eARC Review – Kingdom of Sea and Stone

Title: Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crowl of Coral and Pearl #2)

Author: Mara Rutherford

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: October 6th, 2020

pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

Review

Sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl, Kingdom of Sea and Stone is a direct follow up to the events of the first book. I do like when sequels start up right at the end of the first, without having to wonder really what happened in the midst of the two books. The story is still told from Nor’s POV exclusively.

I love the concept of the duology so much. The villain is the perfect, no redeemable but you still feel kinda bad for him, character. Nor is a super capable and intelligent main character. Tallin is the hero you live for as a YA reader. The setting is rich and beautifully told, and the magic system that was only slightly touched on in book one is expanded in this one in amazing ways. It is truly unique and I would love to have more information and stories about it, even in companion novels!

I found myself less invested in the romance in this book. I actually felt like a background character would be a better love interest for Nor than Tallin. I knew it wouldn’t happen, but Tallin was not great in this book. I also felt like the ending left much to be desired. It is fairly open ended, so I could see the author returning to the world in the future – which would be open to and would read. Some of the scenes and writing in this book just felt disjointed and off pace compared to the first book.

Thank you to Inkyard Press and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Queen of Shadows

Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Publication date: September 1st, 2015

648 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Review

“She was a whirling cloud of death, a queen of shadows, and these men were already carrion.”

sarah j maas, queen of shadows

SWOON.

Seriously, I’m not sure how much else of a review one needs than that one, simple word. But, I feel somewhat obligated to so I will try to assign more words to my feelings about this book (again, without spoilers).

I was SO much more invested in this book. It’s a story of revenge, vengeance, love, and redemption – pure AMAZINGNESS. A lot of our friends are back together again, somewhat working together to meet similar goals. There is almost less of Rowan in this book, which made me sad, but then he appeared and completely made up for it. I refer you back to my original point of SWOON. On the topic of characters, I ended up liking Manon’s character more by the end of this book. I at least have a better understanding of where her character is going, which helps me enjoy her POV. She also helped enter another character that will be important later on, I’m sure.

The sheer intellect and deviousness of Aelin slays me every time. She is so damn… smart. Like, her plans are air tight almost always and she has such a way of predicting others moves. Her plotting in this book was prime and lets just say, certain people got what was coming to them. Also, I appreciated a character from Throne of Glass getting a serious redemption arc, and magical powers!

At the end of this book, I felt the most need to start the next one that I’ve found throughout the series so far. But, I still didn’t pick it up. It didn’t move me enough to abandon my TBR plans. I’m interested to see if Empire of Storms will break that cycle. Anyway, another Throne of Glass book, completed!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Heir of Fire

Title: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Publication date: September 2nd, 2014

565 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak-but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life-and her future-forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

Review

“You didn’t need a weapon at all when you were born one.”

sarah j maas, heir of fire

So this review will likely be fairly short, just to try and avoid any spoilers! As it is the third book in the series, a lot of important things happen in this book and if you’re one of the few people in the community that haven’t read this series… well it would ruin it for you! So I’m going to attempt to not do that.

Overall I found this book to be very good. I enjoyed the different POV’s provided, because the main characters aren’t all together anymore. You also get two new POV’s, one that gets more page time than the other. Rowan and Manon are presented to the world – with mixed feelings on my part. First off, I love Rowan Whitethorn. I will die for him. But Manon? I wanted to skip over her chapters as quickly as possible. I understood her purpose to the story, it shows what’s happening in another portion of the world a la Game of Thrones. It gives added context to the reader that the characters aren’t privy to. BUT, she boring. In my opinion. I’m hopeful her arc will be more interesting as the books go on.

Back to Rowan though. His part of the book was so needed and I love it so much. He truly helps extend and explain Celaena’s arc throughout the series so far. Everyone she meets helps grow her and helps her come to important realizations and he is no different. I will love him forever and if she wasn’t the world’s greatest assassin, I would fight her for him.

Outside of my distaste for Manon’s chapters, I felt the pacing of the book was perfect. The chapters ended at painful times, done on purpose to keep the reader reading and working to get back to that POV to find out what happens. Throughout the book you’re racing to the end to see where your beloved characters will fall. But again, like I said in my Crown of Midnight review, the end did not force me to abandon my plans and pick up the next one. I’m still waiting for an ending that will grip me so hard that I must continue on.

I still say everyone should read this series if you haven’t. And if you haven’t read them, and you’re somehow here reading my review of the fourth book, listen to my words & go start Throne of Glass.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Legendborn

Title: Legendborn (Legendborn #1)

Author: Tracy Deon

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: September 15th, 2020

512 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

Review

Meet Bree, a 16 year old girl from rural North Carolina. Her mother just tragically died in a car accident, and she is headed to UNC for an Early College program. Her first night there, she heads to a party off campus and encounters something strange… magic. She’s busted for being off campus and has a mentor assigned to her. Nick, a 2nd year EC student, is with her when she experiences magic, and a magical being for the second time. Not only is he not surprised at this, he fights it off and leaves Bree very confused. Enter the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. In a whirlwind, Bree is brought into a secret society and starts to learn magic, as she comes to believe her mother’s death was NOT an accident. But the fact that she knows anything about magic is dangerous, because she is different and has separate abilities. Her Southern Black Girl Magic threatens the White Boy’s Club that is the Order, and Bree must fight for her life.

WOW oh WOW. I loved this book so much! Hands down, Legendborn will be in my top five for the year. Everything about this book pulled me in and kept me captivated until the very end. I am absolutely obsessed. The writing is superb, the characters are interesting, insightful, and dynamic, and the plot is action packed and filled with plot twists and shocking moments. I adored the romance and would have even loved more of it. Bree’s struggle with racism from the Order, the school, and police along the way was so well written, and Bree was really given a strong voice to push back against the rhetoric.

The magic system is very complex and there is a lot of information about the Order given, which can be hard to grasp. It isn’t info-dumped, it’s sprinkled in along the way and it was like creating a word map throughout the story for all the different elements. More information was introduced through to the very end, so if you prefer books with a carefully laid out magic system and world-building in the beginning, this may not be the book for you.

With a splash of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters and a sprinkle of ACOTAR, Tracy Deonn has created a rich world not too different from our own, but one where demons exist and the past needs to be told from all perspectives in order to be understood. Legendborn is a retelling involving a secret school society and black girl magic in a part of the world that is still working towards anti-racism.

Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Bone Houses

**Owlcrate Special Edition Cover, which is the edition I read**

Title: The Bone Houses

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date: September 24th 2019

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

Review

“It was a risk, to love someone. To do so with the full knowledge that they’d leave someday. Then let go of them, when they did.”

emily lloyd-jones, the bone houses

Gravedigger, zombies, fae, and a sweet love story. What more could you ask for in a spooky season release? I highly enjoyed this book, it was captivating and complex, yet simple enough for a stand alone that didn’t feel rushed or like it needed more to round out the story. Lloyd-Jones is able to pack a lot of story into one 350 page book – a rich backstory for the world with urban legends, great backstories for the characters, and a harrowing adventure through the countryside to save their town. And did I mention the zombies?! Called bones houses in this book, the zombies come out of the forest after dark to wander and destroy, even to kill. Ryn as the gravedigger is the only protection the village has yet even the residents don’t believe the danger they are in.

Again, holy wow to this book. I loved the new take on a zombie book, which I generally don’t enjoy as much. Ryn was a very capable MC, hard yet soft, strong yet vulnerable at times. She worked well with Ellis, the traveling mapmaker who finds himself wrapped up in the bone houses. Also, the goat was by far the best character. IYKYK. The love story between Ryn and Ellis was so sweet and subtle, which I enjoy just as much as passionate, crazy love affairs. I love the storyline of being able to find love in the middle of a crisis, when it’s more about the little moments than getting wrapped up in each other. But I digress.

Prepare for a brief scene of intense sadness. I did not see it comes but I was shook by the surprise. Yet even in the middle of their adventure, Ryn doesn’t let it impact her goals which I thought was so amazing and strong of her. I highly suggest reading this book, and it’s coming up on Halloween, spooky times so it’s the perfect season for this book!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Crown of Midnight

Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication date: August 15th, 2013

420 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Review

“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”

sarah j maas, crown of midnight

Well this book was so intense! As a sequel the Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight picks up right after TOG ends. Celaena is the king’s assassin and has been working to fulfill his orders. Celaena, Dorian, Chaol, and Nehemia are all still large factors in this book, and they have much to work on. Celaena continues trying to understand her calling from Elena down in the tunnels. These books truly manage to put so much plot and action into a fairly normal sized book.

The magic in this book is so interesting, and you just know that so much more with it will happen over the course of the series. The romance in this book was also very interesting. It was surprising, but also not surprising, at the same time. I thoroughly approved, even if heartbreak comes later for the characters. Also, Celaena is a crazy cook assassin and even though she murders people with joy, you somehow also end up feeling badly for her. She really is a complex character, not at all redeemable but you kinda want to forgive her.

THAT ENDING. Frankly, the ending of this book was spoiled for me due to bookstagram, but if you’re one of those rare birds who hasn’t read this series yet, and hasn’t had it spoiled, there is a HUGE BOMB DROPPED at the end of this book. Just be aware the last chapter is so intense! It isn’t a huge cliffhanger though, so I wasn’t itching to pick up the next book, Heir of Fire.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Where Dreams Descend

Title: Where Dreams Descend (Kingdoms of Cards #1)

Author: Janella Angeles

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: August 25th, 2020

464 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Review

Kallia is a female magician, stronger than most others, in a world where stage magicians are only accepted if they are male. She learned everything she knows from Jack, the master of Hellfire House, a club near the city of Glorian. She is the headliner of the club, but she longs to be on stage as a true magician, not a show girl. So she escapes to Glorian to enter a magic competition being held – but not before she finds out Jack has been lying to her all along. Now in Glorian, she is faced with opposition like never before, and she must remember that not everything is as it appears, especially when looking into mirrors…

I had a hard time reviewing this book, because the beginning and middle of the book were very different than the end. Throughout the book, I had no trouble putting it down. I just wasn’t fully drawn into the plot and the cast. BUT the ending was crazy insane and completely changed my mind on the entire book. Kallia is a great character, and her assistant Aaros made me laugh through the whole book. But Demarco wasn’t exactly what I would look for in a love interest, BUT I have high hopes for him in the second book! There was a lot of Kallia having to be strong against male opposition, due to all the misogyny in the book.

The world Angeles has built is super interested. You don’t know much about the world outside of Glorian or the Hellfire House, but it’s all very intriguing and mysterious which makes for a good read. I would’ve liked some more explanation into the magic system, I didn’t leave the book feeling like I truly understood how it all worked. BUT the descriptions and writing of the magic and the circus and the competition was glorious and so well done.

As you can see, this is a bit of a mixed review. I’m very much invested in reading the sequel when it eventually comes out, because I just MUST know what happens to everyone after that ending. Prepare yourselves for a decently large cliffhanger!

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Mirage

Title: Mirage (Mirage #1)

Author: Somaiya Daud

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication date: August 28th, 2018

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Review

“You do not kneel or bend, I told myself. To anyone. You continue.”

somaiya daud, mirage

Amani is a simple girl, living in a small farming village. Her planet has been conquered by a oppressive race, who views them as degenerates and less than. One day, she is captured by the empire to serve as the stand-in for the Princess, Maram. They are almost identical, and is in need of someone to take on the risk of public events. Maram is cruel and vicious, she is half and half, so everyone despises her for her race for some reason. Amani and Maram are able to form an uncertain companionship, but Amani soon is in over her head.

I really enjoyed the mix of science fiction, corrupt government, and rebellion plot lines and themes. There’s interplanetary travel and technology but also class divisions and haves and have nots. I loved the juxtaposition of Amani and Maram, they are truly opposites in every way of life and personality while being almost identical. I enjoyed reading about Amani’s thoughts as she is pretending to be Maram, she really took on the “character” well and it was like she was acting and playing a part.

Some of the middle of the book went somewhat slowly and became less interesting, but I still highly enjoyed the read. You start to see a more human side of Maram, which is nice, and I imagine the sequel will further her story – as this is really focused on Amani and her story. As always, it is hard to read about racism and the general insults that come when racism is apparent – but it is a major plot line in the book and it wouldn’t be the same without it.

For fans of Illuminae and Sky Withouts Stars, Mirage is an interesting take on rebellions in space, and the meaning of race and friendship.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Set Fire to the Gods

Title: Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1)

Authors: Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

432 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.

Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family’s taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn’t have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn’t been seen in centuries.

When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash’s path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.

But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.

Review

tw: death, physical abuse

Ash and Madoc are unlikely allies. Pitted against each other in their god’s war, the goal is to defeat the other. But when it starts to seem like there is more at stake than a war fought over a gladiator battle gone wrong, the two must team up to stop the gods from destroying both their countries. But their loyalty to each other will be tested, and they will be shocked by what each other, and those around them, are really capable of.

Wow okay so I literally just finished reading this book 5 minutes ago and I am still processing it. THAT ENDING. Whereas the first say, 15% of the book is tough to engage with, it really picks up and the action just never ends. With shifting alliances and allegiances there’s no predicting what will happening, ESPECIALLY THAT ENDING. Did I mention the ending??? Holy cow.

This book is pitched as Avator the Last Airbender meets gladiators. Whereas the gladiator part is very evident, the ATLA is less evident. Sure, the characters have elemental abilities, but there was a lot less use of them than I was expecting. I wish there was more use of the powers and abilities through the book, but based on what happens I imagine there will be more in the second book.

Set Fire to the Gods is a unique take on books with gods. Basically, the gods are on “earth” with them and you can interact with them almost on a daily basis. The idea of the gods fighting each other and their original creator is not new, but it didn’t feel overdone or reminiscent of any other series that I can think of. Once the action got going, I truly enjoyed this and could barely put it down.

Thank you to Balzer & Bray and Edelweiss for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!