Book Review

Book Review: Onyx & Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1) by Mindee Arnett

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 512 pages
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett thrusts readers into a beautiful, dangerous, and magical world in this stunningly epic and romantic fantasy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Raasch.

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.

FELT VERY TYPICAL YA FANTASY.

I haven’t had a chance to get to this review for a few days, and now I’m sitting here trying to think about everything that happened and I can barely remember. Uh oh.

This was a very typical young adult fantasy novel. Mostly unremarkable, but you still enjoy it. You just don’t LOVE it. That about sums up all of my feelings for this.

Things started off a bit slow and confusing. We dove head first into the story and I had a hard time adjusting to the magic system, world, politics, and relationships of everyone. What I was feeling was the second chance love story between Kate and Corwin. Was a bit rocky, and full of Corwin trying to show Kate how much she means to him. Though he made a mistake I wasn’t totally comfortable with *shrugs;* wasn’t a full deal breaker at least. They had some good banter, and a few touching moments with a solid ending. I’ll take it!

It took me awhile to figure out what the plot was. I didn’t know who was bad, what we were trying to stop, and where the main focus lied. I’m thankful that this all worked itself out. As I finished it, I definitely understood what was going on and think that this will make the second book infinitely better. There were some odd political discussions that seemed out of place. And also, the weird battle/trial thing between his brother for the Kingship? What is that?! This was random too and I know it still has to end in the second book, but I need more info. Because WHY.

I did finish this 500+ page saga, which means I didn’t hate it. It was just stagnant. I’ll keep an eye out for the second book and we’ll see if I get around to reading it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, and almost love scene (a little descriptive)
  • Violence: battle, animal attacks, swords, guns, magic; not intensely gory/bloody

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves #2) by Kristina Pérez

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + retelling
Length: 420 pages
Author: Kristina Pérez
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Stars is the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within… 

CAN I HAVE BOOK THREE PLEEEEEASE?

Whoa y’all. This was one of my top TBR books for 2019. After last years Sweet Black Waves, I was left SHOOOOK. And here I am, still feeling the same. I seriously have no clue where book three is going to go. Many, many things happened in the last 50 pages of this book that really brought home this solid 4 star rating.

Branwen is a mystical MC. I never know quite what to do with her. I like her most of the time, other times I want to shout at her, but all in a day’s work right? I feel like she has a lot on her shoulders that have heavily influenced her decisions on motives. Branwen doesn’t always make the right choice, yet I can tell her heart is in the right place. That ending though? Oooooh boy, I can see myself being utterly devastated by the last book. I’M SPECULATING WILDLY.

I’m here for Branwen and Ruan though. As soon as he walked on screen, Tristan was out of my mind (well, that happened at the end of book one). They have great chemistry and while I didn’t love how their relationship started, I loved how it formed from that point. What read as a bit rushed, was well thought out. I want to see more of them ASAP. I get a happy ending right?

Ugh, you know who I hate? Tristan and Eseult. BYE FELICIA. Goodness gracious. Both of them are whiny, immature, and selfish. I can’t handle them and need them to be taken down a few pegs. I wanted to feel more remorse for them, but really struggled too. They definitely weren’t making it easy on me.

Marc. This man grew on me. Made my heart hurt. And i just wanted to find him and give him a hug. I think he needs one after that hand he was dealt this book. THAT POOR MAN. HE JUST WANTS TO BE A GOOD KING. I want him to get the story he deserves, though I’m worried if that will happen. I also don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil it for y’all. You will love Marc by the end of WSS.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop in here. And i gotta say, I’m not sure that happened? There were some moments at the end where secrets started spilling out. I am excited for book three (and did you see the cover reveal? GORGEOUS). Really though, I love this setting and the way this re-telling has been done. It’s all fantastic.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + retellings
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, one mild-detailed love scene, a few others (that are not even fade to black, whatever is considered before that, she says “I need a distraction” then the scene ends, but you know what they obviously did), a lot of discussion of maidenhood (being a virgin by the standards of the religion for this fantasy)
  • Violence: murder, poison, knives, swords, battles, skirmishes; fairly detailed/bloody at times
  • Trigger warnings: miscarriage resulting from a bad fall

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: A Kingdom of Exiles (Outcasts #1) by S.B. Nova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 600 pages
Author: S.B. Nova
Publisher: Night Owl Publishing
Release Date: December 17th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The brightest of stars are always born on the darkest of nights.

Serena Smith is unusual.

Growing up in a backwoods village, her life is lonely and dull. Then, on her eighteenth birthday, she’s gifted a magical heirloom only to be snatched by fae and condemned to a lifetime in chains.

Dragged to Aldar, a fae kingdom ruled by a tyrant witch, Serena discovers a forbidden love, and meets fellow outcasts, each with their own dark secrets.

As the lives of warriors, rebels, and witches clash, they find a shared destiny. For only together, and with Serena’s unique gifts, can they survive long enough to build the flames of a revolution. Only together can they go to war …

DID SOMEONE SAY FAE?

Yes, I come running to a book when I hear that. And this was no different, and was a great read!

Oooo boy, finally finished this one. I read it through Amazon Prime so I didn’t pay attention to the page count, did you know this book is 600 pages? NEITHER DID I. Yet, somehow, I consistently found myself wanting to come back and read this. I would put it down to read a few chapters from another book and wouldn’t feel as invested because I wanted to dive into this story more. Yes it’s long, but it somehow feels like everything was a necessary piece of the puzzle.

I would desperately like to know who Serena’s mate is though y’all. WHO WHO WHO…who. There was kind of a roulette situation happening with multiple fae where I was convinced each time, oh this is her endgame, and then was thrown off that to someone else! I still have no inkling. The romance in this book is a bit all over the place. Her relationship (that’s supposed to be family based) seems way more than that. The one that was more romantic, didn’t have me really shipping them, AND I’m JUST LOST. If you can’t tell by my rambling sentences.

Serena is definitely a work in progress. Since this is only the first book, I am totally cool with not LOVING her character, but seeing where she can go. I wish she could do a little more for herself, yet I see that she needed to form all of the bonds because she was dealt a crappy hand in the human world. This allowed her to have friendships and people truly close to her.

I love the bit of squad goals we had with Serena’s pack. Frazer (LOVE HIM) needs to be my best friend. I would love him so! I love the team dynamics and the protectiveness that forms through the trials they go through at the military training camp.

The setting and world-building is a bit confusing at times. I really wasn’t grasping the view of the world until way deeper into the book (and a thorough read through of the map). I love maps, but feel like when I’m reading the book itself I shouldn’t have to keep checking back to confirm where I am. The story should be able to narrate that.

Some of the twists near the end had me stunned. I genuinely didn’t see them coming. I thought the lead up was great and can’t wait to get the villain on screen.

I also spent some time looking up information on the next book and stumbled upon the fact that this is supposed to be a four book series. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT THAT LONG.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, one detailed love scene
  • Violence: magical, physical, skirmishes, arrows, poison, murder
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault (unwanted touching, Ch. 2)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

REID & LOU: NEW OTP.

In recent memory I can easily say that this was a book that actually lived up to the hype. I LOVED IT. Barely 50 pages in, I was hooked, and I wanted to savor the rest of this amazing story.

Loved this setting. Loved the writing. Love these characters.

Speaking of, REID y’all. I love how passionate he was (and rather stubborn too), but also very tender and had a big heart beneath it all. I liked the influence his religion played on all of his decisions and emotions. He stayed true to who he was, but also learned to be open and adapt to previously misleading information. He was SO CUTE and I adore him. His love scene with Lou was also unique for YA and I found it absolutely amazing and well done (and that’s all I will say on that to avoid spoilers, but you’ll understand if you’ve read it!).

Lou was a great MC too. I love how much she chooses love. Lou wanted more out of life than what she was handed and sought after those things and I applaud her for it. Her growth was immense and she learned a lot about herself too. It was so appealing to have both Reid and Lou see outside their boxes to learn and understand about one another.

Best friend alert: Ansel & Coco. OH MY GOODNESS. The side characters were fabulous! I loved this just as much as the MCs. They had a lot to offer and actually brought something to the table. Ansel was my sweet baby and I just want to love him forever okay? I beg the universe not to kill him off in the next book, I might shatter. HE WAS PERFECT. Coco was her own fiery beast that I would so be BFFs with. Easy to love, sneaky, loyal, yes yes yes. Beau was a great addition towards the end too. I’m very curious how he’ll play a part in book two.

Lots of action and intrigue in this book. The pacing kept me constantly intrigued. There was a steady flow of things happening, to slowing down a bit, and to not notice that this book was 500 pages is a stellar job all on it’s own. I enjoyed the villain immensely more than I even considered I might. They threw in some twists I didn’t see coming and were seriously, heinously evil. I will clap for that because I hate a wishy-washy bad guy.

BOOK TWO, I NEED YOU.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a detailed love scene
  • Violence: magical, blood magic, physical, knives, swords, poison, paralysis via drugs, torture, arrows

Instagram || Goodreads

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

Instagram || Goodreads

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

Instagram || Goodreads

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)

Instagram || Goodreads