Book Reviews

ARC Review: Lovestruck by Kate Watson

40074277Summary: Sixteen-year-old cupid-in-training Kali is in an Olympus-sized mountain of trouble. Rule number one in arrow-toting matchmaking: don’t stick yourself. But accidents happen, and Kali instantly falls hard for her indie rock, bass-playing target, Benicio.

The God of Love is going to kill her. Even if he is her dad.

Being the daughter of Eros isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, a girl can get jaded when her parents have the most beautiful and fatalistic love story in history. For another, immortality royally sucks when the Oracle condemns you to eternity in the wrong profession. Do the Gods care that Kali wants to ditch the love stuff and be a muse?

Nope.

To reclaim her heart and her destiny, Kali is left with no choice but to defy the Gods, tempt the Fates, date the mortal love-of-her-life, and hope she doesn’t lose her best friend, Hector, in the process.

*Thanks to North Star Editions/Flux for the ARC in return for an honest review*


My Thoughts: This book was so sweet.  The story follows Kali, an Erote-in-training, as she navigates through her teenage years as a Greek Goddess of Love.  This Greek mythology reimagining was so clever and full of funny tidbits that created a great atmosphere and a thoroughly built world.  A lot of the Greek Gods were familiar to me, but Watson did a fantastic job of giving them new life and expanding on tradition in a way that was both funny and real.  I loved Kali’s voice and immediately connected with her.  She’s hilarious, sarcastic, and dramatic, which as the drama-queen of my family I totally related to.  I also felt really connected to her relationships with the supporting characters, especially with her best friend, Hector, and her teacher, Artemis.  The plot was fully engrossing and gave me all the warm fuzzies with the romance.  I love a good love triangle with a twist.  The quest to conquer her fate was so right and so Greek, and it was the perfect vehicle for Kali to discover herself.  I was a little disappointed by the ending “twist”, which felt a little too deus ex machina and unnecessary to me, but overall I had a really great time reading this book and I recommend it to anyone who loves Greek mythology and a heart-warming YA romance.

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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: 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

Netgalley Review: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

34219880Summary: In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon Army. 

Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage-mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire empire.

Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations. But fate has bound the heir and the mage.

War looms on the horizon. A single spark could turn their city into a pyre.


My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book.  The writing is elegant and beautiful, and it had a fascinating concept which was very strongly developed.  Those with powers, or the “mage-marked,” are taken in at a young age when their powers are discovered, and trained to be “falcons” in the country’s army.  They are linked to a “falconer” who binds their powers, trains with them, and protects them.  Our main character and narrator, Amalia, is the heir to the throne and mistakenly gets bound to a rogue falcon, Zaira and drama ensues.  Learning all about the organization of the falcons was super intriguing and was a great vehicle for these relationships.  I really liked all of the characters in this story.  They were complex, strong, and unique.  Amalia was especially interesting, and I loved the growth she had throughout the story.  Marcello Verdi, a leader for the falcon army, was super likable, but I wish there would have been a bit more chemistry between him and Amalia.  I liked their romance development, but there was some spark missing for me.  Zaira was super feisty, with some great one-liners, and I can’t wait to see what becomes of her in the rest of the series.  The plot is super political, and there was a lot going on.  At first it seemed a bit disjointed, but the more I read the more it all began to click together and make sense.  All of the separate points set up the mystery really well, and led to a huge plot twist that I did not see coming.  The last quarter of the book was nearly impossible to put down, and I immediately put the second book on my TBR.  I really was pleasantly surprised with this book, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a story full of political intrigue and magic.

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Book Reviews

The Hazel Wood ARC by Melissa Albert

cover115302-mediumGoodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

*I received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review!*

Release Date: January 30th, 2018

My Thoughts: After seeing a million glowing reviews for this book, I could not wait to read it.  The day I started it I read about 40% of the book.  Right away I was drawn into Alice’s life and story.  The mystery of Althea Proserpine and her book of fairy tales was perfectly captivating and creepy, and I thought it was paced very well.  My favorite thing about this book was the language.  Alice’s funny and sarcastic voice felt very real and relatable, and I loved all of the specific real world references (the Harry Potter references being my favorite for obvious reasons).  The mix of reality and fantasy really enhanced the world and made the fantasy aspects more believable.  I also loved the language of the fairy tale stories themselves.  They were creepy, dark, and absolutely beautiful.  I wish I could read all of the Tales of the Hinterland, in addition to the few we got to experience within the story.  I loved all of the characters.  I adored Alice and Finch, and was pleasantly surprised at their relationship throughout the book.  It was really refreshing, different, and quite bittersweet.  I also loved all of “The Stories” from the Hinterland.  It was such a clever concept, and it was fun seeing them both in and out of their world.  All of Albert’s characters were very unique and specific, and I had very clear pictures of them in my mind.  While I was thoroughly engaged in the plot and the characters, I expected a lot more when they finally got to the Hinterland.  There was so much build up to this final destination, but the story went by so fast.  I would have loved to see more of it, and find out more details about how everything worked.  Not revealing everything about the Hinterland might have been an attempt to create a more mysterious atmosphere, but parts of it felt underdeveloped.  I really liked everything we were given, I just wanted more.  More time and more detail, especially with the ending.  It all seemed a little too easy.  I loved the idea, but it felt rushed through and could have been expanded.  I was engaged enough for it to go on a bit longer, and I wish we could have seen more of a fight.  This book started out really strong but kind of drifted away for me towards the end.  I was still hooked on the story, but after all the hype, my expectations were really high and I was left feeling a little underwhelmed.

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Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: Sparked by Helena Echlin and Malena Watrous

cover118067-mediumGoodreads Summary: Fifteen-year-old Laurel Goodwin wakes up to find her older sister Ivy missing from their Airstream trailer in the Oregon redwoods. A recurring nightmare convinces her that Ivy was abducted, but no one takes her dream seriously, including her mom. Laurel, a loner, has to learn to ask for help, and Jasper Blake, a mysterious new kid who shares her love of old books, quickly becomes her ally. Together they find their quiet town holds a deep secret and is the epicenter of a dark prophecy. Laurel soon learns that her worst enemies, mean girls Peyton Andersen and Mei Rosen, are developing powers that she needs to find and save Ivy. With time running out, Laurel realizes that power doesn’t always take the form that you expect. And once she learns to look beyond her snap judgments, she develops an unexpected gift of her own.

*Thanks to Netgalley and Inkshares for this ARC copy of Sparked in turn for an honest review*

My Thoughts: I was super excited to read this book.  I had heard great things, and I was drawn immediately to its dark enchanting cover.  Sparked was a perfect fall read, with a fast paced plot, a bunch of twists and turns, and a group of interesting characters.  The plot of this book was clever and exciting, and I couldn’t wait to see where it would go.  Although I picked out the major ending twist towards the beginning of the story, there were plenty of other minor twists that kept me thoroughly entertained.  While I loved the concept of “the sparked,” and the ancient prophecy, I wanted more information about how it came to be, and how it all worked.  It felt a little underdeveloped and rushed through.  The way it was presented made it hard to follow, and I found myself having to reread those bits to make sure I hadn’t missed anything important.  The prophecy came out of nowhere, and with very little detail and explanation was just accepted by everyone.  I was along for the ride, so it didn’t take me out of the story completely, but I definitely had a “That seems fake, but ok.” moment.  I absolutely loved the different powers that emerged within each of the characters, but I really wanted more detailed information about how they worked and grew and where they came from.  Laurel was a surprisingly likable narrator, despite her “I’m not as beautiful and special as my sister” syndrome.  She annoyed me a little at first with her whining, but I grew to like her as her character developed and the story progressed.  I admired her courage and drive to do whatever it took to find her sister, Ivy.  I loved their close relationship, and how they helped each other through their rough family history. Her romantic interest, Jasper, however; was so bland to me.  I felt completely indifferent towards him throughout the book, and while I appreciated the slow burn of their relationship, it felt really anticlimactic and I felt no chemistry between them.  My favorite character was Peyton.  I liked her immediately, even when she was the classic mean girl, and couldn’t wait to see how her character developed.  I was hoping for a bigger arc for her and Mei, but as most of the story is Laurel’s perception and journey, I understand why it developed as it did.  I was pleasantly surprised by the perspective switches, and I felt that they worked really well in furthering the plot and giving us better insight to each of the “sparked”.  Even with its faults, I had a good time with this book.  Sparked was a fun, fast read that fans of the Supernatural YA genre will definitely enjoy.

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Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: Starswept by Mary Fan

34377743Goodreads Summary: Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

My Thoughts: I recently joined Netgalley, and Starswept was my first approved book! I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover.  When I read the description, I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous.  I usually stick to the fantasy side of the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre, but I was intrigued by the idea of this story.  A dystopian-future performing arts school? Sign me up!  From the first sentence, “They tell us not everyone deserves to matter.”,  I fully bought into Fan’s future world, and the more that was revealed, the more interested I became.  As a performer myself, I absolutely loved the idea of Papilio.  The arts world is cut-throat enough as it is, and the heightened competition was interesting and morbidly exciting.  It started off a little slow, but I was so invested in the world of Papilio that I didn’t care.  The world of the Adryil was also very intriguing.  Fan did an amazing job of building it and I found myself actually becoming afraid of them and the idea of their powers.  She created a great, sinister environment, that made me wonder “How did things get this way?”  I did find the characters a little sterile and bland, but it almost worked with the style of the story.  I wish we were shown more of the depth in their relationships though.  I didn’t feel the strong connection between Iris and Dámiul, and their relationship was a little too insta-love for me to fully support.  However; Fan’s writing style is absolutely gorgeous, and I found myself awed by certain sentences.  The ending was really exciting, fast-paced, and maybe open ended?  It definitely left room for a sequel.  Overall, I liked this book, and appreciated reading something really original and different.  The plot and the world building made for a very enjoyable and immersive read.  Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the chance to read this beautiful story!

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