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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Book Review

Book Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 456 pages
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry Books
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

A FANTASTIC SOPHOMORE BOOK.

I initially went into this book a little nervous because I was iffy on her first book, An Enchantment of Ravens. I LOVED this book so much more! Oh I’m so happy I picked this up, it was an easy 4 stars to give (which yes, still means I enjoyed it!).

One of my previous issues was that the writing was too flowery for me personally. I don’t need a page describing a tree for me to feel like I’m there. This book really cut back on that, but still built an amazing setting and world. It was such a relief. The way the grimoires were crazy clever. I loved the idea of the books being able to come to life and having their own personalities.

The sass from Nathaniel was on point. I love a good cheeky sorcerer as much as the next fantasy reader. The relationship between Elisabeth and Nathaniel was a great slow-er burn. I never felt like it was rushed and actually wondered at times when it was coming back on screen. This was another big step-up from book one. They had great chemistry and it was easy to ship them.

I could have used a little less of Silas *shrugs*. At times I felt he was a bigger piece of the book than Elisabeth was and she’s the main POV. I’m cheering for her, and I don’t want the focus to continually be on a side character. I did like his arc and thought he was the perfect dose of a creepy, good-at-his-core, demon. Those are hard to find.

Elisabeth was a great character. She had emotions, ambitions and went out and did what needed to be done. I appreciate that she didn’t wait around to move the plot forward and took matters into her own hands. She was brave and strong, and I would definitely love to be her friend.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost love scene (clothing is beginning to be removed), make-outs
  • Violence: magic, poison, explosions, swords, murder

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it. 

Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own. Release date, page length, etc. subject to change before publication.

OVERALL ENJOYED.

I feel really conflicted about this book. It took me longer than usual to get through and I really did enjoy it, but I didn’t love how the ending went down which kinda bummed the book overall.

The world building was really cool. I love that it was set in Romania! That is unique and vastly different than a lot of YA books and thought it was great. The world building was well done and I felt like I was running all over the countryside with Theo and Huck. They really went on an adventure and that wasn’t stagnant in the slightest.

What I did realize after finishing this book was that I am not [as big of a] fan of second chance romances where they grew up together. I didn’t get all the feels for them that I was hoping. Their banter and interactions were sweet and funny so I still shipped them overall. I was happy things worked out enough in the end. They had decent chemistry but I hated the nickname Banshee (and he would not stop calling her that).

What annoyed me with the ending was the transition to caring more about her Father than Huck. I get that the premise was about family, BUT Y’ALL, we spent the entire book reconnecting with Huck and looking for her Dad (where Theo continually talked about how annoyed and upset she was with him). Then, she leaves Huck in his moment of need to find her Dad, and I don’t know. Since she talked up not liking him, I frankly didn’t care that much what happened to him. There was an interesting twist involving Theo that was creepy and accurate for a novel set around Vlad the Impaler.

I did like the dialogue and writing style. The addition of the history from the region was very interesting. Bennett must have done a lot of research to make it as accurate as possible (with creative choices for the book). I do enjoy her style and look forward to reading more books from her.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + fantasy
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: poison, dark magic, scythes, losing a finger

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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

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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

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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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