Book Review

Book Review: Essence (The Essence Chronicles #1) by Hayley Gabrielle

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 406 pages
Author: Hayley Gabrielle
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: June 22nd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Abbey Shader is summoned to Ethra, a land where human qualities roam free in flesh known as Essences, her life and the universe as she knows it splits open before her.
With the expansive secrets of humanity at her fingertips, Abbey’s strength of will and heart are put to a test no amount of time or meticulous study could have prepared her for.
Left to decide between the comfort of the familiar and the potential enlightenment of the strange, Abbey is thrust into a journey that demands more of her at every turn. She must learn to trust what she sees, and trust what she can’t.

Essence marks the first installment of the young adult fantasy series, The Essence Chronicles. 

Thank you to the author for sending me a digital copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

AN INTERESTING CONCEPT.

This was interesting! I didn’t know quite what I would be getting into when I started this book. The author reached out and asked if I would like to review a copy and upon checking out Goodreads I accepted the offer because it did sound up my alley!

Do y’all remember the movie, Inside Out? With all of the girl’s emotions portrayed as actual creatures/people? THIS WAS THE BOOK FORM. The further I read and the more characters I met that embodied different essences, the more it reminded me of that movie. This isn’t a good or bad thing, I just saw the similarities. I rather enjoyed having characters completely polarized in their personalities. It made for fun conversation and some solid banter. Combining Joy, Pride, Good, Honesty, and Pessimism (the ones we met in this book) was a squad to watch.

Abbey grew on me over the book. At first I was shaky with her. But what I appreciated was that she didn’t run off and agree with everything everyone was trying to tell her. I hate when characters don’t question what the heck just happened and loved that Abbey asked all the questions. It gave her time to understand and slowly grasp what was happening around her.

The love story with Zac is cute! Even though it was over a shorter period of time it didn’t feel rushed. There’s still a lot of feelings to convey and bonds to form. I liked watching them interact and learn more about each other. Zac is charming and has a deep background that I want to know more about.

As far as magic systems go, this one was rather confusing. I felt as frustrated as Abbey sometimes trying to understand the Earth, erodosphere and Ethra interactions. Then throw on top the Melder, and the Breathing and it left me all sorts of flipped around. The more I read, the clearer everything became and I’m happy that by the end I better understood what was everything meant.

At times this book read more like a prequel. Not a lot honestly happened. Abbey and the crew around her went on an adventure to meet the Overseer who brought Abbey to Ethra in the first place. That scene lasted a whole 2 pages. Instead, we really created a background for the lands and an understanding of how Ethra works in conjunction with Earth. While I wished it had a bit more substance, I’m still really interested in book two. I always found myself wanting to pick up my Kindle to keep reading this and am curious where Abbey will take us next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: some minor language throughout
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, animal attacks, not super gory, but moderately descriptive

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Book Review

Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy (retelling)
Length: 416 pages
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

SO CREEPY.

I did this as a buddy read with some friends on Instagram and it was so much fun! It really made this book even better being able to discuss it with everyone.

I thought it was incredibly creepy. The descriptions of what Annaleigh was seeing would flat out make me full body CRINGE. And nobody would believe her! It was the perfect dose of eerie and disturbing that I’m comfortable with (which is low, I don’t love horror-ish stuff).

The mystery itself kept me busy the entire book. I never knew where to point my finger! The author was able to draw attention to character after character that could be the murderer and wow, I was impressed. By the end though (and the reason I gave it 4 stars) was because the ending was a little cliche. I did appreciate that it wasn’t clear and that truthfully, they weren’t inherently evil.

The ball scenes were beautiful and descriptive but I wanted more of them! I love ball scenes and since this is based off of Twelve Dancing Princesses I was hoping for even more dancing. It was amazing to see how this was woven into the murder mystery though. It brought out a very macabre side to the story that I was all over.

I did ship Annaleigh’s endgame from the beginning, but I also don’t know that the romance was entirely necessary. It did give her a chance for a romantic happy ending. They didn’t get a lot of chances to connect on screen, leaving me wanting more of them or not at all.

All of the death left me shocked. I only flipped pages faster and faster wondering who was going to die next. SO MANY DEAD. I mean whoa. No wonder there had to be twelve princesses for this story to work out. It was unpleasant and occasionally gruesome. Definitely a great read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little (maybe one word?)
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: murder, possession, drownings, falling from buildings, fire, freezing to death; fairly detailed and cringe-worthy

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Book Review

Book Review: Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness #4) by Tamora Pierce

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 17th, 1988
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From Tamora Pierce, the final book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award.

Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. She has triumphed in countless bloody battles, and her adventures are already legendary. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs…but Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when she is challenged with the impossible. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good—but only in the right hands. And she must work fast. Tortall is in terrible danger from all directions, with enemies great and small plotting to destroy everyone and everything Alanna loves.

WELL I FINISHED THE SERIES.

That about sums up this series for me. This will be a shorter review as the book itself is short, and I don’t have too much to say over it.

I didn’t love Alanna’s character by the end. I was totally cool with her finding love and all of that jazz. I’m also fine with her being with multiple people, but I didn’t like the way it went about. I felt she was throwing herself at any guy that came on the page and there was never anything deep between them.

The ship that did last, that I was behind, at least sailed. I’m happy she chose and made up her mind about him because it was about time! I thought he was cute, sweet and was the best match for her. I like that she worked things out with Jon and they were able to come to a working relationship.

I do appreciate how quick these are to read. It would be nice to have a bit more background on people and places, but I think that was the point of this series. Short and quick fantasies. I was able to fly through them in under two days.

I didn’t love the way the bad guy worked out. It was a cliche trope that I think appears too often in novels. I woulds say more, but it would definitely spoil things for everyone. Just know, I was disappointed.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, mentions of sleeping with each other, but no descriptions
  • Violence: poison, swords, magic, necromancy
  • Trigger warnings: mention of off screen suicides

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Book Review

Book Review: Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #2) by Mary E. Pearson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 480 pages
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor’s Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor’s Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.

I CAN’T GET ENOUGH.

I really loved Pearson’s trilogy, The Remnant Chronicles. I’m pretty sure I love this duology more.

This book was an epic conclusion. My heart was was in my throat the entire time. I never can quite pick out how things are going to happen next. Pearson keeps many options open and comes up with amazing and clever way to get characters about of dicey situations (but without hurting them first). I love it. I am always kept guessing and it only makes me turn the pages faster.

I am TOTALLY IN LOVE with Kazi & Jase. Oh goodness, OTP ALERT. I could read many more books with these lovebirds at the forefront. They have precious banter and soft moments. They also are great on their own. Full of ideas and plans that would make me run in the other direction. Kazi and Jase have the ability to execute these plans with grace, pizzazz, and maybe a few scratches.

The story, plot, characters and everything else made the perfect young adult fantasy romance. I can’t even form all of my love into words. I love that this involved a lot of close family bonds as well as romance. The Ballenger family are tightly knit and actually don’t mind being around each other (most of the time). They had a lot of great little sub-plots with them that I loved seeing. There’s more books about them right?! I need more!

I love this world that Pearson has created and it only gets more diverse and unique as she has expounded upon it. The cameos by previous characters is a lot of fun and it’s nice seeing them. Makes me want to reread The Remnant Chronicles all over again. While I was maddened at times by the situations at hand, it was ultimately an amazing conclusion and satisfying ending.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (some focus on the romance)
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, a basically no-detailed fade to black love scene
  • Violence: poison, hangings, swords, animal attacks, torture, skirmishes

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Book Review

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Avoiding On My TBR and WHY

This is such a fun week! I’m excited about this topic and dove right into my TBR to find some books.

I found a list of books that I’m definitely hiding from for a myriad of reasons. Check them out below!

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

WHY – I have heard great things about this middle grade series, but it’s also a LONG series and LONG books. And I just haven’t hit the mood of wanting to read them yet. I can get them all digitally from my library though which is a huge plus.


Eidolon (Wraith Kings #2) by Grace Draven

WHY – I really loved the first book, Radiance, and thought I’d dive right into the next one but never got the chance. Now I’m afraid I’ve waited too long and won’t love it like I want to. So there it sits on my TBR.


The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

WHY – I have seen SO MANY CONFLICTING REVIEWS Y’ALL. Everything from 1 star I hated this, to 5 star this was amazing. Which is why I stare at it on my shelf and have yet to pick it up.


Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury

WHY – I am a mood reader. And I haven’t really been in the mood for a non-fiction. I picked this up for super cheap on Book Outlet and I really hope to get to this soon. It sounds interesting!


Hunting Prince Dracula & Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

WHY – I’m including these together since they’re by the same author. I have wanted to continue this series and binge the last two before Capturing the Devil came out. My library hasn’t gotten EFH yet though. And I’ve requested a few times without getting anywhere. They have the first two so I thought they would be cool with getting the third? UGH.


The Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer #3) by Elizabeth May

WHY – I’m not loving this series as much as I’ve seen other people. And since I’ve been reading it through the library it’s turned into an out of sight, out of mind book. I might eventually get to it, we’ll see.


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

WHY – Okay, it’s no secret around here. I LOVE THE AIR AWAKENS SERIES WITH MY WHOLE BOOKISH HEART. This is the next series and is a spin-off. Oh how I want to read it. Oh how I’m frightened to meet new characters and know I will compare it to Air Awakens.


The Devil’s Thief (The Last Magician #2) by Lisa Maxwell

WHY – After super enjoying The Last Magician, I was excited to get to The Devil’s Thief. Then I saw some reviews and people seem to hate the second book?! WHY. This makes me want to pick it up, and also hide from it.


Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

WHY – I LOVED BEARTOWN. And thought I would pick up book two immediately. I spoke to a Bookstagram friend about why she DNF this one. She mentioned that it was a bit repetitive if you read it right after Beartown (they go over everything that happens in book one). So for now I’m putting this away until I can’t remember Beartown quite enough to really love this one.

What books are you hiding from on your TBR? Are any of these on your list? Lets talk in the comments! Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

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Book Review

Book Review: Water’s Wrath (Air Awakens #4) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance
Length: 362 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Expected Release Date: April 24th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.

The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

DEAD.

I feel that is the only sentiment I can give this book. BECAUSE I’M DEAD. Kova? Not afraid to kill off characters. This isn’t the first one she killed in this series, and it probably won’t be the last. BUT STILL. My heart is broken. That entire section of the book was a moment. A gosh dang beautifully tragic moment.

Yet again, completely obsessed with Aldrik. This man is going on his own character turn around and I am HERE FOR IT. I also love that Vhalla doesn’t cut him any slack. They both pick up and encourage each other. And they hold each other to a higher standard. It’s amazing what this relationship has been turned into and I am so happy with the current outcomes. They are precious. I can literally not handle a single moment Vhalla and Aldrik spend together. I gush every dang time.

Vhalla. She is really becoming a top fav character of mine. She is resilient, and owns who she is. I love watching her learn to love herself. Vhalla has a lot of crap she deals with too and I’m curious where that will take us in book five. She treats those around her as best as she can and is passionate about bringing peace to her home.

I can’t keep up with the dangerous situations that are constantly being thrown out. Can no one catch a break?! I hurt for my team y’all. All of these characters have become so very precious to me and I can only cross my fingers that I get a happy ending. There’s been enough sadness! Though really, I feel a cementing of a top 5 favorite series every happening soon. Stay tuned.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: quite a bit and somewhat detailed; knives, elemental magic, descriptions of deaths off screen, torture, murder, loss of loved ones

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Publishing Day

Happy Publishing Day: The Girl the Sea Gave Back, The Lady Rogue AND Sword and Pen (It’s a great release day!)

Post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you choose to purchase something.

WHOA. I like to make publishing day posts to help hype up books I have been fortunate to receive as ARCs (thank you to the publishers and Netgalley). I somehow ended up with three ARCs that all happen to come out, TODAY.

Get your TBR ready folks, here are some good reads for you.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Find my review here!

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


Now, while I may not have given this a super high rating (three stars) that doesn’t mean you won’t love it. It has a lot of great qualities and seriously, this cover is BEAUTIFUL. It’s also an option for BOTM YA this month if you’re interested in purchasing it that way!

Book of the Month YA

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for the eARC.

The Lady Rogue

Find my review here!

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it. 


This one is filled with a second chance love, folklore about Vlad the Impaler (i.e. Dracula) and adventures over the Romania countryside. Jenn Bennett tries her hand at a more fantasy based book and it was good! Definitely enjoyable.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the eARC.

Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5)

Find my review here!

With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it’s worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.


Oh this was a great finale to a wonderful series! A very quick read that gave me everything I needed to close this book with satisfaction. Now that the entire series is out, it’s definitely time to get this on your TBR. You can binge all of the books at once!

Thank you to Berkley Books and Netgalley for the eARC.

It’s a great day for releases! I hope you’ve had a chance to look these up. I would love to discuss more about them in the comments if you have questions or thoughts! Happy release day Tuesday!

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