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!

Book Review – When Dimple Met Rishi

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi (Dimple and Rishi #1)

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: May 22nd, 2018

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Review

**Read via audiobook**

When Dimple Met Rishi tells the tale of… well… when Dimple met Rishi! Dimple just graduated from high school and is getting ready to attend Stanford and become a coder. But, all her mom wants is for her to find the Ideal Indian Husband and get married. That’s where Rishi comes in. Rishi wants nothing more than to get married and please his parents. Dimple and Rishi’s parents set it up so they meet at a web design summer program, but only Rishi knows this and Dimple is thrown for a loop. The book follows their story.

Okay, so this was a very generic YA contemporary book. Dimple is “not an ordinary girl”, which is a huge and sometimes annoying theme in YA. She’s kind of not a great character, and is frankly pretty selfish. Rishi deserves better, though I do believe Dimple starts to get better by the end of the book and realizes some of her nonsense is… nonsense.

The plot was about this web design camp… but we never actually get to hear about the camp?? They are there for 8 weeks and you hear about it only a few times in filler conversation. The book is more about where they are eating dinner and working on a talent show act that is inexplicably a part of a web design camp?? I have questions.

Throughout the book I just wanted to yell at Dimple and say, “You’re allowed to date and ALSO attend school to have a future and a career – it truly is possible to multitask! The two are not mutually exclusive!!” So much of the book wouldn’t be necessary if she understood this very simple concept.

Overall, it was good but nowhere near great. If the feeling ever strikes, I will give the companion novels a try – but I’m not thinking that will be any time soon. Rishi was the upside to this entire story because he was so pure of heart and wanted the best for everybody. I would read more about Rishi for sure.

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 – Heart of Flames

Title: Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2)

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: February 11th, 2020

640 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens. 

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire. 

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin. 

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Nicki Pau Preto for an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Heart of Flames continues the story of Veronyka and her older sister Val. Veronyka is continuing to fight against Val and fight with the Phoenix Riders in the Eyrie. Her close relationship with Tristan is starting to bloom and Veronyka wants nothing more than to prove herself as a Phoenix Rider. When more of Val’s plans are revealed, and some details of Veronyka’s background are discovered, Veronyka must decide which side she fights for.

I loved Crown of Feathers. I believe Heart of Flames suffers from middle book syndrome, where so much of it is spent to set up the plot in the third book. Parts were long an tedious, ripe with historical information, names, and events that are just too much to remember and keep in. The plot limped along with some moments of action and intrigue, only to flip to a different POV and have the excitement fizzle.

There are so many POV’s that it is hard to keep track at times, and some events are told more than once through a different perspective. It’s a little much, and is confusing when being read in an ebook format. I wanted to be able to go back easily and reference past parts.

Honestly, I am still buying this book. I love the characters SO MUCH. I ship Veronyka and Tristan, Sev and Kade until the end of time. As much as I think this book paled in comparison to Crown of Feathers in terms of plot, we get to see SO MUCH character development from everyone involved. This was the part I loved most about Heart of Flames, and I’m eager to see what happens in the third installment.

Happy reading, folks! 🙂

Book Review – Queen of Air and Darkness

“Some lights were never meant to burn for long.”

Title: Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: December 4th, 2018

912 pages

4.25/5 pages

Goodreads Synopsis

What if damnation is the price of true love?

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

Review

Sometimes when you start a war, you want to make pancakes.

Cassandra Clare, Queen of Air and Darkness

First off, holy cow this cover is the best of all Cassie Clare and I will hear no arguments. I love the covers that are made for her, but I felt like Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows were too dark and you couldn’t even see what was on the cover. This book has everything I love in a cover and I can’t say enough about it. Also, the white spines are amazing.

So seeing as this is the end of a trilogy, I’m not going to talk so much about plot because spoilers. I would definitely say I enjoyed this one the best out of all three books in this trilogy. Still, it’s my third favorite series of Cassie’s. I just never connected with Julian and Emma as main characters. Give me Mark, Kieran, and Christina any day. Also, I feel like all Cassie does is take plot points from her other books and copies them into next trilogy. It just isn’t very unique, which makes it hard to be invested at times.

However, I am SO EXCITED for more after that ending. Whereas her trilogy beginning in March doesn’t pick up where TDA ends, the next trilogy will and I’m stoked for that. Cassie has the art of the cliffhanger down on LOCK – and I’m in suspense for the next 2 years.

Overall, very pleased with my Cassie binge in January. I plan on maybe checking out her spin off books from the library so I can catch up on those too, but that might take some time so I can get to some other books on my shelves. This chunker put me into a big of a book hangover so I need to focus on some other reads before diving back into the Shadowhunter’s universe.

Happy reading, folks! 🙂

eARC Review – The Stars We Steal

Title: The Stars We Steal

Author: Alexa Donne

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

400 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Review

**Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Netgalley, and Alexa Donne for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

I previously read Alexa Donne’s debut novel, Brightly Burning and wasn’t super thrilled with the book – but I loved the writing and when I see Bachelorette… coupled with SPACE… I know that’s a book I 100% need to read, and it did NOT disappoint. Leo is the Princess of her ship in space – where these titles are still used to create a classist society, even when it’s totally not necessary. The Valg is their way of creating marriages (that aren’t with your cousins…) among the elite, rich, and/or titled young people. Leo is participating in The Valg to find a rich husband, because her family is in dire need of funds, not because she wants to. As the oldest child of a man who spends money faster than it could possibly come in, she needs to be the adult and keep their spaceship afloat. Enter, her ex-fiance Elliot whom her family made her break the engagement to because he didn’t have money. Now? He is the sole heir to a prosperous whiskey ship and has plenty of money. Problem? He’s seriously pissed at her…

Ya’lllllll I loved this book. I read it all in one night because I could not put it down. Alexa Donne weaved so many elements together that you wouldn’t expect to work together, but pulled it off perfectly. I’m a huge sucker for Bachelor style plots, but it’s not JUST that. You have murder, intrigue, theft, Robin Hood-esque schemes, rebel groups, cyber attacks, AND wealthy extravagance from young people who have nothing better to do than be petty and make drama. Like, let’s gooo!

I am obsessed. Her writing worked so well with these elements and I found it SO much more enjoyable than her other classics spin in space. Currently starting a petition to re-write all the classics in a futuristic space society. Needs to happen.

The Stars We Steal, Alexa Donne’s second book, is a stand-alone space adaption of Persuasion by Jane Austen and will have you hooked from the first few pages. Leo is a strong character who is put in an untenable situation and trying to make the most of it. Pick it up if you enjoyed her first book, Brightly Burning, or are a fan of retellings and/or space!

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! 🙂