Book Reviews

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim Review

42815556Summary: Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.  Thanks to Randomhouse Children’s for the opportunity!*


Ok. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, and I was so wrong.  It’s really good.  It is a beautifully written story that has everything you could want out of a YA fantasy novel.  The adventure is epic and fun, the romance is swoony, the system of magic is interesting, and the main characters are wonderfully likable.  I absolutely loved the Chinese culture in this book, especially its influences on the magic system.  It all works so seamlessly and transports us to a really vibrant world that I can’t wait to see more of.  The whole story has a traditional folklore feel to it as well, which adds a level of maturity and simplicity in the storytelling.  Maia is a great heroine and really comes into her own by the end.  I loved her arc, but I do wish we could have seen it progressing a bit stronger throughout.  The chemistry and tension with her love interest are fabulous from the get-go, and the pace of their relationship was perfect.  The journey they take together is fun and fantastical and super fast-paced.  The ending packs a punch and left me wanting more.  I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

40523458Summary: In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

*I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


My Thoughts: I was on the fence about continuing this series after my lukewarm reception of Furyborn, but I’m glad I did.  While I still wasn’t crazy about it, I liked Kingsbane more than I liked the first book.  The characters continued to grow, and I loved finding out more of Rielle’s history and how it contributed to Eliana’s future.  Where Rielle was my favorite character in Furyborn, it actually switched to Eliana for this one, and I found myself looking forward to her sections more.  The switching perspectives continued to move the plot and intrigue along nicely, but for some reason, each switch was more jarring to me and took a second to adjust in each chapter.  I do wish we could have a bit more knowledge about the magic systems and the angels because it still wasn’t 100% clear for me.  If you can get past that though, the plot was exciting in both timelines and I really loved watching them weave together.  The ending was totally unexpected and had my jaw on the floor.  I was riled up after finishing for sure.  I am now too invested in the plot to not be along for the ride, and I anxiously await the conclusion in book three.  I really do think that if the magic and the angels were fleshed out better, this series would knock it out of the park, but until that ferocious ending, it was a fairly average read.

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Book Reviews

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer Review

43204703Summary: Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

My Thoughts: I was completely absorbed by this book.  When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about getting back to it.  Right away from the first chapter, we get a gripping intro to the curse that set up the rest of the story perfectly, as well as our two male main characters, Rhen and Grey, and their relationship to each other.  Both men were complex and interesting, and the more we found out about their pasts, the more I fell in love with them.  Then we meet our heroine, Harper, who I really grew to like.  At first, I was kind of indifferent towards her, but her arc is great.  I loved the portrayal of her cerebral palsy.  It was just a part of who she was rather than her entire identity.  The two different perspectives were a perfect way to tell the story too. The juxtaposition of Harper’s casual, sarcastic voice to Rhen’s more formal, fairytale-esque voice was really effective. The pacing of Harper’s relationships with all of the people in Emberfall was done really well, wasn’t rushed, and felt realistic.  Knowing that to break the curse she had to fall in love with Rhen was a great added pressure to their growing relationship and trust.  Emberfall was beautifully created and vibrant, and I loved how the curse affected the rest of the world.  The plot was so quick and engrossing, and I couldn’t put it down.  The cliff hanger ending was an added bonus, and I cannot wait to see where this story is going to go.  As a Beauty and the Beast fanatic, I was a little hesitant to read a re-telling of my favorite story, but it definitely held up and I loved it.

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Book Reviews

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan Review

34433755Summary: Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

My Thoughts: I have been looking forward to reading this book for so long because the description sounded amazing.  Unfortunately I was fairly underwhelmed.  The prologue was gripping and hooked me right away, but the rest of the story unfolded too slowly for me.  I was more than half way through the book and it still felt like we were in exposition land.  While we did get some beautiful world building and writing style, not enough happened with the characters or the plot.  It definitely picked up towards the end, in fact the climax is spectacular, but the build up just wasn’t paced well enough for my taste.  It also didn’t help that I had trouble visualizing, and getting on board with the demons/castes in this world.  The concept is so unique and cool, especially with Ngan’s Malaysian influence, which is very clear in the narrative and schemes, but I struggled to fully grasp it all.  My favorite thing about this book was the depth and complexity of the relationships.  I loved Wren and the gradual way we got to know who she was through Lei’s eyes.  She is fierce and I can’t wait to find out more about her and her people.  All of the supporting characters were fleshed out really well and added so much depth to the story.  My least favorite character was Lei.  While she was the main character, I felt like she didn’t grow or change enough by the end to sustain the whole plot.  She didn’t do much and stayed pretty stagnant the whole time.  The evolution of her relationship and discovering who she was was nice, but I needed her to be more than that. While I didn’t love this book, I am fascinated by the world, and gasp-worthy ending made me itch to find out what is going to happen next.

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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

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

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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Book Reviews

Review: The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2) by Laurie Forest

35750305Summary: Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.


My Thoughts: I was so excited to get back to the world of The Black Witch Chronicles with The Iron Flower.  It was one of my most anticipated releases of this year, and it definitely delivered.  We pick up right where we left off at the end of The Black Witch, and I immediately became reabsorbed into the story of Elloren.  While she can sometimes be a bit whiny and victim-y, I can’t help but feel for her and root for her to succeed.  She recognizes and is disgusted by the privilege that she comes from, and wants to do everything in her power to fix the horrible things that her people are doing.  All of the characters in this series are very well developed and interesting, and we only add more layers in this book.  The love triangle between Elloren, Yvan, and Lukas is great and continues to grow. The sexual tension between Elloren and Yvan almost killed me with anticipation and I wanted to scream at them to BE TOGETHER ALREADY.  Their relationship has grown so much and is the ultimate slow burn.  This world that Forest has created is incredibly vast and detailed, and we got to experience so much more of it this time.  We deal a lot with the politics happening in and around Verpacia, and it’s all super dark and I can’t wait to see how things will end up.  SO much happens in this book and I never knew where it was going to go.  The ending was very satisfying and had a great build leading up to a huge cliff hanger.  I am along for the ride, and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.

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Book Reviews

Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

30079439Summary: If you’re not careful, you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.

One stormy summer in a small Irish town, things begin to disappear. It starts with trivial stuff—hair clips, house keys, socks—but soon it escalates to bigger things: a memory, a heart, a classmate.

Olive can tell that her best friend, Rose, is different all of a sudden. Rose isn’t talking, and Olive starts to worry she’s losing her. Then diary pages written by someone named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing development. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tightly to painful secrets.

When a tattered handwritten spellbook falls into the lives of these six teenagers, it changes everything. The spellbook is full of charms to conjure back that which has been lost, and it lists a part for each of them to play in the calling. It might be their best chance to set everything back to rights, but only if they’re willing to pay the price.

My Thoughts: I was totally absorbed in this book.  The writing style was beautiful and mysterious, just like the story itself, and the unique voices of the characters helped the mystery of the plot unfold in a stunning and completely engaging way.  The characters were super diverse and all of them had their own quirks and strong personalities.  I loved that there were LGBT characters, but that it wasn’t the focus of the story.  It was just who they were, which I felt was refreshing in a YA novel.  The weaving of all the different perspectives was very effective in telling and unraveling the story.  I thought the pacing was fantastic and the twist was satisfying, even though I kind of called part of what was happening.  The only thing keeping me from giving this book a full five stars, was that at times I felt that the actual spell and how it worked was a tad bit confusing, but I still really loved the concept of it.  I wish we could have gotten a better explanation about Jude and who he was, but I guess that is just part of the mystery of the spell.  The whole vibe of the book was spooky and yet seductive at the same time.  A perfect fall read.

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Book Reviews

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

34499221Summary: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


My Thoughts: This book has been on my radar for so long, and I finally got my hands on it.  There was a lot of hype surrounding this one, and I’m happy to say that it lived up to it.  I was drawn into the story immediately, as Christo built the world in such an immersive way.  Each kingdom was painted in a beautiful and detailed picture, regardless of how much time we spent there.  Learning the politics of the world was interesting, and I would love to have more time in each setting.  Her use of sirens was something that I have little experience with, so I was completely open to the concept and to how their abilities worked.  There were definitely hints of The Little Mermaid, while still holding its own as a completely new story.  Lira was a very interesting and unconventional heroine.  I had no idea what to expect, and couldn’t wait to see what her journey was going to be.  I loved how dark these sirens were, and Lira’s internal conflict made for an intriguing plot and built up a complicated main character.  I absolutely loved Prince Elian and his pirate crew.  Each member of the crew was well developed and their banter was always entertaining.  Elian was definitely swoon-worthy, and I really enjoyed seeing his relationship Lira develop; however, I wanted a little more chemistry between them.  There was definitely an undercurrent of it, but I could have used a bit more sexual tension.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was exciting, had a strong world, some great characters, and was a super unique story with elements of a beloved classic.  What more could you ask for?

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