Book Review: Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light #1)

sisters of shadow and light.jpgTitle: Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light #1)

Author: Sara B. Larson

Pub. Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


“The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes…”.

Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world―including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.

On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father’s Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a “roar” that drowns everything else out―leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.

For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world…until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes. 


This will be a spoiler free review.

I want to start this review off by saying that I’m thoroughly kicking myself for not having read this sooner. Oh my gosh this book was so good! I was hooked from the very beginning and kept turning the page. I read it in a handful of hours because I couldn’t put it down. Pretty sure I started it at 11PM and finished it at 4AM – yes, I’ll probably regret staying up all night to read it, but self-care. Sometimes you just have to stay up until you finish a book, because waiting to finish it just isn’t an option.

I will also say that I’m struggling a bit to take my thoughts and put them into words because I just loved this book so much. It’s one of those reviews that is proving difficult to write because all I want to do is shove this book into your hands, and say “Here, read. It’s so good and I loved it.” But that would make for a very short review, so I’m going to attempt to put some of my thoughts into words that aren’t just me screaming that you should read this book. You should though. Read it.

I’ve been a fan of Sara’s work since Defy and I’m so glad that this book was just as good. I really liked the pacing and the writing style. I loved the characters and the dynamics between them. What I liked most of all, is how realistic the characters are. They’re full of very real flaws, but that’s what makes them so good.  Zuhra and Inara’s relationship – their bond – is so strong and so perfect it has you rooting for both of them.

The world Sara created is so vivid and lush and so easily pictured. The run-down Citadel that Zuhra and Inara grow up in is so clear in my mind. Every location that they end up was described with such good detail it came to life.

Basically, the world building is * chef’s kiss * perfection. So easy to get lost in.

AND THE LOVE INTEREST. Y’all Raidyn might be my newest book boyfriend and omfg he’s my favorite kind. Ya need to meet him, so pick up this book and read.

Are you tired of me telling you to read this book yet?

No? Good, go read it. If yes…oh well, go read it.

As for the other characters, I love Loukas and Halvor. Besides Raidyn and just about every other character, I think Loukas is going to be a favorite. He’s funny and charming and knows what buttons to push and when to get a response. His and Raidyn’s dynamic is again, * chef’s kiss * perfect and I can’t wait for him to become best friends with Zuhra because that’s so happening.

Ugh, I just loved this so much and I can feel my thoughts dwindling down to incoherent screaming so I’m going to end this review here. And for the final time in this review, I’m going to tell you – urge you – to go pick this book up and read it. It’s currently out, so you have no excuse!

Book Review: Fate of the Fallen (The Shroud of Prophecy #1)

fate of the fallenTitle: Fate of the Fallen (The Shroud of Prophecy #1)

Author: Kel Kade

Pub. Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The Shroud of Prophecy tests fate to discover what happens when the path of good and right, the triumph of light over darkness, the only path to salvation… fails.

Everyone loves Mathias. So naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

Mathias is thrilled for the adventure! There’s nothing better than a road beneath his feet and adventure in the air. Aaslo, on the other hand, has never cared for the world beyond the borders of his sleepy village and would be much happier alone and in the woods. But, someone has to keep the Chosen One’s head on his shoulders and his feet on the ground.

It turns out saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. Mathias is more than willing to place his life on the line, but Aaslo would love nothing more than to forget about all the talk of arcane bloodlines and magical fae creatures. When the going gets rough, folks start to believe their only chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the stories go. At all. To make matters worse Aaslo is beginning to fear that he may have lost his mind…


This will be a spoiler free review.

Dare I say that my slump is over? I don’t want to jinx it, but Fate of the Fallen is the first book I’ve read since September that has me thinking about it when I’m not actively reading it. There were moments today that I could not wait to get back to reading this book. I’m thoroughly enjoying it and I definitely want to continue with the series, and I really wish the next books were out already. Ugh, I forgot what this feeling felt like. It’s been so long.

I had really low expectations going into it. I’ve never read anything by this author and I only picked it up at ALA because someone insisted, I did and that it would be good.

They weren’t wrong.

This book was definitely different than I anticipated – though again, I had low expectations. I knew it was a fantasy and honestly, I don’t know if I ever read a full synopsis before diving into it. It’s definitely not Young Adult and definitely reads like and Adult Fantasy – the main character being in his mid-twenties.

Within the first 55 pages there was a twist that I’ve never seen in a book (that early on) and never expected and the tagline “for men to rise, heroes must fall” makes a lot more sense. The MC Aaslo is kind of amazing and I love his personality. He’s definitely my favorite character in this book and I really want to see him succeed. He’s not really a fan of people, but he seems to attract them easily – they gravitate towards him. Despite his not liking people, and because he’s a good person, he’s constantly getting in the middle of skirmishes and situations that further endear people to him. He’s just great and I really like him.

I really like the world Kade has created as well. It’s rich and interesting and the pantheon of Gods is reminiscent of Greek/Roman mythology, so it’s familiar, but new. The supporting characters are personalities and you care for them.

I think one of the reasons I really like about this book is that it reminds me of some of my favorite epic, heroes journey fantasy reads. With the kind of heroes that don’t necessarily want the burden or mantel but take it up anyways to save humanity – especially when literally no one else will. These heroes (like all heroes) are thrust into a world of danger, taken from their everyday quiet lives and tasked with saving the world before some evil ends it. Sometimes there’s a prophecy, and other times fate. Fate of the Fallen reminds me of books like Eragon, There Will Come A Darkness and Heart of the Empire. If you haven’t yet read any of these, you should, and you should definitely check out Fate of the Fallen, it’s out now!

Book Review: The Guinevere Deception

the guinevere deception .jpgTitle: The Guinevere Deception

Author: Kiersten White

Pub. Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?


This will be a spoiler free review.

I’m still in a reading slump, so I don’t think I enjoyed this as much as I might’ve otherwise. But I also have kind of an iffy relationship with Kiersten White books. I think she’s a great writer, but her books don’t always click with me.

This book was also different that I expected it to be, but I’m not sure if that’s a positive or a negative. Reading and reviewing books while in a slump is a bit weird and a lot of the time, I feel non-committal and just meh about it all. So, if my reviews for the foreseeable future feel a little bland or are short, blame the slump.

While I ultimately did enjoy this book – more so the latter half – I do think that it requires a decent understanding and knowledge of Arthurian legend. There is a bit of back story, but as someone who knows a fair bit of the lore and mythology surrounding Arthur and Camelot, there were moments I felt really lost.

You really need to have an understanding – and more than a Disney/cartoon version.

But that being said, there were definite moments that shocked me, and the probably shouldn’t have since I do have some knowledge. Especially certain scenes that happen towards the end with a certain character. I should not have been surprised, and yet I was.

It did feel familiar enough to more traditional Arthurian Legend, but as always, Kiersten gave the story her own little unique twists that I ultimately really enjoyed. I thought the magic system was really interesting, and I think if I ever had to use it, it would suck. It’s amazing in the ingenuity and craft of it, but as a form of magic, it really would suck. Guinevere handles herself really well thought.

I have my suspicions about Guinevere and who she is…who her mother is. I’m definitely interested in reading the next books in the series for that alone. I really want to know if I’m right or not. I kind of liked the mystery behind her. Who she is, what her past is, I want to know it all. Kiersten hooked me on that alone. I liked Arthur and Brangien as well as the knights. I can’t wait to see what they all do in the next books. I’m glad certain asshole characters got what they deserved, and I feel bad for Guinevere towards the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The second half kept me more interested, and the characters felt fresh and original, while still feeling reminiscent of more traditional character roles. If you’re a fan of Arthurian Legend, BBC’s Merlin, or just good fantasy stories, you’ll definitely want to check this one out – out today!

Book Review: Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens #1)

gravemaidenss.jpgTitle: Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens #1)

Author: Kelly Coon

Pub. Date: October 29, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.


This will be a spoiler free review. There are a few semi-graphic scenes in this book.

This book ended up being different than I thought it was going to be. To be totally honest, I’m not sure if I ever read the synopsis or just knew I had to read it based on other people’s reviews and the hype. I’m also in the middle of a horrible reading slump but was able to make my way through this book. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it more if I weren’t in a slump. It also took me about half the book to realize that one of the characters I thought I didn’t like, was false, and it was actually because I didn’t care for the MC.

I also want to say that I much more enjoyed the second half of the book, and I’m actually kind of excited to read the next one. I’m really curious as to how it will all end.

I felt a little bored by the first half, and sometimes I felt like I was sure of what was happening. I feel like that could be a good thing, since Kammani has no clue as to what’s actually happening, and only has theories.

There are also some very bad and hateful people in this book, and I hope they all meet their demise in book 2.

At the beginning of the book I thought Dagan (the love interest) to be a bit absurd, and he doesn’t wear a shirt like at all. He’s swoony, caring and deeply in love with Kammani and it’s cute. But I found him to be a bit annoying. Though my thoughts on him have vastly changed. I still think it’s weird that he went to a festival shirtless, but okay.

Nanaea is your average 15-year-old girl – annoying and moody as hell. I couldn’t stand her, and that probably because she’s a super accurate representation of a real teenage girl? Was I ever that annoying, if so, Mom & Dad I apologize. Everything was drama with her, and she didn’t listen. Ultimately her reasoning comes out, and while it makes sense for her character, it’s misguided. She’s an accurate teen, but annoying as hell. I’m interested in seeing what part she plays in book 2.

I’m conflicted about Nasu. Part of me wants him to be a potential Love interest for Kammani, but the other half of me doesn’t want that at all, and I just want them to be really good, die for each other friends. But their relationship seems to hint at him having feelings for her.

I loved Iltani, a devious little mischievous mind. She’s the best and so loyal. I wish she’d been in the book more, but my hope is that she has a bigger role to play in the next one.

I wasn’t sure about Nin Arwia, but I’m glad that she’s with the group. Like Kammani, her journey is far from over and it’ll be interesting to see what she ultimately does.

And finally, Kammani. I’ll be honest, she’s not my fave. As a character, I thought she was very immature, and it was annoying how she strung Dagan along. She tries playing adult and it backfired every single time. But I think that’s also what makes her character so great – that she plays being a grownup, shouldering burdens and trying with every ounce of her being to set things right. But in reality, her world is crumbling around her and there’s nothing she can do about it. She never just let’s herself be or be happy. She feels like she can’t, and it nearly costs her everything. Instead of being rational and taking the time to come up with a plan that isn’t guaranteed to fail, she rushes in headfirst every time. For the adult she pretends to be, she basically ignores every piece of sound advice given to her.

This book is definitely a ride and the world Kelly has created is rich and vivid. It’s cruel and wonderful. It’s accusatory and forgiving. The characters exist in a world where status and traditions are highly honored and praised, and to be outspoken against them is tantamount to treason. It’s about realizing that the thing we might want most in the world, aren’t actually what we want at all. Sometimes facing reality is the hardest thing we can do. That accepting help, instead of shouldering everything yourself is the best thing, because when there are people in your corner, your chances of succeeding are much higher.

It about fighting for what’s right and learning from your mistakes. These characters aren’t perfect, and they have a hell of a lot more growing up to do, but I’m anticipatingly waiting for the next book. While I wasn’t a fan of every character in this book and thought the second half was better than the first, I definitely understand the hype and I hope you all pick up this book and check it out! If anything, read it to fall in love with soft Dagan who wants nothing more in the world to marry and cherish the girl he loves, and give her everything and anything she could ever want…Kammani, if you don’t want him, send him my way. 😂

Check out Gravemaidens, out today!

 

 

Book Review: Sovereign Sacrifice (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #4)

sovereign sacrificeTitle: Sovereign Sacrifice (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #4)

Author: Elise Kova

Pub. Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


Vi was supposed to be the perfect crown princess. Then, she abandoned her throne.
Vi was supposed to save the world as its Champion. Then, the world she loved vanished.

Now, all she knows is that she has deadly magic and brutal cunning and she’s ready to settle some scores.

Old loves and new allies tell her to play it safe. But Vi is done with caution. She has a chance to right ancient wrongs and this princess-turned-warrior isn’t turning back.

She’s ready to bring an end to the vortex of death the world is trapped in.


This will be a spoiler free review. I want to profusely thank Elise for gifting me an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Before I jump into the actual review, I just want to quickly shout out HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY/RELEASE DAY to Sovereign Sacrifice and to Elise! You can grab your copy today! If you haven’t yet read any books in the Air Awakens world, then you’re seriously missing out and should rectify that immediately. Even better, you can start with the Vortex Chronicles, or the original Air Awakens Series, or even the Golden Guard Trilogy! Personally, I would recommend Golden Guard, Air Awakens, Vortex Chronicles, but it’s totally up to you!

I should not be writing this review right now.

I’m not okay.

I legit just finished reading

What do you mean I have to WAIT for book five? For Crystal Caged?

I’ll just be over here sobbing in a corner while I wait.

Once again Elise has knocked it so far out of the park that the ball is currently still heading away from Earth. I mean, oh my god. At the end of Failed Future I was shocked and had no clue what to expect Vi to do next. Vi does everything in this book and then some and we saw some sides to her that surprised me. She definitely goes through some major character developments in this book, and despite being slapped in the face with the fact that “the world she knew was gone” Vi handles herself very well. I’m so excited to see how Vi pulls off her plan devised at the end of this book.

Old and new faces resurface in this book, and the very future of the world is at stake. No pressure right? Vi has to navigate this world carefully, but what would you try and do to save the future?

I honestly don’t know what to say because I just want to scream about every single little thing that happened in this book, but S P O I L E R S. At this point it is kind of hard to talk about vague occurrences because we’re so deep in this narrative. A slight misstep could ruin so many mind-blowing moments that Elise has so artfully crafted.

This is one of those series (the whole Air Awakens World) that I wish I could actually scrub from my mind and experience for the first time all over again. With each new book, Elise continues to solidify her place as one of my all-time favorite fantasy authors – easily top five, no, top three. I fall in love with her writing with each new book and the sheer intricacy of her worlds and her characters. I’m super excited and honestly, a bit anxious to see what she does in Crystal Caged and whether or not Vi is going to be successful in her journey.

I’ll say it again, if you haven’t yet picked up these books, please do so. I’m forever glad that Facebook targeted an ad for Air Awakens at me. I would have been seriously missing out and wouldn’t have fallen in love with these characters. Sovereign Sacrifice is out today, so pick up your copy and dive in!

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

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!