A Song of Wraiths and Ruin: Review

Holy s$&t that was a wild ride.

Don’t be fooled by the famous A of_and this is no COBAB, it is straight FIRE. I received this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review and here is the tea: this book knocked me off my feet. I was white-knuckling my kindle, breathing heavily, screaming in wraith.

In this fully realized, immensely lush and intriguing fantasy world, Princess Karina finds herself in a position of power after a tragedy. The thing is, she’s not ruler material and spends most of her time sneaking out of the palace to roam with the commoners. So, now she finds herself desperate and schemes to rectify her situation. This scheme involves taking the heart of a king; a king in which she does not have. But it so happens Solstasia competition is in full form so she offers marriage to the winner. Malik and his poverty-stricken sisters arrive in Ziran just in time for the festival but find themselves caught up with a spirit who kidnaps Malik’s little sister. In order to get her back, he’s instructed to kill the princess. He finds the best way is the enter the competition, get close and save his sister.

ASWAR is one of those books that has me hanging my head in shame, screaming in writer that I could never come close to the world-building skills that Roseanna A. Brown possesses.

Ok sure, Malik and Karina had hardcore Princess Jasmine and Aladdin vibes, but who isn’t here for that? Aladdin was my crush as a girl. A boy with no nipples, smooth chest, and big puppy dog eyes who feeds kids his only meal and owns a monkey. My guy. Malik was my cinnamon roll, my soft yet strong boy, as Karina was my fierce and loyal heroine too root for.

The last 50 pages or so had me having to put Visine in both eyes because I did not blink. I mean, one thing (patsmyselfonback) I actually predicted while the other thing, well, did not. I will be waiting for two and snatching up any book box that includes this book.

Lost Carnival: Review

Thank you NetGalley and DC Comics for the e-arc.

I have to admit, I am a late bloomer when it comes to the DC comic world. I’ve only recently got into comics for about three years now which is strange since my brothers are both great comic artists and they always had tons of them around when we were kids. That being said, I went in with a clean slate and an open mind.

LOST CARNIVAL is Dick Grayson’s origin story or at least part of it. The events of this comic and subsequent volumes (I hope) are based before he lost his parents and became Robin alongside our favorite bat with the abs. We see him as an angsty teenager with a yearning for a life outside of the circus. He meets Luciana, a player in a nearby carnival that puts him in awe and suddenly he’s thrust into a world of magic and love.

This comic is drawn in a monochromatic fashion, which to my surprise, I liked. I am more of a vibrant color person, but this book, along with the superb writing, drew me in like no other. I loved how the color tone changed with the mood. I swear some of those boards had me in near tears.

Overall, I loved it. I cannot wait for the next installment.

Bone Criers Moon: Review

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc, but I waited for the Owlcrate edition to review. I mean, they got Charlie Bowater to do this cover and WOW. Also, OC did a great job in sparking it up with sprayed edges and all and I am a sucker for pretty things fight me.

Review time.

Ah yes, here we have a YA book, that does not feel like every other YA book out there, in the wild! I thoroughly enjoyed this story, its world, and it’s doomed characters. I mean, WTF IS THAT ENDING?? It keeps it open for some FUN, let me tell you. I am so excited to see what happens, but I digress.

So, this book was a tad strange because of the first POV, after the prologue is not the love interest as I assumed it would be. That threw me for a loop. There are three POVs, one is Bastien, the son of a victim of the Bone Criers who vows revenge, and the other two are Sabine and Ailesse, two young Bone Criers on the verge of completing their rituals and becoming Ferriers of the dead. The drama starts when Ailesse’s ritual is interrupted by Bastien, who pretends to be her lover that she’s summoned (oh yea, they do this on their ritual nights. Kill the men they lure. Cool right?) Anyhow, Bastien f&^ls is all up by kidnapping Ailesse all the while both of them think they’ve been destined for each other. In turn, doomed to die one way or another. If a Bone Crier doesn’t kill their lover, they both die within the year. Sabine, who hasn’t completed her ritual yet, vows to save her friend all while battling her own family and a bunch of dead people who are unable to cross over because they no longer possess the bone flute. Which Bastien has. Rather, his ex-girlfriend Jules has. Yea, the drama is REAL you guys.

There is so much to this book that, by you reading that long-winded paragraph above, probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Is she talking out of her butt again? Yes, ma’am and good sir I am.

Anyhow, if you want a unique magic system (did I mention the Bone Criers get powers from dead animal bones?) WTF I DIDNT. Yea, that happens too. Ok so, dead animal bones, angry dead people, vengeful hot dudes with sharp jawlines-SHARP JAWLINES- *swoons* This is the book for you.

Burn: Review

So rarely do I have to sit for a few hours (or days in this case) and think about the book I just read before I finally hit I FINISHED and started a review. Patrick Ness, as an auto-buy, auto-read author, always seems to hit me with I’ve kept all my long-buried emotions and brings them out into the world in the form of big fat sighs and manically sobbing because dragons are just so cool.

This book was just so bizarre. I know that’s a strange way to start a review, but I can’t think of any other word to describe it. BURN is set in the 1950s in the great state ( and my current home) of Washington. It follows quite a few POV’s but didn’t really feel overwhelming. A biracial teen named Sarah lives on a failing farm in a world where humans and dragons coexist in semi-harmony. Sarah’s dad hires a dragon to help with the farm, burning down all forest, etc and soon befriends him. But there’s a homophobe, racist cop who screws everything up. Then there’s also a queer boy named Malcolm who is part of a cult that worships dragons and an FBI agent who is after him because he’s murdered a bunch of people on his way to find out what the hubbub is all about with a prophecy involving the dragon goddess.

Also, there are also other things I can’t mention because I want you to be as officially f*&ked as I was whilst finishing this masterpiece.

I knew going in that I was in for a wild ride, but this was like getting on the Spiderman ride at Universal and finding out that not only does it go really fast and loop and all that but it also goes to the moon and ricochets off a few craters and eventually comes back down.

This book hits all the high notes including DRAGONS. Having actually dragons in a book about dragons is few and far between so this was a breath of fresh air. Fresh fire? I’m going off the rails here. Let’s regroup.

The ending is probably the only thing that irked me. It was a bit too abrupt. You could tell there was going to be a sequel. It would work just fine it Ness didn’t write one, but I wouldn’t complain if he did.

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc to review.

I’m here for it.

BURN was crazy and weird and violent. If you want a myriad of emotions, this is the book for you.

House of Dragons: Review

FINALLY! A book with the word dragon in the title that has DRAGONS.

Huge thank you to Penguin/Random House for supplying me with this arc after a little bit of begging ;D

What a wild ride I was just on, you guys. This book starts with a BANG. We jump into the five povs. Yes, I said it. FIVE POV’s. But as daunting as that sounds, it wasn’t too bad once you get to know the characters. But I digress. This wild ride starts when the emperor dies and the eldest of each of the five houses in Etrusia line up for the Call to compete for the throne. But things don’t go as planned and the least assuming (bastards, youngest, etc) are chosen. The winner gets the crown. Losers get the Cut. I.E executed. These outcasts, each with their own issues, battle for the throne all while uncovering some secrets and flying DRAGONS!!

I cannot stress this enough and I will scream it from the rooftops. I LOVE DRAGONS. This book didn’t disappoint in that aspect. Nor the intrigue and violence that I love in competition books like this. I connected to each of the protagonists to the point where I thought I was watching a reality show and kept switching to who I wanted to win.

This is a Romanesque fantasy world and there’s some violence that had me staring open-mouthed at my Kindle. There are also some pretty strong themes throughout that are kind of brutal for younger audiences.

To close off this review I will say that this book sets itself apart and I loved every bit of it. I am so glad my begging paid off. This book is one for the shelves.

This is My Brain in Love: Review

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

THIS MY BRAIN IN LOVE is told by two POV’s, Jocelyn and Will and set in Utica New York. Joc is the daughter of Chinese restaurant owners, struggling to keep afloat. She crosses paths with Will whom she hires to jumpstart the business, otherwise, her family would have to move. He helps with social media, getting the accounts out of the Stone Age, and narrowly missing death by a Chinese father when he falls for Joc and vice versa.

Joc is a clever and down to earth protagonist that we can all relate to. But she is also a perfectionist and can come across as callous at times. Will, having anxiety himself, recognizes something in Joc that concerns him. Will is an all-around nice guy and is so super sweet to Joc and her family and friends. I loved him as a love interest and protagonist.

Both main characters are persons of color. Will is half Nigerian and Joc is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Together, they were a refreshing pair. Unlike a lot of YA contemporaries, their eventual romance is held back by more than just outside interference. Although we do have the classic, harsh Chinese parents who set restrictions on their relationship. But Will’s habit of not wanting to make people uncomfortable about his condition and Joc’s denial of her own makes for a rocky road.

Joc’s friend, Priya is the best, but I did wish we saw more of Will’s friends. The references to movie culture and food drew me in. I am a sucker for any book set against a restaurant, food truck, ANYTHING WITH FOOD. I am familiar with American Chinese food (my fav!) but I loved learning about Nigerian food and I promptly looked for restaurants in my area!

Against the backdrop of yummy Chinese food and teenage love, is the topic of mental health and the stigma that holds people back from properly addressing their concerns. I think this book hit the mark with how most people feel when faced with the idea that they may have depression, anxiety or any other mental illness. This book will resonate with the YA community for its diversity and realistic portrayal of mental illness.

BEWARE: this book will make you hungry.

The Space Between Lost and Found: Review

THE SPACE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND by the author of EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS hit me right where I expected to. Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for priding the arc of this poignant and powerful book.

Cassie’s life does a complete 360 when her mother is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. She loses touch with friends or focus on art. When the caregiver is not present, Cassie helps her dad take care of her mom by catering to her whims of watching dolphins shows and eating Ritz crackers all while making sure she doesn’t run off and get lost. Or worse. These fears drive Cassie to try to reconnect with her mother by taking a trip to swim with dolphins, which has been her dream and one of the entries on her bucket list. But Cassie soon realizes that her mother will not get better and the road to acceptance is a hard one.

Although I have never been in the position of losing a loved one to such a disease, I could empathize with Cassie. It’s a lot for a twelve-year-old girl to go through and the topic is a heavy one. But heavy topic or not, this novel is important. There are families out there dealing with situations like the one in this book and it would be great to have something for kid’s Cassie’s age to turn to and feel like they’re not so alone.

I won’t sugarcoat it. This is a sad book. I knew it going in because I’d first been introduced to Sandy’s work with EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS. I do remember writing in my review that I could not wait to see what else she had in store for her readers and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. She crafted a heart-string tugging, sad and hopeful book, and I am honored to be able to review another one of her books before their release date.

Faith: Taking Flight: Review

Thank you, Netgalley for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date

The cover is what drew me to this book, the very first chapter completely sold me. This was everything I wanted!

FAITH starts out with 17 yo Faith Herbery being recruited into what she thinks is a school for superheroes. But when things go awry, she escapes the facility and attempts to go back to her old life, her two best friends and volunteering at an animal shelter. Although Faith has the special ability to actually FLY, she’s totally down to earth about it. She lives with her grandma and obsesses over a tv drama called THE GROVE. When the show suddenly relocates to her town, she meets its star, Dakota Ashe, and plummets into a life of camera flashes and brings life to her fantasy. But the possible romance with a celebrity almost overshadows the real-world issues that threaten her existence. Can she hide her powers from her friends and save her town?

Never have I ever read a plus-sized queer superhero book. Ever. But this isn’t just a superhero book. This isn’t even about Faith’s body type or her sexual orientation. In fact, I feel like that was all more of a side note to the real-world issues Faith encounters. She has a case of survivors guilt after her parents died in a car crash and she survived. Her grandmother is showing signs of dementia and all that on top of missing classmates and pets.

I could not put this book down. My husband literally had to pry it from my hands the other night. I showed him dominance by baring my fangs, but alas, I had to sleep at some point.

Julie Murphy brings heart into this story by showing us that life goes on, even though we can fly. Preorder now. Don’t sit on this one, folks.

Above All Else: Review

A huge thank you to Netgalley for the arc!

ABOVE ALL ELSE is one of those rare books that tackle a very difficult subject, especially in YA. Two teens who have been best friends for life, who dream of adding Mount Everest to their checklist of mountains to summit, and fight against past trauma and their growing attraction to each other.

This is the first book besides INTO THIN AIR or ALIVE (can you count that one as mountain climbing? I don’t know. I feel weird adding it to this list, but I’ll do it anyhow) where I’m experiencing what it’s like to scale a big arse mountain. The author did her research and I felt as though I were there in Nepal with Rose and Tate. Although I do not know what about the process of adventuring at Mount Everest, I can tell that Levy did her homework with the detail she added to the story.

I believe what really sucked me into the story was how badly these two kids wanted it. I mean, they’ve trained and it’s taken a grueling cost to their bodies and mind, and even though family issues and relationship confusion sometimes tried to get in the way, they (Rose especially) knew that they had to focus with all of their might to reach that summit and accomplish their dreams. Levi did a fantastic job in conveying that, boys, self-doubt, and other people’s achievements should not overshadow what you want to accomplish. It’s a great message and I love it.

Some people will say that the romance got in the way of the plot BUT I thought it was great to throw in there how addicting new love and sex can be, but when set a scale of your dreams, it does not weigh even an ounce. COuld it have a bit more developed? Sure. Did he affect my rating? Not at all.

I have to say that even though this book has a good ending, it will tear your heart out and stomp on it a few times before flushing it down the toilet. My heart. MY HEART!!!

What I loved most: The setting.

What I disliked most: if I had to choose, it would probably be Tate’s decisions, which I did understand but still made me angry

Warning for semi-graphic sex scenes, language, death

Some Kind of Animal: Review

Thanks Net Galley for the chance to review this title ahead of the release date.

SOME KIND OF ANIMALS delivers on its premise. We have a girl who’s secret sister Lee who lives in the woods, eats animals and talks with one-word sentences, and whom she sneaks out with nightly to run and play with. I mean, how creepy is that? Nobody believes her when things go awry and Lee makes a rare appearance in a public setting and attacks one of Jo’s friends. This brings a downward spiral for Jo when she runs away with Lee, and her friend Savannah, planning on living int the words and protecting her sister forever and ever. A pipe dream that goes terribly wrong.

I love me a good mystery and a good wilding sister living in the woods and being all cryptic and crazy. I live for these types of books. This book packs all the punches. It’s heartfelt and gritty and depressing AF yet there’s still a glimmer of hope when it comes to Jo and Lee that maybe all can be forgiven and all can be all right in the end. I mean, this is a strange book and I roll over for strange books. Now, part of me wanted to believe that Lee wasn’t really real and Jo was having some sort of mental breakdown, but when I was wrong, it made it all the more terrifying.

Looking back at these reviews it looks like I am in the minority here. But it does go to show you that you have to be a certain type of reader for a certain type of book. So, Maria, please do not fret. A book like this is a risk for debut authors and many won’t understand it. I do. Bring me all the creepy and all the weird and add me on Insta or something, yea?