These Hollow Vows: Review

Let me start this review by saying that yes, I am a garbage human being and love triangle whore. I love them more than enemies to lovers, the “stuck in a room with only bed,” bit and also forced marriages. I will hold up a sign stating as such on a white posterboard next to the guy with the poster saying, “STOP SAYING PIN NUMBER. IT’S REDUNDANT.”

When I first heard about this book, I raced to my emails, gathered my stats, and promptly sent a message to the publisher. My grabby hands were shaking, trembling with anticpation. I could not wait for my NetGalley request to go through. I needed the book NOW otherwise I’d proably die. Lucky for me, I got a reply almost right away with the READ NOW widget and I nearly collapsed. It’s a good thing my office has carpeting.

So, we have a both with comp titles such as CRUEL PRINCE and ACOTAR and be still my YA heart, those are comp titles you want to sell a book. I will buy anything when I read those two titles in a synopsis. That being said, after I recovered from getting my immediate READ NOW widget, I dropped (literally dropped) my current read (Crave, I will come back to you before the month ends!), gathered my hot cheetos and dove right in.

We open the story with Brie, who is a thief trying to keep her small family afloat. When her debts become too large, her little sis is sold to the fae. Pushing aside her hatred of the fae, Brie gets herself in the faerie court where she discovers: a secret about a long-time friend (and herself), that she suddenly has magic, and that the fae are manipulative creatures, as well as a little bit hot and charming.

Did I say hot and charming? fans self

Yea, so Brie finds herself torn between two princes, each with their own agendas. Who can she trust?

You know a story is good when it overrides your prescription sleeping medication. I was up far too late reading this book. But its one of my preferred ways of falling asleep; right in the arms of my fae lovers.

What we have here is a glowing newcomer into the YA world, rivaling Maas and Black themselves. I seriously cannot get over how fantastic this book was. I mean, I kinda knew, but I still wasn’t prepared. I want more!

Ok enough ramblings.

THE WORLD-BUILDING: Amazing. I loved the courts and the human world. I got a clear sense of how drastically different they were. The world of the fae is wicked and scary, and Ryan’s writing made them leap off the page. The complex, political intrigue and the magic surrounding almost everything was beautiful and deadly.

There’s a 100% chance I’m going to buy every special edition of this book. JS

THE STORY:

There are plenty of twists and turns that keep you guessing.
There’s also princes with pretty eyes and tattoos.

I love princes with pretty eyes and tattoos.

FAMILY TIES:
I loved the emphasis on family. Brie will do anything to get her sister back and I mean ANYTHING. And although her focus may wane at times, she always goes back to her and what she needs to do to get her family back together, safe and sound.

THE ROMANCE:
I feel lots of warm things for Finn.
I mean, come on. He’s broody, and frowns a lot and I love that in a man. I care so much about him. I didn’t want to because my book boyfriend cart is full. I may just have to throw out Kaz. He wasn’t the real interest, if you catch my drift, but I have a feeling he’s going to come in strong in book two. That one scene though where she was…and he was…and he had to….OMG

THE PROTAG:
Brie is determined, fearful but courageous. She’s everything I love in a heroine. She may be a human in a fae court, but she holds her own.

Ok, let’s talk about the ending. HOLY COW COW.
I’ve read this book way too early and now I’m going to have to wait for book two even longer. It’s not fair. Life isn’t fair.

Final thoughts:
READ THIS BOOK
if you like fae books and need a change from the usual, this is the one for you. If you like sexy princes, and dark magic and scheming heroines, this is also for you.

Blade of Secrets: Review

Thanks so much to Edelweiss and the publisher for the early copy. You’d think I’d be happy about this, but now I have to wait a million years for book two, and I not okay about this, especially with an ending like that!!

I would like to be like other reviewers and exclaim, “I was so surprised by this book!” or “I was not expecting to like it,” but I’m not those people because Tricia Levenseller is an auto-buy author for me, and I knew from the moment she posted the cover reveal on Instagram that I was going to absolutely fall in love with it. In short, I was not surprised that BLADE OF SECRETS blew my gourd. But all of that is a given. What we have here, folks is something completely different.

We have a social anxiety rep in YA fantasy.

I knooooow the release is so far off and I shouldn’t post quotes from the book just yet, but I have to do just ONE I need to get out there:

“I’ve always been a poor sleeper. it often takes me hours to find oblivion, my mind unable to stop thinking about all the things that are troubling me.”

Ziva has anxiety. She forges magical weapons and likes to keep to herself. She obsessed over the simplest things; her mind often going into overdrive. She needs time to recharge, to be alone. She has trouble sleeping, and can’t look people in the eyes when talking. She hates when people stare at her; it makes her feel like she’s on display and that she needs to hide to get away from it.

Ziva is me.

I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have an anxiety rep. Ziva is a heroine all young girls can cheer for. She envies her sister’s easy, outgoing attitude and often wonders why she can’t be that way too. But she doesn’t need to be, because we’re all built differently. After she forges a powerful sword for a warlord, she realizes the blade takes secrets from it’s bearer. She learns of the warlord’s intentions and, with her sister, a scholar, and a hired mercenary, she leaves her home to outrun the warlord and keep the blade from enemy hands.

This book had plenty of raw moments. Ziva is not the best fighter, in fact, she seems reluctant to even brandish a weapon. Her anxiety keeps her in a bubble, but knowing the magical sword could hurt others, she comes out of her comfort zone, and that is something to applaud. People with anxiety don’t often like change. We’ll drive the same road to somewhere, even if it’s longer, just because it’s something familiar. We like our quiet, and we hate confrontations. For Ziva to do what she did took great bravery on her part.

The world is safe in terms of fantasy books. There’s magic, but only for a choice few. The cities and towns and landscapes all feel familiar.

I loved the whole ragtag band of runaways, although I do hope to see more of Temra in the second installement.

The romace was slow burn-ish and sweet. Kellyn is arrogant, but he’s also sweet and cares more than he lets on.

The story moves at breakneck speed. At no point was I ever grazing over paragraphs.

Reading this book felt like stepping into a world where people are just like you and me and must fight for what’s just and right. But there’s also the safety of love and family. I believe Ziva is a great role model for young adults who are wondering why they’re not like everyone else, and hopefully realize that they are heroes regardless of their mental illness, disability, etc. I am beyond excited for Tricia and for readers to get their hands on this book. It’s a special one, and I hope you all love it.

Lon Chaney Speaks: Review

Lon Chaney once said,  “My whole career has been devoted to keeping people from knowing me.” On account of that, many people did not know the man behind the thousand faces. In the silent film era, Hollywood entrusted the screen to charming, handsome men to dominate theaters. Chaney, a big star in his own right, took a different direction from heartthrob Hollywood. He gravitated toward roles that portrayed him as something other than normal. Much like Johnny Depp of my generation, he sought out to change his appearance in roles that ranged from pirates to gangstas to vampires. He was dubbed, “The Man of a Thousand Faces.”

Much of his success could be because of his upbringing. As a child of deaf parents, he learned sign language and facial expressions to communicate. This graphic novel briefly touches upon his upbringing and how even his first wife cringed when she discovered his parents were deaf-thinking their unborn child could inherit it and that it equaled to being dumb. A weakness. He went on to prove that wrong.

I also learned about the pain he went through for his roles. In his move THE PENALTY, he played a man with amputated legs. He had to basically bend his legs back and stuff his knees into buckets during filming. In THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, he wore a 70-pound pack on his back. It was amazing to read how much he loved his work and what he was willing to sacrifice for it.

LON CHANEY SPEAKS also touches upon Lon’s aversion to fame, and how he hated interviews and publicity. He would much rather stay behind the scenes or behind his masks. I could relate to that. He was such a private man that nobody knew his life, his history, or even how many movies he’d actually starred in. I loved getting to know the man behind the mask. I remember watching HUNCHBACK in high school, and although I did not know his name, I knew the actor who played Quasimodo was pure genius. If he hadn’t died of lung cancer, how far would his career have gone? He was just getting started, and with Hollywood jumping into a new era, I’m sure he would have thrived.

What I loved about this novel were the scenes that cut into the story that portrayed Lon acting in his movies. it was a superb way to honor his career. Pat Dorian does an excellent job of sprinkling on both sides of his lives, his heartache, and also his joy. It was a pleasure to be able to read and review this book and I look forward to whatever Pat does in the future.

Thank you, Pantheon, for entrusting my review on this wonderful book.

The Seeking: Review

Have any of you ever read a truly amazing book and when you go to close it, release that satisfied woosh of air-a sigh of contenement- and immediately begin to think about what you read? Well, that doesn’t happen to me very often because I’m a book goblin. I love all books, but then there are those I want to squish against my chest and beg for them to become part of me. SINK INTO MY SKIN. BE ONE WITH THE CELIA.

With her take on an alien invasion scenario, Frank propels readers into a world where The Gray People are the protectors from giant monsters in the forest that surrounds the town of Carra. Every year, the Exalted, or leaders of the town, have their children participate in a sort of Purge scenario where they must hide from the town for an entire day. If they are caught, they lose their standing and the winners become the town’s Exalted and The Gray People renew their vow to protect the town.

Our heroine, Dahlia, is a strong-minded daughter of Carra’s Exalted. She’s got the brains and the brawn and the fierceness to protect those she loves, not unlike famous book protagonists like Katness and Tris. When something goes wrong, she must protect her younger brother and girlfriend before they fall victim to the monsters surrounding their town. I loved her honesty and her willingness to become a leader when all falls apart around her. Despite her grief, she looks at what can be done, to ensure a future for her family and friends. But she is not without flaws. Her anger does get the best of her, and her sadness sometimes gets in the way of her decision making. She is a realistic portrayal of someone faced with hard choices and the determination to set things right.

I wanted to touch upon one character that really interested me and that was Broskow. At first, I saw him as the book’s villain, but he redeemed himself in ways I did not expect. Not unlike Dahlia, he does have his flaws, and his character is very human, led by fear and grief. But never have I read such a superb character arc like the character of the butcher, Broskow.

This is a horror book and there are scenes of violence that had me with a gaping mouth catching flies. So, there’s your trigger warning. But, boy, did I love it. I’m such a sucker for movies like Battle Royale, The Purge, or anything that has people running for their lives. Oh, and Marlena was all like, yeah, let’s do that but also let’s add aliens and monstrous insects. A COCKTAIL OF AWESOMENESS, let me tell you, folks.

This book releases October 27th and if you liked the premise and/or my review, do me a favor and preorder it. It helps authors a ton when you preorder and it makes them happy 😀

Marlena Frank delivers a dystopian science fiction masterpiece, not to be missed under any circumstances.

Bravo, Marlena, for another fantastic book.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue: Review

I’ve been given the task of reviewing this book and I hate it. I hate it not because the book was a doozy. No. I hate it because I am at a loss for words and the words I do come up with will hold no candle to the perfection of this book.

Alas, Edelweiss, and Tor Books gifted me an advance copy and I owe them BIGLY.

Deep breath.

Exhale.

Here we go.

I’ve been following V.E Schwab on social media and I remember her talking about this book. I recall her in the process of writing and editing and I almost felt like I was there with her, drafting and completing THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE. She’d been working on this book for so long and she’s poured her heart and soul into it. This very well may be her best book to date. Maybe ever.

But who am I kidding? V.E will never peak. She just keeps climbing higher and higher. She is author goals.

The thing that drew me in first was the story. It’s unlike anything I’d ever read. Addie makes a deal with a demon to get out of marrying, but the deal comes with loopholes that she hadn’t considered in her haste. Now fated to become immortal, she also lives a life where people forget her the second she’s out of their field of vision. It’s a lonely life. I difficult life. One that Addie feels duped into, but despite her turmoil, refuses to yield to the demon and instead, continues her life of invisibility. That is, until she meets someone who remembers.

WHO REMEMBERS.

OMG.

This such a heart-wrenching book. I saw myself standing in the rain without an umbrella, staring longingly at poor Addie and the choices she’s had to make, ignoring my soaked hair, wishing nothing but happiness for her.

But we all know life isn’t so simple and happiness, although attainable, sometimes does not last.

I cannot recommend this book enough and I cannot wait for my book box to come to hold this book in my hands.

Of Wicked Blood: Review

Bahahahahaha.

How stupid was I to be apprehensive about a book written by co-written by Olivia Wildenstein? Maybe it was because I have such high expectations now from her past works that I’m afraid of being let down.

Bahahahahaha

I shall never be let down by the queen.

This is not to cast a shadow over Katie Hayoz. Her writing is delectable. I have zero experience with her work so suffice it to say, I was astounded by the talent she has.

The characters: Slate and Candace are a sort of enemies to lovers deal without being real enemies but sorta? Hard to say. Anyhow, Candace is a bit cold and Slate is sometimes crass, but an overall good guy who got a bum deal by putting on a cursed ring. Candance comes from an entirely different background than Slate so their clashing makes for good drama.

The story: The story is unique. Set in France, we get a lot of the school and surrounding area. I’m a sucker for books set in France, but I do wish we got more of the local haunts and people to get a better idea of the area. I also wish we got more of the squad and their relationships with our main characters. But I am sure the sequel will bring it all to light.

I follow Olivia in her FB group and on her personal FB and I just love who she is as a person and an author. She is author goals, let me tell you. Katie Hayoz is a new obsession for me, so I expect I will be haunting her social media platforms stat.

Thank you to the authors for the chance to review this book ahead of its release date.

The Bone Shard Daughter: Review

I feel like reading this book was a complete honor.

THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER first popped up on my Instagram (bookstagram) and I fell head over heel with the cover. But like a lot of readers out there, I had to twiddle my thumbs and wait for the release to behold its majesty. When it finally popped up on NetGalley, I screamed a glass-shattering scream that echoes into the trenches of the earth and I dove with regard for my life or the lives of others.

Thank you, NetGalley and Orbit for a chance to review this title.

I don’t throw around “favorite book of 2020” or “best fantasy I’ve ever read,” that often but this falls into both categories. With a whopping five POV’s, it tells the story of a girl wanting to please her father, a smuggler who gets in way over his head, a governor’s daughter teetering on the rebellion, her girl-friend, and a woman on an island full of people who do not remember their lives before arriving. They start off on five different journies that gradually begin to connect with a heart-stopping ending that had me gasping for breath.

I’m going to focus on the two characters that stuck with my most. Lin and Jovis. Jovis, the smuggler who is searching for his missing wife. He creates a reputation for stealing children from the empire and returning them to their families before they have their bone shards removed. Bone shards, by the way, are a way for the emperor to create constructs. I get to them in a minute. So, Jovis becomes a kid smuggler who meets up with a rebellion and he thinks, ok, why not. But Jovis is a complicated character, formerly one track-minded and suddenly finding himself neck-deep in treason. But along with the aid of a mysterious creature named Mephi, whom he’d saved from drowning, he may be of use to these rebels, if it means finding his long lost wife. I loved Jovis and Mephi’s growing relationshi and I have a feeling it’s going to get stronger in the sequel.

Lin is the daughter of the emperor. her POV felt entirely disconnected from the others and focused on her life within the palace where her father, foster brother, and a load of constructs live. Constructs are creatures born from dead animals and controlled by bone shard magic. Commands are written on these bone shards and placed inside the creatures. The terrifying moments involving the constructs and Lin’s determination to show her father that she’s worthy of his love had me holding my breath. Absolutely scary. The plot twists in her POV were staggering and so well done, I want to bow at the author’s feet for a job well done.

Sometimes in life, we let moments pass and when we think back we’re like, “wow. I was in the presence of something incredible and I think it changed me.” I knew, reading this book, that I was holding something monumental. This will be the best fantasy of 2020 and maybe even the best book of 2020, marks my words. You don’t want to miss this one for the world.

FInd me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/celiamcmahonreads/

Plagiarism Alert! This is all your Fault: Review

Imagine this, you read the synopsis of a story called I Laugh in the Face of Danger. It’s about a young boy named Rimba who leaves his kingdom after his uncle threatens to out him for accidentally causing a stampede of kilderbeast. Rimba meets Simone and Rumba and he grows up pretending his father never died and he does not have a kingdom. Until Fala returns and reminds him of his duty to his country. There are a few songs, one called Why Do I Have to Wait to Be King?, and The Love has Feelings Tonight. It got an agent and a big publisher. What a most original story!

That is what this book is: a huge ripoff of Empire Records down to the very classic scenes. We have a bookstore going out of business, a boy who loses money trying to save it, and a group of kids who do everything they can to keep the store open. We have our “Deb” who shaves her head in the employee bathroom, we have our “Corey” who is in love with the author who’s coming to the store to promote his book AKA REX MANNING and we have the exact scene where the sleaze hits on our Corey and lovely Gina picks up the sloppy seconds down to the SLAP and the breakdown. AND NO SHIT DO THESE KIDS THROW AN EVENT TO SAVE THE STORE. The author did not attempt to hide it. She actually put it, “Damn the man, Save Wild Nights!” mirroring the scene in Empire Records, ‘Damn the Man, Save the Empire!”

You guys, I cannot make this up. I am literally shaking, I am so angry. Empire Records is one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME. I know the movie scene by scene by scene. I cannot fathom how this book got through dozens and dozens of readers, editors, etc and nobody said, “Hey, this is too much like the movie and is treading on dangerous ground.”

This book is plagiarism down to the core.

Feiwel and Friends, you should be ashamed of yourselves for buying this work and publishing it. I may get blacklisted for reviewing their books for this, but I don’t care. This is not an original work and should have never been put forth for publishing.

Cut Off: Review

Thank you, Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc!

Okay so I’m basically a wh&*e for survival stories. Pitch me something about kids on an island or game show or fight to the death and I will read it. Being lost in the wilderness is one of my favorite tropes of all time, but this one took it to a whole new level.

Cut Off is a reality show a group of people get dumped somewhere and have to stick it out using the resources they have. If you’ve ever watched ALONE, you’ll understand the concept. Funny thing is, they mention Vancouver Island in this book and that was the site of ALONE for a few seasons so there’s an inspiration in there somewhere. The book starts off with a BANG right out of the park. As the story progresses we see tidbits of who the last contestant is and how to battle against the sudden disappearance of…well, everyone. They begin encountering rapid dogs, earthquakes, spiders, and even a manic person reminiscent of a killer zombie, and they start to think, okay, something is definitely up.

I got some Inception, Thousand Pieces of You, and even Divergent with the fearscapes. But I loved all those books (and movie) so I loved CUT OFF. It was a fun, quick read with nonstop action.

Oh, and I live in Washington and I love when books are set here! I’m a total sucker for them.

Adrianne, I hope you read this review because I had so much fun reading CUT OFF. I can’t wait to add it my shelf and bookstgram the crap out of it 😀

Crownchasers: review

HOLY BALLS, YOU GUYS. This book was FIRE. I mean, I knew going in that I was in for a treat, but who knew that treat has rainbow jimmies and not one but TWO cherries. Gosh, now I’m hungry and excited and I cannot wait to hold this book in my grubby book hoarder hands that have now grown twice their size since finishing this here book. This masterpiece of YA sci-fi. This diamond in the rough.

Ok, review time.

I’ll delve first into the voice of the novel, Alyssa Farshot. I love me some sassy protags who feel like I’m reading about myself. Alyssa’s voice is what drew me into the novel before the story even ramped up. She’s honest and fearless and sarcastic. She reminded me sooooo much of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. She doesn’t want the crown that she’s forced into fighting for nor does she want it to fall into the hands of someone who would not treat it right. She has this wall built up around her, but it comes down little by little and we get these glimpses of someone who just does not want to get hurt. She’s our bisexual rep, which is so refreshing.

I loved that the romance does not take center stage. It’s organic the way Alyssa interacts with her ex, Faye, and current, Hell Monkey (yes, that’s his name and it’s amazing). I know some people will be disappointed, but what do you expect when you’re in a race involving dogfights and wormholes and whatnot?

The world-building was fun. The author has a way of letting your mind fill in the details without it being too scarce to visualize nothing. The different plants and people we meet along the way stand out on their own.

I adored this book. I will adore it forever and ever. I will dm the author on Instagram like the creep I am and tell her so.

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc. 😀