Book Review

The Song of David (The Law of Moses #2) by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary/paranormal, some language, some violence, a bit of romance
Length: 284 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Hyperion Books 
Release Date: June 13th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She said I was like a song. Her favorite song. A song isn’t something you can see. It’s something you feel, something you move to, something that disappears after the last note is played.

I won my first fight when I was eleven years old, and I’ve been throwing punches ever since. Fighting is the purest, truest, most elemental thing there is. Some people describe heaven as a sea of unending white. Where choirs sing and loved ones await. But for me, heaven was something else. It sounded like the bell at the beginning of a round, it tasted like adrenaline, it burned like sweat in my eyes and fire in my belly. It looked like the blur of screaming crowds and an opponent who wanted my blood. 

For me, heaven was the octagon.

Until I met Millie, and heaven became something different. I became something different. I knew I loved her when I watched her stand perfectly still in the middle of a crowded room, people swarming, buzzing, slipping around her, her straight dancer’s posture unyielding, her chin high, her hands loose at her sides. No one seemed to see her at all, except for the few who squeezed past her, tossing exasperated looks at her unsmiling face. When they realized she wasn’t normal, they hurried away. Why was it that no one saw her, yet she was the first thing I saw?

If heaven was the octagon, then she was my angel at the center of it all, the girl with the power to take me down and lift me up again. The girl I wanted to fight for, the girl I wanted to claim. The girl who taught me that sometimes the biggest heroes go unsung and the most important battles are the ones we don’t think we can win.


HAUNTINGLY POIGNANT.

Yet again (and not surprisingly) Amy Harmon has thrown me a book that I couldn’t put down. This book is small, but packs a punch [ooo, pun alert] and I finished this in an evening.

The Song of David is a standalone with a character from the original Law of Moses. David is tough, resilient, and stubbornly hard to handle. Watching his character struggles had me wanting to back-hand him a few times and then cry with him the next. I CAN’T HANDLE HOW SWEET HE IS. 

Millie is a beautiful character. She never takes her trials laying down. Always facing adversity daily as she truly marches through life. I loved watching her take down David’s heart in an achingly masterful way.

Henry is also one of my top favorite side characters from a contemporary. He is funny, gentle and made we want to sob right along with him. He’ll win your heart so fast with his unique ways of viewing the world. 

This book read mostly as a mystery where I seriously could not figure out what happened. My theory changed every chapter and I was getting so upset thinking the WORST had happened. It was skillful story-telling at its finest. These character were raw and real. 

Amy Harmon is also one of my personal Queen’s of the slow burn. Her romances draw you out and leave you breathless. The ending leaves you begging for more answers yet grateful for the story that unfolded beforehand. 

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary (with a little paranormal [ghosts])
  • Some language
  • Violence (David is a MMA fighter)
  • Romance is some kissing/make-outs, a love scene (but Harmon is my favorite because these are so beautiful, and cleanly written!!)
Book Review

ARC Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Romanov

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult historical fiction/fantasy, no language, a lot of violence, a kiss or two
Expected Length: 352 pages
Author: Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Expected Release Date: May 17th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the author of Fawkes comes a magical take on the story of Anastasia Romanov.

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in the review are completely my own. Thank you for the opportunity to read Romanov! Publication date, length, etc. subject to change.

HISTORICALLY MAGICAL.

Second note: some of this may seem like a spoiler, but Brandes does a wonderful job of intertwining history WITH the magical pieces. Anything I bring up historically, really did happen and shouldn’t be a surprise at all. 

I think [know] I let myself get too hyped about this and was a little disappointed overall. It was still a good standalone that had the historic story as the basis with magic woven in so well that I was intrigued from the start! Some kinks left me wanting more.

I read this digitally, so let’s see…it took til 54% through the book to FINALLY GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. I know we’re in exile, but I was dying to see something else in my mind. There wasn’t a lot of world building. I felt that I was expected to know what Russia and these other places looked like already so I missed out on the detailing of it all.

What I found really interesting was how Brandes gave the Romanov’s such humanity. History dictates that this 300+ year old royal line was all kinds of crazy cruel (and that’s putting it lightly). Now, I only know so much, this last group with Nicholas II as tsar could have been a more decent family than I’m aware of. It made me stop and think that all in all, this was a family. And this family was brutally murdered without trial.

This gave the whole family a lot more depth as “characters”. They prayed together, were sincere to their captors, and were only wanting to be released somewhere together. Anastasia was fiercely loyal and protective of her brood. There was a huge emphasis on forgiveness from her character. This ideal repeatedly comes up as she struggles (rightly so) accepting her new fate. 

My biggest loss was the magic system. I have no idea how it works. Very little was ever explained. There’s spell masters, spell ink, some can use it, some can’t, how is it made, can anyone be a spell master, how does this spell work, SOMEONE HELP ME. I am so confused. Since this was the fantasy portion of the book I was looking for a more detailed story-line of why magic was the target of the Red Army in the first place. 

I am frazzled with one piece of the ending and booed at my book when it happened, but besides that this was the best ending for this book. And I mean that in a good way! Since it follows history, there’s an assumption of what could’ve happened. I thought it was sweet and hopeful that fates cards were dealt differently for the Romanov’s than what history served them.

One of my favorite parts of books are the Notes from the author (yes, I totally read those). When fully explained, they can really enhance the book! There was a wonderful explanation of what was true, what wasn’t, and why she made certain creative decisions. It honestly made me like the book even more. I was totally surprised about some pieces actually being true! It helped me better understand the plot and the addition of some characters. 

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy
  • No language
  • A little love story that leads to a kiss or two
  • Violence: y’all there is a lot so everyone is aware, it is the Russian Revolution and historically on point; plenty of blood and fairly detailed
  • Trigger warnings: contemplation of suicide, gun violence
Book Review

Review: A Sorrow Fierce and Falling (Kingdom on Fire #3) by Jessica Cluess

Rating: some intdeterminate number between 3 & 4
Audience: Young adult, no language, violence, a quad-love
Length: 432 pages
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

It’s time for war.

After suffering terrible losses, Henrietta and Lord Blackwood have led their warriors to Sorrow-Fell, a vast estate where only those invited by a Blackwood may enter–and the ideal place to plan a final assault against the Ancients.

It’s time for a wedding.

Henrietta nervously awaits her marriage to Blackwood, but when the ritual to become his bride reveals a dark secret, she realizes that Sorrow-Fell is not a safe haven; it’s a trap. Convincing the sorcerers of this, however, is not easy. So with Maria, the true chosen one, and Magnus, the young man who once stole her heart, at her side, Henrietta plots a dangerous journey straight into the enemy’s lair. Some will live. Some will die. All will be tested.

In this stunning conclusion to the Kingdom on Fire series, Henrietta must choose between the love from her past, the love from her present, and a love that could define her future. While battles rage, the fate of the kingdom rests on her decision: Will she fall or rise up to become the woman who saves the realm?

It’s time for Henrietta to make her stand.

I’M AS INDECISIVE AS HENRIETTA AT THIS POINT.

I think it’s been a long time since I have been so razzled on what my rating should be (and how the review should go) as a whole. I ended up deciding to have an indeterminate number because depending on the day my opinion seems to change. I have so many thoughts over this book.  [If you’ve read this, comment/send e-mail! I’m curious what you thought of it].

First of all, I’ve probably mentioned this before…I rarely ever enjoy a love triangle; it’s probably my most hated trope. And in this case, it was a love…square? I think that’s what we’re calling it. This will be better as a list:

  • Rook — I never liked him honestly, felt he should have been a best friend, never even considered as a lover. He deserved SO MUCH MORE than he got in this book and his portions felt rushed to move the plot and Henrietta’s story along. Some pieces were meant to evoke emotion…but since I didn’t care for him anyways…I really wasn’t disappointed in what happened.
  • Blackwood — He also got the short straw in how his character behaved. I really loved him in the first two books! He’s been my endgame with Henrietta from literally book one. Then in this third book he became more than a “broody Mr. Darcy” type. He leaned towards villain and did things that I didn’t appreciate at all. By the end, I purely felt bad for him. Since he wasn’t in a good section of the book, it yet again felt hurried when he came in to settle things that I became cranky over it.
  • Magnus — the saint of boys…apparently. I’ve really come to enjoy his character over the series too. Sadly, he was a bit bland and never did anything wrong in this book. All past issues forgotten, he’s a man now *shrugs*. His portions with Hen are sweet, and I get it. I think this entire thing could have played out better.
  • Henrietta — because of all said above hills and valleys of the boys she loves because “each kind of love is different”, it really drove Hen’s personality into the ground. She was flighty and non-committal a hundred times over. I’m totally cool with a book presenting that a first love isn’t a true love, but it needs spacing. I [as well as she] need time to accept that first love for what it was THEN move on. Not hop, skip, and run to whoever was showing her the best affection at the time.

There were some twists in this book, THAT WERE SO COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. Alright, I’m really referring to one I am struggling to accept as a good piece of the story, but there were a few others that weren’t fun either okay? I saw them as a push to complete character arcs that had already burned to ashes in the first place, and adding such tid-bits only frazzled me more.

Note for the entire book: THE CHOSEN ONE DIDN’T DO A DANG THING. [also, if I heard one more character say that…] Y’all we’ve been learning about her for three books. And when it all came down to it, she was there, and did some stuff, but nothing “the chosen one” status. 

I felt like I was reading a hodge-podge of about a hundred different books I’ve read just this year. If you’re paying attention they’re so many elements that are in other current YA series that were thrown in here all willy-nilly!? Nothing was fleshed out because so much crap was added that they were only in the book for a page at best.

Now my ranting may seem like I hated it. Yet, in this weird way that I can’t figure out, it’s what made it a decent book too. The writing is pretty and the concept is different. The overall execution was a whole other story (see all paragraphs before this). I really think most people with LOVE it or HATE it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult, Victorian-era fantasy/historical fiction
  • No language (a feminine derogatory comment is made though)
  • Violence (mostly in the forms of magic; fire, wind, etc.)
  • One love scene, a little descriptive; some kisses and plenty of declarations of love for everyone

Book Review

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA (but with major adult themes), violence, trigger warnings, a kiss, a lot of language
Length: 311 pages
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

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

…WHOA.

I’m not even quite sure where to begin because this book was a lot. In a horribly poignant, sad, but seriously a good book, way.

The author does a great job of withholding the fullness of the story as you go along. I read this in a handful of hours because I was completely enthralled with Sadie and her story. Mixing in the radio personality was a unique twist that allowed more character access to Sadie’s past while she was hurtling forward to her goal.

I truly sat there after I finished not knowing my feelings. They were everywhere. I was angry, confused, distraught, and wanting a different ending (I’m also not even sure what exactly happened at the ending, anyone else? AHH.) And while that sounds like I didn’t enjoy this, it’s not that at all. Summers created such a world of emotions, that while on the negative scale, was a beautifully heart-breaking well written book.

Emotional exploration was at the forefront. Struggling through the raw waves of grief, exhaustion, denial, anger, and betrayal of a young girl coping with her sister’s murder and so so much more.

The main theme is very adult, and very tough to read about. I felt panicked for Sadie the majority of the time wondering if West (the radio personality) would figure out her story fast enough to get to her. And if even Sadie herself would survive her own journey to find the killer.

“…I can’t take another dead girl.”

Overall audience notes:
– Young adult, but definitely leans towards adult
– Trigger warning themes: sexual abuse of children (throughout the entirety of the novel)
– A lot of explicit language
– Violence

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

 

Book Review

Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy/dystopian, no language, little kissing, some violence
Length: 354 pages
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: New American Library
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

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

BOOK TWO SYNDROME.

I wasn’t as mesmerized by this installment. It was good, don’t get me wrong. I’ll definitely be checking out the third one, but I feel a little…deflated.

The story is strong and I appreciate the focus on the plot. There’s a goal, I know where it’s going, and we’re not diving off left and right. While the rescue mission is underway I wanted more drama to unfold.

It’s the beginnings of a war and while everyone is running around for this one mission, we’re missing a lot of what else is happening. I felt some character back stories could’ve been further enhanced to really grip what fuels their decisions. Some characters would pop in, say their peace, then die. Like, wait what?

I still love Jess. He’s a great protagonist. I love that, in general, he owns being from a criminal family and uses that to his advantage. I hope his brother, Brendan plays a bigger role soon. In my mind he’s super complex and I think it would be fun if he had a bigger spotlight.

There’s touches of romance here and there between characters. Nothing intense, sweet tiny moments that were cute and added some flair. This gang is really bonding together and their devotion is starting to show more and more. I like the diversity of the group and can notice the differences in their personalities and choices based off of them.

It ended on an odd note with the addition of a new character crew, and a new landscape. I’m definitely interested in what will play out next!

Overall audience notes:
– Young adult fantasy & dystopia
– No language
– Kiss scenes are minor
– Gun violence

Book Review

Review: Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Dance of Thieves_FINAL 9.18

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance, kiss scenes, violence, very little language
Length: 508 pages
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

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

BRB, STILL SWOONING.

This was everything I’ve been wanting to read lately. A fantasy romance that kept me on my toes, made me laugh and flip out all at the same time.

It single-handedly had one of my favorite boy meets girl intros:

“…”Move along, boy,” I ordered. “This doesn’t concern you.”
  His eyes went from bloodshot to flaming. “Boy?” He stepped closer, and in one swift movement, I brought him to his knees and slammed him up against the apothecary wall, a knife to his throat.”

Copy of C.R. (1)

I mean, is that not great? Go Kazi. She was strong, capable and loyal to her kingdom. I think she and Jase could have both been more open with each other and there would have been less issues, but that’s neither here nor there because I still love this book.

The romance totally made me weak. Jase was an enjoyable male protagonist and love interest that so fiercely loves his family. This attribute rolled over into how he cared for Kazi and I was smitten. Their moments and interactions were everything, and watching them both find ways to help each other be at peace was tender.

I love that we got to stay in the same world and see some of the same characters!! The Remnant Chronicles is a fav of mine I highly suggest reading it before this if you don’t want anything spoiled.

The plot was thick with intrigue. Took awhile (while developing the romance and other connections) to swing back around to it. I couldn’t put the book down though because I could feel from the moment it started I was going to be torn apart before being put back together. There’s plenty of action and family just hanging out scenes that balance each other. I came to care for all of the characters based off of how they interacted with one another.

The evil in this book is hard to pin point. This guy is bad over here, this one os doing nefarious things over there. I think it will definitely be playing a part in the next book. There was a lot of story still there to work with. Overall, it was great to be mysteriously led to the ending…

WHICH WAS EVERYTHING. “swoons again*

Seriously. I needed the book to end this way. I got allllll I could ask for (because I’m a huge “happy ending” sap). Then you’re left on a huge cliff-hanger that had me immediately searching for the release date of book two.

Overall audience notes:
– YA fantasy romance
– very little language
– kiss scenes, mildly descriptive at most
– violence, torture, a bit bloody