Book Review

Book Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction +fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh, begins to give way. But before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series features wry humor and a cast of unforgettable characters facing off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

READ EVERY LAST DANG PAGE OF THIS BOOK.

Or you might feel like throwing it across the room. Like me. Then I read it all. Then I got the ending I was demanding from my bookish soul.

This was a great finale! Definitely the best book of the series by far.

I loved watching all of the story lines come together. Seeing all of the characters align. It all was beautifully woven and closed the ending as it should be. I wasn’t left with questions or concerns. I closed the book at peace. That’s a good ending. There was even a double crossing betrayer that I had no idea was coming. It was a twist that added an edge.

ABIGAIL AND CHARLIE ARE SO DANG CUTE. Absolutely precious. This was the first time I wish they had some more screen time. I was smitten with Charlie and their interactions. They were a great, simple, no drama relationship that added the touch of romance to round out this series.

Jackaby and Abigail are once again a dynamic duo. Jenny became team member number three and I loved having her around more! The banter and dynamics between everyone always make me smile and really appreciate their friendships. I was so happy that Jackaby got the ending he deserved. It made a lot of sense and I figured it would have to move in that direction to bring closure.

This is one of those books that handles the addition of literally every magical creature from fairytales and folklore well. They’re SO MANY CREATURES. I love learning more about them and the way they each added their own touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy/paranormal mystery
  • Language: one word (witch)
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, magic, swords, murder, animal attacks, vampire attacks, physical

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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: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) by Crystal Smith

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 373 pages
Author: Crystal Smith
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 12th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

I’M NOT SURE WHERE TO START.

This was nothing new in the world of young adult fantasy. That’s not generally an issue because I know it must be crazy hard to be completely new. My issue here was that the story didn’t anything else to help me ignore the fact I had seen this all before.

What I did like is how dark it actually kinda turned out to be. Holy wow there was a lot of people murdered in this book. It followed the story line well and only two people weren’t actually dead which is pretty solid considering almost everyone never actually dies (it’s okay to kill characters off sometimes guys, I stand by this).

It was a pretty short book (under 400 pages) and everything happened SO DANG FAST. I felt like I was running while reading this. I really wanted some slow down moments where we got to know characters on a deeper level that helps me form bonds with them. I was on the cusp of hitting that with a few and wanted MORE.

All of the twists were so well telegraphed I saw them from a mile away. No, scratch that, 10 miles away. From the moment they walked onto the screen I knew what was going to happen eventually. It was probably the biggest factor in bringing down the rating. I wanted more intrigue and confusion. Instead, all of the big moments were announcing themselves as bright as humanly possible.

Did I ship the relationship? Yes. Could have used an extra dose of enemies to lovers but nonetheless, it’s sweet and I like where it’s going. I did not understand the point of throwing out the first guy within the first quarter of the book (you’ll understand if you read it). Since I didn’t know anyone that well it made shrug and roll my eyes.

My evil characters are luckily, pretty dang evil. So I’m here for that. I want to see what they do next because it’ll definitely be interesting. This book ended in a way that made things seem like *the end,* but it turns out there’s more. We’ll see what happens next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses and confessions of love
  • Violence: blood magic, poison, knives, murder (better detailed in triggers)
  • Trigger warnings: murder of an animal (pretty gruesome and detailed), murder of a pregnant woman (baby does survive), other detailed and gory murders, attempted sexual assault and a suicide (a mother does it to save her son)

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Book Review

Book Review: Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fantasy
Length: 460 pages
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Princess or adventurer.

Duty or freedom.

Her Kingdom or the Stormhunter she loves.

If Aurora knows anything, it’s that choices have consequences. To set things right, she joins a growing revolution on the streets of Pavan. 

In disguise as the rebel Roar, she puts her knowledge of the palace to use to aid the rebellion. But the Rage season is at its peak and not a day passes without the skies raining down destruction. Yet these storms are different—they churn with darkness, and attack with a will that’s desperate and violent. 

This feels like more than rage. 

It feels like war.

SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE.

This is how I feel about #teamcassius. Anyone with me?! We’ll come back and visit this in a few paragraphs.

Okay, so I maaaay have over-hyped this for myself a bit and maaaay have been a little disappointed. What picked up my spirits though was that by the end, it was clearly a book two. Book two syndrome is alive and well here. So while I was bit let down, and thought this was slow more often than not, the ending was ON POINT AND I AM SO HERE FOR WHERE IT MAY LEAD.

Where may it lead you ask? Oh yes, back to #teamcassius. It isn’t even a love triangle [yet] and I am pushing for it. Who am I? I’ve loved Cassius from day one (I can’t handle a brooding Prince trying to be a better person than his father). And this caused me to never be fully on board with Kiran. Kiran got better over the story, but his protective and dramatic streaks left me wanting to put him on the side. There were some really sweet and cute moments with Aurora though. I’m clearly conflicted.

I love the rotating multiple POV. I am a sucker for a bit that gives it to me in all the angles possible. The POV flashbacks with the Stormlord weren’t necessary though. It took up too much page space and I wanted to go back to the present. I don’t think it really gave new information (other than I supposed a deeper understanding of his mistreatment). Ooh, well, okay it did drop one HUGE tiny tidbit, but then nothing happened with it so I think it could’ve waited.

Aurora is not my favorite heroine. I enjoy her character and think she is pretty tough and mostly brave. She is trying so hard to be a good royal for her kingdom that she is making so many mistakes it’s distracting. We’re building through a character arc with blunders left and right. I have high hopes for her in book three (like being nice to Cassius – y’all agree with me right?!).

Claps all around for the ending. It was just what the book called for and had me begging for more. And you know what relationship I’m excited for? The brewing something between Novaya and Jinx. They’re SO CUTE. I was cool with all the screen time they got. That’ll be one to watch for. I also can’t get over the creativity of the storm magic concept. It’s a big ticket item here. It’s so cool and well thought out. I love the dynamics of this magic system!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, one little detailed fade to black scene, multiple mentions of *what they did* the night prior
  • Violence: violent storms, physical, swords, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: The Last Magician (The Last Magician #1) by Lisa Maxwell

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy 
Length: 512 pages
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 18th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

WHOA TO THAT LAST 100 PAGES THOUGH.

I listened to this as an audio book and thought it was really well done. At first it was a little confusing with the changing time periods each chapter, but once they stayed in the same place (a few chapters in), it was easy to follow and enjoy.

This book was trippy. I picked it up on a whim and ended up buddy-reading it with a friend and we were both wholly impressed with how much we liked it by the end. Enough to seek out the second book soon.

Esta and Harte had all the angst and I am STILL WAITING. Their slow-burn enemies to lovers is a small fire currently and I am soooo wanting more for them. I love watching them interact and each time they ran into each other it was awesome banter and had me snickering. These two stole my heart. But mostly, Harte Darrigan. He’s the heart of this story (I’m not even mad about this pun).

The mystery kept me on my toes. I honestly didn’t realize who the bad guy actually was until late in the book, practically when it was announced. I MEAN WHOA. That was amazing. I love when books keep me guessing. There was an even bigger twist that I had NO IDEA about. I don’t know how much it’ll play into the next book, but it was still crazy. Those are the best kind of reveals.

I love all of the secret societies and magic gangs that were running around New York in the 1920’s. It was an interesting world and added even more danger as they went on increasingly risky heists.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: guns, knives, physical, ritual murder

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I broke this into two parts because not only are their some great new releases coming out, there’s also a huge stack of books I’m staring at in my house that need to be read too. Lots of books to read this fall y’all.

NEW RELEASES ON MY FALL TBR:

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones


The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renee Ahdieh


The Toll (Arc of a Sycthe #3) by Neal Shusterman


Supernova (Renegades #3) by Marissa Meyer


Starsight (Skyward #2) by Brandon Sanderson


The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black


Ninth House (Ninth House Series #1) by Leigh Bardugo


Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle #1) by Rosaria Munda


Blood Heir (Blood Heir Trilogy #1) by Amelie Wen Zhao


The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli

BOOKS I’M DETERMINED TO READ THIS FALL:

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson


Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim


A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) by Deanna Raybourn


The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud


Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco


There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness #1) by Katy Rose Pool


The Vine Witch (Vine Witch #1) by Luanne G. Smith


The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar


Vortex Visions (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #1) by Elise Kova


The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa

What books are on your fall TBR? Any new releases or are you trying to conquer your back list? May we not be buried by our TBR this fall! Lets talk in the comments.

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Book Review

Book Review: Crystal Crowned (Air Awakens #5) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 400 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Long live Solaris. One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

THIS IS JUST MY FAVORITE EVER OKAY?

I waited to read this book because I didn’t want this story to end.

I waited to write this review because I didn’t want to sign-off on my love for this series.

So now I’m sitting here, a few weeks after finishing Crystal Crowned still trying to put into words how much I love this series.

It had everything that I look for when it comes to a young adult fantasy novel. I got the romance (always y’all), battles, politics, friendships, magic, world-building and so much more that combined to make a stellar series. Crystal Crowned was no exception. It was an impressive finale.

VHALLDRIK FOREVER. I love Vhalla and Aldrik and they are without a doubt, my new OTP (hello Feysand, you now have someone tied with you). Their relationship grew and changed with them as time went on. They adapted and fought to be by each other’s side every dang time and I AM HERE FOR IT.

The magic system is intense, yet easy to follow. There were some small tidbits of other characters that popped in that had me connecting a thousand dots at once. I loved how it all came together! The villain was wicked and we got some back story on him which really brought him out as a character.

FRIENDSHIPS. Vhalla and Fritz, Elecia, Jax, etc. While yes, this is heavily flavored with romance, it is also very strong in friendships. The bonds formed between all of these characters make my heart MELT.

Vhalla remained strong, intelligent and fierce. Even when faced with some crazy odds and poor choices she persevered and endured. She has got to be one of my favorite heroines. I love that Vhalla never gave up for what she was fighting for. Yes, times got tough, but she continually strove to remember the peace she was seeking.

If you’ve ever thought about reading these, you should. I can’t wait to read the rest of Kova’s books because I don’t doubt I will obsess over them just as much as these.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: A handful of love scenes that are barely detailed and fade to black
  • Violence: demonic creatures and soldiers, elemental magic, physical, torture, swords, battle scenes; fairly gory
  • Trigger warnings: miscarriage

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