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 🙂

Book Review – Serious Moonlight

“Judging other people unfairly doesn’t define them; it defines you. And in the end everyone will be disappointed.” 

Title: Serious Moonlight

Author: Jenn Bennett

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: April 16th, 2019

426 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

Review

Let’s go eat some pie and solve a mystery.

JENN BENNETT, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT

Hello friends! I decided to pick up a library book that I have renewed for the umpteenth time this month – so I can feel like I’m making headway with my never ending stack of books to read. I’ve read a few Bennett books, and I LOVE her contemporaries. She writes the sweetest stories, generally involving teenagers, and Serious Moonlight was no exception.

Meet Birdie, an 18 year old woman trying to find her way after losing her mother at a young age, and her grandmother recently. She is trying to become an “adult” and that means working full time – evening if that means overnight. And even if it means working with the guy she met at a diner and had sex with in his car before freaking out and running away and not speaking to him again… YEP.

I love Daniel and Birdie SO MUCH. Daniel is such a sweet, cinnamon roll and when I learned more of his background I swooned and felt so bad for him at the same time. Birdie almost doesn’t deserve him, but she comes around and I start to like her more by the middle/end of the book. They have such an easy friendship and banter, and Daniel allows her to slowly warm back up to him after her initial fright. She has her baggage, and so does he, and I like how they work through it together instead of pretending each other is perfect.

I LOVED BIRDIE’S AUNT. I frankly think everyone needs family like her. She took Birdie in when her mother died, even when her grandmother didn’t want Birdie to keep that connection. They have a close connection that perfectly blends authority figure and friend in a way the fosters trust and openness. I loved her influence and want her in my life.

So to wrap it up, I still love Jenn Bennett. Not going to change! Planning to continue reading her backlist over the next year!

Happy reading, folks! 🙂

eARC Review – Ink in the Blood

Title: Ink in the Blood (Ink in the Blood #1)

Author: Kim Smejkal

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: February 11th, 2020

448 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A lush, dark YA fantasy debut that weaves together tattoo magic, faith, and eccentric theater in a world where lies are currency and ink is a weapon, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake.

Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.

Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.

To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself.

Review

**Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers, Netgalley, and Kim Smejkal for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Ink in the Blood is a dark fantasy with cult/religious involvement, magic, and sacrificing for the greater good. Our MC Celia looks to escape Profeta, the church, in which she was conscripted against her will to be an Inkling. Inklings have the ability to tattoo other people with the church’s instructions on how to change their lives. Celia comes to see the corruption within the church, and with the help of a fellow Inkling, Anya, she escapes with a traveling comedy group.

It took me about 60% percent of this book to really get into it, which was part of why the rating on this is lower. Once I got into it I finished it in one sitting, but it took me awhile to get to that point because it didn’t capture my attention. I want books that will hook me immediately, and this one was not the case. There was a lot of backstory given in the beginning with world-building, but it wasn’t the kind of world-building that drew me in.

The magic in this book fascinated me – I knew I wanted to review it when I saw the tattooing was the magic. I didn’t realize the level of religion involved, which also brought it down a bit for me. Something about this book didn’t sit right with me and I’m having a hard time narrowing down what it was. I almost wish the church had less of a hold on people in the book, because it really portrayed the general population as sheep, incapable of thinking for themselves or making their own decisions.

One thing I loved about this book was the romantic interest for Celia. The Plague Doctor reminded me of Jacks from the Caraval series and I loved it. He is a soft, broken boy who comes across as villainous and detached until she is able to break him down. Swoon. Celia was a good enough MC – she isn’t perfectly moral and she isn’t completely evil, she’s somewhere in the middle like the rest of us.

I do plan on reading the sequel when it is released, because the ending really surprised me. There were some lovely twists and turns in the last 25% of the book that I wasn’t able to see coming, so it helped the overall experience of this book for me. I’m hoping now that the world is set up, the sequel will be more action packed and attention grabbing.

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! 🙂