Book Review – Strange the Dreamer

Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: March 28, 2017

536 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Review

It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.

Strange the dreamer, laini taylor

Hello, friends 🙂 Back with an actual physical book review instead of a Netgalley review! I finished this book up while on the beach in Lewes, DE and I have to say, it was the best possible setting to fall in love with Lazlo and Sarai.

Y’all I think this book broke me. It was beautiful and amazing and heart wrenching and I’m not sure how to feel. I want to give it all the stars but no stars because of that ending!!

Let me back up. Strange the Dreamer is a beautifully written, evocative book that has some of the best world building I’ve ever read. Laini Taylor has such a way with words. I know you’re thinking, “Girl, of course she does, she’s and aUtHoR”, but I’m talking LEAPS and BOUNDS better than other books I’ve read. The setting really comes alive without feeling TOO bogged down in descriptive language.

In this book Lazlo is Strange the Dreamer. His last name is Strange as he is an orphan and it is the given last name of all orphans in his kingdom. Very GoT vibes. He is a dreamer because he has been obsessed with the city of “Weep” for his whole life, and he lives with his nose stuffed in a book (don’t we all, amirite??). Weep is this huge mystery after it went off the grid 200 years before, and Weep isn’t the real name. One day, the real name of the city was wiped from everyone’s memory, with no explanation. Lazlo’s dream is to find the explanation, and he is given the opportunity when the Godslayer comes knocking on the door…

Sarai is Godspawn, a resident of Weep and part of the reason why Weep went off the grid. Her existence is unknown, along with her 4 Godspawn companions. They all have powers, to be used for good and evil. Sarai is able to go into everyone’s dreams and manipulate them. She fears for her life as if anyone in Weep knew she existed, she and her siblings would be hunted to extinction…

The ending to this book broke my heart wholly. I was so mad reading it, because it was the worst possible conclusion while also forcing me to read the next one! I strongly suggest everyone pick up this book as it was so captivating and well written. The plot twist at the end will hurt, but I’m hoping for a happy ending at the end of the sequel!

Happy reading, bookish friends 🙂

eARC Review – Midnight Beauties (spoilers!)

Title: Midnight Beauties

Author: Megan Shepherd

Publisher: HMH Teen

Publication Date: August 13, 2019

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The witches, beasties, goblins, and Royals return in this spellbinding conclusion to New York Times best-selling author Megan Shepherd’s Grim Lovelies duology. 

Ever since she discovered her affinity for magic, seventeen-year-old Anouk has been desperate to become a witch. It’s the only way to save her friends who, like Anouk, are beasties: animals enchanted into humans. But unlike Anouk, the other beasties didn’t make it out of the battle at Montélimar in one piece.

With her friends now trapped in their animal forms, Anouk is forced into a sinister deal involving a political marriage with her sworn enemy, a wicked plot to overthrow London’s fiercest coven of witches, and a deadly trial of fire to become a witch. The price for power has always been steep in the world of the Haute. Now, it will cost Anouk everything.

Wicked and delightful, this spellbinding sequel and conclusion to Grim Lovelies is perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and The Hazelwood Wood.

Review

Bookish darlings! I’m back with another eARC review from my friends at Netgalley! Special thanks to Netgalley and HMH Teen for this eARC of Midnight Beauties! I got Grim Lovelies in a Shelflove Crate box one month in 2018 and I really enjoyed it, so I knew I had to read the sequel.

Midnight Beauties picks up about 6 weeks after Grim Lovelies ends. The beasties we know and love are still in their original animal form, and Anouk must find a way to save them, the Goblins, and eventually the world. Prince Rennar shows up at the townhouse’s door step with a proposition for her. Marry him, and he will restore the beasties to their human form. But there’s a catch. Terrible things are happening in London, and Anouk has to help. To help though, she needs more magic than the tricks and whispers she can do now. She must travel to The Black Forest to cross the Coals with her crux to be granted a witch’s powers. On average, only one girl will successfully become a witch every year through this process. But in order to save her friends, and the world, Anouk is willing to do anything.

Wow. What a good sequel to Grim Lovelies. Our girl Anouk is out here living her best life, going places and accomplishing more than anyone would expect from a simple beastie. Gotta hand it to her because she reached for the stars and got to the moon. I enjoyed returning to this magical world full of Pretties, Goblins, Witches, and Royals. Sometimes it can be confusing with just how many types of people there are, but it flows well. I like Megan Shepherd’s writing style and I would continue to read her work.

Downfalls to this book include an ending I didn’t like. The last decision Anouk makes breaks my heart because I wanted her to pick differently in her love triangle. This love triangle reminded me strongly of the Caraval trilogy where Tella has to decide between Jacks and Legend. I also docked it down a point because I di find it hard to keep up with the book at times. But again, I read it all in one day so I definitely enjoyed it immensely.

If you read Grim Lovelies, you have to read the sequel. Megan left it open to return to the world and write a follow up book(s), which I think would be very cool.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Swipe Right For Murder

Title: Swipe Right For Murder

Author: Derek Milman

Publisher: jimmy patterson

Publication Date: August 6, 2019

336 pages

4/5

Goodreads Review

On the run from the FBI.
Targeted by a murderous cult.
Labeled a cyber-terrorist by the media.
Irritated texts from his best friend.
Eye contact with a nice-looking guy on the train.
Aidan has a lot to deal with, and he’s not quite sure which takes top priority.

Finding himself alone in a posh New York City hotel room for the night, Aidan does what any red-blooded seventeen-year-old would do—he tries to hook up with someone new. But that lapse in judgement leads to him waking up next to a dead guy, which sparks an epic case of mistaken identity that puts Aidan on the run from everyone—faceless federal agents, his eccentric family, and, naturally, a cyber-terrorist group who will stop at nothing to find him.

He soon realizes the only way to stop the chase is to deliver the object everyone wants, before he gets caught or killed. But for Aidan, the hardest part is knowing who he can trust not to betray him—including himself.

Review

Howdy, friends! August is the month I will really be cracking down on my Netgalley ARC’s so my ratio will improve. I have been denied a lot lately so I feel like that is impairing my approval. Special thanks to Netgalley and jimmy patterson for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book starts off FAST. First 20 pages and you’re blasted off onto an epic adventure of a lifetime. Seventeen year old Aidan makes the GIANT mistake (we all make) of making some late night social media connections (wink wink) while in New York City for the night. Aidan is unapologetically gay (which is amazing). After having the most awkward encounter with a guy from his school (who doesn’t seem sure of his orientation) Aidan is left wanting more so he returns to the app. This is the problem, as a SERIOUS case of mistaken identity puts him in the middle of a murder, a hacker, a terrorist group, and he has NO IDEA what to do or better yet, who to trust.

Swipe Right grabs your attention immediately. There is no denying the action and thrilling drama that this kid is going through. You start to wonder how he is keeping his cool as well as he is. He also has secrets, which are divulged piecemeal throughout the book. They provide a new level of dimension to his character, so his arc is really cool to see.

Side characters are good, if not kind of generic. I wasn’t really connected to any of the characters who make up his friend group. But, this may be on purpose as Aidan really is the star of this show.

The last third of the book is a web that you have to try to untangle, because you have no idea who is telling the truth and who is lying. Aidan really struggles with this himself as these events that he should not have been a part of keep happening to him.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I read it all in one day (which is generally my baseline for telling definitively whether I’ve liked a book) so it definitely grabbed my attention and held it. The writing was a bit hard to understand and follow at times, but as this is the unedited edition I give it the benefit of the doubt that this will be improved before publication. The ending however, left much to be desired. After the BIG EVENT ending, there were still several chapters of wrap up. After each chapter concluded I thought to myself, “Okay, that’s a good stopping point”, but there would be a whole other chapter after that! This happened a few times. I definitely didn’t need that level of follow up. For these reasons, I knocked it down a star.

Swipe Right For Murder will be great for fans of action and thrillers. There is no slow build up, the book basically punches you in the face with plot. Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a wild ride!

Book Review – We Hunt The Flame

Title: We Hunt The Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1)

Author: Hafsah Faizal

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

472 pages

4/5

Goodreads Synopsis

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Review

“If I told you my name, would you bow?” His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. “Or would you flee?” 

Hafsah Faizal, we hunt the flame

Hello book friends! I read We Hunt The Flame while I was laying out on a cruise deck in the Atlantic Ocean – which I have to say really enhances the reading experience! Highly recommend to all you lovelies to take a cruise if your financials allow it! Special shout out to my parents for hooking me and the boyf up.

For this book, I saw it was HIGHLY rated on Bookstagram by reviewers that I admire and generally tend to agree with. They LOVED it and would not stop raving about it. Me? I was less thrilled.

Not to say I did not enjoy this book, I did give it four stars after all. But it draaaagged. Like, the first 150 pages were so slow and full of build up that I found it hard to focus. The book is written from a two person point of view, where the chapters bounce back and forth. I had no issue with this part, but I felt very disconnected from the characters, it was hard to pin down the timeline, and frankly they weren’t with each other so it was pretty confusing.

HOWEVER, the story definitely picked up after the two main characters actually came in contact with each other, Zafira and Nasir. Zafira is a woman who has been portraying a man as “The Hunter” because women are not respected in her territory. She is the one who is able to brave the Arz (magical, evil forest) to bring food and water to her territory. Nasir is the Crown Prince and is also an assassin for his insanely evil and unstable father, the Sultan of the country. These two characters are on a mission that will bring them together, but also tear them apart.

Once these two lovebugs met I started to really enjoy the book more. They have such snarky banter with each other and it’s such a slow burn romance. The side characters are generally interesting, and them working together and feeling each other out made the reading process easier.

We Hunt The Flame had great world building and a few major twists at the end, which rounded it out to a 4/5 stars for me. Would definitely recommend, and I will continue this series when the sequel, We Free The Stars, is released.

Happy reading, friends!

June Haul

Hi friends! I had a much smaller haul this month than I did in May. I somehow managed to be more conscious of my bank account (even though I technically was on a buying ban and shouldn’t have gotten any!) In my defense, two of these were from book boxes and three were purchased as a gift from my father! In reality, I really only bought two books, which is a huge improvement!!

Okay, so below is my breakdown!

BOOK BOXES:

My June OwlCrate and ShelfLove Crate arrived this month.

  1. Sorcery of Thorns – Margert Rogerson (exclusive cover)
  2. The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg (artwork on reverse of dust jacket)

FROM POPS:

I went on vacation earlier this month with my dad, and I text him while I was packing my suitcase and told him I wasn’t sure my luggage would be under the weight restriction because of the books I was bringing (mostly kidding). But he told me if I left a few at home he would replace them in San Diego, so I got three books out of the deal! Score!

  1. Malice – John Gwynne
  2. The City of Brass – S. A. Chakraborty
  3. Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

AMAZON:

I decided after reading an ARC of Call It What You Want that I needed to preorder it, and I needed more in my cart to get the free shipping – so of course I had to get another book too!

  1. A Thousand Perfect Notes – C. G. Drews (aka Paper Fury)
  2. Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer

Tell me if you got any of these books, or have read any! And tune in tomorrow for my June Wrap Up post!

Happy reading, friends!

eARC Review – Control Freak

Title: Control Freak

Author: Brianna Hale

Publisher: Kindle Edition

Publication Date: June 27th, 2019

311 pages

4/5

Goodreads Synopsis

Total control. I need it in every aspect of my life. Some would say that makes me an asshole. A freak. But as long as everything’s exactly how I want it, I’m completely flexible. 

I’m kidding. 

Okay, I’m not kidding. 

Lacey needs someone in her life who’s bigger and scarier than her demons, and she wants that man to be me. Her boss. The Viking in a suit. I hope she understands what she’s getting into. This daddy isn’t going to pat her on the head and tell her she’s a good girl for nothing. Especially not when she’s spinning out of control. 

Author’s note: this book includes depictions of eating disorder recovery.

Review

(TRIGGER WARNING: Eating disorders, medical concerns, BDSM, explicit language, sexual scenes)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with the ebook copy of Brianna Hale’s newest Romance novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Compared to other books I’ve read recently, this is very different. I love romances and erotica don’t get me wrong. I read Fifty Shades along with the rest of you. I’ve just been on a YA Contemporary and Fantasy kick lately so I haven’t done an Adult Romance in awhile. It was nice to get out my box for a few hundred pages.

I finished this book all in one day. I tend to gobble romance novels up very quickly – they are just so easy to read. I couldn’t put this one down, for several reasons.

This story took a young woman struggling with anorexia and placed her in the path of working as the assistant for an older, very attractive man. She has very deep-seeded mental health issues stemming from her battle with anorexia – so she is pretty vulnerable at this point. You get a very good sense of how hard she is struggling. but also trying to beat her demons. She describes her eating disorder as they other voice inside her head, that convinces her she is too overweight to be lovable. It can be a lot, especially if you struggle with something similar (as I do).

Frankly, I thought the author depicted anorexia well. I do not suffer from it, but I could relate to the body dysmorphia aspect and having that voice inside your head telling you that you aren’t good enough. It was fairly cathartic actually – but could be triggering for other.

Then you add in the aspect of a BDSM sexual relationship. Now, I’m not well versed with this, but I found that Hale did a better job of depicting it in a healthy way than Fifty Shades was. The book followed Lacey’s journey in recovery and entering into this relationship well. Obviously, there has to be a downside moment before the big ending, but I think it was done well.

Time for critiques. I docked this book 1 star for these reasons: I felt the relationship between Lacey and her boss happened too quickly and without a lot of lead up or transition. It was very quick and I feel like it could have been described better. Also, having been educated in the mental health field, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with how Lacy’s therapist’s character was portrayed. It was definitely better than most – but could be improved upon. For these reasons, I gave it a 4/5.

Happy reading, book friends!

Book Review – Songlines

Title: Songlines (The Sentinels of Eden #1)

Author: Carolyn Denman

Publisher: Odyssey Books

Publication Date: August 20, 2016

320 pages

3.25/5

Goodreads Synopsis

We belong to the Earth, Lainie-Bug. We were sent here in human form for a reason. If you don’t know what to do, then just be human.

Right. Like that was ever a simple thing to do.

In the heart of the Wimmera region of Victoria, an ancient gateway to Eden is kept hidden and safe by a creature so powerful that even the moon would obey her commands – at least it would if she had any idea that she wasn’t just a normal girl about to finish high school. 

When a mining company begins exploratory sampling near Lainie’s sheep farm, a family secret is revealed that makes her regret not having learnt more about her Indigenous heritage.

What she’s told by their farmhand, Harry – an Aboriginal Elder – can’t possibly be true, but then the most irritating guy in class, Bane, begins to act even more insanely toward her than ever, until she can no longer deny that something very unusual is going on.

When Harry doesn’t return from his quest to seek help to protect the area from the miners, Lainie sets out to discover the truth of her heritage, and of the secret she’s been born to protect.

Review

Hi friends! Back again with a review from Netgalley! Thank you to Netgalley for the privilege of reviewing books and the following opinions are my own.

I have a lot of thoughts about this book, and I’ve had a hard time organizing them into coherent thoughts. Overall, I liked this book, but there were parts I just really couldn’t connect with.

Basically, this book is a fantasy in which the Garden of Eden is real and weirdly enough in Australia. Cherubim guard the opening so humans cannot stumble upon it and find it. Lainie, the main character seems to be in the US equivalent of her senior year in high school. She’s got all sorts of usual problems – a dude who picks on her, a guy best friend who is exploring the dating scene without her, and trying to figure out what she wants fo do with her life. This is until a drilling company comes sniffing around her property & opens up a rabbit hole of godly proportions.

I found I liked the characters the most, plus the love stories. Who doesn’t love a good enemies to lovers trope? I feel like it’s done well and you really get a sense of why they were enemies. I don’t necessarily love the “You have no choice in who you love” trope, but it isn’t my least favorite. Lainie is just a normal girl trying to cope with her new lot in life with a ragtag group of pals.

I will say, the religious theme doesn’t do it for me. While it isn’t outwardly devout, it is centered around the existence of a huge piece of the Bible existing. In Australia. The setting of this book is another aspect that threw me off because I’m very unfamiliar with Australian language and slang so a lot of it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I took a lot of guesses while reading.

Lastly, I was not a fan of the ending. Not because it wasn’t good or didn’t have a good enough cliffhanger, but because it made me so sad!!! I just wanted to hug all of them & squeeze them until they felt better!

I docked this book down to a 3.5/5 stars for those reasons. I’m not super sure if I will continue in the series. I imagine it would be a very mood read kinda thing. Not entirely for me, but I’d give it a try, especially if you understand Australian lingo!

Thanks for reading, friends!

Book Review – Of Rioters and Royals

Title: Of Rioters and Royals (Swift Shadows Book #1)

Author: M. L. Greye

Publisher: Kindle

Publication Date: January 18, 2019

421 pages

4.25/5

Goodreads Synopsis

Emry is a Royal – a princess of Enlennd. As is tradition, she must have a knight at her side as her protector. The only way to appoint one is through The Trials. Her Challengers from the five regions of Enlennd must compete for the infamous title of Princess’s Knight. The problem, though, is that the people of Enlennd are split into two categories: Rioters and Royals. Finding the perfect knight may be the last of her worries. War is coming to Enlennd. 

Declan is a Rioter. An upriser. An anarchist. He mistrusts the Jewels – the sovereign family of Enlennd. Yet, he is offering himself up as a Challenger in The Trials. The Mistress, leader of the Rioters, has a mission for him. The first step is for him to become the Princess’s Knight. He is ready for the task, until he actually meets Emry and discovers that betraying her would be much more difficult than he’d thought. 

Review

Good afternoon, book friends! The author of this book reached out to me on Instagram to offer an ebook copy of Of Rioters and Royals in exchange for an honest review and Instagram feature. Opinions listed are my own.

Friends, I loved this book. Greye started off the book with a deep dive into the history of the world she built, and even though as I was reading it I was less than interested (history in books can be a bit dry), it became REALLY helpful as the book continued on. She has a really diverse magic system and you can tell she took the time to really think through the world and magic system.

Basically, your abilities are dependent on the color of your eyes – and not just normal eye colors. You’ve got Teal, Purple, Orange, Red, Black, and even Silver. You have a base color and can have flecks of other colors. Your base color is your main ability, but the flecks can give you lesser abilities. I think it’s a pretty neat idea and worked well in execution.

The world is a kingdom ruled by The Jewels, each member of the royal family is named after a precious jewel. Emry’s real name is Emerald, her sister is Citrine, and her father is Onyx (you get the gist). The Jewels have five regions in their kingdom, however one has been at odds with them for a long time. Anexia contains a sect of people called Rioters, who looks to dispose the royal family. They have a plan… to kidnap Princess Emerald by having Declan be a Challenger in what is called The Trials. The Trials are put on by the monarchs to find the ultimate protector for the Princess, and Declan looks to prove himself in the Rioters organization and to the mysterious Mistress who runs the group.

This book kept me on my toes for real. There was such a subtle level of foreshadowing, where you could kind of guess where the twists may lie without being too sure. It was a good balance, which is something I look for in a book. I like to be able to see twists coming, but it is very fun to be surprised. I picked up on most of the foreshadowing, but there was one point that really threw me for a loop (no spoilers) and I’m still thinking about it.

One critique I would have is about how the love story came about. It felt too fast and forced in the moment. You knew it was coming of course, but it went from 0-100 real quick without much transition or thought on either part. I also wish The Trials had been more of a central part of the book – I felt they ended pretty quickly. I get why, I just feel like I wanted more from it. For these reasons, I docked it down to a 4.25 read.

Overall, I would definitely suggest adding it to your Kindle TBR – and I will definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy to find out what happens to my precious Emry and Dec. Their characters were very well fleshed out, and if there’s one thing I love – it’s a strong, female character that is complemented by her man, not the other way around.

If you like magic, rebellions, twists and turns you don’t see coming, and epic love stories – this will be the book for you. Greye has a level of depth to her writing that makes you want to be a part of the world and story. I’m still trying to figure out what color I would want my eyes to be…

Until the next, my friends! (which is indeed a a quote from the book!)

eARC Review – Call It What You Want

Title: Call It What You Want

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA/Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

384 pages

5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Review

Hello book friends! Back again with another eARC review 🙂 Special shoutout to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books for sending me this galley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Guys, I am obsessed with this book, I quite literally read it all in one day. Once I started, I just couldn’t put it down. I would die for Rob and Maegan and will stand in the way of anyone hurting them!!

CIWYW was such a cute, contemporary novel. This is the first title I’ve read by Brigid Kemmerer (I do own A Curse So Dark and Lonely but have yet to pick it up) and I am impressed. She officially has a fan for life. I read so many YA Fantasy novels that I forget how much I enjoy a good, contemporary novel. This book is written from two perspectives – Rob and Maegan’s. This is nice because you get a slice of the story from both points of views and in their own voices.

So let’s start off with the characters. I am a sucker for some lonely, messed up characters!! Rob and Maegan are struggling with very real, and very personal problems while trying to survive their senior year of high school. They are learning to navigate life as social rejects. Rob’s dad embezzled many in the town out of a whopping 7 million buckos and Maegan cheated on the SAT’s, which ended up invalidating 100 students scores. Both of them are hurting and have resulting trust issues of others from the backlash of their peers. They are thrown together to do a math project and neither of them are happy about it, they both would prefer to be alone. Rob and Maegan quickly learn to lean on each other, and begin to explore the idea of having close friends again.

There is a love story between two characters, an LGBTQIA character (no love story for him womp womp), and some sneaky Robin Hood themes. It begs the question – is it wrong to steal if you are using the items for good and not evil? It is a theme that is highly explored, and is an interesting concept.

Frankly, I loved CIWYW and have preordered a copy as a result of reading this. The love story is SO well done – reading Rob’s point of view was so important. The topic of respecting woman is brought up at one point, and Brigid did such a good job of presenting a teenage, male character that was interested physically in the girl – but acted (and thought) with nothing but respect for her wishes and comfort levels in intimate situations. It was honestly a breath of fresh air in a time when this topic is difficult to navigate.

Upon finishing CIWYW I almost immediately went back to reread a few scenes that stood out of me (okay, the romantic scenes – I’m a sucker, alright?!) and this is a huge sign for me that it is a five star read. The fact that I wanted to go back to relive big moments doesn’t happen with every title I pick up. Frankly, my sole gripe about this book is that there isn’t a follow up book to go with it! I need more Rob and Maegan!

In conclusion, pick this one up if you like a good high school romance, Robin Hood, real teenage angst and issues, and some well built characters. This would be a great beach read for the summer!

Enjoy, book friends!

eARC Review – Soul of the Sword (spoilers)

Title: Soul of the Sword

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press

Publication date: June 18th, 2019

304 pages

4.25/5

Goodreads Synopsis

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

Review

Is this an ‘I’m sorry I tried to assassinate you’ tea ceremony?

julie kagawa, soul of the sword

First off, HUGE thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for providing me an eARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. The following opinions are mine alone. This was my first time having the opportunity to read and review a book that has yet to be officially released, and I will be forever grateful.

Now, onto the review. My babies Yumeko, Daisuke, and Okame are back and still getting into trouble. Now, they are tasked with saving Tatsumi from Hakaimono and ya know, saving the empire from the Master of Demons.

I enjoyed Soul a lot more than I did Shadow. I think I got more comfortable with the Japanese terms and language – along with what it means for the story line. On the flip side, the author added even more terms to this book than Shadow, which was a lot. She added at like 10 more types of demons/ghosts/undead spirits. My head was spinning trying to keep them straight.

Soul went the usual path I feel trilogies take, much of the plot line was spent setting up the third book. This can generally lead to a more boring book, but I felt that Soul traversed this ground well and never felt boring. She managed to set up the final book while also providing enough action and drama to keep you hooked through the book.

It crushed my heart that Tatsumi was so sad during this book! He just wanted to save Yumeko after she managed to elicit emotions in him for the first time in years – but he was powerless to help her through 99% of the book! And poor Yumeko had no concept that he had feelings for her (or that she had feelings for him) because she had no experience with this.

My favorite part? We have an LGBTQIA relationship sighting!! It took me COMPLETELY by surprise but I absolutely love it. Especially in a culture that is traditionally non supportive of such relationships and when one half of the couple is part of the noble, ruling family. But Daisuke was very forward thinking in pursuing the relationship and going for what he wants – regardless of their culture and the expectations of him. The romance melted my heart and I will ship Daisuke and Okame forever.

The few tiny aspects that took Soul below a 5 star read for me was the final fight scene, cliffhanger at the end, and the mysteriousness of Seigetsu. The final fight scene was very anticlimactic (though props to Yumeko for that fake out) and had me wanting more. I am just not too happy with how the book ended, and am hopeful that it is all sorted out in the final book. And who is this Seigetsu person acting like the puppet master? It’s starting to irritate me, because I can’t tell if he is a “good” or “bad” character. For these reasons, I couldn’t give it a whole 5 stars.

Soul of the Sword will be released tomorrow, June 18th so if you loved Shadow of the Fox, you should definitely go check it out!

Thanks for reading, friends 🙂