ARC Review – Tigers, Not Daughters

Title: Tigers, Not Daughters

Author: Samantha Mabry

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.
 
In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Review

**Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

TW: death, domestic violence, neglect, emotional abuse

Tigers, Not Daughters is a haunting ghost story with themes of sisterhood and perseverance, and also a hyena. No joke, there’s a hyena on the loose during this story. The Torres sisters have been through a lot. Their mom is dead, their dad is neglectful and abusive, and their oldest sister died tragically a year ago. Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa couldn’t be more different, but the one thing they have in common is missing Ana desperately – and wanting to run away forever.

This book is told from each sister’s POV over the course of a several days. Each sister has a lot going on, and are very different. The book tackles some serious issues for each sister, while also being a ghost story – which is just super fun. The ghost story part was probably my favorite, along with the group of boys who live across the street and lightly stalk the sisters.

The writing is phenomenal, where information is provided in tiny morsels over the chapters instead all at once. It created a captivating atmosphere where you needed and wanted to keep reading to get answers to your questions.

I really didn’t like the domestic violence aspect. It’s mostly just due to personal reasons, I’m sure there was a reason for including that plot line, but it was still hard to read. So please, before reading this understand that there are potentially triggering scenes.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Empress of Salt and Fortune

Title: The Empress of Salt and Fortune

Author: Nghi Vo

Publisher: Tor.com

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

112 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women. 

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Tor.com, and Nghi Vo for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

A delightful short story with Asian influences. The story of a royal from the north brought to wed the emperor in the south. She gives him a son and earns her exile, where she uses her time to plot against the crown. This book is told in true storyteller fashion, bits of information is provided piecemeal by the woman, Rabbit, narrating the tale. The recipient of the tale, Chih, is a cleric whose job is to document history and seek answers.

Rabbit’s story tells a different one than is told currently in the empire, however it is a heartbreaking tale of sacrifice, loss, and loyalty. This is a very quick read, and some bits are left up to the imagination and hinted at, but the ending is clear and not completely surprising. The flow of this book was beautiful and fit the story line perfectly. I normally don’t enjoy Asian influenced storytelling as much, but this was short, sweet, and evocative.

There isn’t much to say about a book that is 112 pages that I haven’t already said, so this review will be shorter than usual!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Honey Don't List

Title: The Honey Don’t List

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

320 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

Review

**Thank you to Edelweiss, Gallery Books, and Christina Lauren for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Friends! I was SO STOKED to have the chance to read and review this title early and it did not disappoint! Christina Lauren has done it again with an amazing romance novel that will have you swooning well after you’ve closed the book.

The Honey Don’t List follows Carey, the assistant to Melly Tripp a home design wizard with her husband Rusty, who does the remodeling and renovations. She has worked for them for 10 years and is very devoted to the couple, even though they are not as perfect as social media would have it seem. James McCann is running from a bad experience at his last job, and took this gig with the Tripp’s as an opportunity to be an engineer, but instead got stuck being Rusty’s assistant. He is not happy with this development to say the least. Carey and James must keep their bosses’ marriage together while doing press for their new book and Netflix TV show, which turns out to be harder than anticipated…

As usual Christina Lauren creates a book with many layers, which they are so adept at revealing at the perfect time. Carey and James start off as enemies but soon become teammates on the journey of keeping their bosses’ image intact, as it benefits both of them. During this time, they get closer and their bond gets deeper – they learn each other’s secrets. James helps Carey with the pieces of her life she isn’t ready to face yet. They are so sweet together and I just can’t get over it.

The Tripp’s are crazy town and it makes this book so very entertaining. Their marriage is a complete disaster and I love the irony of them releasing a marriage advice book while theirs is in shambles. I really disliked both of the characters honestly, they both are tragically messed up and even worse together.

I loved everything about this book, and it had all the elements of a perfect adult contemporary romance book. I also love the nod to mental health and work, because work really can have a negative effect on your wellbeing and it’s nice to see that story told in a book. If you love Christina Lauren books, go preorder your copy because it is worth the hype!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC – Girls with Razor Hearts

Title: Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks #2)

Author: Suzanne Young

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 17th, 2020

400 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s time to fight back in this second novel in a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.

Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Suzanne Young for providing a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The sequel to Girls with Sharp Sticks, Girls with Razor Hearts picks up right where GWSS leaves off. I enjoy this in sequels because you don’t miss some possibly pertinent information that authors have to catch you up on later. GWRH continues the dark exaggeration of our current society (and it’s really not THAT much of an exaggeration) in regards to women’s rights. The content can be disturbing and triggering, but so powerful and well written.

Suzanne Young has fantastic flow with her writing and continuing to keep the story on track. Attention is given to the right parts and I didn’t feel like there were parts that deserved to be expanded on further. There were some plot twists, but seeing as it’s a middle book in a trilogy, there weren’t as many as the first and what I imagine the third will have in store. There was some info dumping and predictable parts, but I mostly still feel like I have no idea who the “bad guys” are or what the endgame is – which makes it worth reading the third book and will keep me invested in the story.

I have to say that I hope those who pick up this series are ready for the disturbing and violent writing and events in these books. I can’t give the book more stars because the topic does have a negative effect on me. I think it’s so important, but hard to read at times due to the content. So please know your triggers before diving into this series.

Happy reading folks!

eARC Review – The Electric Heir

Title: The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2)

Author: Victoria Lee

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication date: March 17th, 2020

480 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Skyscape, and Victoria Lee for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Electric Heir, the sequel to The Fever King, picks up with Noam and Dara a few months after TFK ends. The resistance against Calix Lehrer continues with them at the front lines. The Electric Heir is a solid ending to a truly magical and diverse fantasy world of the future USA.

This sequel continued all the magic and action that I loved from The Fever King. The amount of diversity in this world is totally amazing and made me love it even more. The Electric Heir is jam packed with fights, political intrigue, backstabbing, and magic gone awry. There’s murder and double-crossing. There’s also talk of eating disorders and sexual abuse – so TW for that.

I love the characters in this book so much because they are so tragically messed up and not redeemable but in the best way. Noam and Dara are the cutest together but they have such a hard path to overcome. Ames is a complete mess but is so strong and unapologetic about anything. The camaraderie between the characters in Level IV is what you’d look for from a great team.

One part that took a star away from this book for me was the ending. I was expecting so much more. It was actually kind of anticlimactic in my opinion, and happened way too quickly. Like, I was 97% in and the ending was just gearing up – that’s not enough time for the ending this duology deserved.

The Electric Heir is the conclusion to the Feverwake series and if you are a fan of the Red Queen series, you should check it out.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Wicked Fox

“Just because something doesn’t seem right to most, doesn’t mean it’s not right for you.” 

Title: Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1)

Author: Kat Cho

Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication date: June 25th, 2019

429 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

Review

When you’re constantly treated as a pariah and labeled bad, you might begin living up to that expectation.

kat cho, wicked fox

Welcome to present day Seoul, where Miyoung and Jihoon are two teenagers fated to meet under less than fantastic circumstances. Miyoung is a gumiho, a nine tail fox who must kill someone at least once a month in order to stay alive. Jihoon is a normal human who accidentally comes across Miyoung while she’s being attacked by a demon – everyone knows to stay away from gumihos BUT Jihoon can’t help but be drawn to her.

I have been working on reading more Asian inspired fantasies because it’s subgenre I don’t have a lot of experience with. Wicked Fox seemed interesting because of the gumiho plot – I loved Shadow of the Fox and the main character is also a magical fox. However, Wicked Fox fell a bit flat for me.

I think I enjoyed the beginning and end of Wicked Fox, but wasn’t interested in the middle. It was a slog to get through, and the only reason I got through it quickly is because I was on a plane with not much else to do. It just felt like not much was happening and it was all filler. The main “event” was kind of annoying because nothing good came out of it – it was all negative outcomes.

Also, Miyoung and Jihoon aren’t really great characters. They felt flat as characters, without much substance. Jihoon had more interesting characteristics and back story, but Miyoung was definitely not given enough to be captivating. Every time I wanted her to stand up to her mom, she didn’t – even though she seemed to have a strong personality. There was just a disconnect there.

I liked the overall lore with the magical creatures living in the present day and trying to stay unnoticed by humans. The ending scenes were quick and substantive, with a decent cliffhanger to keep me interested for the sequel. There was a plot twist I did NOT see coming at all, which drastically improved how I felt about Wicked Fox by the end. I love being thrown for a loop while reading – and having no idea a twist is coming.

Overall, it was a meh read for me. I do plan on reading the sequel, but I may not purchase it. It screams library haul to me.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The New Guy

Title: The New Guy

Author: Kathryn Freeman

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: March 13th, 2020

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sam Huxton doesn’t do one-night stands, especially not with men she’s just met! But the hot guy at the bar was hard to resist and one night is all they share – no names, no numbers, just some much needed fun…

Until the same guy walks into Sam’s life the next day as her new employee.  Sam never mixes business with pleasure and makes it clear an office fling with Ryan is off-limits.  But after-hours…one thing can lead to another. Can Sam trust her heart and her business with the new guy?

Review

**Thanks to One More Chapter, Netgalley, and Kathryn Freeman for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The New Guy follows Sam, the CEO of a tech company and Ryan, her newest employee – which she didn’t realize when she took him home from the bar the past weekend. Sam must now navigate being the boss of someone she is wildly attracted to, while her company is being threatened and Ryan may be the only person who can save it.

THIS BOOK WAS ADORABLE. I really enjoyed the interactions between Sam and Ryan, and I feel like they both brought so much baggage with them that but were able to work through it together the right way. The character development was great from start to finish, and they helped each other to become better mentally and as people. I flew through this book in just a few hours because the banter and sexual tension between the characters was just captivating!

I do feel like a few plot points weren’t followed through to the end with the same attention that others were given, which caused it to fall just a bit flat. All the ends weren’t tied up, so I feel like I docked a star from The New Guy for this reason. Even if it’s small, I like when all plot points or question marks are closed up or answered. But overall, a cute read and well worth the time.

Happy reading, folks!