eARC Review – Queen of the Unwanted

Title: Queen of the Unwanted (The Women’s War #2)

Author: Jenna Glass

Publisher: Random House/Del Rey

Publication date: May 12th, 2020

592 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In this feminist fantasy series, the ability to do magic has given women control over their own bodies. But as the patriarchy starts to fall, they must now learn to rule as women, not men.

Alys may be the acknowledged queen of Women’s Well—the fledgling colony where women hold equal status with men—but she cares little for politics in the wake of an appalling personal tragedy. It is grief that rules her now. But the world continues to turn.

In a distant realm unused to female rulers, Ellin struggles to maintain control. Meanwhile, the king of the island nation of Khalpar recruits an abbess whom he thinks holds the key to reversing the spell that Alys’s mother gave her life to create. And back in Women’s Well, Alys’s own half-brother is determined to bring her to heel. Unless these women can all come together and embrace the true nature of female power, everything they have struggled to achieve may be at risk.

Review

**Thank you to Random House/Del Rey, Netgalley, and Jenna Glass for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Queen of the Unwanted is the second book in the epic fantasy Women’s War. Events pick up closely after the end of The Women’s War, but with several new characters and POV’s from across the world. As with any good epic fantasy, the plot is complex with political intrigue and war time strategies.

What I enjoyed about this book was the progression of the plot from the first novel and the character development of some of my favorite characters. The plot line in this series is so complex and different from anything I’ve read. The progression of the magic system is also very unique and gives the world a lot of potential for new and life changing spells. The magic system is not hard to understand yet is very powerful and the main magical event from book one is still in effect in this book.

As a second book goes, this was on the medium level of having second book syndrome. Some parts dragged and didn’t seem entirely relevant to the book, but there was also a good amount of political maneuvering and scheming across all the countries and main characters. So, it has a touch of second book syndrome but without being among the worst offenders.

One thing I had to ding Queen of the Unwanted on was the way some of the character’s arcs have progressed. I do not agree with several of the character’s decisions and it feels like the wrong choice for them. I can only hope that some of the bad decisions and questionable behavior is continued to be addressed in future books and swings back around to the more positive end of life.

Happy readings, folks!

Book Review – Magic For Liars

Title: Magic For Liars

Author: Sarah Gailey

Publisher: Tor

Publication date: June 4th, 2019

336 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life. She has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

Review

I recently read Sarah Gailey’s newest book, When We Were Magic, and LOVED it. I wanted to read another book of theirs because I loved their writing style, so I chose Magic For Liars. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it as much as When We Were Magic, but it was pretty good.

Ivy Gamble is a Private Investigator who is being tasked with a murder investigation at her twin sister’s magic school. Ivy herself has no magical abilities (a fact that she tries desperately not to be salty about). There’s no love lost between her and a her sister, but she is itching to break out of the cheating husband’s game and work her first murder investigation. When the plans goes anything but personally, Ivy has to figure out in who’s best interest it is for her to solve the case…

One GIANT pro to Sarah Gailey’s writing is the level of absurdity that I’ve noticed in the first chapter. They throw something so completely mind-blowing and shocking in that you end up being instantly hooked. In this book, it is how the women who was murdered, was murdered. It is insanely interesting to me how they hook readers, so I will continue to go back for more.

Sarah’s writing style is also very trippy and it flows spectacularly well. The descriptions and care taken to bring the reader to really get a visual of what’s happening is prime and very much appreciated. The plot structure is easy to hold onto and creates a natural rhythm. Also, the mystery aspect of the book wasn’t super easy to figure out. The storyline keeps you guessing as new clues emerge.

However. I did not connect with Ivy as a character at all. She came across, to me, petty and self serving. She wasn’t particularly redeemable as she lied to her love interest, and only connected with her sister in order to get information about the murdered woman. Also, I would have loved to understand the magic system more. To be clear, the magic system was by no means the central aspect of the plot, in fact it didn’t have much to do with it until the end since Ivy is nonmagical. But I always love a story with a clearly defined and explained magic system.

For those reasons, I didn’t enjoy Magic For Liars as much as I had hoped to. I’m positive there are others who will immensely enjoy it for the reasons that I did not, which is one of the great parts of this community!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Dark Skies

Title: Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2)

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication date: May 5th, 2020

464 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

Review

**Thank you to Tor Teen, Netgalley, and Danielle L. Jensen for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

WOW I am just blown away. I want to start by saying that even though this is the second book, you do NOT need to read the first book to understand what is happening. I have not read Dark Shores but still feel that the world building and characters were enough to support this book. After reading Dark Skies, I am even more excited to read Dark Shores!

Dark Skies follows Lydia and Killian, worlds apart but forced together to try and respectively save the people they care about. The Gods seem to be up to their ears in problems, and it’s being taken out on the humans that have faith in them. Worlds are coming apart at the seems, and these two are so caught up in it that there is no telling how this will end up.

I adore the characters. Lydia and Killian are so different, yet so similar in so many ways. They are both such tragic humans, bent on saving each other, their loved ones, and the world – even when they can’t do it all. This doesn’t mean they don’t spend the whole book trying to in spite of that! The side characters are okay. there are definitely some interesting characters but Lydia and Killian really steal the show.

The magic system is super interesting, with Gods “marking” certain humans with powers at some point in their lives. Each God has different reasons for marking and different types of people to give marks too. Also, the Gods are only as powerful as their people’s faith in them, which I think is a very interesting subplot and calls into question the inherent “all powerful” archetype for deities.

Overall, if you love YA Fantasy and magic and Gods interfering in humans lives, PLEASE read this book because you will not regret it.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Ember Queen

“There’s no shame in breaking…You just have to put yourself back together again.”

Title: Ember Queen (Ash Princess #3)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Publisher: Delacourte Books for Young Readers

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

512 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The thrilling conclusion to the series that began with the instant New York Times bestseller “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” (Bustle), Ember Queen is an epic fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.

Princess Theodosia was a prisoner in her own country for a decade. Renamed the Ash Princess, she endured relentless abuse and ridicule from the Kaiser and his court. But though she wore a crown of ashes, there is fire in Theo’s blood. As the rightful heir to the Astrean crown, it runs in her veins. And if she learned nothing else from her mother, she learned that a Queen never cowers. 

Now free, with a misfit army of rebels to back her, Theo must liberate her enslaved people and face a terrifying new enemy: the new Kaiserin. Imbued with a magic no one understands, the Kaiserin is determined to burn down anyone and everything in her way. 

The Kaiserin’s strange power is growing stronger, and with Prinz Søren as her hostage, there is more at stake than ever. Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.

Review

You aren’t useless. You have your mind, you have your determination. 

ember queen, laura sebastian

I have waited for the conclusion of the Ash Princess series since 2018, ever since I first read Ash Princess and fell in love. Theo is one of my fave characters all time, and I thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion to the trilogy. Ember Queen is a great conclusion that wraps up the story line but still throws some fun twists in for the readers along with extending the plot line from Lady Smoke.

Ember Queen continues Theo’s story of trying to regain her family’s throne in Astrea, that was overtaken by the Kalovaxian Kaiser many years ago. Theo is strong and capable, while trying to be a fair and just ruler. Her rebellion is going strong, but there are some kinks that need to be worked out. The real issue is of the Kaiserin, who has some new powers that no one really understands. Theo must use all of her wits and powers to make her rebellion a success.

It’s hard to write a review for an end book without giving away and spoilers! So, this is the best I can do. I enjoy where Theo’s romantic relationship ended up. It seemed like a fitting end for her romance throughout the books, and is something that isn’t too easy. The writing is as wonderful as the others, and this series will just continue to be one of my favorites.

I am very excited to read more of Laura’s work, both adult and YA. Can’t wait!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Girl with the Whispering Shadow

Title: The Girl with the Whispering Shadow (The Crowns of Croswald #2)

Author: D. E. Night

Publisher: Stories Untold LLC

Publication date: January 23rd, 2019

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Even a secret town cannot protect Ivy from a mysterious darkness…

Only hours after Ivy Lovely discovers that she is the fulfillment of the Moonsday promise, she is whisked away from her beloved school to Belzebuthe, a secret town for only those with magical blood.

Ivy sets out on a mission to uncover the second facet of the Kindred Stone while eluding the Dark Queen’s wrath. But even when she’s supposed to be safe, something is shadowing Ivy. She will need all her natural-born magic and more as she battles to find the rest of the Kindred Stone and return to the Halls of Ivy.

Before it’s too late…

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Stories Untold LLC, and D. E. Night for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sequel to The Crowns of Croswald, The Girl with the Whispering Shadow picks up right where the first left off with Ivy and friends. The school year is over and everyone is looking forward to summer break, but the Dark Queen being on the hunt for Ivy puts a damper on everything. But Ivy knows what her mission is, and will fulfill it no matter what the consequences.

Truly, this series is so magical and whimsical. If you are looking for a more light-hearted, genderbent Harry Potter than this is the story for you. The magical creatures and magic system are so much fun and the characters are just adorable. Ivy, Fyn, and Rebecca are are great friends and each bring something different to the table. It’s an easy read and worth the time.

One thing I will say is that is is VERY close to Harry Potter and the dialogue isn’t the best. The descriptions and writing are beautiful, but the dialogue is very stilted and has far too many !’s. However, this is more of a middle grade book so this could make sense. I also think the similarities to Harry Potter are just a bit much, almost too close for comfort.

Overall, I find this series to be very good and am excited to continue it with The Words of the Wandering, releasing in May 2020!

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 – The Shadows Between Us

“They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. And they never will.” 

Title: The Shadows Between Us

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Publication date: February 25th, 2020

326 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

All the time in the world is worth nothing if I don’t get to spend it with you.

tricia levenseller, the shadows between us

Review

So, I love everything Tricia Levenseller writes and will always read her books, but I was even MORE sold when I read the synopsis. Like, this book seemed right up my alley and I WAS RIGHT.

Alessandra is a strong, female character. Is she completely moral and a good person? Ehhhhh, not particularly seeing as she killed someone. BUT. She is unapologetically herself, which is something I respect in a character. If you’re going to make a heartless and morally gray character, then SELL IT TO ME. And ya’ll, Tricia did. Alessandra really only cares about herself (with a few exceptions) and is only looking out for her interests. She wants power and wants to be Queen, without having to bow to a King.

I love Tricia’s characters. Even the side characters had their own arcs and growth throughout the book, which I always find impressive in a standalone. Each character got an “ending” that made sense and mostly in line for what they were looking for. The Shadow King character was dark and mysterious, but I do wish his powers and magic had been explained a touch more thoroughly.

I enjoyed the plot twist. I saw about half of it coming. Like, I knew *who* it would be about but didn’t see the details coming. This is a bonus in books for me. I don’t mind being able to predict what happens, but I love when books throw me for a loop.

Overall, I loved reading The Shadows Between Us and Tricia Levenseller continues to be an auto buy author for me.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – When We Were Magic

Title: When We Were Magic

Author: Sarah Gailey

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

352 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.” 

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

Review

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

Okay. I’m gonna be honest. I was not prepared for the first chapter of this book. Now, this will not be a spoiler, because again, this is just the first chapter. So the MC, Alexis, was trying to hook up with a guy at the after party of Prom. In the process, she made his penis explode. EXPLODE. And it killed it him. So she calls in her best friends, who are mostly UNFAZED. THEN, Alexis announces she made it explode with MAGIC.

And that is literally just the first chapter. I don’t remember the last time that I was so intrigued by the start of a book! And it just got so much better after that. I loved everything about When We Were Magic. The friendship between the MC’s, the magic, the plot, the diversity… everything.

Let’s start with the characters. Each has their own personality and they are a tight group of friends. They all are magical and work together to try and figure their magic out. Also, I love that the magic system is so free flowing, without real known rules. Most fantasy novels have a magic system that is known whereas the character in When We Were Magic found each other casually and have to experiment to learn what they can do. There is no magic school, or teachers, or book of spells to learn from which means they have to be independent.

The plot moved along SO WELL. Information was provided at just the right moment to keep you in suspense while also making it interesting. It flowed well and the writing was great. I loved the romance, and the fact that there was queer witches is something I am HERE FOR. The ending was not what I expected and that’s okay.

Seriously, y’all go put this book on your TBR because it will not disappoint.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Havenfall

Title: Havenfall (Havenfall #1)

Author: Sara Holland

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

320 pages

3.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .

Review

**Thank you to Bloomsbury YA, Netgalley, and Sara Holland for providing me this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Havenfall was one of my most highly anticipated releases for 2020. I really loved her Everless duology and was stoked to get the opportunity to read the start of her sophomore duology. Havenfall didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, but was still a very solid read with a unique concept.

Havenfall follows Madeline Morrow, the niece of the innkeeper of Havenfall. Havenfall is the connection between three realms, where the peace treaty is enforced. The Innkeeper, Marcus, maintains the alliance and peace between Haven (Earth), Byrn, and Fiordenkill and plans a summit every summer where delegates can come to Haven without worrying about being seen by humans.

I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. It was good, but not great. I liked the characters and the twists and turns, but the flow and pacing seemed off. By the end, I was very much into it and I will definitely be reading the sequel, but it took too long to rope me in. I wanted more from it. One thing I noticed is there is so much time spent on world building and setting the scene – even to the point of being repetitive and redundant. That may be cleaned up in edits, so I’m not holding that against Havenfall too much.

I liked the amount of twists and reveals, it seemed like more than a usual YA book. I didn’t see a few of them coming, so that is always a plus for me. The ending was nice too, because it was action filled and suspenseful without leaving it on a huge cliffhanger. I wanted more from this book, so I’m excited to see if the sequel will have a strong ending.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – We Are Blood and Thunder

Title: We Are Blood and Thunder (We Are Blood and Thunder #1)

Author: Kesia Lupo

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020 (US version)

448 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, running for her life, convicted of being a mage and sentenced to death. Her only way to survive is to trust those she has been brought up to fear – those with magic.

On the other side of the locked gates is a masked lady, Constance, determined to find a way back in. She knows only too well how the people of Duke’s Forest loathe magic. Years ago she escaped before her powers were discovered. But now she won’t hide who she is any longer.

A powerful and terrifying storm cloud unites them. It descends over the dukedom and devastates much in its wake. But this is more than a thunderstorm. This is a spell, and the truth behind why it has been cast is more sinister than anyone can imagine … Only Lena and Constance hold the key to destroying the spell. Though neither of them realise it, they need each other. They are the blood and they have the thunder within.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Bloomsbury YA, and Kesia Lupo for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Note, the cover art included in this post if the UK cover art, which I prefer! For the US cover, please visit Goodreads! The UK edition published April 4th, 2019.

We Are Blood and Thunder is a tale of hidden magic and betrayal. Lena is a cryptling, she is Marked and was forfeited to the crypt in Duke’s Forest at birth to work for the rest of her life. Constance is a mage, which is not accepted within Duke’s Forest, even though she is the heir to the duchy. Lena and Constance’s paths cross as Lena is escaping the duchy after being convicted and sentences to death for being a mage. Constance is returning to the duchy to regain her rightful place as heir. Their paths will cross again, but in a much different context…

The magic system in WABAT is very different than what I’ve read before, and I felt like it could have been explained better. I am still somewhat confused as to how it works. I would have liked some more world-building. The characters were well described and given a clear background, which I always appreciate in fantasy novels as that can be skipped at times. There is a touch of romance, but not enough to take the attention away from the story line.

Overall, I was going to rate this lower until I got to the end and was completely shocked by the twist. I had a hard time getting into the book and being invested, but the twist ending caught me completely by surprise and I give the author a lot of credit for that! I automatically like a book twice as much if the author manages to surprise me with a twist.

Happy reading, folks!