eARC Review – The Circus Rose

Title: The Circus Rose

Author: Betsy Cornwell

Publisher: Clarion Books

Publication date: June 16th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family.

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

Review

**Thank you to Clarion Books, Netgalley, and Betsy Cornwell for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Circus Rose is a magical fantasy told in alternating POV’s from twin sisters, Ivory and Rosie. The writing is so different based on what twin is narrating, and provides different context. Ivory is the more reliable narrator. Seriously the magic in this book is off the charts. Ivory and Rosie are a part of The Circus Rose, the circus hosted by their mother. For twins, Ivory and Rosie couldn’t be more different – Ivory prefers to be a stagehand behind the scenes and Rosie is the high flying trapeze artist, star of the show. They are like Yin and Yang, fathered by two separate men who both loved their mother.

The main plot of the book revolves around the circus and challenges that pop during the circus. The first part of the book lays a lot of background into the twins and the circus before it gets into the main conflict. I thought the circus aspect was very compelling, along with the amalgamation of Fey, righteous Church groups, humans, a feminist world where girls can go to engineering school.

I loved the LGBTQIA pieces of the book. The Fey are described as being more androgynous, they are non-binary and have the pronouns of fe/fer. Rosie clearly identifies as only being attracted to females, and Ivory is attracted to males and Fey. Being in an open relationship or practicing polyamory is not strange. It’s a very progressive and refreshing book.

The Circus Rose is an easy and quick read. The writing of Betsy Cornwell just flows so easily and it’s simple to lose track of time around you as you delve into the world of the circus. For fans of Caraval, The Circus Rose is an enthralling, magical tale of sisterhood and finding yourself.

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!

eARC Review – The Sound of Stars

Title: The Sound of Stars

Author: Alechia Dow

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: February 25th, 2020

400 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Don’t miss this spectacular debut novel… Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? This road trip is truly out of this world! A beautiful and thrilling read for fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Alechia Dow for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Sound of Stars reminds me a lot of The Host by Stephanie Meyer, where alien forces invade Earth and take over the humans. There is a fun sci-fi twist where the aliens, Ilori, are labmade to resemble humans in order to survive the atmosphere. Ellie is a human looking to stay alive, M0Rr1S is a special labmade Ilori in command of Ellie’s quadrant in NYC. The universe brings them together in a way that they did not expect – and they become an unlikely pair.

I wasn’t sure how to rate this, because my feelings changed frequently during this book. I had a hard time getting into it, was very interested in the middle, and got lost again in the end. The end made it seem like this will be a duology, which I wasn’t expecting because it doesn’t look like any has been announced. I went in expecting a stand-alone, so the fact that it didn’t end well wrapped up threw me off.

I do love the concept, because I loved The Host. As more information is released you become more sympathetic to the Ilori, which was well thought out and constructed. I just wish for more in the beginning that would have captured my attention, and a less confusing ending.

The Sound of Stars brings a new voice into sci-fi with great LGBTQIA representation (all the aliens introduce themselves by name and gender identity). Many characters are non-binary and our female MC is self-reported as demi-ace… (makes me think this may be an Own Voices work?). There is also a lot of political, racial, and environmental discussions that draws direct lines to today’s climate, which is refreshing to read and an addition that caused me to rate this book higher.

Happy reading, bookish friends 🙂

eARC Review – Break in Case of Emergency

Title: Break in Case of Emergency

Author: Brian Francis

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

368 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dads can be such a drag

Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. She keeps even her closest friend, the brash but endearing Trisha, at arms’ length, and recently ended her first relationship, with Trisha’s burnout brother, Mike. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain.

But with the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent.

When Toby’s careful plans go awry, she is forced to rebuild the life she thought she knew from the ground up. While she may not follow an expected path, through the support of a quirky but lovable circle of friends and family, Toby may finally put together the many different pieces that make up her past, her present, and her future.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Harper Collins, and Brian Francis for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review **

Break in Case of Emergency is a contemporary tale of 15 year old Toby who is dealing with her mother’s suicide 5 years ago. She is struggling, especially when her father comes into the picture for the first time since her conception. Her father is… interesting… and isn’t what she was expecting – or wanting.

I will say, I related to Toby in a lot of ways. I remember being 15 and having some of the thoughts and feelings Toby was having – and it’s certainly not fun. Trigger Warning: I would say proceed with caution before jumping into this book, especially if you are triggered by depression or suicidality. It’s the main theme of the novel and jumps in on page one so please heed this warning and get help if needed.

I did not love the LGBTQIA representation or mental health representation. I understand it was done with an explicit purpose, but I don’t feel like they were represented properly. I feel it was meant to bring attention to depression and suicidality along with a country town’s aversions to the LGBTQIA population (it’s also set in 1992), but I feel that it misses the mark on both cases. Toby’s mental health journey is a main plot point, but it’s like it’s set up so well and then just falls flat 2/3 of the way through and is finished too quickly.

I felt confused by this book a lot of the time, and I feel it just wasn’t my style. I didn’t connect with the characters, but I did like the use of flashbacks to present information. I felt that was done very well and provided needed context to what Toby was going through at any given point.

Happy reading, folks! 🙂

eARC Review – The Wolf and the Sparrow

Title: The Wolf and the Sparrow

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Publication date: November 25th, 2019

300 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.

After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.

Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

Review

**Thank you to Nine Star Press, Netgalley, and Isabelle Adler for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Derek barely has time to get accustomed to taking over his father’s title of Count before he is basically ordered to marry a Duke’s son. The Duke had just won a battle with the old count, and is sending a message by giving Derek no choice but to marry Callan. Callan is less than pleased with this, as his first wife is freshly dead from an accident. Chaos ensues when Derek and Callan are captured by the dead girl’s father and they must get out of the situation alive by trusting each other.

I think this book had a lot of potential, but fell flat in some areas. I loved the male/male relationship and how there wasn’t even a question in regards to sexuality and why a marriage is being arranged between two males. It’s not often you see a m/m relationship without more attention being brought to “coming out” or the inherit sexuality of it. It seemed like the culture in this world is such that gender isn’t so much important in relationships. However, the romance was very stilted and happened far more quickly than made sense. Like, they hated each other once day and in love the next – it didn’t work for me.

I also was not a fan of the magic system. It was not well explained and ended up being a pretty integral part of the ending – but I still don’t feel like I understand how the magic works. I think this part could have been done a lot better but it seemed like it was thrown in as an afterthought and was used more as a tool to increase sexual tension (weirdly enough).

The LGBTQIA aspect was my favorite part, along with the main conflict that brought Derek and Callan together. I think pieces of this book were very well done, but I wish some aspects were done differently, or explained better. Would recommend for those who enjoy LGBTQIA where the queerness of the characters isn’t a plot device.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂