Book Review

Book Review: Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers #1) by Nicki Pau Preto

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Expected Release Date: February 12th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I had a sister, once… 

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us. 

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled. 

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken. 

Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy about love’s incredible power to save—or to destroy. Interspersed throughout is the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider queen, who would rather see her empire burn than fall into her sister’s hands.

I LOVE PHOENIXES.

Since the only book I can remember having anything to do with a phoenix in it is from HP, I didn’t realize just how much I love these mythical birds. The heavy focus on them in this story was AWESOME. And I can’t wait to learn more about the Phoenix Riders.

This book starts out a bit slow, there is a lot of history to catch up on and grasp. Honestly, it took me about 100+ pages to really get the story-line. I did appreciate all of the chapter break-ups where I got a glimpse into how the original story with Avalkyra Ashfire happened. It helped me understand everything and be further invested in the story. If there’s every a chance for a prequel novel with that story I would be allllllll over it.

SLOW BURN. Oh the slow burn romances. There’s two brewing and I kept thinking I was at least going to get a kiss out of someone, BUT NO Y’ALL. I was left hanging. And I love it. I know we all often see how fast some relationships tend to move in books and the fact that this one is making me wait to book two, MAKES ME WANT TO READ BOOK TWO. Clever. I ship both of them and like how both of the relationships developed. A little bit of enemies to lovers and genuine time together really sealed the deal.

There were twists and turns throughout the book, yet when the last 100 pages, WHOA HOT DANG. I had an inkling about some of them, but definitely was surprised by a few of them. I love being surprised. While I did mention this story was slow in developing, the bones are really great. Lots of world-building, understanding character motives, and getting a grasp of the politics really was necessary to fully appreciate this book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some *almost* moments
  • Violence: fire attacks, physical beatings, throats being cut, swords, knives, animal attacks, animals being harmed, battle scenes, poison

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Book Review

Book Review: Essence (The Essence Chronicles #1) by Hayley Gabrielle

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 406 pages
Author: Hayley Gabrielle
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: June 22nd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Abbey Shader is summoned to Ethra, a land where human qualities roam free in flesh known as Essences, her life and the universe as she knows it splits open before her.
With the expansive secrets of humanity at her fingertips, Abbey’s strength of will and heart are put to a test no amount of time or meticulous study could have prepared her for.
Left to decide between the comfort of the familiar and the potential enlightenment of the strange, Abbey is thrust into a journey that demands more of her at every turn. She must learn to trust what she sees, and trust what she can’t.

Essence marks the first installment of the young adult fantasy series, The Essence Chronicles. 

Thank you to the author for sending me a digital copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

AN INTERESTING CONCEPT.

This was interesting! I didn’t know quite what I would be getting into when I started this book. The author reached out and asked if I would like to review a copy and upon checking out Goodreads I accepted the offer because it did sound up my alley!

Do y’all remember the movie, Inside Out? With all of the girl’s emotions portrayed as actual creatures/people? THIS WAS THE BOOK FORM. The further I read and the more characters I met that embodied different essences, the more it reminded me of that movie. This isn’t a good or bad thing, I just saw the similarities. I rather enjoyed having characters completely polarized in their personalities. It made for fun conversation and some solid banter. Combining Joy, Pride, Good, Honesty, and Pessimism (the ones we met in this book) was a squad to watch.

Abbey grew on me over the book. At first I was shaky with her. But what I appreciated was that she didn’t run off and agree with everything everyone was trying to tell her. I hate when characters don’t question what the heck just happened and loved that Abbey asked all the questions. It gave her time to understand and slowly grasp what was happening around her.

The love story with Zac is cute! Even though it was over a shorter period of time it didn’t feel rushed. There’s still a lot of feelings to convey and bonds to form. I liked watching them interact and learn more about each other. Zac is charming and has a deep background that I want to know more about.

As far as magic systems go, this one was rather confusing. I felt as frustrated as Abbey sometimes trying to understand the Earth, erodosphere and Ethra interactions. Then throw on top the Melder, and the Breathing and it left me all sorts of flipped around. The more I read, the clearer everything became and I’m happy that by the end I better understood what was everything meant.

At times this book read more like a prequel. Not a lot honestly happened. Abbey and the crew around her went on an adventure to meet the Overseer who brought Abbey to Ethra in the first place. That scene lasted a whole 2 pages. Instead, we really created a background for the lands and an understanding of how Ethra works in conjunction with Earth. While I wished it had a bit more substance, I’m still really interested in book two. I always found myself wanting to pick up my Kindle to keep reading this and am curious where Abbey will take us next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: some minor language throughout
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, animal attacks, not super gory, but moderately descriptive

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Book Review

Book Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Rating: ☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 417 pages
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo. Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractedly cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I DO NOT WANT TO SAVE THE DATE.

I seem to be in the minority for not loving this book, but asdfghjkl; NO. I wanted to give this three stars to be friendly, but the more I thought about it the more that I realized this book annoyed me more than pleased me. I’m still open to reading more of Matson’s contemporaries, this one just let me down overall.

The writing had a nice flow and is easy to keep turning pages. I kept going thinking that I was going to get some character arcs to help my thoughts on the book. I did enjoy the family dynamics [mostly]. It was fun seeing that many family members together and interacting. Some of the dialogue is a tad cheesy, but fits with the atmosphere of the story.

My biggest issue is that the two main focuses of the book collided so much and I thought it needed either more of one and less of the other and vice versa. Let me explain:

  • We had the “love story”. With the first chapter I was already very curious as to how this was all going to unfold (and why I thought the book was going to focus on the romance). I had guessed right with most of it, but the fact of the matter is that neither guy was in the book all that much. I was wondering if we were going to have more interactions. It left me wanting more from that angle.
  • And we had the “family story”. The entire story (400+ pages) covers THREE DAYS. That’s its own issue. Anywho, there was a big focus on reconnecting with family and accepting change within that dynamic. I would have loved if the plot focused solely on them and not added the romance. ONE OR THE OTHER. The combination of both left these plot lines frazzled.

I couldn’t stand Charlie as a MC. She was often very immature and naive. Not to mention, literally every chapter something else went wrong with the wedding. I was amazed that that many things could happen in THREE DAYS. It got to be so ridiculous I couldn’t even handle it.

This book would do much better on the big screen. The unrealistic happenings caused me to roll my eyes rather than laugh. I think this would have translated better as a movie. It was cute to have the cameo of characters from The Unexpected Everything (a book I did give 4 stars) too!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: an almost love scene (where you basically know what’s happening, takes up most of the first chapter), some kisses
  • Trigger warnings: divorce

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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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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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