Reviews, YA Fantasy, ya romance

Book Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)

Goodreads Summary:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

My Review:

This series continues to get better and better. Mass’ writing has evolved over time and Empire of Storms is at the top.

As the second to last novel (that we know about because last year we received exciting news about novellas), Empire of Storms picks up right where Queen of Shadows finished. Between the first and the fourth book, Celaena Sardothian has evolved into her true self, Aelin Galathynius. She has used everything she went through to become the true Queen of Terrasen. And in EOS, Aelin must now gather her army and prove she is more than her enemy.

Old friends come back and new faces appear. EoS is a continuous adventure, switching perspectives of several different characters. We learn new back stories. Discover devious plots. Hearts change. Maas weaves secret after secret through the pages and when events happen, it usually blew my mind. And the end completely threw me for a loop. I didn’t see any of it coming.

I would put Sarah J Maas in the same story telling category as JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien. She is a story teller, a world builder.

Rating: 5 out 5Blog Signature

 

 

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Book Events, Giveaway, YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal

Blog Tour: Insidious by Victoria Evers Giveaway + Excerpt

 
Book
Info:
Title:
Insidious
Series:
The Marked Mage Chronicles, Book #1
Author:
Victoria Evers
Genre:
Paranormal
Romance
Release
Date:

January 6, 2017
 
All Kat Montgomery wanted was a fun night out on
the town. What she got was a death warrant. As it turns out, the quaint little
hamlet of Mystic Harbor, Maine houses more than sandy beaches and adorable
B&B’s. Beneath the New England charm rests a deadly world where shifters,
demons, vampires, and angelic hunters all vie for power.
A world where magic is the greatest weapon.
Magic that Kat now possesses.
After that one fateful night, she can feel the
changes beginning to take hold of her. Only problem, she doesn’t even know what
she’s turning into. With threats hiding in plain sight, deciphering the lines
between friend and foe is nearly impossible. As if things couldn’t get any
worse, Kat learns her only real ally rests in the one person she can’t stand:
Reese Blackburn, an insufferably handsome magician whom the town fears most.
Kat’s very soul is at stake, and destiny doesn’t
seem to be playing out in her favor. Can these two unlikely partners challenge
fate itself before it’s too late?
$0.99 Sale for Pre-order!
 
EXCERPT:
 
Curiosity got the better of me as I looked over
my shoulder, only to find the last human being I ever wanted to see heading
towards the back of the store. That familiar knot formed in my stomach, as it
always did anytime Reese Blackburn was near. I rocked back and forth on my
heels, trying my best to keep my patience in check as the old guy in front of
me continued buying virtually every lottery ticket available.
Come on, come on, come on. I needed to get out
of here. PRONTO.
Footsteps started making their way to the
counter from the back of the store, and I immediately deflated, knowing a
confrontation was now inevitable.
“Montgomery,” spoke a silvery voice directly
behind me.
I regrettably turned to face the ass-hat in
question, giving him my best artificial, Pan Am smile. “Blackburn.”
The guy always looked like he’d just waltzed off
the set of a Tim Burton movie, and tonight was no different. He was dressed in
his typically peculiar attire, sporting a gothic knee-length horseman’s jacket
laced in chains, a pair of black slacks, a silk tapestry vest, and dark brogue
boots adorned with skulls on the metallic buckles.
“Never thought I’d see you south of Providence
Street,” he remarked in the sarcastic fashion he always saved for me. “Get lost
on your way to the country club?”
“No, I was actually out looking for your heart.
Should’ve known better that it’s long gone,” I retorted. “And what about you?
Never thought I’d see you out in public on a full moon. Get lost on your way to
your cult meeting in the woods?”
“That’s later in the evening,” he chuckled,
flashing me that dimpled smile and perfect set of pearly whites. Such
infectious, boyish charm seemed misplaced, considering he was stab-worthy. It
really was a shame, because Reese wasn’t half bad looking.
And by ‘half’, I mean not entirely.
Sure, he had cheekbones that could cut glass,
not to mention bedroom eyes so amber they looked to be stowing flames inside
them, but still… Okay, okay. Even I had to admit, Blackburn was hardly an
eyesore.
Even with my heeled boots, I still stood a good
half foot shorter than him, but his lean frame thankfully made him less
imposing.
The old guy in front of me started ordering
cigarettes as well, causing my fisted fingernails to start biting into my
palms. Knowing how quickly our conversations always descended into verbal smack
downs, I grasped at anything I could think of to divert us back to small talk
until I could move to the register.
“Did you go to the game earlier?”
Reese shrugged. “I considered it, but then I
started thinking of other excruciating things I’d rather do, like have a root
canal, and I decided to pass.”
“You heading to the bonfire?” I tried again. He
merely cocked a brow, and I realized how ridiculous I sounded. “Oh, that’s
right. You don’t do anything fun. How could I forget?”
“If you call watching a bunch of drunken idiots
gyrate around and trash a field while you suffocate from smoke inhalation
‘fun,’ then yes—I don’t like fun.”
“It wouldn’t kill you to be normal, ya’ know.”
“Maybe, maybe not. Haven’t tried it.”
“So, Mr. High and Mighty, what superior plans do
you have this evening?”
“Test my alcohol limits, take off my clothes,
and harass innocent bystanders.” He thumped the side of his head. “Oh, wait a
minute. No, that’s your friends.”
“At least I have some.”
He stole a look outside and leered. “With friends like that, I consider myself
grateful that I don’t.”
“Bite me.”
“I probably shouldn’t. Wouldn’t want to get
rabies.”
“I beg to differ. Foaming at the mouth would
probably be an improvement for you. Anything to get you to stop talking.”
He smirked. “Touché, Princess.”
 
 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 
VICTORIA EVERS is a debut paranormal fiction
writer who feels really awkward referring to herself in the third person….
When she’s not vacationing in Narnia, you’ll probably find her reading,
watching horror movies, spending time with her AMAZING family, or daydreaming
about the newest story in her head.

 

 
 
 

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Reviews, YA, YA Fantasy

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

My Review:

So this is the followup to Bardugo’s Six of Crows which I absolutely loved. And Crooked Kingdom was just as good, though not better. We again follow the rogue Kaz Brekker and his band of miscreants. This time they are seeking revenge on their double crossed deal with Ja Van Eck- “We are going to take Van Eck’s money, and then we’re going to take his reputation.”

Bardugo does a good job of wending the story long, telling if from the perspective of each member in the group. And along the way things go wrong. Plans must change. Surprises arise. The writing is just as good, but I do have to say the story felt slower than Six of Crows. There isn’t as much action. You get more personal with Nina, Matthias, Inej, Kaz, Jesper, and Wylan, more of their backgrounds that was missing from the first novel.

Six of Crows was better, in my opinion, due to the fact that it was more fast paced. I will say that Bardugo does a great job of holding back details and surprising the reader just when you need it. Don’t think you’ll get through this book scot-free without deaths. There are some and they hit pretty close to home.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Reviews, YA, ya contemporary, YA Dystopian, YA Fantasy, ya romance

ARC Review: Refuse (Recoil #2) by Joanne Macgregor

Refuse (Recoil Trilogy, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Everyone wants Jinxy, except the one she loves.

In a near-future USA decimated by an incurable plague and tightly controlled by a repressive government, teenagers with special skills are recruited and trained to fight in the war against terror.

Now a rebellion is brewing.

All sixteen year-old expert sniper Jinxy James wanted was a little freedom, but now she’s trapped between the government and the rebels, unsure of who the real enemy is. When she uncovers appalling secrets and twisted motivations, Jinxy begins to question her allegiances. Soon she will need to choose between love and freedom, as she struggles to do the right thing in a world gone horribly wrong.

Refuse is the second book in the Young Adult dystopian romance that began with Recoil. This much anticipated sequel is filled with romance and heartache, shocking twists, and a thought-provoking examination of freedom, fear, loyalty and identity.

My Review:

SO back in May I was read and reviewed the first novel in this trilogy, Recoil, and really enjoyed what Joanne Macgregor brought to the table. It was quite a realistic dystopian story. The same can be said for the second novel in this series as well.

Refuse starts exactly where Recoil left off. Jinxy is sort of in hell. She has to convince the government that she isn’t some spy working for rebellion. She also has to decide which side of the fight she is on and who she can trust.

Macgregor’s story telling definitely improved with this novel. In a series like this the first novel is the setup and has to introduce you to a lot of characters and plot, but the second one is always better. You can dive right into the story, get to the nitty gritty of the characters and really focus on their decision-making process and character growth. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will just say this, I really enjoyed watching Jinxy grow as a person. In the first novel she was young and naive. In Refuse she has grown up. She sees the world for what it really is. She sees the government and her missions for what they truly are. She understands that her actions have larger consequences, effect more people, more families. She understands that not everyone can be trusted and that you should listen to your gut when it’s trying to tell you something isn’t right.

The follow up to Recoil really brings the themes of right and wrong to the forefront of the story. Nothing is black and white and the gray area is very hazy. It does not do to always assume your government has the best interest of the people in mind. You should always be watching and questioning.

Definitely check this novel out.  There is cliffhanger after cliffhanger that will keep you wanting more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

ARC Review: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

The Square Root of Summer

GoodReads Summary:

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

My Review:

Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s The Square Root of Summer is a mathematical, imaginative, descriptive take on time-travel, love, and fate.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is spending her summer before senior year at home with an inattentive father, exuberant brother, a ginger kitten, and a boy- Thomas- who moved to Canada when he was 12. Her previous school year was all grey and muted due to the passing of her Grandfather- Grey- and the ignorance of a boy- Jason. She barely functions, going to school, completing her work, going home- she doesn’t have any friends.But with the reappearance of Jason and Thomas, she is forced to remember her life last summer and memories of her and Thomas.

Something weird happens during the last week of school, she is thrown back in time to previous memories. But she starts to lose time in the present. Since she is a smart student, basically a genius, she analyzes these breaks in time through the lens of different theoretical quantum physics. Through her analysis, you experience Gotties heartbreak, loss, and understanding.

Hapgood’s use of expressive language is genius. It brings the passages to life and readers have a great understanding  of what Gottie is feeling in those moments. “‘Let’s try to focus on reality…’ Good luck with that. It’s the last week of term, and the atmosphere is as fizzy as carbon dioxide.” I mean who can’t picture the air around them fizzing with soda. Using this descriptive language, Hapgood is able to weave complex mathematical theories into a story, where at it’s heart, is about family, friendships, acceptance, and love.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer (love her last name) is a sweet character going through some tough life challenges. Specifically, her grandfather’s death, her understanding of her relationship with Jason the previous summer, the appearance of an old childhood friend and why they never wrote to each other. Over the past year, Gottie has forgotten herself, become invisible. She isn’t who she was and Thomas’ appearance is really questioning who Gottie is and what she wants. By going through these wormholes, Gottie is seeing herself- who she used to be, what people meant to her, what she meant to people, and how she wants to get back to being herself. But in order to come out of  the grey, into the sun, Gottie has to face herself and her past.

I absolutely adored this book and wanted to get my hands on it from the moment I read the synopsis. I love stories about time-travel, self-discovery, and romance. This is the first book I’ve read where the time-travel is explained through theoretical quantum physics and mathematical equations. And, what makes this book exceptional, it was easy to understand and comprehend.

“Take Risks. Live Boldly. Say Yes.”

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

My Review:

Veronica and I reviewed The Wrath and The Dawn together not too long ago, but she is currently busy with life so it will just me today. Though you will probably hear from her in June regarding the book.

Renee Ahdieh’s The Rose and The Dagger is a wondrous follow up to The Wrath and The Dawn. It’s full of magic, mystery, and love. It reads like a complex piece of music, words flowing around each other, bringing together an epic love story.

The novel starts right where the first left off. Shahrzad has left Khorasan to project her city, her people, her king. But she doesn’t know whom to trust or where to turn for help. She does know that the only thing to prevent this wrenched war is to break the curse. Khalid is love sick and tired, but ventures out to help rebuild his city. The relationships Shazi and Khalid have with others are strained and one wrong move could send them toppling over the edge. But if they can focus on their love for each other and the love for their families, they might find a way back to each other.

I spent this entire novel with my heart clenched. The love that Khalid and Shahrzad share is one for the ages- an epic love story that will live forever. You can see it drive these characters and their choices. And it was admirable to see others who were so unaccepting of their love, come to terms with it.

This novel was from mulitple POVs again, which always drives a story to make it stronger. I loved getting to know Irsa- Shahrzad‘s younger sister, seeing into the mind of Omar al-Sadiq- how he viewed his people, his wife, and his friends. The friends between the character’s were tested, while some broke, others held steadfast. And the twists throughout the novel were never seen until the curtain was drawn aside.

I absolutely fell in love with this retelling, with Shazi and Khalid’s love, with their friendships. And while I wish there was more, I am satisfied with the way the story  ended.

“Love was something that did much to change a person. It brought joy as it brought suffering, and in turn brought about those moments that defined one’s character.” -Omar al-Sadiq

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Unhooked

GoodReads Summary:

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

My Review:

Listen to Lost Boy by Ruth B while you read this. I couldn’t get it out of my head while I read Unhooked.

Recently I have been in a pirate mood. I finished The Girl From Everywhere and Blackhearts. Let me tell you, when searching for good YA pirate books, there aren’t many out there… unless you want Fabio on the cover and then that is NOT a YA book. So in my searchings, I came across Unhooked. I am not usually one for Peter Pan and Neverland stories, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

I finished Unhooked in 24 hours.

Lisa Maxwell really draws you into the story through her narrative. And what’s great, there is more than one narrative being told.

Unhooked is not your traditional Peter Pan/ Captain Hook story. It literally unhooks the classic stories you’ve heard before and spins them on their head. Maxwell shows that not all “heroes” are good and that not all “villains” are bad. It is a deeper look at the decisions a person makes and how those decisions change the course of a person’s life. The simple act of turning off a light, or signing a paper.

“Since being brought to this world, I’ve come to understand that everything I’ve ever learned about good and evil, about choices we make and the choices we must live with, have been nothing more than convenient fictions invented by those who have never been confronted by the darkness and actually forced to choose.”

At the beginning, the relationships between Gwen, the Captain, and Pan are very convoluted. You don’t know who is telling the truth and who is lying. And as the story unfolds, truths become complicated, lies destroy. The tension between Gwen and the Captain is swoon worthy. I couldn’t get enough of him.

This is what I pictured every time.

When I started reading, about 100 pages in, I tweeted that I was sure my heart was going to break before the story ended, and I was right. There is a twist I didn’t see coming and it changes everything.

If you like retellings that go more in depth with the character development, that give characters their own backgrounds and their own internal struggles, definitely read Unhooked. If you like pirate stories, with heroes, villains, magic, and romance, also read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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