CTD – I’m Conflicted (SPOILERS)

capturing the devilI honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to post this, but here we are. I didn’t get any reading done this weekend, so there’s that.

I just want to clarify that these are my opinions, not facts, and I still very much enjoyed the book. You may or may not agree, and that’s fine. I needed to vent and talk about the book, and I wrote was could basically be called a journal entry. Since the book has been out for over a month now, I figured I’d share this.

If you want to check out my spoiler free review, you can click here and do that.

Let’s get into the actual post!


I’m conflicted.

On one hand I absolutely loved this book and just want to push these characters at everyone and say, “read it”. For being such a long book – at least longer than the others (I think) it progressed rather quickly. Granted, it could have just been my excitement to finally have this book in my hands that allowed me to read it in a handful of hours across two days. I think I probably spent a total of five hours devouring this? I loved being back in this world, with Audrey Rose and Thomas, watching them solve murders and quipping snarky, cute remarks at each other.

On the other hand, I’m kind of disappointed?

Maybe I’m still mad at Audrey Rose from Escaping from Houdini.

Maybe I wish this book, as the final one, was split between Wadsworth and Cresswell. After reading Becoming the Dark Prince my need for his point of view in these books increased exponentially.

Maybe this book felt too much like fan service? Don’t get me wrong, cute moments between Thomas and Audrey are always wonderful, but the first huge chunk of the book is just that.

Maybe my expectations were too high? I was super excited for the focus of this book to be on H.H. Holmes and his Murder Castle.

Ugh. I just don’t know, and I feel so conflicted – as previously stated.

Honestly, I think it’s a combination of all those things.

I just want to scream, because I can’t find the words, the reasonings to express my feelings right now. Or maybe I want to laugh hysterically? Or cry because I feel like this book didn’t do them justice?

Can you be jealous over a fictional character? That’s like and absurdly ridiculous thing, right? Right?

I know it is. Ugh.

Before Escaping from Houdini, Audrey Rose was one of my favorite female characters. She defied the norms placed on typical Victorian Era ladies, she marched to the beat of her own drum, and faced anything and everything thrown at her with strength and determination.

After Escaping from Houdini, upon reading the Epilogue she was redeemed.

Or, so I thought.

Then I read Becoming the Dark Prince and it brought back the feelings of rage I felt towards her, and how naïve she is. I get needing to figure out who you are and what you want, but damn, you don’t string along the ones you love like that.

Anyways, I digress.

While her character is redeemed…somewhat in Capturing the Devil, I didn’t love her as much as I once did. I found her to be impulsive and willing to take incredibly stupid risks.

And I’m not talking about the risks she takes towards the end of this book when facing H.H. Holmes alone. Because of course she did.

I’m referring to the sheer number of times she and Thomas have sex.

If there is one thing that drives me insane in books, it’s characters who do the dirty without a freaking care in the world to the consequences of not making smart choices.

Yes, this is fiction, yes, it happens in the real world – I get that.

I get that Audrey and Thomas break all the boundaries of the Victorian Era and are very much modern-day people set in the past. But make smart choices! Yes, Liza feeds Audrey a tonic to prevent a pregnancy, but for two scientists, they aren’t very smart. The first part of the book, felt very much like fan service, and yes, while the scenes were romantic and cute (and not at all explicit – if you know what it’s referencing, you’ll understand, otherwise you’re probably too young to be reading this) really nothing happened.

I probably would have dropped the book and stopped reading if Audrey had gotten pregnant early on in the book.

Okay, I would have kept reading, but I would have been pissed and full of rage-y feelings.

I’m not a fan of pregnancy in YA – it’s one of my big turnoffs, so thank you Kerri for not including that.

That was the other thing. The first huge chunk of this book nothing happened. Other than the occasional murder, the scenes consisted of nothing but cutesy Cressworth moments and the inner turmoil of one Audrey Rose Wadsworth.

I get that she’s dealing with a lot. So much has happened to her in the last five months – Nathaniel being killed and convicted as Jack the Ripper, almost dying in Romania, being tricked and stabbed on the Etruria and now finding out that there was clearly someone working with her brother and killing people. I also get that she’s dealing with her own personal struggles and questions about her own moral compass. There’s a lot on her plate and she has to manage. But even knowing that, being in her head constantly was annoying.

I think this stems a lot from my need of a Thomas POV. Becoming the Dark Prince really spoiled me, and I desperately want the whole series from his point of view. Audrey just grew a little tiresome after a while.

As for Thomas – my book boyfriend, because damn I love him – I really wish we’d gotten part of this story from his point of view. So much happens to him in this, namely his shocking betrothal to Miss Whitehall.

Which, can I just mention, was kind of a pointless inclusion? The only purpose it seems to serve is to drive a wedge between Thomas and Audrey – one that doesn’t really work, mind you. Obviously, nothing was going to come of it, because why almost give us a Cressworth wedding, for him to only marry someone else. And to bring Thomas’s father into play – with sudden malicious intentions with blackmailing his children…

I just rolled my eyes. Of course, it created tension, and brought Audrey and Thomas closer…despite Audrey admitting that they shouldn’t carry on, and she wouldn’t be a mistress…I mean, the minute they hit Chicago, they were acting like they were together. It was like they just said “f*ck it” and went about their lives, as if Thomas didn’t have a betrothal contract with someone else. Yes, he didn’t know about it, but for all of Audrey’s “No I will not be the other woman and cause my family shame” she had absolutely no issues with parading around with Thomas.

And yes, Thomas was adamant that he would fix it, and only wanted Audrey and would do anything and everything to be with her, as she would him, but out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Obviously, I want Cressworth to be end game – I’ve been through too much with these characters to want anything less. I want them to be happy and in love and solving murders together for the rest of their lives. I just – ugh. I know they had to be tested, the wedges had to be shoved between them so we could see just how much they’ve grown and how far they’d go for one another, but his father, really? Audrey having to face H.H. Holmes alone – really??

I’m still conflicted. I thought that maybe writing out all these things – because the book just came out and there aren’t enough people who have read this yet to talk to – would help me clarify my feelings, but it hasn’t helped. Part of me wants to rate this as a five star read – and I probably will, but the other part of me just wants to toss it in a corner and be done with it.

I think I just worked this book up in my head too much. My expectations were too high. Hell, I don’t even know really what my expectations actually were, just that I’m left feel unsatisfied. Unsatisfied, not in the sense that I want more story, more time with these characters, but unsatisfied how the final showdown happened.

I feel like Holmes, unlike Jack the Ripper, or the lure of Dracula and the pageantry of Houdini, isn’t 1) as well known and 2) isn’t as mythical?

I mean, how many people have heard of H.H. Holmes, the Murder Castle, or even the phrase “The Devil in the White City”? And how many people have even heard of the Chicago World’s Fair? Unlike the other “villains” (I use quotes because I still don’t quite get the whole Houdini aspect, but that’s another story), I feel like most people haven’t heard of H.H. Holmes.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know about him until a few years ago – after a few tv shows featuring time travel, featured Murder Castle as one of the situations the MCs had to get out of.

I know Kerri said that this series started with H.H. Holmes and she worked her timeline back from there – and I think that’s so cool! I just don’t think he holds the same weight, as Jack the Ripper, Dracula and Houdini. In that sense, he’s definitely more fantastical/mythical than the other three. But in the sensationalism that surrounds the other three, he’s lost. At least, that’s my opinion.

Ugh, I feel like I have more to say, but I don’t know.

It’s weird, because I did absolutely love this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the world and everything about it. But then I think about everything I just wrote, and then I’m not sure. This is one of those instances where I wish someone could just forcefully tell me what to think and that I’d be able to listen to them.

One last thing before I wrap this up, because honestly, I’m exhausted. It’s taken me almost two hours to write this up, and it’s taken a lot of brain power, emotion and inner turmoil to write it. I will say that, while I was happy that the very end, ended happily and a conclusion, it felt as if it were left open for potentially more. I’m all for reading about the Cresswell and Cresswell Investigative team, adult Audrey and Thomas.

I do think that Capturing the Devil was a fitting conclusion for these characters. It’s been quite a journey, and one that I’ve loved being a part of. Even if Audrey makes me mad, I still love her as a character, and god I wish Thomas were real. Lol

Kerri is an amazing writer and I cannot wait to read her next series. I’m solidly a forever fan and will read anything she publishes.

 

 

 

October/November/December TBR

This is ambitious.

I’m going to try to close this year off with a bang! 27 books and 2 of which I’ve already read since it’s October 11 as you’re reading this. Not gonna lie, the majority of the books on this list are ARCs, and they all pretty much come out in the next three months.

I’m currently sitting here, waiting for my too hot to drink tea to cool slightly while I freak out about the fact that I still have yet to start Into the Crooked Place and there are two books that come out next week that I haven’t even touched yet.

The life of a book blogger, the lure of the ARCs…I’m drowning people! But it’s fine. I’m managing. This mini rant comes to you from the fact that there are two eARCs that just hit my kindle in the last two days, and I can’t touch them yet. It’s killing me.

Anyways, let me know if this is an insane amount of book to read in the next three months – not considering literally anything else that might be thrown my way to read between now and the end of the year. Not every book will be pictured since some are on my Kindle!

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  1. Crier’s War – Nina Varela (Oct. Release)
  2. The Beautiful – Renée Ahdieh (Oct. Release)
  3. Into the Crooked Place – Alexandra Christo (Oct. Release)
  4. Tarnished are the Stars – Rosiee Thor (Oct. Release)
  5. Fireborne – Rosaria Munda (Oct. Release)
  6. The Light at the Bottom of the World – London Shah (Oct. Release)
  7. Gravemaidens – Kelly Coon (Oct. Release)
  8. Oath Taker – Audrey Grey
  9. Sisters of Shadow and Light – Sara B. Larson (Nov. Release)
  10. The Guinevere Deception – Kiersten White (Nov. Release)
  11. Fate of the Fallen – Kel Kade (Nov. Release)
  12. Stone Cold Touch – Jennifer L. Armentrout
  13. Lovestruck – Kate Watson
  14. Lady Smoke – Laura Sebastian
  15. Fate of the Drowned – Carrie Summers
  16. The Weaver – Heather Kindt (Kindle)
  17. Flawed – Becky Bird (Kindle)
  18. The Chameleon with a Sword – B.L. Logan (Kindle)
  19. Sovereign Sacrifice – Elise Kova (Kindle)
  20. Tweet Cute – Emma Lord (Kindle) (Jan. Release)
  21. Ruthless Gods – Emily A. Duncan (Kindle)
  22. Diamond City – Francesca Flores (Jan. Release)
  23. Wardens of Eternity – Courtney Allison Moulton (Jan. Release)
  24. Scavenge the Stars – Tara Sim (Jan. Release)
  25. Beneath the Haunting Sea – Joanna Ruth Meyer
  26. Beyond the Shadowed Earth – Joanna Ruth Meyer (Jan. Release)
  27. The Stars We Steal – Alexa Donne (This is ONLY if I finish everything else, since this comes out in Feb.)

*These are in no real particular order, but I am trying to read the ARCs (preferably) before release and in order of release date. October was a heavy release month – at least in terms of what ARCs I had, so it’s been kind of hard to stay ahead of them, but I’m trying! Most of the Kindle eARCs I’ll be able to knock out pretty quickly. After that, as long as I don’t hit a slump * knocks on wood * I should be able to read 27 books in three months. That’s nine books per month and my average usually sits around 6-8!

 

September Wrap-Up

September was a pretty good reading month, despite not reading for the majority of the month. I managed to whip out quite a few in the last week/few days, and only one of them was a DNF – I just could not get into it. It sucks when that happens, but sometimes a book just doesn’t work for me. Granted I didn’t realize it was the fifth book in a series…And rather than forcing myself to read through it, I have too many other books to read to waste time on something that’s just not working.

Anyways, let’s rehash everything I read this past month. All of these have a review, which I’ll link below, so feel free to check them out!


slumber.jpgSlumber – Becky Bird

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / (eARC Finished: 9/8/19) / Review / GR

A fun Disney Sleeping Beauty reimaging that will allow you to turn your brain off and just enjoy!

 


capturing the devilCapturing the Devil – Kerri Mansicalco

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / (Hardcover Finished: 9/11/19) / Review / GR

The finale in the Stalking Jack the Ripper Series, where the hunt is on for Audrey Rose and Thomas as they hunt a killer through the White City.

 


the hollow queenThe Hollow Queen – Sherry D. Ficklin

DNF / Review / GR

The fifth book in a historical fantasy series about royalty, and this one focuses on the last Romanov Princess.

 


the memory thiefThe Memory Thief – Lauren Mansy

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / (ARC Finished: 9/23/19) / Review / GR

In a place where memories are a commodity and power is absolute, one girl will do whatever she can to break the cycle and save everyone.

 


bid my soul farewellBid My Soul Farewell – Beth Revis

⭐️⭐️⭐️ / (ARC Finished: 9/24/19) / Review / GR

An army of the risen dead, a power-hungry ancient entity and romance, the final book in this duology, Nedra has debts to settle and things to set right.

 


these wicked watersThese Wicked Waters – Emily Layne

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / (ARC Finished: 9/26/19) / Review / GR 

Think, Jurassic World, but with human-hating, hungry sirens instead of Dinosaurs. Oh, and romance.

 


the navigatorThe Navigator – Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / (eARC Finished: 9/29/19) / Review / GR

It’s time to fly back to Neverland with the second installment in The Tales of the Wendy series. London is in danger, identities revealed, and a potential budding romance between a pirate and a Wendy.

 


img_6313Marrow Charm – Kristin Jacques

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / (eARC Finished: 9/30/19) / Review / GR

Magic has raged across the surface of the world, forcing humans below ground. Barely scraping by, one girl decides to brave the surface in order to find and save her brother and forms strong bonds along the way…but there’s something different about her.

 


I’m already four books into October and getting ready to start my fifth. So many amazing books come out and have already come out this month, so be ready for some packed Haul and Wrap-Up posts in November!

QOTD: What was your favorite read in September?

 

 

 

September Book Haul

September is over, which means it’s time for Spooky Season! I tried to not go overboard with the book buying, I’m on a self-imposed ban. Even so, I still managed to obtain quite a few books – some purchased, some traded, and a few eARC’s via NetGalley.

To start off, I’m throwing in a book from August because I forgot to add it to my August Haul Post:


tweet cuteTweet Cute – Emma Lord

(hauled in August)

GR

I’m part of the blog tour for this book, and I’m really excited to read it!

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.


img_6313Marrow Charm – Kristin Jacques

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / Review / GR

I loved this book so much! You definitely should read it.

‘In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but They were already in our world and They were hungry.’

-The Lost History, Library of Avergard

Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.

Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.

The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.

And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.


capturing the devilCapturing the Devil – Kerri Maniscalco

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Review / GR

I can’t believe this series is over. No more Cresswell. * sobs *

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?


The lady rogueThe Lady Rogue – Jenn Bennett

GR

I’m really looking forward to reading this!

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.


american royalsAmerican Royals – Katharine McGee

⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 / Review / GR

Really enjoyed this and I cannot wait for book 2!

What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.


crown of coral and pearlCrown of Coral and Pearl – Mara Rutherford

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / Review / GR

This might actually be one of my favorite reads of the year. It surprised me and I’m dying for the next one!

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.


There will come a darknessThere Will Come a Darkness – Katy Rose Pool

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / Review / GR

You NEED to pick this book up if you haven’t already. A definite 2019 favorite.

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? 


QOTD: What was your favorite book you picked up in September?

Book Review: The Beautiful

the beautifulTitle: The Beautiful

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Pub. Date: October 8, 2019

Rating: 🧛‍♂️🧛‍♂️🧛‍♂️🧛‍♂️


In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.


This will be a spoiler free review.

Let me start off by saying, HAPPY RELEASE DAY! This book is now available in your local bookstore and you should go pick it up!

I’m so glad vampires are making it back to YA, I missed them. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, found it easy to dive into and get lost in. I liked the characters and the plot, but more as a quick read.

This was my first time reading a book by Renée Ahdieh, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and I do like her writing style and how she tells a story. I’m already anxious for the next one, after the way this book ended, because what the hell.

While I did enjoy this book, I do have a couple of little grievances/complaints.

The first one is really minor, and completely on me, but I had to keep reminding myself that this book takes place in 1872 New Orleans and not modern day. I find that I struggle quite often when the MC’s are very much modern characters set in a historical setting. I forget all the time and then get angry when the character can do anything about their station because they’re a woman in a time when they didn’t really have any rights. It can be so freaking frustrating.

I also got kind of annoyed at the use of French and Spanish in the book, mainly when it’s not translated by another character or the same character speaking. I didn’t take either of these languages in school (I opted for German) so a lot is lost on me. Some of the non-translated dialogue I could pick up via context clues, and I’m most definitely not going to pause my reading to Google Translate lines from this book. I’m all for the inclusion of other languages, but (personally) please add some form of translation! It also won’t deter me from reading the book, it’s just a personal preference.

Little thing – I didn’t really understand the kind of magic system until the ending.

Also, THE. ENDING. Not really a fan of that trope. You’ll understand when you get to it.

And my final thing is the pacing. This isn’t necessarily a long book at about 450 pages, but it moves so quickly. From a read time, I like this, and liked that it didn’t take me very long to knock out this book. But from a story perspective, it all just happened so quickly. I just wish the pacing had been a little more drawn out, because this book did verge on insta-love, and I’m not that big of a fan of it.

Overall, I’m dying inside for the next one, The Damned and I’m screaming about how it ended. I ended up liking this book way more than I anticipated. I knew people had liked it and that it was getting pretty good reviews, but my track record with books lately has been a bit disappointing. I can’t wait to scream about this book to friends.


QOTD: Are you excited that Vampires are making a comeback?

Book Review: Crier’s War

criers war.jpgTitle: Crier’s War

Author: Nina Varela

Pub. Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.


This will be a spoiler free review.

This book didn’t live up to the hype. Maybe that’s because I managed to read it after its release, and not prior (I have an ARC copy), or maybe it was just way overhyped. Overall, I enjoyed the story, just not as much as I expected. I thought it felt very familiar, like I had read it before. In other words, it felt very YA SFF (Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy).

There’s a blurb on the front of my copy by Tara Sim “Crier’s War is a beautiful poem of a book…” and I agree. I thought the writing, and the craft of the story was wonderful. Nina has a definite way with words, and she paints a picture with them, with a deft hand. I think the premise of the book is really interesting and I think Nina did an amazing job setting up the world and the conflicts, and by the second half of the book you’re tied in.

I did find the beginning of the book a bit slow, and kind of hard to get into. I kept putting the book down in favor for Twitter and literally anything else. I’m glad I pushed through and finished the book. I’m glad I read it, I’m just bummed that I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

I liked Crier and Ayla, I enjoyed their relationship and how it progressed and how their feelings for each other grew and changed. I really liked the internal exploration they each had towards their feelings for one another. I wouldn’t necessarily call this “enemies to lovers” but it kind of has those elements, and I’m a sucker for that trope. I enjoyed the story as a whole, but in the case of the hype surrounding this book, I really do think that their relationship is a big draw. As a whole, the book, again, feels very familiar and very standard YA SFF. (I touch more on this below, at the end of the review.)

Other than Kinok and Hesod, there really weren’t any characters I didn’t like. I’m still on the fence about Queen Junn and Storme (it took all my will power to not call him Stormy in my head, pretty sure it’s just Storm). I really liked Benjy, and I kind of figured out his feelings towards Ayla really early on, so it’ll be interesting to see how that progresses in the next book (which, yes, I’ll probably read).

Actually, I’m kind of interested in knowing how this story progresses. The second half of this book really picked up and I found it easier to stay interested.

Eventually (when I’m not on a book buying ban) when I’m able to purchase a finished copy it will be nice to have a map, and the timeline that are not listed in my ARC copy. I think that maybe that will help. While I could picture everything Nina described, I had a hard time picturing the world as a whole. So, I’m looking forward to that.

Again, overall, I did enjoy this book, and as a debut I thought it was good. I think the hype surrounding it after release was probably detrimental to my expectations, but I do think that Crier’s War feels familiar and kind of reminds me of Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury and Cardinal Machines by Tracy Eire and Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey and Krystal Wade, but probably most notably Our Dark Stars. Anyways, I can’t wait to eventually buy a copy of this gorgeous book, because damn, the cover is stunning. Out now, so make sure you pick up your copy of Nina Varela’s debut, Crier’s War!





Update: 10/7/19 – 3:35PM

Last night I had originally planned to include this final bit, but fear got the better of me. I deleted this last part due to fear and assumptions and ultimately opted out of sharing it. This choice as been eating at me all day. So here it is.

Before I close this off with this final note, I just want to remind you that these are MY thoughts and feelings, and in no way should impact your own. Just because I didn’t love this book as much as you, and just because I have my own feelings about the hype surrounding it, doesn’t invalidate your feelings and how much you love the book. I’m glad you loved the book, if you loved the book. That makes me so happy! Be happy that there are so many books out there that we can choose from, to read and fall in love with.

I hesitate to even include this in this review, but:

I think – and I hesitate to say this, because I don’t want to be misconstrued or bashed for my thoughts and feelings – but, I think that this book is hyped more due to the nature of the relationship f/f (Crier/Ayla) than it actually being a phenomenal book. I tend to be a little apprehensive going into books and movies that feature m/m or f/f relationships. And before you grab your torches and pitchforks, let me explain and let me clarify.

I’m often apprehensive because I rarely know (going in) if the book/media is good because the story is good (with all elements) or if it’s only good because it has a certain kind of representation in it. Wonderfully enough, my apprehension has been for nothing because everything I’ve read and watched have been amazing stories. Representation does matter, and I’m here for it, and I want to read it. (and watch it)

I’m not saying that Crier and Ayla’s relationship shouldn’t be a part of the hype. It should be, and I’m glad it is. I’m glad that people are falling in love with them, with this story. I also think that when it comes to books we love; characters we love, we sometimes forget that there is more to the book than just that aspect. I know I have. It’s so easy to pick the romance, the relationship as the one thing we want to scream about, to convince everyone to read the book. I’ve done this and it’s a pretty easy to get people to want to read the book.

But there’s also a downside to that. We hype these books up, screaming about how wonderful they are because these two characters have an amazing relationship. This can either obviously help the book, or be kind of detrimental. My personal feelings are that the hype I’ve seen surrounding Crier and Ayla and their relationship, raised my expectations, and then they weren’t met.

Another Short and Sweet DNF

I honestly don’t know. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still hung up on Marrow Charm or if these books just haven’t been for me, or if they’ve just been not good books. But Cursed by Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler wasn’t my cup of tea. My goal for this week wasn’t to DNF two books in a row, and my goal wasn’t to post reviews about them either…at least not DNF reviews.


cursedTitle: Cursed

Author(s): Frank Miller & Thomas Wheeler

Pub. Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: DNF at page 50


The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer, and director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Sin City). Featuring 8 full color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.

Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…

That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.


This will be a very brief, spoiler free review.

I DNF’d this one early, fifty pages in and I wasn’t interested in the slightest. I wasn’t a fan of the artwork and found I highly distracting. I was excited for this going in, but it just doesn’t work. After reading a couple of reviews (something I rarely do before finishing but wanted to know if it was worth slogging through it) I gather that Thomas Wheeler is a screen writer and this book probably would have been much better in script form.

It’ll be interesting to see this adapted for Netflix, where I think it will probably thrive.

I didn’t feel any connection with Nimue and didn’t care about her journey – albeit I only read a small portion of it. Nothing in the first 50 pages hooked me enough to make me want to continue reading. I went in thinking that this was a gender bent King Arthur – it’s not, not really and that’s kind of disappointing and a common thread I’ve seen in YA recently. Market it as one thing, only for that story to not be reflected in the actual book. It sets readers up to have certain expectations and then they are not met and it’s highly annoying.

Anyways, this book wasn’t for me – I’ll watch the show when it hits Netflix (if it hits Netflix). I like the idea of art in the books, on the pages. I think it’s a really cool idea, and I’m totally on board. But maybe something a little less stylized. (Not knocking the artist, just not my style).

As far as Arthurian Legend retellings, I’ll keep my eyes on The Guinevere Deception and hopefully that one works out better for me.

Let me know if you read this and thought it was worthwhile to finish. I can’t promise I ever will, but maybe.

A DNF and an Excerpt

Today’s post was supposed be a full review of Garth Nix’s Angel Mage, but unfortunately, I had to DNF it. So, instead I’ll be giving you two mini reviews – one, my thoughts on Angel Mage and two, my thoughts on the excerpt from Havenfall, Sara Holland’s 2020 release.

It works out kind of well, since I wasn’t sure if was going to dedicate a whole post to Havenfall. But, let’s get on into the mini reviews.


angel mageTitle: Angel Mage

Author: Garth Nix

Pub. Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: DNF at page 133

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

********

This will be spoiler free.

I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about the characters, the world, the conflict – any of it. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style, I didn’t understand exactly what was going on. It was info-dumpy and dense and heavy and just boring. 130 pages in and nothing was happening, the story was still being set up and I lost interest. I tried to force myself to give the book another 100 pages, to see if it would pick up, but you know what, I have too many other things to read. I’m not going to sit here and legit force myself to read a book that holds no interest.

This was marketed to me as “Angels meet the Three Musketeers” and I just want to know where? Maybe if I kept reading, it would have made sense. This was my first Garth Nix book and honestly, I don’t think I’m missing anything.

And the fact that there is no map in the front of the ARC copy made it all the more difficult to even picture this world. This book just wasn’t for me and that’s fine.


havenfallTitle: Havenfall

Author: Sara Holland

Pub. Date: March 3, 2020

Rating: TBD

Maddie Morrow lives for her summers at the Inn at Havenfall, hidden up in the mountains of Colorado. The inn is the only place where she gets to see the boy she loves, Brekken and it provides an escape from her real life, which consists of endless mind-numbing days at high school . . . and visits to the local prison where her mother sits on Death Row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother.

But the inn is much more than it appears. The manicured gardens, Mirror Lake, and even the building itself hold a tantalizing power, a magic meant to protect all who seek refuge and peace. Maddie’s uncle runs the inn, guardian of the gateways to the hidden worlds that converge in the tunnels, and she dreams of one day taking it over.

But this summer, everything is going wrong. Maddie almost gets run over by an alluring new staffer, Taya, her relationship with handsome Brekken becomes complicated, and then the impossible happens: a dead body is discovered, shattering the inn’s sanctity. As questions mount over who’s responsible, Maddie realizes even greater dangers face them all.

With everything she loves at stake, Maddie must confront startling truths about the secrets lurking beneath Havenfall, and within herself.

********

This will be a spoiler free review. I downloaded the Excerpt off of NetGalley (as I’m writing this, it’s currently available under READ NOW).

I don’t usually read excerpts because they often make me super excited for a book and then I have to impatiently wait, but I figured, why not, I’m curious. While, I’m not desperately dying to get my hands on this book, I’m excited for it. It sounds really good and the concepts really cool. The excerpt was engaging enough to hook me, and this is why I don’t normally read them.

I’m pretty sure I could have sat on my couch and read the book in one sitting if it had been available.

I’m looking forward to Havenfall. I was a big fan of Everless with Eevermore falling a bit short, but I’m definitely going to be picking up her new book when it comes out!


Let me know if you’ve read Angel Mage and what your thoughts were. As of right now, I don’t intend on ever trying to finish it, but maybe you can change my mind. Also, let me know if you’re going to read Havenfall when it comes out next year!

Book Review: Marrow Charm (The Gate Cycle #1)

img_6313Title: Marrow Charm (The Gate Cycle #1)

Author: Kristin Jacques

Pub. Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


‘In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but They were already in our world and They were hungry.’

-The Lost History, Library of Avergard

Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.

Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.

The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.

And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.


This will be a spoiler free review. Free copy of Marrow Charm provided by NeGalley in exchange for an honest review.

THIS. BOOK.

I had no expectations going into this. I saw the cover, it’s gorgeous, then I read the synopsis and thought that it sounded interesting. I requested it not even thinking that I was actually going to be approved, and I’m so glad I was. This is honestly a new favorite and I’m trash for Azure and Kai (the love interest) and I want them to be happy.

Marrow Charm is dark, gritty and unforgiving. Humans live underground after magic had (basically) ransacked the surface. Six cities, all havens for humanity but they’re falling. Azure’s (Azzy) home, Heaven, or better known as the Heap is struggling. A sickness called “The Rot” has steadily culled the cities population over time and the remaining humans are struggling to survive. Hope is all but nonexistent and choices have to be made in order to keep everyone alive. When meat is scarce…you don’t waste a single death.

It’s uncomfortable and a turning point for Azzy. Things are set in motion after one feast and they do not stop rolling even by the end of the book.

Azzy is badass. Even when the odds are stacked impossibly high against her, she keeps moving forward. She’s super capable but not invincible. She has many moments of weakness where she wants to give up, but she knows if she does, she’s dead. She knows that finding her brother may be the last thing she does, and if and when she does, he might not be the person she knew.

This book was amazing and the bonds that are formed between Azzy and the people she meets are raw, real and honest. She’s very much a girl who is willing to face anything, go the distance, but is also very much out of her element. Death scares her in the sense that it terrifies most people, but she also understands that it’s a very real possibility. She’s one to put herself in harm’s way to protect those she cares about.

Her bond with Kai is * chef’s kiss * perfect. At least in my opinion. It’s one that grew out of debts being paid, but also so much more – feelings that cannot be explained, that run deeper than given words can explain.

I fell in love with the two of them on their journey. They have a fierce protectiveness for each other and the more invested I got, the more my heart raced and the louder I screamed at the end of Part 1…okay it was like 3AM so I didn’t actually scream (audibly) but it felt like my heart was torn from my chest. I need to know if Kai and Azzy are okay because their current predicaments aren’t exactly great. Hell, no one’s predicament is great at the end of the book which leaves me with this feeling of dread and anxiety for what’s going to happen next and I have to wait until May 2020 to find out.

I’ll just be over here in the corner dying.

Much like [redacted] – go read the book if you want spoilers!

This is my shout out to you all to read this book and fall in love.

You know that feeling when you’re reading a book and you get that bubbly, giddy feeling in your chest and you find yourself grinning like a fool because the book is so good and the romance is so good? and you just want to keep reading because you HAVE to know what happens next? That’s how I felt while reading this book.

Marrow Charm is out now! Make sure you pick up your copy and read this book! Fall in love with Kai and Azzy and get invested in her journey to save her brother! Make sure you add it on Goodreads as well!

 

Book Review: The Navigator (Tales of the Wendy #2)

the navigatorTitle: The Navigator (Tales of the Wendy #2)

Author(s): Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown

Pub. Date: October 8, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


NOT EVERY ADVENTURE GOES AS PLANNED …

Wendy’s troubles are far from over. Hook wants her in irons, the crew wants to throw her overboard, and Pan’s magical compass is the only thing standing in their way. But Pan himself is nowhere to be found.

When a new everlost captain appears on the horizon, it will take everything Wendy has to survive.

And a tiny red dragon will set events in motion that could save or doom them all.


This will be a spoiler free review! I also want to thank NetGalley and the authors for providing aa free eARC as well as an early Hardcover Copy of the book!

Okay, let’s start with the cover because omfg it’s stunning! If you remember, I bought The Wendy – the first book in this series – mainly because of the cover and just how gorgeous it was. Then I fell in love with the story and it was reminiscent of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan but had a unique twist.

I’ve been sitting here for hours trying to find the words to adequately articulate proper thoughts and feelings about this book, but I can’t.

Internally I’m chaos. I’m so in love with these books – this one was fantastic and I’m just screaming and dying on the inside because now I have to wait for the next one.

Related image

I love the way these books are written, and I love the characters. I love how Neverland was described, the crocodile, the action scenes and everything in between. I loved Wendy’s journey through this one, and oh my god I ship Hook and Wendy together so hard! I don’t even know if there is going to be any kind of romance in this, besides the hidden kiss – and I wouldn’t exactly call that romance.

But, oh my god, Hook! His growth in this book was so good and there were moments that I just wanted to push Wendy and him together, if for nothing but to comfort each other. I need them to at least kiss once. Please. I love their dynamic. His internal struggle/reluctance to admit to himself that Wendy is badass is The Best. He’s not outwardly hostile and Wendy knows that he trusts her to some extent, but his internal struggle (and definite attraction, let’s be real) is everything I want. It’s like a slow burn romance, with very little hint at any romance…does that make sense?

And Peter Pan! He’s a grown child. I loved how Wendy is the only one who can tame him. I also really loved the reason why he’s like that. I thought it was very original and definitely didn’t see it coming.

AND the introduction of Norse Mythology and Magic?? Specific kinds of magic. Can’t say because spoilers – you’ll have to read the book to find out! Give. Me. More. Ugh. I just loved everything about this book and I’m seriously dying for the next one, and this one isn’t even out yet.

That reveal towards the end!!! * phew * I’m so excited to see how this all plays out. I can’t wait. I don’t want to wait, but sadly I have to.

Image result for screaming internally gifs

If you haven’t already (what are you waiting for?) go read The Wendy – you can check out my review here – and you have enough time to read it before The Navigator comes out next week! Make sure you pick up your copy October 8, 2019! You don’t want to miss out on this adventure!