fast and left me reeling.

Annika is a brave, strong, caring and loyal woman. She is on the autism spectrum and while I can’t speak to whether this was a good depiction or not, I love how quirky, unfiltered, and sweet she was.

This was a second chance love story with Annika’s first everything love, Jonathan. I ADORED HIM. He was someone who may not have always understood Annika, but never tried to force her into something she wasn’t comfortable with or treat her poorly otherwise. I think we all want to feel that kind of respect and love in our lives. Their relationship flowed beautifully and I appreciated that this second-chance wasn’t because of some over dramatic break-up. Both Annika and Jonathan may not have handled the break-up in the best way (which they both acknowledged), they were at least finally able to discuss what needed to be said.

JANICE. What a friend y’all. I also think everyone needs a friend like her. She was absolutely wonderful and I thought her and Annika’s friendship was amazing. Their friendship grew and changed over time as well, and I love that they continually reached out to one another even when states apart.

I thought this was a great use of the back and forth timeline trope. Sometimes it can get bogged down in one area or another, but this one flipped back and forth at the perfect times. The chapters are shorter and easily flow. I literally finished this book in one day because I could NOT PUT IT DOWN.

The twist towards the end did blindside me a bit. There were definitely a few hints I am now looking back and realizing. Was it necessary to add that craziness? Maybe not, but I still panicked and flipped out nonetheless. I didn’t love how quickly it ended, but since I got my tender and sweet love story I’m okay with it. I could have definitely used an epilogue though.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction + Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few explicit love scenes (but not vulgar if that makes sense)
  • Trigger warnings: bullying, miscarriage, depression, suicide ideation, plane crashes

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Beholder (The Beholder #1) by Anna Bright

Rating: ☆☆☆  
Audience:Young adult fantasy
Length: 435 pages
Author: Anna Bright
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

I ONLY HAVE ONE QUESTION: WHERE AM I?

I will first start off by saying: this is a story with multiple love interests. About the only time I can handle it is when I no beforehand and can then decide if I’m okay with it (i.e. The Selection Series). Since this was a buddy read and it did sound pretty good I was cool with the love triangle/square happenings.

What I was not okay with was the world-building. I can say that I’ve read quite a bit over my life and never have I been more confused about the world then when when I was reading this. Talking to my friend I kept messaging her with a shouted: WHERE AM I? over and over again. They’re mentions of Greek mythology (Odysseus and Homer), mentions of other story time characters (Hansel & Gretel), but the world appears to be spread out as it is in 2019 (referring to continents and general countries). We have to take ships everywhere, no cell phones, but there appears to be the occasional radio? I could keep going y’all. Trust me, it’s insane how odd ball this all was.

If you look past the world-building and to the story, you will be okay with what you see. Selah starts off as a pushover and scared of her own shadow. A bunch of woe is me crap that I really needed her to drop, ASAP. By the end of the book she did get a little better. Made a few choices that are interesting and I’m not sure where they’ll take us in book two, but none-the-less, at least her character was more appealing by the end.

The love interests all have their own game plans. I’m currently #teamtorden. He’s the Norse-ish god of my dreams. The others we either haven’t gotten to yet or didn’t spend much time with them. The book seemed a bit rushed and I thought she needed more than two weeks at each location to get a feel for the other person. This caused me to have a hard time loving anyone because I felt like I didn’t even know them enough to love them.

There were two other small things that were odd and bothered me. One being, Selah referring to her Father as DADDY THE ENTIRE TIME. She’s 18, I’m sorry, but I think that’s weird *shrugs*. The other thing was the Marvel rip-off. The characters in one of the lands were CLEARLY taken from them, so much that I was taken out of the story because all I could picture was the movies.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some chaste kisses
  • Violence: poison, mentions of losing a loved one, but really pretty tame

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 330 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver WIng Press
Release Date: August 27th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined. 

IT WAS WORTH STAYING UP LATE.

This may turn out to be my latest YA fantasy obsession. How has nobody heard of this (okay, I’ve met a few who have read some of the books, but still, there should be more!).

Vhalla had a lot of growth in this book, enough that I am up for carrying on to book two. I try to give some grace when a characters starts out a bit oblivious and scared of a lot of things. I understand that the author may be trying to build on them so I let it run for a bit. I was happy to watch Vhalla start to grow and accept her powers. She still has a long way to go, but I am in her corner!

This book is YA fantasy and focuses on the love component (I know not all like fantasy in this matter so I like to mention it). Me personally? I love anything with love. So her and Aldrik? SO THERE I CAN’T EVEN EXPLAIN. Dark brooding prince with fire powers. Right up my alley. What was not so fun was the dash of love triangle that I was praying didn’t happen. It wasn’t ya know, the happiest of endings, but I’m glad that this only festered for a bit.

Things were a little slow to start off, but after getting to know the characters, throwing around some flirtations we dove into the action. WHOA. This last half picked up spectacularly. A lot of action, addition of some politics and a heavy dose of tender moments. I stayed up til 2 AM to finish this and I regret nothing. I am so excited to read the next installment.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy – focus on the love story
  • Language: very little (almost non-existent)
  • Romance: some almost kisses
  • Violence: falling from a roof, fire-y explosions, magic (wind, water, air, fire), physical, knives, arrows, poison

Instagram || Goodreads