Book Review

Book Review: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: February 25th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

ANOTHER FAVORITE.

Mmmmm. One of those finish in a day books here. I am smitten by Levenseller’s writing and I will continue to read every book she publishes because DANG. I loved this character driven writing with broken and flawed humans.

This is a romance. While her previous books were more one plot line with a sub-plot romance, The Shadows Between Us is alllll romance. AND I AM ALLLLL HERE FOR IT.

Our unlikable heroine Alessandra really got down with her bad side. While at first I wasn’t so sure about her, I loved her character by the end. She somehow stuck to her ideals, but became more open and trusting at the same time. It was a great combination. Alessandra learned how to have a friendship, a relationship, and how to take down some bad guys trying to ruin all the fun.

Kallias. Oooooo yes. I love him too. He is the sultry YA hero that we all love. A bit distant, strong, amiable, and honestly just trying to do right by his kingdom. I got so excited every time Kallias and Alessandra had some page time together because the sparks were flying. I really felt the chemistry between them and thought the development was good for the length of the book. There were plenty of quiet moments, swoon moments, ooo la la moments that all mashed together to give me a quick darker romance that I adored.

Yes, it’s only 336 pages and that is it’s only downfall. While to me, it didn’t phase me much (I still gave it 5 stars), I can see the dilemma. A lot of the sub-plot lines weren’t as long as I thought they would be. Things kept getting wrapped up in neat bows without some angsty drag out. If the book would have been longer and given more depth to all of these characters and stories I think it would have only made it better.

I did love the side characters. I loved Alessandra’s friends. They would make me smile and I appreciated the way they approached difficult subjects and accepted and loved each other for their differences. Girl power goes a long way for me in a book, so this was a nice touch.

What I can’t believe is how I didn’t figure out the final twist. I gathered most of the intel as the story went on. Yet, all of a sudden Alessandra’s storming the palace to save the King and I’m like oh it’s them, OH WAIT, IT’S THEM! Beautiful blindside. Great conclusion. Smitten with fluffy endings. Love it all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses; multiple discussions of sleeping partners and nights together; one little detailed fade to black scene
  • Violence: pit fights, physical, swords, thieving, poison, guns

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Book Review

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 484 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

STILL AMAZING.

This book doesn’t get old.

Nope. After my second read through I will read this series again, I just know it. I love it so.

This is one of those books where I find myself shouting at characters: KISS ALREADY. When it has been held off for 2+ books at this point and you know the love is there and all you need is that last sealing kiss. I get so giddy whenever this happens. AT LAST KESTREL AND ARIN. AT LAST.

The action is full speed ahead in this one y’all. The entire book is basically at the front of a battle and it will keep you busy. My heart would freak out every time I was concerned if someone was actually about to die. Luckily, what needs to happen does and the necessary actions are taken. I love the way the war scenes are written because Rutkoski expertly moves between Arin and Kestrel’s POV as they both show us the sides of battle. I feel like I get the entire scene and their emotions in a perfect combination.

The Winner’s Kiss also has one of the best ways for a villain to go down in any books I’ve read. Kestrel’s mastermind self takes down the Emperor is such a satisfying way. It really brings the entire series together because of the way it has woven throughout all three books. There’s a connection, a point, an actual ending to what’s happening.

Kestrel and Arin are one of my favorite OTP’s and this series needs way more recognition and love (even if it’s older). Definitely one of my favorite YA Fantasy series ever.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, very little detail fade to black scene
  • Violence: war, poison, swords, guns; a bit violent with a lot of battle scenes (full scale warfare)
  • Trigger warnings: drug withdrawal causing memory loss

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Book Review

Book Review: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 402 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Following your heart can be a crime.

A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself?

Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world…and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

THAT ENDING.

This is my second time reading this series. The first time I read them, I read all three in two days. You want to know why? Because by the time I finished this book I couldn’t handle not waiting another moment to read the last installment. That’s how much I love this series.

One of my favorite romances is in this fantasy. Arin and Kestrel and THE TENSION. I can’t handle the tension. I flip pages at speed waiting and hoping and hurting for them to have a moment alone where Kestrel can explain everything to Arin. This is one of the few times that lack of communication actually benefits the book (for me). Kestrel is doing everything to protect Arin and trying to play both sides of her loyalties to do so.

Kestrel is a fantastic heroine. I want to be her friend. She’s brave, bold, and utterly intelligent. I am again amazed at her ability to politcally maneuver one way, and saving those she loves the other way. Kestrel is constantly using her knowledge to help be the best spy she can be. I love her so much.

Arin is my sweet soul that I just want to hug and explain everything too. He’s so wrapped up in helping his country and making sure Kestrel is okay that it’s swoon-worthy. I love seeing his character grow up too. Arin and Kestrel both have to start being adults way sooner than planned. They make some mistakes and grow over the course of this book especially.

Those last few scenes hurt me to my core. AH. I am so wrapped up in the story at this point that there’s no way to put it down. The betrayal, the misunderstanding, the anger, the love. IT’S ALL THERE. This is the reason I keep coming back to this series.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: poison, knives, swords, animal attacks, physical

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2) by M.L. Greye

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy + romance
Length: 664 pages
Author: M.L. Greye
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: To be added after release date

BOOK SUMMARY:

Five years ago, Emry was mourning the loss of her only brother and feeling utterly helpless. When the opportunity arose to travel to the exotic nation of Heerth, Emry jumped on it. Through the help of her friend, Trezim, she learned the skills needed to protect herself and possibly save her country.

The past five years have gone a little differently for Declan. He has been kidnapped, beaten, stolen, robbed of all that he had … and trained to become the fastest man in history. But was it all worth it in the end?

Set in a world where eye color determines one’s abilities, Emry and Declan must discover the hard way that not all eyes are created equally. Yet, when they do find their perfect match, everything seems to pair up nicely.

Thank you to the author for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

HIT REWIND.

Another great installment for this series! I am dying for book three and can’t wait to see how it ends. This was actually more of a prequel book rather than a book two. This was definitely a unique choice for the series, but I found myself enjoying it overall.

The entire book is set five years prior and we get a real in-depth background on Emry and Declan. The skimming over that happened in Of Rioters & Royals is nothing compared to this story. It’s long, detailed and gives you plenty of more reasons to love these two main characters.

There is a lot more heartache and emotions throughout this book compared to the previous as well. Getting the full story of when Declan was a Stolen about ripped my heart out. So many horrors and having only a tiny bit of light to cling on to. I love that changes that his character went through and the type of person it made him after. No, he didn’t make good decisions, but he made decisions to survive and still kept his humanity.

Emry went through a lot of growth in this time frame too. Not only physically growing up, but mentally. Her eyes were opened up to her kingdom in ways she didn’t know existed. Being sheltered was no longer an option for her. I love Emry and have bold and brave she is to help her kingdom. She has taken on vast amounts in order to save her kingdom.

I liked that I also got to know more about some side characters that I know will play a part in the third book. Trezim, Rand, and Fiona especially. I love the uniqueness and differences in their personalities. They all leaped off the page and had me loving them just as much as Declan and Emry. Honestly, there could be spin-off books about them and I would definitely be interested. I love when side characters don’t steal the show, but greatly add to it.

An amazing world where eye color determines your powers (still thinks this is so cool). It’s easy to follow and not get bogged down by information. Nor is their info dumping. Things come out organically and help grown everything around the plot. There were lots of different areas that Declan and Emry traveled too really broadening the map.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, physical, torture, magic
  • Trigger warnings: depression, discussion of suicide, loss of loved ones

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