Book Review

ARC Book Review: Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult paranormal fantasy romance
Length: 448 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: October 27th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Kerri Maniscalco introduces her next series, a dark tale of a beautiful young witch, a troubled demon, and their epic romance, set against a 19th century Italian backdrop.

Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn.

Thank you to Jimmy Patterson and Netgalley for the gifted eARC. All opinions are my own!

YOU DON’T KNOW IT YET, BUT YOU NEED THIS BOOK.

I don’t even know how to start this review, I LOVED this book y’all! I enjoyed Maniscalco’s first series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, but mainly for Thomas Cresswell. Seriously, don’t ask me what I think about Audrey Rose. That being said, it made me initially nervous to read this because I worried for the main character again.

And I can say, for at least this first book, I am wrong. I adored Emilia as the main protagonist. She was bold and fierce. Made her own decisions based on what she knew and was told, and yeah, maybe ran off into danger a time or two, but what heroine doesn’t? Emilia was the missing puzzle piece I needed to love this.

Enter in, our Prince of Hell, WRATH. Ohhhh can Maniscalco right a love interest amazingly well. I feel a solidified new book boyfriend coming in over the course of this series. I loved the banter and enemies to lovers dynamic. Being forced to work together to solve witch murders led to some close knit and quiet scenes that I JUST CAN’T HANDLE. Part of his character is left very open-ended and I will sit here anxiously waiting to know if some of my thoughts/assumptions are true.

May be wondering why the half-star take down? For one of the characters involved I could spot from a mile away that they were one of the villains. I didn’t like how quick that was to pick out from the get-go. What I did love was meeting all of Wrath’s brothers. Who knew I was so interested in the Princes from hell? All so cunning and manipulative. Filled with arrogance and doing as they please. Couldn’t help myself, I loved them (and hated them, ya know) too.

There’s a lot of action, heat, and mystery involved here. I was absolutely entrenched in this Italian backdrop atmosphere. It fit this story well and only increased my adoration. Give me book two ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal fantasy romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a scene where characters are undressed, but that’s as far as it goes
  • Violence: murder, torture, animal attacks, physical altercations
  • Content warnings: loss of a loved one

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Book Review

Book Review: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA Romance / Retelling
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The first novel in a series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

NOT FOR ME.

With a heavy heart, I have to say, this is the worst Beauty and the Beast retelling that I’ve read so far. And oh, how I wanted to love it (even had requested it on Netgalley), but it was not meant to be. I fortunately read it through the library, and sent it back as soon as I could.

My big issue that I could not get past? Jaya, the main character. I did not like her demeanor, attitude, naivete, anything. I thought she was completely wrapped up in this revenge plot idea against Grey, when from moments of meeting it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t involved. The way she treated her sister wasn’t the best, even if it came from a place of protectiveness, it did not read that way. I was hoping that all of this would change by the end, and while it did maybe a little, I was already over it at that point.

Grey was my favorite. He was broody and was beast-like as he should be. I enjoyed how he grew and adapted over the book. I liked his character most. Pretty sure he and Isha (Jaya’s sister) were the only ones I did like reading about.

And the reveal at the end about what the rose really meant? Fell completely flat. Not as high stakes as I thought it should be (and would have upped the ante).

I’m keeping this short, no need for a long review, this just did not work out for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 394 pages
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

DIDN’T JIVE WITH THE WRITING.

That would be my biggest issue. Nothing clicked quite the way I think it was supposed to. I kept reading because I was [mostly] enjoying the story, but things never changed. I thought things would randomly get political or twists would be thrown in that I didn’t think were necessary or helpful to the plot as a whole.

I did enjoy the interactions between Penny and Sam. I thought they were sweet and I love the modern era love story of getting to know each other through texts/phone calls. It was clever that she became his emergency contact. The college age setting was nice too. I wish there were more YA/New adult books set in college. This isn’t a slow-burn romance in anyway though. Mostly infatuation that turns into love all of a sudden.

This book seemed overly dramatic at times. Like it was trying to see how awful things could get before a resolution kind of came about. I don’t mind this usually in books because I understand the flow of the story. This came out a bit jarring and I was upset with how broken these characters were written out. Maybe I thought this was going to have a bit more sunshine.

I also felt like NOTHING HAPPENED. There was some focus on Sam’s documentary and on Penny’s writing class, but I never got to see the end of them? It was annoying to have a bunch of loose threads. I know it wasn’t the main part of the story, but it was definitely discussed more than enough to have needed things tied up.

Having someone as a friend, in whatever capacity that may be, was a great concept for this book though. We all need someone to lean on and I loved seeing Penny and Sam turn towards each other in their times of need.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary (college age)
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, page 290 – a moderately detailed rape scene (main character telling her story)

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Fates (Constellation #3) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult sci-fi + romance
Length: 470 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Hunted and desperate.

Abel only has one mission left that matters: save the life of Noemi Vidal. To do that, he not only has to escape the Genesis authorities, he also must face the one person in the galaxy who still has the means to destroy him. Burton Mansfield’s consciousness lives on, desperate for a home, and Abel’s own body is his last bargaining chip.

Alone in the universe.

Brought back from the brink of death, Noemi Vidal finds Abel has not only saved her life, but he’s made her into something else, something more. Not quite mech, yet not quite human any longer, Noemi must find her place in a universe where she is utterly unique, all while trying to create a world where anyone–even a mech–can be free.

The final battle between Earth and the colony planets is here, and there’s no lengths to which Earth won’t go to preserve its domination over all humanity. But together, the universe’s most advanced mech and its first human-mech hybrid might have the power to change the galaxy for good.

LOVE THESE AUDIO BOOKS.

I seriously adored these audio books. If you’ve been wanting to try audio books out I highly recommend this series as a good point to go from. I love the way the narration and characters were articulated and it had an easy listening flow.

Once again the galaxy at large is in turmoil and Noemi and Abel are the only two who can save everyone. I love the intense action scenes and moments of not knowing where things were going next. Occasionally I felt that it was repetitive to the previous two books in that the same conflict kept repeating itself, but it wasn’t an outstanding issue.

Having Mansfield as a truly awful villain was great. I love how twisted and corrupt he truly was and that that NEVER changed. He never gave up his idea of essentially playing God and how heinous that can make someone. Mansfield and his daughter really could use a reality check [and I’m happy they got one].

The romance between Noemi and Abel was sweet as ever. Their relationship never tried to be more than it was. I liked the wholesome level it stayed with and that they had to communicate and discuss the tough subjects between them. By fighting for each other, and their home it created a tight bond that no ship could destroy.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy sci-fi + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: ship explosions, physical, guns

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