Monday, September 19, 2022

Review: The Liar's Crown (Dominions #1) by Abigail Owen

Some shadows protect you…others will kill you in this dazzling new fantasy series from award-winning author Abigail Owen.

Everything about my life is a lie. As a hidden twin princess, born second, I have only one purpose—to sacrifice my life for my sister if death comes for her. I’ve been living under the guise of a poor, obscure girl of no standing, slipping into the palace and into the role of the true princess when danger is present.

Now the queen is dead and the ageless King Eidolon has sent my sister a gift—an eerily familiar gift—and a proposal to wed. I don’t trust him, so I do what I was born to do and secretly take her place on the eve of the coronation. Which is why, when a figure made of shadow kidnaps the new queen, he gets me by mistake.

As I try to escape, all the lies start to unravel. And not just my lies. The Shadowraith who took me has secrets of his own. He struggles to contain the shadows he wields—other faces, identities that threaten my very life.

Winter is at the walls. Darkness is looming. And the only way to save my sister and our dominion is to kill Eidolon…and the Shadowraith who has stolen my heart.

Title: The Liar's Crown (Dominions #1)
Author: Abigail Owen
Publication Date: August 30, 2022
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review:

Young adult fantasy, yes please! 

Did you enjoy Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone series? Yes? Then pick this one up because I'm pretty sure this is it's sister. 

Detailed descriptions of different lands, characters who have elemental earth powers, villains who are not villains and villains who are. This book runs the gamut.

The world building is fairly solid. There are a few places I think it could have been shored up but overall the descriptions were great. I can picture where the characters are and the different lands they inhabit.

The characters were well written. I did love the main characters: Meren and Reven. Meren is strong and capable. There's nothing dainty about her. She does get emotional but given her position of being the secret twin of the queen, who can blame her. She was bread to possibly die. Reven is not what I thought he would be at all. I can't say much because it will spoil things but let's just say he's not the villain you think he might be. Even the secondary characters are written well with distinct personalities. I would love to get to know them better with some novellas or short stories. I'd also like some more background on the villain. We do get some information from Meren and Reven's descriptions but we don't actually meet him until the end and I feel like we need more of him to understand his true evil. I'm still in the dark as to exactly why he wants the Ayrud Queen and how he will benefit from controlling that particular throne. Meren's sister Tabra could use a little more development, as well.

The pacing was good. The book built the world in the beginning so started off a bit slower than I would have liked but then took off once I understood the set up. I loved the addition of the prologue and epilogue. The prologue set up the future so I could understand what happened and why. The epilogue set up the next book. Interesting the author chose to use two POVs in the epilogue. I am wondering if she'll continue that in the second book (it would have worked for this first book, as well). 

Overall I enjoyed this roller coaster ride of emotion. It was fast paced, adventurous, and fun. I'm looking forward to seeing where the next installment takes me.

Author:

Multi-award-winning author, Abigail Owen, writes adult paranormal romance & upper YA fantasy romance. She loves plots that move hot and fast, feisty heroines with sass, heroes with heart, a dash of snark, and oodles of HEAs! Other titles include wife, mother, Star Wars geek, ex-competitive skydiver, spreadsheet lover, eMBA, organizational guru, Texan, Aggie, and chocoholic.

Abigail attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing) and an MBA. However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

Abigail currently resides in Austin, Texas, with her own swoon-worthy hero, their angelic (mostly) kids, who are growing up way too fast, and 2 adorable fur babies.


Monday, September 5, 2022

ARC Review: Shades of Rust and Ruin (Shades of Rust and Ruin #1) by A.G. Howard

New York Times bestselling author A.G. Howard launches a dark and compelling new YA fantasy series about a girl whose family is cursed by Halloween, perfect for fans of Caraval.

Phoenix “Nix” Loring knows her family is under a Halloween curse. When she was three, her parents tragically died on October 31st. Eleven years later, her twin sister Lark suffered a similar fate.

Ever since, Nix has battled survivor guilt. She can't even find comfort in Clarey, Lark's boyfriend and the one person who understands her pain, because Nix's hidden feelings for him go far beyond friendship. All that remains are her sketches, where she finds solace among the goblins and faeries in her imaginary world of Mystiquel. When her depression starts affecting her ability to see color, Nix all but gives up on her art, until her uncle goes missing on Halloween day. Hot on his trail, Nix and Clarey step through a portal, becoming trapped inside a decaying version of their town filled with Nix's own sketches come to life.

As Nix and Clarey search for her uncle within the sinister and dangerous world of Mystiquel, Nix discovers there's more to her family curse and otherworldly artwork than she ever imagined-and unless she can solve the Goblin King's maze before the clock strikes midnight, her life won't be the only one the curse claims next.

Set in a gritty, steampunk-inspired fantasy world, New York Times bestselling author A.G. Howard launches a thrilling new fantasy full of romance, twists, and betrayals.

Title: Shades of Rust and Ruin (Shades of Rust and Ruin #1)
Author: A.G. Howards
Expected Publication Date: 9/2/2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Review:

I want to thank Bloomsbury YA and NetGalely for providing me with an e-galley of this book to read and give my honest review.
I adore A.G. Howard's writing. Splintered is one of my all time favorite series and one I would read over and over again (if there weren't so many gosh darn other books to worry about). So of course given the chance to read something from her early was a highlight for me.
It's been a long time since I read any fae genre books. I enjoy them a lot. I was excited to get back into this type of world and see where it leads.
My initial impetus to read this book came from seeing the cover. Howard's books always have stunning covers and this was no exception. Before I even looked at the summary, I knew I would want to read this just from the cover alone. 
I'll say the language of the writing is great. I can't tell you how easily it flows and keeps you turning the pages. It's a joy to read it because it truly places me in the moment of the book with how descriptive it is. Howard is a genius at story telling, and that shines through with this book.
Next: the characters. I liked them a lot. Mostly because they are not perfect (all those YA books with the perfect looking characters who have no flaws drag on my nerves). Howard incorporated this so flawlessly into the book. It was not a big deal that the characters had flaws or were different from what many may consider "normal". It's what made them enjoyable and I loved the uniqueness they had.
The story line was truly interesting.  I don't know much of the lore surrounding The Goblin Market as I've not read it, but I do know a bit of the fae realm, so I could follow along well. There's always this secretive world when it comes to the fae and this book captured that well. I loved how Howard was able to set the mood and tone immediately and carry that throughout the story. I loved the twist at the end and how the narration switched to a new character. I can't wait to see that character's POV in the next book.
I didn't feel the steampunk element as much as I would have liked, considering this book is tote as a steampunk fantasy. The elements were there, don't get me wrong, but it was not incorporated as well and I've seen it with other steampunk books.
The book did leave me wanting to read The Goblin Market, since it's very grounded in that text. I may have to pick it up and see what it's all about.
Overall I enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Author:

#1 New York Times and International bestselling Author of gothic / fantasy & paranormal tales, mystical & romantic with a side of horror. A.G.'s dark Alice in Wonderland inspired Splintered series has been published in over a dozen languages.

Young adult, Adult, and literary romance. Repped by Jenny Bent.

How A.G. Howard rates books on GoodReads:

"I only rate or review books I enjoyed reading, and won't give any rating below 4 stars. Please don't consider every high rating a personal endorsement / recommendation from me. My ratings here are subjective to me as an individual.

I don't rate books solely on style. Every writer's voice is individual and unique; I've come to respect this truth during my own personal journey. As long as a story takes me to another place and is well edited, I'm going to give it a good rating. And if, for some reason, a book doesn't entertain me or I don't finish it, I won't leave a rating or review at all.

If you're considering a book I've reviewed/rated, be sure to read other reviews/ratings alongside mine to help you decide if it's a read you might enjoy personally.

Happy book hunting!"


 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

ARC Review: The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

 



From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.


As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

Title: The Villa
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Expected Publication Date: January 3, 2023
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Review:
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an e-galley of this book to read and give my honest review.
I'm so excited that I was approved and got to read this book. Why, you ask? Because I love Rachel Hawkins and her writing and her stories. They are fun, inventive, and always have great turns in them. I will say I didn't know she was more than a young adult writer until recently when I was handed one of her adult books to read by a friend who is an avid reader. And, I must say, I'm happy I've learned of this side of Ms. Hawkins.
What drew me to the book: Villa, Italy, mystery, and suspense. 
What kept me reading: all of the above!
The fun part: the main character is a writer. Because of course she is!
Emily, newly separated and getting divorced from her husband of 7 years, torn apart so much so that she cannot bring herself to write. That is until her bestie, Chess, invites her to spend the summer at a villa in Italy. And not just any villa, but one with a rich history (and mystery) of murder!
I honestly went into this thinking it would be much more bloody, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was filled with a rich back story. Two, actually. So you're getting not just one story with this book, but three! And they are woven together fairly seamlessly to help you see the true background behind all that happens. I do believe it could have used a bit more of a sinister or even spiritual twist to it, but overall it didn't really need it because it is not meant to be a paranormal book.
I will say I had things figured out somewhat, or so I thought until the author threw in a twist at about 80% in! Then the author surprised me again at the very end. It was fun watching it all unfold, and being proven wrong (even though I so wanted to be right with my theories!). 
Overall, I enjoyed this book tremendously and it has solidified for me that I would love to read anything Hawkins writes in the future.
Author:
Rachel Hawkins was born in Virginia and raised in Alabama. This means she uses words like "y'all" and "fixin'" a lot, and considers anything under 60 degrees to be borderline Arctic. Before deciding to write books about kissing and fire (and sometimes kissing while on fire), Rachel taught high school English for 3 years, and is still capable of teaching you The Canterbury Tales if you're into that kind of thing.

She is married to a geologist, which means that they have incredibly strange dinner conversations ("So today at work, I wrote a chapter where killer fog, like, ATE PEOPLE." "Huh. Well, I was chased by an angry reindeer while trying to map parts of Norway." "Um...okay.")

Rachel also has a little boy whose main hobbies are playing video games, running around in circles, and plotting his Future Intergalactic Take-Over.

When not writing books, Rachel enjoys reading, travelling, and knitting (very terribly.)

Here are her books. She would really appreciate it if you read them. :)


Saturday, August 13, 2022

ARC Review: Spells for Lost Things by Jenna Evans Welch

From the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato comes a poignant and romantic novel about two teens trying to find their place in the world after being unceremoniously dragged to Salem, Massachusetts, for the summer.

Willow has never felt like she belonged anywhere and is convinced that the only way to find a true home is to travel the world. But her plans to act on her dream are put on hold when her aloof and often absent mother drags Willow to Salem, Massachusetts, to wrap up the affairs of an aunt Willow didn’t even know she had. An aunt who may or may not have been a witch.

There, she meets Mason, a loner who’s always felt out of place and has been in and out of foster homes his entire life. He’s been classified as one of the runaways, constantly searching for ways to make it back to his mom; even if she can’t take care of him, it’s his job to try and take care of her. Isn’t it?

Naturally pulled to one another, Willow and Mason set out across Salem to discover the secret past of Willow’s mother, her aunt, and the ambiguous history of her family. During all of this, the two can’t help but act on their natural connection. But with the amount of baggage between them—and Willow’s growing conviction her family might be cursed—can they manage to hold onto each other?

REVIEW:
I want to thank NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with an e-galley of this book to read and give my honest review.

Let me start by saying I truly enjoyed the Love and Gellato series by Welch. So when I was contacted to see if I might want to read this one, and it was about witchy things, I jumped at the chance. And I am so glad I did.

Not only does Welch create a setting where you feel right at home, but she weaves her story in a way that keep you turning the pages and not wanting to put a book down.

I love the two person point of view of this book. Mostly because you know from the beginning the worlds are going to collide and the build up to get there is fun. 

I easily connected with Willow and Mason. Each with their own issues, each working to becoming the best person they can be. Willow with her traveling bug and Mason with his need to keep a connection to his mother. Both super important but in such different ways. Willow wanting to escape while all Mason truly wanted was to be home. 

The one thing about the witch part of this book is its connection to nature and the universe and how things happen because they are meant to happen. It's not everyone casting spells and magic happening in the paranormal way. It's those connections happening because the universe has set things to happen in a certain way. It's why things collide. And it works and makes my inner witchy heart happy!

This book also made me want to visit Salem. I've been there before (though many years ago) but it made me really want to go and see the history and feel that special connection I saw through Willow's eyes. I just might do it!

My only issue with this book was the rushed ending.. Throughout the book, the pacing was on point. But at the end, I felt like Mason's story was more rushed at the end than I would have liked. I appreciated the way it was done but at the same time felt like the author may have been unsure of how to actually get where she wanted the story to go.

Overall this was truly enjoyable and I would definitely love to read future books from this author as her story telling is fun and interesting.

Jenna Evans Welch was the kind of insatiable child reader who had no choice but to grow up to become a writer. She is the New York Times Bestselling author of LOVE & GELATO and the upcoming LOVE & LUCK. When she isn’t writing girl abroad stories, Jenna can be found chasing her children or making elaborate messes in the kitchen. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and two young children.






Wednesday, July 13, 2022

ARC Review: Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime—from the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.
 


Title: Carrie Soto Is Back
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Expected Publication Date: August 30, 2022
Publisher: Random House - Ballantine Books

Review:

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House - Ballantine Books for providing me with an early copy of this book to read and give an honest review.

If you have not read Taylor Jenkins Reid, may I suggest you start with this book? Really, truly, I'm not kidding. Go read this book! Of all the books I have read by her, this one is by far my favorite! Wow, just, wow!  Her writing only gets better with time! I'm not even a tennis fan, I really don't understand the scoring or why they play so many matches? sets? games? But it didn't even matter because it wasn't about the tennis It was about what the character learned over her tennis career. I could not put it down and read it in one day.

My thought is this book is somewhat reminiscent of Serena Williams. Though I do not know tennis well, I do know she is a force with which to be reckoned as the most decorated and influential woman's tennis player. So I imagine Reid had her in mind when she created the character of Carolina Soto.

I loved how Reid gave us the background of this world famous women's tennis player. Showed us how she grew up, how she crawled her way to the top, how she influenced others in her field. 

Soto is tough as nails, closed hearted, and ruthless. She earned her title of The Battle Axe.

But her journey from retirement back to trying to place herself on top changed her. Showed her things in life she needed to learn, we all need to learn. 

I loved every character in this book. Javiar, her father, who wanted what was best for her while also wanting her to read her full potential, Bowe, who you don't want to like but then he somehow crawls into your heart. Gail!!!! The mother/sister Soto never got to have. And Chen, Soto's rival who doesn't care how cocky she is because she knows she deserves to be. There's not one character in this book who doesn't help shape Soto, who doesn't help show Soto parts of life she has missed somewhere along the way.

One of my favorite parts in the book is when Reid actually references one of her very own books, Daisy Jones and the Six (also phenomenal and highly recommended). I actually took a picture and posted it on my IG because I just could not resist sharing that with the world!

I cannot say enough about how this book: made my heart race, had me laughing, had me crying. I was a mess, but a good mess.

If you read only one book in 2022, let it be this one. Let yourself into the world of Reid's writing because I promise you you will not regret it! I cannot wait to see what Reid comes up with next.

Author:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones & The Six, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, as well as four other novels. Her newest novel, Malibu Rising, is out now. She lives in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Instagram @tjenkinsreid. 


 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

ARC Review: The Last To Vanish by Megan Miranda

New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda returns with a gripping and propulsive thriller that opens with the disappearance of a journalist who is investigating a string of vanishings in the resort town of Cutter’s Pass—will its dark secrets finally be revealed?

Ten years ago, Abigail Lovett fell into a job she loves, managing The Passage Inn, a cozy, upscale resort nestled in the North Carolina mountain town of Cutter’s Pass. Cutter’s Pass is best known for its outdoor offerings—rafting and hiking, with access to the Appalachian trail by way of a gorgeous waterfall—and its mysterious history. As the book begins, the string of unsolved disappearances that has haunted the town is once again thrust into the spotlight when journalist Landon West, who was staying at the inn to investigate the story of the vanishing trail, then disappears himself.

Abby has sometimes felt like an outsider within the community, but she’s come to view Cutter’s Pass as her home. When Landon’s brother Trey shows up looking for answers, Abby can’t help but feel the town closing ranks. And she’s still on the outside. When she finds incriminating evidence that may bring them closer to the truth, Abby soon discovers how little she knows about her coworkers, neighbors, and even those closest to her.

Megan Miranda brings her best writing to The Last to Vanish, a riveting thriller filled with taut suspense and shocking twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.


Title: The Last to Vanish
Author: Megan Miranda
Expected Publication Date:
Publisher: Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books

Review:

I would like to thank NetGalley and Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books for providing me with an early copy of this e-book to read and give my honest review.

Do you want something dark? Something that makes your skin crawl just a bit? Something that leaves you guessing and twists? Give this one a try.

I love a good mystery. One I cannot truly solve and this one was it. I was not expecting the ending. I was not expecting the twist. It's always fun to have your mind messed with enough that you're not sure where things might be going.

I enjoyed how Miranda made a slow reveal of how all the characters in this book were somehow connected. It kept me wanting to read to find out how it all came together.

The best part of this book is the town of Cutter's Pass. The atmosphere of the town drips from each page. The detail with which the author shows you what it looks like are great. It's dark and has a mysterious past with the the disappearances that have happened over the years. So why is it people keep coming back. For the mystery, of course.

The pacing was nice, seeing as I read it so quickly. The guessing definitely kept me wanting to read. 

It's hard to give a complete review without spoiling things so I'll leave it with they mystery is worth the read. This was my first Miranda read and it definitely makes me want to give some of her other books a try.

Author:

 

Megan Miranda is the New York Times bestselling author of ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, THE PERFECT STRANGER, THE LAST HOUSE GUEST, which was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection, and THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS. She has also written several books for young adults, including COME FIND ME, FRAGMENTS OF THE LOST, and THE SAFEST LIES. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.

Her next adult suspense, SUCH A QUIET PLACE, will be published on July 13, 2021.

Follow @MeganLMiranda on Instagram, or @AuthorMeganMiranda on Facebook.
www.meganmiranda.com
 

Monday, July 11, 2022

ARC Review: Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.


Title: Violet Made of Thorns
Author: Gina Chen
Expected Publication Date: July 26, 2022
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House Children's)

Review:

I would like to thank NetGalley and Delacorte Press (Random House Children's) for providing me with an early copy of this e-book to read and give an honest review.

FANTASY! I love me some fantasy. It makes my bookish heart happy. And this book truly made my bookish heart happy!

The plot:

Hello fairytale. But not a retelling! I like how this one borrows from different fairytales to create something new and different. Witch/Seer with a prophecy that everyone hopes will not come to pass. Witch/Seer who does not see as much as people are lead to believe. Witch/Seer who often times does not want to see what will come to pass. Fast paced, fun, and twists ensue!

The characters:

Violet, the witch, the Seer. I enjoyed her character. She's raw. She's honest. She's no bones about it not worried what others think of her. She also has a closed heart. She doesn't see things right in front of her. She pushes people away. Such is the life of a Seer who everyone is hoping will give them the prophecy they want. She's truly flawed and I really enjoyed that about her

The prince: Cyrus. Cocky, yes. Annoying, for sure. Charming, absolutely. Typical prince who needs to make a show in public, but not as tough as his daddy would like to see.

The king: he's, well, he's a king. Kind one moment, ruthless the next I never got a true feel on him. He's manipulative and tries his hardest to use Violet to his advantage.

Dante: well, I'll leave it up to you to decide. I liked him and then I didn't. His twist was a bit unexpected, but then made sense. I feel like he'll be redeemed in the future, though.

Camilla: she might be my favorite of all. Cyrus' twin, who is unabashedly herself and doesn't give one iota about what others think. She's fierce and refreshing. Plus, she makes for an awesome side kick to Violet!

The love interest:

I saw it coming. But I did love the push/pull, love/hate that went on with it. There was nothing surprising about it happening. But it was fun to watch and the steamy scenes were done well.

The ending:

A true twist I didn't really see coming. I thought it would take a different turn, to be honest. But I also know it's a series, so perhaps in the future it will turn out differently. I will say the ending reminded me a bit of Sarah J Maas' Throne of Glass. There are definitely elements of that series in this story.

I'm impressed with the writing and how the plot and characters are built out in this book. Especially coming from an author who has no background in writing.

Overall this was a fast paced, quick fantasy read. I have not read the books it was compared to so I can't tell you if the comparison is true or not. I'm looking forward to seeing where the author takes this series.

Author:

Gina Chen spent most of her life thinking she hated writing, until she churned out a few hundred thousand words of fanfiction and decided that maybe she was a writer. Her stories lean toward the fantastic, featuring heroines, antiheroines, and the kind of cleverness that brings trouble in its wake.

A self-taught artist with a degree in computer science, she generates creative nonsense in all forms of media and always has a project stewing. She has particular fondness for fairy tales, demon tales, romantic comedies, and quiz shows. Currently, she resides in Southern California, where the sunshine is as plentiful as its tea shops.

 

Friday, July 8, 2022

ARC Review: Stealing Infinity (Stolen Beauty #1) by Alyson Noel


 

These days, I’ve been killing it when it comes to letting people down. Now I’ve been kicked out of high school, arrested, and accepted into a remote, off-the-grid school owned and operated by an inscrutable billionaire tech guru.

Gray Wolf Academy is looking for a certain kind of student. Ones that no one will miss. Like me.

Then there’s Braxton. The beautiful, oddly anachronistic guy who showed up right when the trouble started. And he’s a total enigma—which means that I definitely can’t trust him, even if there’s something about him that makes me want to.
They all tell me I have a gift. A very rare gift. And Gray Wolf Academy wants me to learn it. To use it. Because if what they say is true, I have all the time in the world.
And that makes me the most dangerous high school student you’ll never know…
 

Title: Stealing Infinity (Stolen Beauty #1)
Author: Alyson Noel
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC (teen)

Review:

I would like to thank NetGalley and Entangled Publishing LLC (teen) for providing me with an early e-book of this title to read and give an honest review.

I was pretty excited to get approved for this title. I love sci-fi and I LOVE time travel. And this topic is hard. The author has to be very aware of not overlapping time shifts and things not making sense. I have to say, Noel did a pretty good job with this as no real plot holes existed for me.

This is my first Noel title. I've seen her books around but had yet to pick one up and read it. I'm glad I did.

What I enjoyed:

T he plot. Good girl gone not so good Natasha has let her great life slip away to nothing. Bad grades, getting in trouble, and a general downward spiral have put her in a precarious position. The thing is, she can be good, and knows it. But chooses this awful path because she feels she's not worthy. And let's not mention she hangs with bad girl Elodie, who you know from the very start is up to no good.

But things take a turn when Natasha is whisked away to Blackstone Academy, where she learns about her secret 

"power", she can time travel! Thought the nature of why the kids do it is not great. 

The setting of this book, a secluded boarding school for kids who jump back in time, was very Harry Potter (Hogwarts, is, after all, secluded and unseeable to the normal person's eye). 

The characters were all in stark contrast of each other. You definitely were not getting them mixed as each personality was very different. Some I liked. Some I did not. But such should be the nature of any book. Though I will say, I didn't really connect with any one character like I thought I would.

The love interest. I love a good love interest and this one had it brewing and then, BOOM, a triangle. Those are always fun.

What I did not enjoy:

The info dump on numerology and tarot cards. In all honesty, I could not follow this part of the plot. It was just too much to think about and understand.

The overall slower pace of the story. Yes, I would have liked this to go a bit faster. I did not read it as quickly as I thought I would. That was a disappointment.

The quick pace of the love interest and the stalkerish nature of how it began. I didn't feel the characters truly got to know about each other before falling head over heels. That bothered me and I would have liked that pace a bit slower. Plus I truly felt there wasn't the chemistry I wanted to feel.

Give me more time travel fun. I get there was a certain reason the characters kept going back to the same place, but when given the chance to time travel anywhere, why stunt it?

Overall, I did enjoy the story. I loved the jumps back to Versaille. I liked the details of the way people were dressed and the description of the palace.

I will continue to see where this one goes when the next book comes out, as I'm curious if the story will get better.

Author:

Alyson Noël is the #1 NYT best-selling author of many award-winning and critically acclaimed novels for readers of all ages.

With 9 NYT bestsellers and millions of copies in print, her books have been translated into 36 languages, sold in over 200 countries, and have topped the NYT, USA Today, LA Times, Publisher’s Weekly, Wall Street Journal, NCIBA, and Walmart Bestsellers lists, as well as several international bestsellers lists.

She is best known for THE IMMORTALS series, THE RILEY BLOOM series, and SAVING ZOË, which was adapted into a movie now available on Amazon.

Upcoming works include:

STEALING INFINITY- The Da Vinci Code meets Riverdale - in stores 06.28.22

FIELD GUIDE TO THE SUPERNATURAL UNIVERSE - Optioned for TV by producers Charles Matthau and Michael Zoumas with Andrew Orenstein and Matt Hastings attached as show runners

Born and raised in Orange County, California, she’s lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan and is now settled in Southern California. Learn more at www.alysonnoel.com.

Instagram:
http://instagram.com/alyson_noel

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/AlysonNoel/

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Official me: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alyson...

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Thursday, July 7, 2022

ARC Review: The Luminaries (The Luminaries #1) by Susan Dennard


 From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy, about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest, and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.


Hemlock Falls isn't like other towns. You won't find it on a map, your phone won't work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.

Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie's town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.

Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family's good name. Or die trying.

But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.

Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.

"You'll want to get lost in the world of The Luminaries again and again.”—Leigh Bardugo, #1 New York Times bestselling author
 (less)

Title: The Luminaries (Luminaries #1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Expected Publication Date: 11/8/22
Publisher: Tor Teen

Review:
I want to thank NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing me with a copy of this e-book to read and give an honest review.
I've long wanted to read something from Susan Dennard. And I love anything witchy So now was the time!
Let's talk about the set up . Using Days of the week as last names for the witch clans? GENIUS! Having a place totally off the map that no one can find/know about? LOVE IT! A place with it's own little invisibility cloak! The forest, an interesting choice. I enjoyed how Dennard incorporated many different monsters and how she made them come alive. You feel the fear they induce and you cheer on Winnie the whole time. It was like watching a bit of a Supernatural episode (and I love me some Supernatural - Team Sam)! Of course the most interesting of all the monsters is the one we truly cannot picture. The one Winnie knows is out there but no one wants to acknowledge. A monsters so terrifying in it's being, it surrounds and just eats up anything in its path. How do you fight something you can't even really see?
Third person, this one is hard for me. It really has to be done right. And I understand the need for it. It makes things so much easier to see when it's not coming from just one character. And it really did work for this book.
Winnie Wednesday? Typical teen with typical teen angst who also happens to be an outcast for something her father did long ago. Her plan? Prove she can be exactly what all the other kids in town are, and prove it well by being VERY brave (though she'll tell you the whole time she's not).
The friendships, interesting to say the least. Some love Winnie despite her outcast status. Others, well, they treat her just as such. Still others have put a wall up because they are not sure where they should stand with it. But Winnie proves them all wrong by showing she has what it takes to be just like all the other 16 year olds who face a trial beyond anything you can imagine.
Overall, saying more would kind of ruin the book. Or at least it would give you too many spoilers. I definitely enjoyed it. I loved the friendships that were built. The retribution that was achieved. And I'm looking forward to how this plays out when book #2 arrives.
Overall it was a fun read. Not the best witch book I've read, but not at all the worst.
If you're a fan of witches, of supernatural creatures, of spine tingling thrill, and heroines who aren't what you think they might be, pick this one up when it releases and enjoy the ride!


Author:

Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series as well as the Something Strange & Deadly series. When not writing, she can be found slaying darkspawn on her Xbox or earning bruises at the dojo.

You can learn more about Susan on her websiteblognewsletterTwitter, or Pinterest.



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