Book Review – The Devouring Gray

Title : The Devouring Gray

Author : Christine Lynn Herman

Publisher : Titan Books

368 pages

Rating : 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

Review

So, my apologies for not having a picture of this book that I took myself. I was so excited to get my library books back on time today that I forgot to take a photo first! Total fail, I’ll do better next time y’all. Anyhow, I wasn’t going to let that setback keep me from reviewing this beautiful book!

The Devouring Gray is a solid book that has all the things I am drawn to in YA Fantasy books. You’ve got this group of young characters with the weight of the world on their shoulders… all while still being in high school. They all have troubled pasts or troubled presents and have a connection to each other – they must work together to save their town from the monster in the Gray. Next, you’ve got a corrupt town and a group of adults who are frankly terrible and need to go somewhere quickly. Of COURSE the kids are the only sane one’s in the whole town of Four Paths. Lastly, it’s got a town with rich history, customs, and most importantly – MAGIC!

FOUR PATHS. Basically, a long while ago four people came across a town with a monster terrorizing it. They fought the monster and took some of it’s powers, banishing it to the “Gray”. The four youngsters are all descendants of the original four who saved the town – called “founders”. The town “worships” (doesn’t apply to everyone – in comes RISING ACTION!) them, as the descendants continue to patrol the town and fend off the Gray. The one catch is not every descendant gets powers. They just complete a ritual – each family has a different one. Those who fail – generally die. In the book, the Gray is becoming stronger and the founders are becoming weaker – the four main characters must work together to weaken it once and for all.

CHARACTERS. Justin, Harper, Isaac, and Violet. All founders, different families. Harper hates Justin for a past issue, Justin holds firmly onto the guilt of what he did to Harper. Both Justin & Harper failed their rituals*. Isaac has more power than he can control, and this gets him into trouble. Violet moved to Four Paths with her mother completely unaware of her heritage – but she quickly learns, and is less than impressed. They all have a good character arc, decent back stories, and will pull at the heartstrings.

THE ADULTS. OK. Look. I get it that we adults think we’re all that and a bag of chips, but honestly these kids are smarter than the adults. Justin’s mom Augusta is the Sheriff of Four Paths, but has a power that no one knows about because it would lead to SEVERE distrust if people knew. She would NOT have any power in the town if they had any clue what she’s been doing to them. She runs the place as if she is judge, jury, AND executioner and it is ANNOYING. She can seriously leave and wouldn’t be missed. Then Harper’s dad is part of a group that is trying to overthrow Augusta – but also has a much darker mission. Again, cue STUPIDITY. They almost got their damn selves killed. SMH. But I digress.

CRITIQUE. I generally LOVED this book. I was on the edge of my seat in the beginning because this type of book really is my YA bread and butter. BUT, there were parts that were hard to understand and weren’t explained super well – basically the whole climax scene. Also, the cliffhanger was good, but not GREAT. Give me a cliffhanger that makes me NEED the next book pronto mucho. The Devouring Gray leaves you with unanswered questions and a definite opening for the sequel, but I’m not feverishly refreshing the author’s Instagram page for release updates. For these reasons, I docked it one star – 4/5.

Book Review – Daughter of the Pirate King

Title : Daughter of the Pirate King

Author : Tricia Levenseller

Publisher : Feiwel Friends

311 pages

Rating : 4.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Review

“Lass, you’ve the face of an angel but the tongue of a snake.” 
― Tricia Levenseller, Daughter of the Pirate King

Hi all! I finished this quick read this past weekend (trying to get to all of my library books before they are due back, yikes!). I’ve seen this title on Bookstagram a few times, but not super often. I honestly only grabbed it from the library for 3 reasons:

  1. I like the author. I read Warrior of the Wild a little while ago and loved it, so I wanted to give her other books a try. I knew Daughter of the Siren Queen came out semi-recently, so I knew if I liked it I could easily get to the next one.
  2. It looked short. I normally go for really long and meaty books, but when I was perusing the library I wanted to get some quick and easy reads to break up some of the more extensive books I have on my TBR.
  3. I saw it on Bookstagram. I wasn’t invested enough to buy it, but that’s what libraries are for.

So as you can see, I picked this one up for pretty simple reasons. I really enjoyed it though! The characters were likable (mostly) and the plot was good, if not outstanding. Like I said, I picked this for it’s simplicity, not to spend weeks on it.

Let’s start with our main characters – Alosa and Riden. It becomes apparent quickly that we’re going to have a romance between these two. Like it’s so obvious that I’m not even classifying this as a spoiler. They have an instant curiosity towards each other because Riden seems to have Alosa figured out, and she isn’t used to that. He is smart, insightful, and he calls her on her BS. In return, Alosa gives him everything she has in her Vault of Sarcasm and Snark (I have one of these, but hers is MUCH better). She loves to rile him up and get into his head – cue some serious sexual tension. It’s a pretty easy back and forth in the beginning as the plot is being laid out, but it becomes more prevalent and obvious as it continues. During the main CONFLICT part at the end, they become much closer in order to set it up for the next book.

I gave this one a 4.5/5 stars because it hit the spot for me. I’ve seen some reviews where people hated it, and come on now we are never all going to agree on a book. I liked it for the same reasons that people hate it. If you’re looking for an in-depth, high/epic fantasy novel that will keep you entertained for hours and salivating for more, maybe pick up a different book. If you want something more on the light and breezy side, try this one on for size.

I did knock it down by .5 stars for a few reasons, but one major one. TRIGGER WARNING –

There is a scene in the book where Alosa is on the brink of being sexually assaulted. She is grappling with another pirate and it does NOT go very far, however it is traumatic for her a bit and can be triggering for readers. Riden is present while this is happening but chooses to stay out of it. In his words, he thought she could handle herself and wouldn’t appreciate him stepping in to take care of something she was fully capable of. OKAY YES Riden, Alosa doesn’t exactly give off “damsel in distress” vibes (I mean, she’s a trained killer come on?) but friend, let’s help my girl out. Honestly, he mostly just wanted her to kill the other pirate so he didn’t have to and get in trouble with the Captain, aka his brother.

So, this scene was a major draw back for me for that reason, so I couldn’t give it a full five stars. However, still worth the read and I will be picking up Daughter of the Siren Queen on my next library trip.

Happy reading!

Book Review: The Queen’s Resistance (spoilers!)

Title : The Queen’s Resistance

Author : Rebecca Ross

Publisher : Harper Teen

480 pages

Rating : 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

The highly anticipated sequel to The Queen’s Rising!

Finally, Brienna is a mistress of knowledge and is settling into her role as the daughter of Davin MacQuinn, a disgraced lord who returned to Maevana to reclaim his house. Though she’d just survived a revolution, one that will finally return a queen to the throne, she faces another difficult challenge. She must prove herself trustworthy to the MacQuinns. But as Queen Isolde Kavanagh’s closest confidant, she’ll have to balance serving her father’s house as well as her country. And then there’s Cartier, a wholly separate but desirable factor in her new life.

Aodhan Morgane, formerly known as Cartier Évariste, is adjusting to the stark contrast between his pre-rebellion life in Valenia as a master of knowledge and his current one as the lord of a fallen house. During his castle’s restoration, he discovers a ten-year-old boy named Tomas, whose past and parentage are a complete mystery. So when Cartier’s former pupil Brienna is as taken with Tomas as he is, he lets his mind wander—what if he doesn’t have to raise him or his house alone?

As the Lannon trial rapidly approaches, Brienna and Cartier must put their feelings aside to concentrate on forging alliances, executing justice, and ensuring that no one interferes with the queen’s coronation. But resistance is rumbling among the old regime’s supporters, who are desperate to find a weakness in the rebels’ forces. And nothing makes a person more vulnerable than deep-seated love.

Review


“If you were a storm, I would lie down and rest in your rain. If you were a river, I would drink from your currents. If you were a poem, I would never cease to read you. I adore the girl you once were, and I love the woman you have become.” 
― Rebecca Ross, The Queen’s Resistance

I received The Queen’s Rising in a ShelfLove Crate monthly subscription box and fell in love with Rebecca Ross’ writing style. It flows so naturally and is so… creamy. I know that’s a weird adjective to use to describe writing, but it is just so smooth and effortless. It’s like she pulled words out of her brain seamlessly without even trying. I’m not doing a good job of describing this… so ya’ll will have to just trust and check her out on your own!

Now, I received a finished copy of The Queen’s Resistance for free from Harper Teen (thanks, ya’ll!) – and I couldn’t be more grateful. First off, I was dying to get my hands on the sequel because ORIGINALLY TQR was going to be a stand alone novel. It totally could have been, but having more closure is NEVER a bad thing in my mind. Write ALL the books folks! I will continue to buy them and read them and love them. TQR ended with everything wrapped up, but The Queen’s Resistance brought a new level of depth to not only the world but the characters.

So, if you haven’t read The Queen’s Rising you should turn back now. Honestly, unless you never ever plan on reading it. I will be talking some major spoilers hear so last chance to run away!

Let’s start off with the current events. We have Lannon now deposed as King of Maevana and Queen Isolde is trying to reunite a broken country. Not an easy feat. She has the backing of her tried and true lords, but they must go out and convince the other lords that the Kavanaghs should be on the throne once more. This includes convincing Lannon’s allies, which is nigh impossible. But they try anyway! Brienna is staying with the MacQuinn’s as Davin’s adopted daughter, and Cartier is now Lord Aodhan Morghane (but Brienna will only ever see him as Cartier). The gang sets out to convince the country of Isolde’s worthiness, but trouble ensues when Brienna is proposed to by a rival Lord’s son, and a Lannon descendant finds his way to Cartier to beg for help. The intrigue with Tomas was beautiful, and it wasn’t until the end when you found out his true intentions. Brienna is kidnapped and rescued at the last moment. It’s all very exciting.

Character wise, I adored being able to really flesh out Brienna and Cartier. They spend the whole book having a very PG dalliance while trying to sort out their respective futures and identities. I really appreciated Cartier’s POV being added to this book so you could get a glimpse behind the scenes with him. He really went through an admirable character arc and it was nice to get more detail. And that ENDING! – ugh, my heart.

Last thing I will say, when Cartier tries for Brienna’s hand in marriage I near cried. That speech he gave to Brienna is a part of the book I will read over and over forever. It’s everything you would want your true love to not only say, but feel towards you.

Overall, I fell in love with Rebecca Ross’ writing with this duology and will quite literally read just about anything she publishes – even if it is only her grocery list. Go read this, now!

Book Review – Autoboyography

Title : Autoboyography

Author : Christina Lauren

Publisher : Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

407 pages

Rating : 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Review

“His smile ruins me.”

-Christina Lauren, Autoboyography

So last weekend I went to the Baltimore County Public Library to FINALLY get a library card. My boyfriend was very much on board with that decision as it means I will buy fewer books (at least, I let him believe that). I picked up five titles that I recognized from bookstagram but wasn’t necessarily interested in enough to buy. Autoboyography was one of them, as I tend to go on YA Fantasy kicks and forget that I also really like YA Contemporary. So, this was my change up book and holy smokes I read it all in one sitting. My favorite books are the ones that can make me invested in the character’s and their happiness.

Tanner Scott is an awkward high school senior who falls immediately in love with an unavailable college boy. His awkwardness in social situations with Sebastian had me cringing in embarrassment for him, which is the mark of a well-written novel in my eyes. Why is Sebastian unavailable you ask? He is a Mormon, and well, expected to be straight. Bit of a dilemma for a bisexual boy from the West Coast, where he is used to being accepted for his sexuality. In Utah, he has to hide the truth from everyone, as the religion is pervasive in the community. Even his mother is originally Mormon, until she was excommunicated.

Let’s get back on track. This novel had all the pieces I look for in Contemporary. When I pick up a Contemporary novel, it should be a fun and easy read. I was able to quickly dive into this world and immediately root for these characters. So let’s start there. Tanner and Autumn have a boy/girl friendship that will stand the test of time. There is the unfortunate reality that Autumn has some more than friends feels for Tanner, but it just adds to the drama of their dating life. These two are going through life just trying to survive until they can move out of Utah, as neither of them are Mormon. In walks Sebastian, the sexy TA for their Novel Writing class. He is sent immediately to help Tanner (who like any boy is behind on school work) and it was love at first sight, except for the reality that it won’t be able to work. Sebastian is deeply invested in his religion; his father is the bishop and he is only putting off his mission as he is publishing a novel and has to go on his book tour first. He fully believes in his religion and the rules set by the church, which is admirable. I love all these characters, and want to treasure them forever.

The problem, now, is that Sebastian also loves Tanner, but can’t accept that sexuality. It is expected that he marry soon, and marry a woman. He and Tanner have this deeply contentious and illicit tryst as the book continues. The hidden romance tickles that deep part of me that loves secrecy and sneaking around. NO ONE can know about them, which obviously won’t work forever. I won’t post any serious spoilers, but the middle-end is amazing and a beautiful sentiment to true love and self-acceptance.

Christina Lauren’s writing style flows easily and allows you to get sucked into this world where religion is everything and outsiders are to be kept at a distance. It is a coming of age story and the LGBTQIAP rep is so needed at this point in time. It gives me heart when characters casually have same sex relationships and the rep honestly needs to continue to grow. Add in the complexities of sexuality and religion? And you have my attention.

Go pick this one up if you’re looking for a heartwarming, easy, beach read that will make you internally cheer for the character’s triumphs and cringe for their awkwardness.