Book Reviews

Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black (The Folk of the Air #2)

26032887Summary: You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.


My Thoughts: I’m not gonna lie, I was underwhelmed by The Cruel Prince.  It had so much hype and I think my expectations were too high so it let me down a little.  But I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed The Wicked King.  First of all, the world building is spectacular in this series.  It’s so creative, full, and vibrant.  The rules of the Faeries are perfectly explained and add so much to the story and our understanding of the world.  There is so much political intrigue and it is handled in such an exciting way that kept me super invested.  I think my main problem with The Cruel Prince was that I didn’t really connect with Jude, but I liked and rooted for her so much more in this one.  I loved the way her relationship with Cardan developed and watching her scheme to maintain her control.  She is smart and badass, and it was fun to see people underestimate her and have her prove them wrong.  Cardan is such an interesting and complex character.  He was my favorite in book 1, and after this book I am obsessed with him.  I really hate Jude’s twin sister Taryn.  I have since the first book, but even more so now.  She is such a snake and I don’t trust her at all.  Actually, my favorite thing about this book was that I could trust NO ONE.  I loved having no idea where the story was going to go, and just when I thought I knew, I was blindsided with a twist (or 5).

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The ending was fantastic and I hate that I have to wait forever to find out what is going to happen next.  I finally understand the hype about this series, and have a slight book hangover.  You got me Holly Black.  You got me.

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Book Hangover

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Book Reviews

The Dating Game by Kiley Roache ARC Review

40212098Summary: The Social Network gets a romantic twist in this fresh and engaging new read from the author of Frat Girl, Kiley Roache. Experience the whirlwind ups and downs of college life in this authentic and entertaining new novel!

When a notoriously difficult class for future entrepreneurs leads to three freshmen developing the next “it” app for dating on college campuses, all hell breaks loose…

Type A control freak Sara lives by her color-coordinated Post-it notes.  Rich boy Braden wants out from under his billionaire father’s thumb.  Scholarship student Roberto can’t afford for his grades to drop.

When the three are forced to work together in one of the university’s most difficult classes, tension rises to the breaking point…until, shockingly, the silly dating app they create proves to be the most viable project in class. Late nights of app development, interest from investors and unexpected romance are woven into a true-to-life college drama that explores what it means to really connect online and IRL.

Release Date: March 26th, 2019


My Thoughts:  The Dating Game was a fun and quick read.  Told from the three different perspectives of our main characters, Sara, Roberto, and Braden, we get a glimpse into the world of tech start-ups mixed in with some college love drama.  I really enjoyed each of their voices and loved that we had three very different people, with different view points, telling the same story.  They were all well developed characters individually, but I did think there was some chemistry missing for them together.  The plot led us to a love triangle, which I am a sucker for, but I did not feel enough between the three of them.  I could have used a little more juice.  The plot wasn’t super action packed, and it was a bit predictable, but there were some really great and beautiful parts of the narrative.  There is a scene where Robbie and Sara are discussing heartbreak and it really struck me.  The language of the whole book was relatable and I liked reading about college aged characters in such a unique situation.  Overall, it wasn’t a life changing book, but it was a cute read with an interesting premiss.

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Book Reviews

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton ARC Review

39080472Summary: In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans.

 

*Release Date: March 5th, 2019*


My Thoughts: I was such a huge fan of The Belles, and when I got approved for an ARC on Netgalley for the sequel, I was SO happy.  I was excited to get back into the world that I loved so much from book one, and find out what was next for the characters after that cliff hanger ending.  The book jumps right back in to where we left off, and it took me a minute to remember everything and readjust to the creative and specific verbiage they use.  Unfortunately, the plot of this book is a bit slower than The Belles, and even though things were happening, everything just felt less vibrant.  The action does pick up in the second half, but the characters stay pretty linear without much growth.  The chemistry between Camille and Remy was nice, but I wanted their relationship to be stronger.  It didn’t progress enough for me.  The best relationships were between Camille and her sisters, and I loved seeing the different ways they all dealt with the battle against Sophia and their way of life.  Speaking of, I wanted more of Sophia.  They talked about her a lot, but I wanted more interactions and moments with her because her craziness made the first book so engaging.  I liked where the story went, but it just felt like something was missing.  I appreciated the open ending- it was satisfying enough if there is not another book, but it definitely leaves room for the story to continue.  Overall, I was a little underwhelmed by this sequel, but there was enough for it to be enjoyable and I look forward to seeing if there is more to the story.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

39973246Summary: London, 1765

Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.

Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…

250 Years Later…

When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can’t tell what is real and what is imaginary.

As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley and HARLEQUIN- Graydon House Books in return for an honest review*

RELEASE DATE: Febuary 26th, 2019


My Thoughts: This book caught my eye on Netgalley right away, as I am a sucker for historical fiction- especially with interwoven timelines.  It did not disappoint.  It had a mysterious gothic fiction vibe, which I loved, and a gripping plot.  I couldn’t put it down because the pacing was spectacular.  The mysteries slowly unraveled and kept me guessing the entire time with some great twists and reveals.  The supernatural elements were subtle and unexplained, which only added to the tension.  There were three different narrators, all with unique and specific points of view, and the way they worked to flesh out different parts of the story was super compelling and addicting.  Fenella’s storyline was my favorite, and I really loved her chemistry with her love interest.  The parallels between Isabella in the past and Fen in the present were interesting, but I wish there would have been a stronger a connection between them and that they would have been a bit more entwined.  The writing, while not super elegant, was entertaining and painted nice pictures of both the characters and the world.  Overall, this book isn’t a game changer, but it is a great quick and consuming read for any historical fiction fan.

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Book Reviews

Furyborn by Claire Legrand Review

34323570Summary: When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.


My Thoughts: This book had the makings to be everything I wanted out of a fantasy novel, but unfortunately it fell pretty flat for me.  There were plenty of great things about it- the concept is spectacular, the characters were fairly strong, and it had a bunch of cinematic scenes peppered with some beautiful phrases, but something was missing.  The world, and its history of war with The Angels, was pretty vast, and while I was super interested in it, I never felt like I got enough information to fully grasp everything that was happening (or had happened before the book started) and that took me out of the story.  The weaving time lines were handled really well and kept the pace exciting, but I didn’t understand the concept of the Angels enough.  They were such a huge part of the plot, and were so interesting and unique, but they were not developed enough for me to get completely on board.  I think if I would have had a better grasp of the systems of power and magic in both timelines, I would have been able to engage in the plot more.  There were some pretty nice twists, if a bit predictable, but I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters so they were not as effective as they should have been.  Overall, this book was just okay and while the plot was interesting, I don’t know if I care enough to continue on with the series…

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

32949202Summary: He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge! Thank you for the opportunity!*

Release Date: February 5th, 2019


My Thoughts:  This book was different than I had expected.  It is billed as a fantasy novel, but other than being set in a fictional world, there were no fantasy elements whatsoever.  It read more like a historical fiction war story- which is cool, but I kept waiting for the fantasy aspect to emerge and it never did.  The fictional world is really in depth with complicated politics, which was amazing, but I found myself floundering without enough knowledge to fully grasp it all (I didn’t have the map in my ARC, and I think that would have helped me to understand it all better.  There will be map in the official release.) In addition to the fully developed world, the characters were also pretty well formed and interesting- Athan especially.  He was really likable and I empathized with him a lot.  There was a great contrast between him and Aurelia and their relationship was sweet, however; I didn’t feel like it progressed enough.  I loved their star-crossed lovers scenario, but I just wish there would have been a little more heat.  In fact, the whole book was pretty slow and there wasn’t a lot of action.  It was very politically focused, with intricate schemes and plans, and it felt like a set up for later action that didn’t come in this book.  The last few chapters were a bit more exciting as things came to a head, and I did enjoy the twists, but I didn’t feel like there was enough plot driven action for the first book in a series.  Overall, it was beautifully written with an interesting premise and characters, but it was a bit too slow for me to get fully on board.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

39863269Summary: Jesse Lachlin is cursed.

So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.

Scarlett Copeland is psychic.

Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge! Thank you for the opportunity!*

Release Date: January 22nd, 2019


My Thoughts:  This book was a great way to start off my reading year! I loved it. Scarlett and Jesse have a broken friendship, and each have secret darknesses of their own. When circumstances bring these two estranged friends together, their connection becomes deeper and more meaningful than it ever was, and they find the solace and help in each other that only true love can bring. This book deals with some pretty dark subject matter- abuse, loss, grief- but I thought all of it was handled extremely well.  To me it seemed very realistic and showed how complicated these types of relationships can be.  The writing was descriptive and emotional, and it really connected me to the characters.  The perspective switches between Jesse and Scarlett were effective, but I wish they would have had more distinctive voices for each character.  Even so, I was completely invested in both of their stories and the way they wove together.  While their relationship did seem to escalate pretty quickly, their backstory of being best friends made that connection seem real and not insta-lovey, and it allowed me to feel all the flutters that their sweet romance induced.  There was a slight mystical element with Jesse’s psychic cousin, Glory, but it wasn’t overwhelming, and added the perfect amount of magic, which felt an awful lot like hope, to a very real story.  This book was different than I expected it to be, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  Definitely recommend.

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges · The Classics Club

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann Review

581811Summary: Dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight-for Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry-only to find that there is no place left to go but down-into the Valley of the Dolls.


My Thoughts: Y’all. THIS. BOOK. I can’t get over it.  It was completely and utterly addicting.  As a musical theatre actress, I can’t get enough of Old Hollywood and this book was everything I wanted.  I loved this view into the entertainment industry of the 1940’s-1960’s, and what I loved most was that it didn’t shy away from the darker side of the industry.  This book caused a huge stir when it was published in 1966, and I can see why.  It was still pretty explicit today, so I can’t imagine the scandal it would have caused upon its release.  The thing that I found so revolutionary about it, was the way it explored the female psyche and sexuality.  Looking back on it from today’s perspective, it really highlights the misogyny and what women were brainwashed to accept as reality, especially in terms of relationships.  This gave us a very interesting perspective into the three distinct and vibrant main characters, who all handle these situations very differently.  I loved all of three of them for so many reasons.  Their journeys were thorough and developed, and I understood each of them completely.  The plot was as addicting as the pills the girls consumed, and I could not put the book down.  This has easily become one of my favorite reads of all time, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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Book Hangover

Book Reviews

Review: Happier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva

37926277Summary: Changing how you think is possible. I wasn’t always so sure that was true until I experienced it myself, but I know now we don’t have to just accept unhappiness. Not always anyway. This book is my collection of tips and suggestions that have helped me achieve happier thinking. It’s sort of a gym for my mind. I’d love to tell you it was easier than the real gym but well… it’s not really. It takes time, effort, and practice but it’s absolutely well worth the rewards.


*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Lana Grace Riva for the opportunity!*

My Thoughts: I love a good self-help book.  I am a generally happy person, and love using books like this one to help re-inspire me.  Happier Thinking is a super easy and fast read (it’s only about 40 pages), and was a perfect little pick me up amid the stresses of every day life.  Riva clearly states that she is not a psychology expert, but a normal person who has dealt with negativity and unhappiness and discovered some tricks that worked for her.  The book focuses on training your mind to dwell on the positive instead of the negative thoughts that can take over our minds, and she gives several ideas for how you can start that work (some of which I found that I already try to practice myself).  She has some really great ideas and insightful thoughts, all in a hilarious and relatable voice.  She makes the information fun and accessible, while bringing awareness to our thoughts and the control we actually have over our own mindsets.  This booklet is, by no means, an in depth study or discussion on the how and why of mindfulness, but it is a great starting point for anyone looking to brighten their thoughts.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

7728889Summary:  Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.


My Thoughts:  Wow.  I’m still reeling from this book.  It is completely engrossing.  It has a dark and creepy vibe, a scary villain, and unique, vibrant, and diverse characters.  I really connected with Evie (I’d also love to play her as an actress), but all of the characters were really interesting and had very distinctive personalities.  The pacing is spectacular and I could not put it down.  Not only does this book have a heart-racing plot, but it established the over-arcing mystery for the rest of the series which really impressed me, and made me so excited to find out more.  There were small mentions that seemed insignificant at first, that really helped to develop and establish the world of the series.  I loved the 1920’s Manhattan setting (which was well researched and very clearly painted) and the mystical elements were so unique and fascinating.  Sometimes the dialogue seemed a little much with the exaggerated 1920’s slang, but I found it entertaining, and it was a great juxtaposition to the dark aura of the rest of the book.  I don’t know what took me so long to pick this up, especially since I was madly in love with Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy, but I’m SO glad that I finally did.  It was really fantastic and I cannot wait to see what is in store in the next book.  Definitely one of my top reads of the year.

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