Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Worlds (Constellation #2) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult sci-fi + romance
Length: 469 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

This is the thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars from the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline.

An outcast from her home — Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people…if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate — On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them…or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider where–and with whom–we truly belong.

WHERE HAS THIS SERIES BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

I’m picky with sci-fi reads. I have no idea why, it’s a tough genre for me to love. When I find gems hidden in the wood works I shout for joy. THIS IS ME SHOUTING YOU SHOULD READ THIS SERIES.

Audio note: Once again, a beautiful audio book. It was recommend to me to read them this way if possible and I’m grateful my library had them. The narration is fantastic, the voices are great, it’s an easy listen. Seriously love it.

Alright, the story. This is delightfully twisted. Filled with action and space battles. Biological warfare that makes me cringe. Politics between worlds that are shiver-inducing. Romance that makes your heart beat just a little bit faster. It’s all there. I love the combination and play-out of the characters and world.

There’s a character in here that as an audio book, no lie creeped me out. If I go into more detail I may spoil it. So know if you listen to the audio book the voice for this character is perfectly fear inducing (as it should be) for the lengths someone will go for those they love. Even when it’s not the choice that should be made. There’s a fine line that is toyed with throughout these books about what constitutes a soul. It’s thrilling and captivating to question such humanity.

I am still so here for this romance. It’s sweet and tender. Makes me swoon and has me shouting at the page. It’s a simple, light romance that fuels their choices and directives. I love how both Abel and Noemi know what they’re fighting for and refuse to give up on those ideals, BUT also refuse to give up on each other. It’s a team I want to cheer for and after that ending I better get my happily ever after ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi / dystopia + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: space battles, guns, physical, sickness

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Sci-fi + romance
Length: 503 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She’s a soldier – Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine – Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel’s advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

Fast-paced, romantic, and captivating, Defy The Stars is a story about what it means to be human, about deciding what you truly believe in, and about finding your place in a dangerous world.

OH HI, A NEW FAVORITE SCI-FI.

When a Bookstagram friend shouts that she loves this book, you pick up this book. AND WOW, she was right. I without a doubt would add this to my favorite YA sci-fi lists. It was great. The audio book was fantastic too. Highly recommend listening to it if you get a chance!

It’s hard for me to formulate what I enjoyed, I just know the feeling I had when I finished it was an effervescent excitement to get to the next book. It sparked joy (that means I get to keep it right?) and that’s the best part about reading sometimes.

Totally smitten with this budding romance y’all. This kind of reminded me of LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff with the mechanical robots that essentially have souls. The books are totally different, tiny pieces reminded me of them. Abel and Noemi are PRECIOUS. I love the flawed people that they are. It made me connect with them on many levels. It’s a enemies to lovers slow burn that really grasps you. It doesn’t JUMP to a relationship. This building is only going to get better over the books and I never felt like it was draaaaagging along. Everything flowed as it should which made the romance all the better.

The plot and story itself is fascinating. I loved going to all of the different planets and seeing how people from Earth had colonized and changed them. The universe really seems fast when you have a spaceship to jump through wormholes everywhere. The politics are convoluted in a way that doesn’t leave you with an enigma, just curiosity at how everything will eventually unfold. The wickedness comes from many angles and has created a fast-paced, action filled story that has caused me to pick up book two immediately.

Religion places a bigger role in this than most fantasy books I’ve read. It was interesting to see how Gray wove those details into Noemi’s thoughts and choices. I liked this addition to it because it wasn’t screaming religion, but giving the character depth. This was the life Noemi has been living and she had to learn how her old world and new world fit together.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopian sci-fi
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: spaceship battles, physical, explosions

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books I Read With Single-Word Titles

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I thought this was going to be more difficult than it turned out to be. They’re actually quite a few single word title books out there.

I went with the last 10 I read and what opinions I have about them! Some were great, some were closer to duds, but all could be something you might want to try reading.

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this! It was great as an audio book. I thought it started off a bit slow, but by then end I was invested in the story.


Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

Yes, yes. I finally read this! Oooh man. And now I know that this year will be spent reading all of these (new 2020 goal alert). I love Claire and Jamie!


East (East #1) by Edith Pattou

This was unique and fun. I love how quick the chapters were and the multi-POV that kept things moving. It was a light romance with lots of mythical creatures. I definitely plan on reading West!


Confess by Colleen Hoover

I love everything CoHo writes. This is no exception. A romance set in downtown Dallas with lots of drama. A good book to binge in one evening.


Ashlords (Ashlords #1) by Scott Reintgen

I read this as an ARC! I picked it out because it was supposed to be reminiscent of The Scorpio Races. It did have some things that reminded me of that book (namely, the magical horses). I really enjoyed this one.


Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

As my second Ernshaw book, I just don’t think the stories and I mix. I once again found myself a bit bored and waiting for something to happen. The romance needed more umph too.


Starsight (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I loooooove Brandon Sanderson. It’s aaaaamazing. This series is great and I can’t believe I have to wait so long to read the next one!


Rebel (Legend #4) by Marie Lu

Didn’t know how I would feel about this one, but y’all. It was actually a great conclusion. I got the ended I NEEDED to be satisfied with June and Day’s story.


Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

A suuuper short, quick book. An interesting concept. A bit odd and random too. I couldn’t connect with the story that well.


Imber (Thanatos Trilogy #1) by Tyffany Hackett

This was a Kindle Unlimited find! It was great. I enjoyed this YA fantasy. So much that I have the second book downloaded, I just need to get to it!

What’s the last single-word title book you read? Have you read any that are on my list? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: Give the Dark My Love (Give the Dark My Love #1) by Beth Revis

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: September 25th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness. 

DARK AND CREEPY.

This isn’t a thriller, but the subject matter is definitely in that category. A wasting death that seems to be attacking everyone, making limbs turn black and amputations be the only possible solution. WHAT. Lock me in a tower and throw away the key. I don’t want anything to do with that.

I listened to this on audio so I like to mention the narration. The female voice was fine, she did it in an accent (because the character is said to have one). It was easily understood and I thought brought Nedra more to life. The male voice I did not love the way it was done. He was hard to understand and I struggled to get through Grey’s chapters because of it.

The magic system is a bit twisted y’all. I actually didn’t like it. NOT because it wasn’t thought out and put together well, but because it involved harming animals. Mice were only every actively used in this book. The concept was drawing out someone else’s pain and giving it to the mouse/rat. It made me sad for the tiny creatures.

Nedra was an MC that had to grow on me. At first I was realllll annoyed and tired of her being utterly convinced it was ONLY her who could save EVERYONE. She pushed people away so much and I kept thinking, girl chill. I did love her character change by the end because who doesn’t love when an MC turns into more-or-less a villain? It was wicked good and I can’t wait for the next book to see what she does next.

There were some plot twists at the end that I was like WAIT WHAT? [even said that out loud]. I had imagined a different character being the instigator of the plague, and was totally surprised by who it was. Love it. I love when a book can trick me and keep me on my toes.

I feel like I need to mention the romance part. There’s a little in here. Grey and Nedra form a relationship over time and it’s cute. They get to know one another and hang out, have a few sweet kisses. I did like it, but it seems like it’ll play a bigger role in book two.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a few kisses, a make out
  • Violence: wasting illness, amputations, animals being used for magic system, guns; pretty violent and gory

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Ashlords (#1) by Scott Reintgen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders–skilled at alchemy–who must compete at The Races–the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.

Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.

Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged.

In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

ACTION-PACKED.

When you read a tagline that has “Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races…”, both of which are books you LOVE, it makes you think you have to know what this book is all about. I can’t say I see the Red Rising resemblance, BUT I do see The Scorpio Races with a bit more fire.

This book easily keeps you reading. I love how action driven this one was (a difference in my usual choices). The three POVs are all unique voices and really drive the desperation each one has to win The Races. What I found odd at first, yet really vibed with as the story went one was the difference in narration from the others. I think it would be more fun to not go into more detail, but it really adds to the personalities in how it was written.

World-building was totally awesome. The phoenix [horses] are killed each night, and rise each day under new conditions. There’s thousands of combinations to give your horse more speed, armor, better heart and lungs, the possibilities are endless. I love how the alchemy and magic system worked for these. I was a bit confused by the addition of gods into the story? They definitely played a part, but felt a bit disjointed. I kept feeling like they were added only to move the plot along because it needed a boost from somewhere.

I loved all of the characters for a variety of reasons. Imelda is the true underdog with a thorn in her side and something to prove. The choices she makes ultimately lead to larger consequences that will be a big deal in book two. Adrian is the saucy son of the rebellion who’s trying to win for his people. Lastly, Pippa, the daughter of two former winners who’s meant to win, supposed to win, and destined to win. Because of the intricacies of styles it was very easy to know which chapter you were in and who was speaking. I appreciated that it wasn’t muddled whatsoever.

Full of action and seriously not sure who was going to win. The race was exciting, with a touch of mystery and plenty of magic. The bigger politics of the society made the phoenix races that much more important and the story that much more enchanting.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: fire, physical, whips, guns, swords, battle/skirmishes

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Book Review

Book Review: Of Rioters & Royals (Swift Shadows #1) by M.L. Greye

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 421 pages
Author: M.L. Greye
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 18th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Emry is a Royal – a princess of Enlennd. As is tradition, she must have a knight at her side as her protector. The only way to appoint one is through The Trials. Her Challengers from the five regions of Enlennd must compete for the infamous title of Princess’s Knight. The problem, though, is that the people of Enlennd are split into two categories: Rioters and Royals. Finding the perfect knight may be the last of her worries. War is coming to Enlennd.

Declan is a Rioter. An upriser. An anarchist. He mistrusts the Jewels – the sovereign family of Enlennd. Yet, he is offering himself up as a Challenger in The Trials. The Mistress, leader of the Rioters, has a mission for him. The first step is for him to become the Princess’s Knight. He is ready for the task, until he actually meets Emry and discovers that betraying her would be much more difficult than he’d thought.

Thank you to the author for a digital copy of the book in exchange for a review! All opinions are my own.

I’M INTO THIS.

I really adored this book y’all.

The world building had a unique point that I hadn’t seen so woven through the story before. Color defining eyes. All sorts of crazy colors and combinations that give the person with those eyes a unique set of skills. I thought this was fascinating and loved learning all of the different gifts it allow a person to have. It was easy to follow the differing nations and even though a third party was thrown in at the end I believe they’ll really play a part in book two allowing this story to grow even larger.

I was smitten with the romance too. Declan and Emry were such a sweet and precious couple. The trope was along the lines of a childhood romance. They had known each other prior then were separated for years to be thrown back together when Emry was in search for a Knight. I enjoyed their banter and watching them come together as a power couple. They were able to communicate and love one another for who they are. The idea of pairs (a play on mates) worked really well for this too.

At times I felt there was too much focus on describing rooms, landscapes, etc. I personally don’t like having a lot of flowery writing and want to get to the heart of the story and narrative. By the second half of the book I felt this was really the case. I also noticed that somethings were along the lines of ACOTAR Series (A Court of Thorns and Roses). Which was very interesting to me. I have no idea if this was inspired by that or anything, I just noticed some quirks that were familiar. This didn’t stop me from loving the story on its own though.

I appreciated that the plot kept moving forward with steady action, but also the quiet moments that I love so much. I love watching relationships form, families get some time together, and friendships bond. This had all of that and more. I can’t wait to read book two!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, a no-detailed fade to black scene
  • Violence: physical, mentions of past torture, magic, fires, drownings, explosions, skirmishes

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Book Review

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction + Mystery
Length: 437 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Expected Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea.

It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

THOMAS CRESSWELL DESERVES BETTER.

BETTER BETTER BETTER. Oh my goodness. Usually I give a book higher marks for making me feel intense feelings for all the things. In this case, the intense feeling was rage, so instead I marked it lower.

HOW DARE AUDREY ROSE WADSWORTH. This was cheating and I will stand by that firmly. I’m tired of seeing this as a plot device and it makes me upset every time.

Something kind of funny though? If this was a different story without a boyfriend and the girl was having this kind of flirtations and kisses with a magician with a mask? Yes. I would have loved the banter and the set-up of that. BUT IT’S THOMAS FREAKING CRESSWELL. WHAT.

Wow, I can’t get over this. My review is running away from me. It was the entire plot which is why it’s very much on my mind. Other than that, the plot consisted of the same as the previous two books. People die, Thomas & Audrey Rose try to find the murderer. Nothing new. It’s a kin to watching CSI (or something similar) where the same show essentially happens every time but you can’t look away. This is how I felt.

I love my boy Thomas though. And I missed him this book! Since Audrey Rose and her shenanigans took up most of the page time, I felt he was barely on screen. There wasn’t much banter between them, mostly angst and angry words.

This was honestly a big letdown for the entire series. I am curious how Capturing the Devil will play out because I’ve seen very mixed reviews.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + mystery
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: physical, a lot of murder (by knives, hangings, animal attacks)
  • Trigger warnings: cheating

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