Thursday, February 2, 2023

Review: The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze

Sacramento, 1885  
Edie and Violet Bond know the truth about death. The seventeen-year-old twins are powerful mediums, just like their mother—Violet can open the veil between life and death, and Edie can cross into the spirit world. But their abilities couldn’t save them when their mother died and their father threatened to commit them to a notorious asylum.   
 
Now runaways, Edie and Violet are part of a traveling Spiritualist show, a tight-knit group of young women who demonstrate their real talents under the guise of communing with spirits. Each night, actresses, poets, musicians, and orators all make contact with spirits who happen to have something to say. . . notions that young ladies could never openly express. But when Violet’s act goes terribly wrong one night, Edie learns that the dark spirit responsible for their mother’s death has crossed into the land of the living. As they investigate the identity of her mysterious final client, they realize that someone is hunting mediums…and they may be next.Only by trusting in one another can the twins uncover a killer who will stop at nothing to cheat death.

Title: The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond
Author: Amanda Glaze
Publication Date: 10/4/2022
Publisher: Union Square

Review:
I want t0 thank Union Square for providing me with a finished copy of this book to read and give my honest review.
When I was offered this book, I was unsure I would truly like it. But since I have always enjoyed books that take place during the 19th century I was intrigued. And, in all honestly, the premise of the book greatly reminded me of a series I read by VE Schwab which I thoroughly enjoyed. So off I went to read it.
Edie and Violet, twins with the power to communicate and commune with the spiritual world. I love this idea of a connection with those beyond our realm. A connection with a realm dedicated to the in-between. The idea of a true connection to the restless spirits who need one last meeting with their loved ones before they can truly be at peace. This is what Violet and Edie bring to the community. And, while the show they present is mostly fake, it's that bit of realness they are able to infuse into it that keeps the audience coming back.
I enjoyed how these characters were developed, though I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Violet. Given the book was written from Edie's point of view, I think it left that little bit of unknown for Violet's character and my connection with her was not as strong because of this. I also enjoyed Laws, who was funny and gentle and kind.
The book moved quickly, the plot forming and shaping well without any holes that I really could see.
I will say, I guessed much of what characters would be involved where and when they would appear. It didn't detract from the story, but it was too easy to figure out and I would have enjoyed more mystery of the "who done it".
The writing flowed very well. The beginning is more a slow burn until you hit about half way into the book, at which time I really didn't want to put it down. You can see the author did her research of how a story from this time period would have been told. I especially enjoyed the afterward where she explained a bit about her inspiration and where she was able to pull some of her ideas.
The cover of this book is also gorgeous. This is one, had I spent some time in a book store, I would have picked up just because of what the cover looks like. I am a sucker for a pretty cover!
Overall, a fantastic read I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys books about spiritualism and historical fiction. I would definitely pick up more books from this author.

Amanda Glaze is the bestselling author of The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond, a Barnes & Noble YA Book Club Pick. She grew up in Northern California where she spent most of her time with her nose in a book or putting on plays with friends. Since then, she’s lived many lives: as a bookseller, a theater director, and an Emmy award-winning film and television producer. When she’s not running off to the mountains, she lives in Los Angeles with her partner and their two cat writing familiars.

Find her online at amandaglaze.com or connect on Instagram, Twitter, or Tiktok @amandabglaze.





 

Monday, January 23, 2023

ARC Review: The Headmaster's List by Melissa de la Cruz

One of them was driving.
One of them was high.
One of them screamed.
And one of them died.

When fifteen-year-old Chris Moore is tragically killed in a car crash, Argyle Prep is full of questions. Who was at the wheel? And more importantly, who was at fault?

Eighteen-year-old Spencer Sandoval wishes she knew. As rumors swirl that her ex, Ethan, was the driver that fateful night, she can’t bring herself to defend him. And their messy breakup has nothing to do with it – she can’t remember anything from that night, not even what put her in that car with Ethan, Chris, and Tabby Hill, the new loner in school. Was it just a night out that went very wrong? And is it just a coincidence they were all part of Argyle’s esteemed honor roll, the Headmaster’s List? In a place ruled by pedigree and privilege, the answers can only come at a deadly price.

Set against the glitz and glamour of an elite LA private school, Melissa de la Cruz's first YA thriller is an addictive mystery perfect for fans of Gossip Girl and A Good Girl's Guide to Murder.

Title: The Headmaster's List
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Expected Publication Date: 2/28/23
Publisher: Roaring Book Press

Review:

I'd like to thank NetGalley and Roaring Book Press for supplying me with an eARC of this title to read and give an honest review.
I'm loving mysteries these days. And a good murder mystery at a snooty private school sounded great to me! Who done it?
This is my first title by Melissa de la Cruz. I enjoyed her writing, it flowed well. The short chapters were very helpful in pushing the book along (I always appreciate a book with short chapters!). 
I did guess who done it early on, but it didn't keep me from wanting to continue reading and find out how the main character figured it out.
I was annoyed with the police aspect. They were totally clueless and I feel like there was no real effort on their part to investigate who done it. I almost felt like they were going to be involved somehow beaus why else would they blow off investigating further. Also, the investigation they did do was fairly unrealistic for me, too many things missed. This was an area with plot holes I didn't love.
Overall it was fun. I'd pick up a title from this author again. 


Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter. 

 

Monday, January 9, 2023

ARC Review: Regrets Only by Kieran Scott


In a fast-paced new novel in the vein of Big Little Lies, a single mom goes undercover to investigate a host of disturbing secrets held by the leaders of a local suburban parent-school association, including embezzlement, bribery, adultery, and murder—by the bestselling author of Wish You Were Gone.

Paige Lancaster, single mom and prodigal daughter, has returned to the East Coast from her prestigious, well-paid job in Los Angeles, writing for the smartest detective series on television. Something terrible happened to her back in Hollywood. Okay, two terrible things, one featuring a misplaced tire iron—and now she’s broke, homeless, and living with her widowed mother and eight-year-old daughter, Izzy, in her Connecticut hometown.

Paige needs to buckle down and find a new writing gig but first, she meets the movers and shakers of Izzy’s school’s Parent Booster Association, run by the intimidatingly gorgeous Ainsley Anderson, who just happens to be married to Paige’s old high school flame, John.

Then she shows up at the annual Parents and Pinot fundraiser, held at Ainsley and John’s dazzling mansion in the toniest part of town, where she’s caught in a compromising position with John, accidentally destroys the guest bathroom, overhears an incriminating conversation, and discovers that her purse has gone missing. And later that night, Ainsley turns up dead at the bottom of her own driveway.

Did she fall? Or was she pushed?

Paige may have only written about detectives, but she is convinced she can handle a little undercover sleuthing. After all, it’ll give her an excuse to spend more time with John. Still, she can’t help but wonder: could he be capable of murder? Or could one of the PBA members have planned a dastardly crime to reach the top? But the most important question of all: will Paige ever get her life back on track?

Title: Regrets Only
Author: Kieran Scott
Expected Publication Date: January 10, 2023
Publisher: Gallery Books

Review:

I'd like to thank NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing me with a copy of this eARC to read and give my honest review.
I enjoy Kieran Scott's books. I also enjoy reading her as Kate Brian (Shadowlands is one of my favorite series). So of course I had to request this.
I enjoyed this story, though I'm honestly not sure I understand the title and how it relates.
It's a fun murder mystery that leaves you guessing.
I will say I had a hard time getting into it at first. There were so many characters and I could not keep them straight (despite their descriptions). The differing points of view made it a bit easier, since those characters showed who they were through their chapters. But I also am curious as to why the author chose to do the differing points of view. It didn't lend much to the story for me, though I enjoyed seeing things through the different eyes. And the blurb certainly makes you think this will be Paige's story, when in reality it turns out to be the story of three different women.
When I got about 1/2 way through the book, I finally had all the characters fleshed out in my mind, and this is also when the story seemed to take off (I will admit I almost gave up prior to this because I just was not feeling a connection to anyone in the book).
It was entertaining, and I certainly would pick up books from Scott again to read. She tells a good mystery. But I did find there to be a little too much mama drama for my taste.

Kieran Scott is the author of WISH YOU WERE GONE, a domestic suspense novel now available from Gallery Books. Her second book with Gallery, REGRETS ONLY, will be published in January, 2023. She has also written several young adult novels, both under her own name and for Alloy Entertainment under the pseudonym Kate Brian. These include the New York Times best-selling PRIVATE and PRIVILEGE series, as well as MEGAN MEADE'S GUIDE TO THE MCGOWAN BOYS and many others. She grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey, attended Rutgers University, and now lives in River Vale, New Jersey with her husband and two sons.


 

Monday, January 2, 2023

ARC Review: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Brown Sisters trilogy, comes a laugh-out-loud story about a quirky content creator and a clean-cut athlete testing their abilities to survive the great outdoors--and each other.

Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He's a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes . . . except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine.

Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption--yet, she's still not cool enough for the popular kids' table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that's how Celine sees it.)

These days, there's nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she's surprised to find Brad right beside her.

Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed . . . or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?

Title: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute
Author: Talia Hibbert
Expected Publication Date: January 3, 2023
Publisher: Random House Children's Joy Revolution

 

Review:

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Children's Joy Revolution for providing me with an eARC of this book to read and give my honest feedback.

This is my first Talia Hibbert book. I've heard her books were great but have never had a chance to read them.

I was really looking for a good way to end 2023. I wanted a fast read and this one fit the bill. The pace was perfect, the characters completely likeable, the story cute and romantic and funny! A great way to end the year for sure!

When I read the blurb for this book, I knew I had to request it. It just sounded like so much fun. And I was not wrong.

First, the characters. Hibbert does a fabulous job with character development. Even for those minor characters. Celine is a high achiever who says nothing will stand in her way of getting what she wants. Yet, she encounters a huge barrier she never knew was really there. Brad Mr. Popular who branched out and left Celine behind. Counter them with Jordan, Minnie, Aurora, Sophie, and Raj, and you have a group of amazing characters who help this story move along at a fast pace!

The plot is adorable. I am always down for a cute romance where you know in the end the characters will of course be together but you have to get through all their "stuff" first to get there. Inevitably there is the miscommunication and then the resolution. And it all gets tied up in a perfect little bow at the end.

I don't know much of England, just the London area, so I will say I was not able to really picture much in my mind but I don't think that took away from being able to form a picture I know is probably close. 

I loved how the author put a little guide in the front of the book for us non-British chumps who may have had no idea what some of their colloquialisms mean. Honestly, I don't think I really would have needed it as it was easy to understand from the circumstances what things meant, but it was nice to have it in case I needed it.

I love me a good enemies to friends story! Overall, this was a truly enjoyable read and I'm glad I picked it up to end the year on a 5 star rating! I'll definitely be exploring Hibbert's other books.

Talia Hibbert is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes sexy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include beauty, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. She also rambles intermittently about the romance genre online.

Talia self-publishes via Nixon House and is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

ARC Review: We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride


They Both Die at the End meets The Bell Jar in this haunting, beautiful young adult novel-in-verse about clinical depression and healing from trauma, from National Book Award Finalist Amber McBride.

Whimsy is back in the hospital for treatment of clinical depression. When she meets a boy named Faerry, she recognizes they both have magic in the marrow of their bones. And when Faerry and his family move to the same street, the two start to realize that their lifelines may have twined and untwined many times before.

They are both terrified of the forest at the end of Marsh Creek Lane.

The Forest whispers to Whimsy. The Forest might hold the answers to the part of Faerry he feels is missing. They discover the Forest holds monsters, fairy tales, and pain that they have both been running from for 11 years.

Title: We Are All So Good at Smiling
Author: Amber McBride
Expected Publication Date: January 10, 2023
Publisher: Fiewel Friends
Review:

I want to thank Fiewel Friends and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book to read and give an honest review. 

This is my first book in-verse. I will say I was hesitant to request it because I thought for sure I would hate it written this way. But I wanted to challenge myself to read something outside my wheelhouse that might make me think or look at things differently. Boy was I happy I allowed this of myself.

This book was fantastic. I could not put it down.

My first thought is how well the poetry flows and keeps you involved in the book. I didn't want to put it down and finished it in two days (not too shabby for a full time working mom). The language, the characters, the descriptions all kept me wanting more and I was actually upset when the book was finished.

Let's touch on how it deals with mental health. We all know there is a huge crisis in the United States right now. So many people are struggling to live, to be heard, to get the help they need. This booked touched on all of that. The loneliness, the despair, the feeling of falling deeper and deeper into a pit you might never be able to climb out of.

The addition of the magical elements and the fairytale made the book that much more interesting for me to read. I loved how the author worked those elements into the story.

This book is dark and gripping and really gets to the heart of clinical depression and how it affects a person.

I will definitely be picking up more books by this author.

 

Amber McBride received her BA in English from James Madison University in 2010 and acquired her MFA in Poetry from Emerson College in 2012. She has taught English Composition, English Literature and Introduction to Poetry at James Madison University, Strayer University and Northern Virginia Community College. She currently teaches at the University of Virginia.

Monday, December 12, 2022

ARC Review: A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass


“Love has a sound. It sounds like a thousand heartbeats happening at the same time.”

Princess Annika has lived a life of comfort—but no amount of luxuries can change the fact that her life isn’t her own to control. The king, once her loving father, has gone cold, and Annika will soon be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain.

Miles away, small comforts are few and far between for Lennox. He has devoted his life to the Dahrainian army, hoping to one day help them reclaim the throne that was stolen from them. For Lennox, the idea of love is merely a distraction—nothing will stand in the way of fighting for his people.

But when love, against all odds, finds them both, they are bound by its call. They can’t possibly be together—but the irresistible thrum of a thousand heartbeats won’t let them stay apart.

Kiera Cass brings her signature sparkling romance to this beautiful story of star-crossed lovers and long-held secrets.

Title: A Thousand Heartbeats
Author: Kiera Cass
Publication Date: 11/29/22
Publisher: HarperTeen

Review:

I want to thank HarperTeen and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book to read and give my honest review.
What drew me in: The cover! It's gorgeous. I love a gorgeous cover and honestly many publishers have moved away from them as of late. I was so happy to see this one. It reminded me of all the high fantasy books I have read and loved.
What I imagined: high fantasy, sword fights, action, thrilling chases, etc.
What I got: not so much of that though it was there here and there.
I was hoping for something along the lines of Sarah J Maas or even Redwine but it didn't hit that for me. It took me forever to get through this book. It's very long at over 500 pages, and it definitely felt that way.
I did connect with a few of the characters, particularly the male lead, Lenox. But I also didn't feel the heroine, Annika, was as fleshed out as she could have been. I wanted more from her. More angst. More fight. More grit. And, while the male lead kept saying she had it, I just did not see it. The dual POV also lost me a bit. I feel like this book would have been better narrated in third person. We could have still understood the characters but without the back and forth that took place for the entire book.
I also feel like there needed to be more of the enemies thing. Annika was way too easy to forgive the wrong done to her by Lennox. I just didn't feel like she was angry enough, upset enough, or anything enough with him. 
Overall the plot was decent but I think the story was slow and I also feel like we needed more of a deep dive into the history from the beginning but we did not get that.
My overall rating for this is a 3. I thought maybe it was going to be a series, but this book ended without needing that.
Definitely not the high fantasy I was expecting but a worthy read for the younger population of readers who like to do a little swooning.


100 Things I Love:

Being married. Cake. The smell of Autumn. Motherhood. Books. Elephants. Back rubs. On demand movies. Actually going out to movies. Faith. Cinnamon rolls. My family. Butterflies. When my kitchen is clean. Crayons. Pink. Tote bags. Dancing. Organizing via color coordination. That my wedding dress was tea length, not floor. Baking. My house. Writing utensils. Paper. India. The sound of water. Making videos. Buttons. The word Episcopalian. Making people laugh. Layering clothes. British accents. Pinterest. Animation. Fireworks. The smell of the Ocean. My wedding rings. Aprons. Reasons to get dressed up. Sex. Pop music. Stars. Taking walks. Daydreaming. Stickers. School Spirit. My friends. Living in a small town. Japan. Singing. Painting my toenails. Pranks/ practical jokes. Painting. Stretch canvas. Costumes. Dipping my fingers in melted wax. Style. Soda. Spending an hour typing at a coffee shop. Musicals. Back to school season. Mopeds. Good hair days. Naps. Not walking up but looking at a beautiful staircase. Driving alone. My ankles. Playlists. Spending entire days in pajamas. Holidays. Telling stories. Spontaneity. Theme parks. Bookshelves. The word copacetic. Boxes. Empty journals. Surprises. Doing things in groups. Doing things alone. Getting real mail. Decorating. Small forks. A good hug. Gift cards. New Years Goals. Going out to dinner. When someone else remembers some great story about me/us that I’ve forgotten. Toy stores. Fireplaces. Breakfast foods. Journaling. Crying for a good reason. Doorbells. Pointless adventures. Voting. My birthday. Reasons to make wishes. Recycling.



 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

ARC Review: Lumara by Melissa Landers

The answers lie within.
Boarding school student Talia Morris has no idea her boyfriend, Nathaniel, is a Mystic, let alone second in line to the throne of a secretive, aspirational magical community―one no mortal has ever been allowed to step inside. Until now. Nathanial’s cousin is about to be married in the biggest wedding the magical world has ever seen, and Nathaniel is allowed to bring a date. Talia is the lucky recipient of the golden ticket every Mystic wannabe in the world would kill for―only she doesn’t want it. Talia thinks Mystic worship is lame and stupid and unnecessarily aggrandizes people for being born a certain way. When she finds out Nathaniel is “one of them,” she almost jumps ship. But Nathaniel loves her, and she loves him. So when he begs her to give his family and their community a shot, she reluctantly agrees.
Enter the most fantastical world any mortal has ever seen, and the coolest magical wedding ever. After a few days of bonding with Nathaniel’s family on the island, of seeing how beautiful their magic is and how peaceful their community, Talia’s about to be won over―until the entire wedding party suddenly falls into an unexplainable coma and the community goes on lockdown. Talia, the outsider, is pegged as the culprit and has to do everything in her meager non-power to prove her innocence. As she embarks on a journey to find the truth, Talia soon discovers reality is not all it seems, and her past may put her in more danger than she ever imagined.
In this captivating YA fantasy, Talia must solve a multigenerational mystery and break a curse, all the while being torn between making her family proud and regaining the trust of the boy she loves.

Title: Lumara
Author: Melissa Landers
Expected Publication Date: 12/6/2022
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
REVIEW:

I want to thank NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing me with an eARC of this book to read and give my honest review. 

What drew me in: BOARDING SCHOOL! Every time I see a book with a boarding school I think Harry Potter and I want to read it. BUT I always have to go in with lower expectations because nothing ever lives up to it for me. But I'm always hopeful someone will hit the mark. SCI-FI! I love me some sci-fi. Unfortunately, the book is not quite as sci-fi as it seems it should be,. So if you're going in thinking you're going to be floored by that aspect, turn your expectations down. Also, MELISSA LANDERS: Because I've really liked her previous books I've read, so why not keep reading what she writes! And the COVER I mean it's gorgeous. I'm a sucker for a good cover.

What kept me reading: THE CHARACTERS! I really enjoyed them and wanted to find out more about them. They truly had unique personalities. I do feel like more back story could have happened. More fleshing out so that I could truly connect with them but overall I enjoyed them: the good, the bad, and the ugly!

What I'm not so sure about: THE STORY! I enjoyed how it started but then I just got annoyed. It just didn't seem like it kept a rhythm.  The possibility of twists. Which happened but were kind of expected. Also, while it did wrap up, I feel like there's still room for a sequel. I love a good series but am disappointed when I read a book that I feel should be a stand alone and then it doesn't seem to be that way.

Overall: It was a fun read but didn't keep me as pulled in as I would have wanted. I just expected more. Would I read more Landers, for sure. Would I read a sequel, not so sure.



Melissa Landers writes science fiction for teens and the young at heart. The Alienated trilogy (ALIENATED, INVADED, UNITED) and the Starflight duology (STARFLIGHT, STARFALL) are complete! Look for Melissa's middle grade debut BLASTAWAY, now available from Disney-Hyperion.

 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

ARC Review: he Witch Haven (The Witch Hunt #2) by Sasha Peyton smith

The lush and pulse-pounding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Witch Haven follows Frances and her fellow witches to the streets of Paris where family secrets, lost loves, and dangerous magic await.

Months after the devastating battle between the Sons of St. Druon and the witches of Haxahaven, Frances has built a quiet, safe life for herself, teaching young witches and tending the garden within the walls of Haxahaven Academy. But one thing nags; her magic has begun to act strangely. When an opportunity to visit Paris arises, Frances jumps at the chance to go, longing for adventure and seeking answers about her own power.

Once she and her classmates Maxine and Lena reach the vibrant streets of France, Frances learns that the spell she used to speak to her dead brother has had terrible consequences—the veil between the living and the dead has been torn by her recklessness, and a group of magicians are using the rift for their own gain at a horrifying cost.

To right this wrong, and save lives and her own magical powers, Frances must hunt down answers in the parlors of Parisian secret societies, the halls of the Louvre, and the tunnels of the catacombs. Her only choice is to team up with the person she swore she’d never trust again, risking further betrayal and her own life in the process.


Title: The Witch Hunt (The Witch Haven #2)
Author: Sasha Peyton Smith
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: 10/11/22

Review:

I want to thank NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers for supplying me with an e-galley of this book to read and give my honest review.

If you've not read the first book in this series, don't pick this one up yet! You definitely need the background from book 1 to understand what is happening and to make sense of what they refer back to.

Did I enjoy this book? Yes, actually much more than the first one, though my rating is the same. I love the idea of the witches. And this one is set in France, which seemed like it would be fun. I will say I stand by my thoughts on this series that it is definitely meant for the younger YA crowd.

The setting: I definitely could have used a more lush description of France. It's Paris after all. And Paris is amazing (I should know as I've been there). There is so much to describe about the streets, the houses, just about anything. Do I understand this was set in a time when I didn't see Paris, I sure do. But I still know there could have been more description to make me feel like I was actually in another country.

The characters: Were the same. Frances as the main. Still kind of whiny, not easy to connect with. But still a good addition to the story. I love her troubles she's having and how she tries to go about figuring out what is wrong. The re-introduction of our "villain" from the first book is a good twist, though expected. And the addition of a few new characters put a nice spin on things. I particularly enjoyed the blossoming friendships between Frances, Lena, and Maxine. They look out for each other and it seems would do anything to keep each other safe. The love story falls short for me. It just doesn't seem true from Frances end. Is she truly in love with him or does she want normalcy and he's it?

The plot: It was a bit short sighted for me. The reintroduction of Finn could have been done better. He was our villain in the first book but this book he seems to want to make some amends, But it doesn't really work and then gets kind of squashed.

Unfortunately this book fell short of developing in the way I would have liked.

There is definitely a set up for a third book here. I'm sure I will read it because I hate to leave series unfinished if I can help it. 

Author:




Sasha Peyton Smith is the New York Times best selling author of The Witch Haven and The Witch Hunt. She’s passionate about well-curated road trip playlists, soup recipes, and stories about complicated girls. Originally from Utah, she now lives in Washington D.C. with her partner and collection of porcelain hands.

 

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.


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