Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

42613944._SY475_Summary: In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  Thank you to Blink for giving me the opportunity!* 

Release Date: October 1st, 2019


I cannot get over how cool and unique the concept for this book was.  The power to see, take and transport someone else’s memories, an ability which only some people have, was fascinating.  What was even more fascinating was the use of those memories after they were taken from their owners, like the rich taking happy memories to feel those good emotions, absorbing the skills someone spent years perfecting or using painful memories as a means of torture.  The whole idea really brings to mind how important our memories are to who we become as people.  The system of magic was handled so well and played a huge part in the world-building.  I loved Etta, and the more we learned about her backstory the more I loved her.  We meet her at such an interesting point in her life, and it was interesting to watch her try to pick up the pieces of her mistakes and deal with her grief.  The plot in the first half of the book was entirely gripping and I couldn’t put it down.  The pacing of all the little reveals about the past and its ripples were incredibly well done.  There was a great and unexpected twist in the middle of the book but after that the action kind of lost its luster.  It felt rushed through and they had very little obstacles until the ending.  Her relationship with her love interest was sweet and a bit of a slow burn, but I wish they would have had more heat and tension between them so we could really feel the build-up.  The ending was was smart, but I wish it would have been a tad bit clearer so I could have fully embraced the effects of its cleverness.  I’m torn with what to rate this book because I am still completely awed by the concept and the exciting plot of the first half, but in the end, I was left a bit underwhelmed.  Because of that, I have to give it a high 3 stars.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Exchange by M.F. Lorson

41039644._SY475_Summary: A time travel student exchange program goes awry when a group of 21st century teens discover love and friendship across time.

Ari hates the Institute and everything it stands for. But to save her father’s job, she’s agreed to help host a time traveling exchange student. She only has to behave for 3 months while he’s here, then off he goes back to 1903 where he came from. Easy peasy, right? There’s just one problem. The more time Ari spends with James the harder she falls for him.

Release Date: September 25th, 2019

 

* I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! *


This story is really cute, but I found that it was too ambitious for such a short book.  At roughly 200 pages, everything moves really quickly and doesn’t leave much room for anything other than the plot movement.  We didn’t really get any development in the characters or their relationships so while the plot was interesting and fun, I wasn’t able to get invested in it.  I really loved the plot and the whole concept, but time travel can be so tricky and there were too many holes left open.  The way the book ended made everything feel pointless because it didn’t answer any of the questions set up in the plot.  In short, the concept was great, but it needed a lot more development to become a fully fleshed out novel.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

38856385Summary: Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed novel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil. 

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

Release Date: September 17th, 2019

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Thanks to Delacorte Press for the opportunity!* 



I wanted to love this book.  I REALLY wanted to love this book.  It was one of my most anticipated releases of the fall, and while there are some really great aspects that I enjoyed, unfortunately, it just fell flat for me as a whole.  All of the characters were pretty surface level, so it was difficult to connect to, or really care, about any of them.  Everything moves really quickly, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think that in both the characters and the plot it hindered the book’s ability to become fully developed.  I loved the concept and the plot was really interesting and fun, but it wasn’t detailed enough to make an impact.  While I thought the way the spells worked was very clever and cute, the finer details of the system of magic didn’t make complete sense with the other things that were established in the world.  Overall, while this book was cute and had good bones, it wasn’t fleshed out enough for me and left me feeling very underwhelmed.

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Book Reviews

ARC August Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

37777083Summary: For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.


I am so happy about this book.  This was one of my most anticipated releases at the beginning of the year, and when I was able to snag an ARC of it I was thrilled.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  It is SO unique, and as someone who reads a lot of YA Fantasy that is not something I can say a lot.  The world-building is fantastic and really interesting and I am enamored with the whole concept of the story.  I was fascinated by the oceanic world of Varenia, and its stark contrast to the ruling mountain kingdom of Ilara.  The Varenian’s unrelenting focus on beauty and perfection created such an interesting atmosphere and added such depth to the characters.  I loved watching Nor navigate the intricacies of this strange court intrigue, and the mystery surrounding the kingdom and how and why the relations between Varenia and Ilara were established.  The plot moved quickly and I thought the overall pacing was really nice.  I was fully engaged in the action throughout the story and it definitely kept me turning the page.  I really connected with Nor’s character and her relationship with her family, her sister Zadie most of all.  Nor’s relationships with her village were established so well in the beginning, that the new relationships she made in Ilara kind of felt a bit underdeveloped- including her relationship with her love interest.  I do wish there would have been more instances to back it up, but they did have chemistry, and I can understand Nor falling for someone who wasn’t entirely focused on her outer appearances for the first time in her life.  My only real and minor grievance with this book was the ending.  It wasn’t bad, and I did enjoy the twist, but it felt a bit rushed like the author wasn’t sure if there would be another book so she had to quickly close the plot in a way that didn’t quite work for me.  It seemed final, but there are still so many open-ended and not fully developed plot points and details that I am wondering about.  I’m really excited that there is another book coming out that will hopefully solve this issue for me.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to get back to Varenia and see what is going to happen next.

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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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