Book Review

ARC Book Review: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 400 pages
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Wednesday Books, for the opportunity to read Wicked Saints. Publication date, etc. subject to change.

OOO, I LIKED THIS.

I have so many questions, in the best way possible. This was a great opening book and I think this will be a fantastic series.

I was immediately thrown into an action scene where I didn’t know anything, but was totally captivated. I think that scene on its own will have further implications in the following books.

I had the hardest time pronouncing all of these names though, especially the gods. They’re a lot of characters. And often they are thrown together quickly. It took me longer to accept meetings/relationships than it did in the book because I wasn’t sure how everyone was so quickly trusting in the middle of a war.

The only issue I had was that the book could honestly, be a little longer. Now hear me out, whenever I read a scene that seemed very important to the series I felt it wasn’t long enough to grasp the whole picture. There were so many things happening in this book that it’s occasionally hard to keep up. More time could’ve been spent on getting to know others, fully forming plans, action scenes, etc.

Nadya is still growing on me. I liked her and think her character is going to have some great refinement over the next two installments. She’s a little naive and so rigorously faithful that it becomes her downfall. Nadya could stand to be a little more wicked. Especially since I feel this was the entire point of the book. She hasn’t actually done anything just yet.

Malachiasz on the other hand, totally baffled me. I went from: eh → you’re okay → I kinda like you → wait a second → oh no he didn’t → NOW WHAT HAPPENS? all in the course of this book. He took me on a ride and his broken, damaged soul is one to watch for. He’s the actual Wicked one and his buddies need to catch up.

Lastly, are dear Prince Serefin is an interesting character who I think will have a bigger role come book two. He’s here and he does a lot, but his story really picked up right at the end. I enjoyed his wit and charisma and am ever so curious how he will fare.

There’s plenty of world-building and a lot of religious discussions. I liked how Duncan wove the various religions with society and politics and with how religion and magic work [or not] together. I kept debating with myself which side I felt was the more trust worthy/best choice for Nadya because there’s a strong emphasis on listening, learning and not assuming you already know everything about someone’s beliefs. I’m even sitting here now trying to plot the entire series. I love when there isn’t a major cliffhanger, but enough open-endedness that you can hardly wait for the next one.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Very little language
  • Violence: arrows, death, murder, torture, abuse, knives, etc.
  • Romance: light kisses, to intense make-outs
  • Trigger warnings: child abuse, self-harm, excessive use of alcohol
Book Review

Review: Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA sci-fi, dystopian
Length: 510 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: November 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with that of her father’s—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.

SANDERSON DOES IT AGAIN!

I STAYED UP WAY TOO LATE TO FINISH THIS AND I REGRET NOTHING. Sanderson should keep writing YA sci-fi novels, because this was fantastic.

“The answer is not to fear the spark, but to learn to control it. “

The world of Detritus is intricate and well thought out. The underground civilization, the above-ground command centers, the ring of debris around the planet!? So stinkin’ cool.

I know I only have the Mistborn series to go off of, but Sanderson puts together amazing female heroines. I absolutely love Spensa and her personality. She’s stubborn, blunt, and full of witty and odd old school remarks. I love how she handles and approaches her own issues and flaws, but in the same breath, stands for her crew and friends.

“You’re insubordinate, mouthy, and…well, you’re scudding frustrating. But when you fly, Spin, you fly as part of a team—and you keep my people safe.”

Also, the minor love interest that is screaming hate-to-love is making me beyond excited for the next installment. I love Jorgen and I am here for their romance y’all.

The banter and camaraderie in the Skyward crew is my absolute fav. I love a group of characters who balance each other so well. Even with the few people that you don’t get to know that well, I still felt attached to them. As I’ve noticed, Sanderson isn’t afraid of death. Spensa and the surviving crew mates have to deal with grief and guilt and it was making me feel too.

I can’t even handle M-Bot and Doomslug. I laughed so much listening to M-Bot attempt human emotions. Then the fact she has a random pet/creature that she named Doomslug who makes little noises? Dead. It was great and I loved these two.

“Brave to the end.”

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi
  • No language
  • Violence: space ship blasts, war
  • Romance: a hug
  • Trigger warnings: grief, loss of loved ones
Book Review

Review: The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms #4) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some kissing and love scenes, a lot of violence
Length: 598 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: October 23rd, 2012
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love. 

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it? 

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series. 

THIS WAS A FINALE.

The Crimson Crown was everything I love in a finale. It’s one of those books where yes, you know where it’s going, but not how, and I continually sat there way too anxious if my favs were going to make it out alive.

Han is definitely my forever favorite. He took a few pages from the dark side and I couldn’t be more thrilled. His continual passion for his one goal made me swoon and cheer him on over and over. I love that he’s not a typical hero. He came from a situation that should have never given him hope, and yet, he fiercely clung to the last string of faith he had.

Raisa is one of my all time top Warrior Queens. She unsurprisingly remained strong and stubborn. Even when crisis upon castle siege crisis came upon her, she was steadfast. I appreciated that she continually held to her ideals and what she wants for her Queendom (and Queendom? Hell yeah).

Now put those two together and they are a top OTP. Passionately fighting to be with each other, somehow betraying each other, and feeling this impending doom of never getting to be together. AHHHHH THE ANGST. Their collision is everything and their moment in the garden had me by my very soul. I love love love that they never lost faith in them.

This magic world is totally complex and the world building blew me away. I was so invested in how everything looked, felt, worked, sounded, etc. The prose isn’t heavy, but enlightening and spans the time that it needs too.

All of the side characters were well personalized. I actually felt like I knew them as well as I knew the main POVs. Crow, Dancer, Cat, Amon, Night Bird, and I could go on and on!! Crow was so presh. Acting all fatherly to Han and making sure he was okay and got what Crow never did *TEARS*. Cat was another great one who at last found a place for her in the Queendom and it was amazing to watch her grow over the series.

I missed seeing Amon a little bit, he wasn’t as big of a side character this round. But Dancer mostly picked up those sections, so it was alright, but that’s honestly the only major thing I can think of I struggled with. There’s a lot of politics, though enough kept happening that I didn’t mind.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Some intense kiss scenes, a loosely implied love scene
  • Lots of violence (torture, knives, magic, birds eating you alive)
  • Trigger warnings: implied rape (a backstory of one of the side characters)
Book Review

Review: The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, very little language, some kissing, a lot of violence
Length: 517 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: August 30th, 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen. 

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate. 

LOVIN’ EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

Barring a total downfall in the last book (which I strongly believe won’t happen) this will land in one of my top favorite series. This is all so great!

“Why is prophecy always so bloody cryptic?”

Isn’t this the epitome of most fantasy books? I love that Raisa freely speaks her mind. She is a fierce Queen who holds her own in warring circles of men. Her continual push to make her own decisions and on her own terms makes me love her character even more. Raisa isn’t wishy-washy and stands to be one of my fav feminine ladies.

I’m still obsessed with my cinnamon roll of a book boyfriend Han. Happiness is almost within reach. AND HE NEEDS THIS, OKAY? I can only hope that for once things work out in his favor in this last installment. I’m not sure what games he’s playing, but I will stand by his side to the end!

Y’all, the way this last book is shaking out, I’m in for a ride. There’s a lot of politicking that does get a little tiresome, but has been written really well compared to other books I found odious. The manipulations and machinations with this court are tricky. I can’t wait to see all the cards laid out!!

The world building is another great portion of The Gray Wolf Throne. All of our characters are continually moving around the countryside and I’m amazed at how beautifully it’s all written. Nothing is drawn out, but The Seven Realms are so diverse and I love being in this world.

What I also find unique is that Wizards aren’t loved. Other books tend to lean towards, everyone wants to be a wizard!, but here they are so mistrusted. It makes me enjoy this series on a new level.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy: wizards, magic
  • Almost non-existent language
  • A lot of violence (swords, arrows, knives, etc.)
  • Some solid kiss scenes, but nothing too crazy
Book Review

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some implied romance, kiss/make-outs, some violence
Expected Length: 586 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion Books 
Expected Release Date: September 24th, 2010
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret. 

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen. 

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

I AM ENJOYING THIS SERIES SO MUCH!

What started out as a bit slow as our characters made their way to Oden’s Ford gradually became an intense, couldn’t put down ending.

I DON’T KNOW WHERE WE GO FROM HERE Y’ALL.

Well, actually, I have a tiny bit of an idea. But so not sure on how this collision will work out. I have faith all goes well!

I promise you this: I will not be a captive Queen.

All hail future Queen Raisa. She is strong, stubborn, and unwilling to compromise her values. I love that she won’t give up on what she truly wants until there is no other option. I appreciate that she’s small and is actually not [that] great at sword-wielding. It makes her character more human and lets us see how her mind often comes up with a better solution.

Han, I love him even more this time around. He’s my little reformed thief wizard extraordinaire. I think our sweet soul is in for a rude awakening soon. His tenacity is about to bring his world really crashing down. I can’t wait to see what this does for his arc overall. 

I felt there was too much time spent in classes. It was lookin’ a little HP-esque and I was a bit bored listening to the ramble of professors. It did help the plot, but it’s also book two (of four) so there was unnecessary fillers.

A lot is happening with so many characters and I’m totally enamored. I love having a lot of story lines as long as they keep weaving back into the main plot. And this book is giving everything and more of that.

All the magic is enchanting and Oden’s Ford grew on me as time went on. There’s a lot of traversing through the countryside as well. I love how well the world is built and the map in this book definitely helps! 

Overall audiences notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Some vaguely implied romance; kisses/make-outs, a little descriptive
  • Some violence
  • Trigger Warnings: attempted assault
Book Review

Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

 

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult, some language, love scene/kissing, very little violence
Length: 310 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I AM A BAG OF MIXED EMOTIONS.

I’m not sure how I feel. On the one hand, yes, solid ending, made sense, okay cool. On the other hand…no, not quite what I was going for, am I happy about this? I’m not sure. I think I’m satisfied?

The writing, world-building and folklore surrounding Sparrow was unique. I liked the the way the current Sparrow flowed with the town 200 years ago. While totally unfortunate this secluded location is still swamped in the Swan Sisters, it made for a good story.

It’s a quick read that kept me busy. I did see the plot twist from about ten miles away, but that didn’t deter me. Instead, I was enough in the dark about the resolve of the story as a whole I surged on to the finale.

Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel [the Swan Sisters] are really the main characters. They have clear personalities and a bond that you couldn’t help but understand. Hazel broke my heart a few times over with her personal struggles. The story flashes backward every few chapters tying in the modern tale with how the girls became who they are today. Everything fit in smoothly and I never felt lost.

I did struggle with the twist because there was such a repetitive “everything is a secret, I can’t spill my secret” nature. It would have come off better in my opinion to actually be a little more blind-sided (thus, upping the mystery factor). I started getting frustrated that Bo and Penny wouldn’t just talk to each other. Not everything has to be hidden!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy/paranormal [witches], but set in contemporary Oregon
  • A love scene or two that are very glossed over, not descriptive; some kissing, etc.
  • Some expletive language
  • Minor violence (drownings)
Publishing Day

Happy Publishing Day: The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

The Wren Hunt

I gratefully received this book as an e-arc from Bloomsbury USA Children’s through Netgalley and was taken on such a ride!

Here’s the synopsis:

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

This a book where you can see the parallels between Romeo & Juliet. It was a unique, fresh take that I haven’t personally seen a lot of! The romance is well done for a stand-a-lone novel and the characters are a good mix of personalities.

You can find my original review here!

CROPPED