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. 😀

These Violent Delights: Review

Here I am once again telling you all about a reimagining that just did not grab me.

Honestly, we don’t get enough Romeo and Juliet reimaginings in the YA world (unless I’m missing some. Let me know!) especially ones with such a unique setting. So naturally, I requested this here novel from Edelweiss (thank you btw, you continue to shower me in literature). Like the play, we have two rival gangs vying for a piece of the city. In the center of it all we have Juliette and Roma, the respective heirs of both Scarlett Gang and White Flowers. When a madness begins to spread throughout the city, the “star-crossed lovers” find themselves teaming up for the common good.

First things first. Chloe Gong’s writing is impeccable, and I know she has poured her soul into this book and has taken the time to write and rewrite a million times, but please, teach me your ways! I love the way she builds this world to a point where you think you’re actually there, eating its food and battling its monsters.

Unfortunately, the beautiful writing couldn’t save my rating. There’s a lot going on in this book. Gong takes the simple enemy to lovers trope and turns it upside down and fills it with politics and manufactured murderous insects, which felt fantastical for 1920’s Shangai. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a complete idiot when it comes to history and most of it I learn from my husband’s long-winded dinner conversations. But my mind went everywhere with this book. At first, I couldn’t get Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of the play out of my head. I wanted Tyler to dig a steel toe boot into the dirt and squint at me in that sexy way John Leguizamo did to my teenage hormones. But its unfair to compare the two at all, I know.

I went in for the enemy to lovers trope. I mean, it’s Romeo and Juliet, right? My expectations fell flat. I was expecting a more fleshed out, sweet romance. I did not see much of that. Juliette and Roma were once lovers years ago, so this isn’t the first time they’ve delved into a relationship with each other. But all of that was off-page, in the past.

I will continue the series, just to read Gong’s prose and drool over it. I am hoping the story draws me in a bit more than the first

Writers write the books they want to write and we are not forced to like them. I appreciate it what Chloe Gong did to Shakespeare; it’s no easy undertaking. And I look forward to what she does in the future.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for e-arc! My ongoing love of this platform continues to bloom when I get approved for books like this. If I could only get on the physical arc train, I’d be a made woman.

Speaking of physical copies, I bet this cover looks delicious in person. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COVER???

GIRL, SERPENT, THORN took me for a wild ride, I expected one thing, only to be thrown into another and then kept under until I couldn’t breathe and flipped upside down in mid-air and brought back down. The inspiration for this book was taken from ancient Persia and who doesn’t love a book inspired by ancient Persia? Not this girl.

So, this book is about a girl who was cursed three days after her birth. Anyone who touches her skin will die. She lives in seclusion and even her own family seems to shun her. When she meets a soldier, she finds herself connected to him and with his help, discovers secrets to her curse that she never fathomed.

Ok, so that sounds pretty straightforward, but NOOOOOOOOOOO The twists and turns gave me whiplash. We start with a soft character in Soraya, but with good reason. She’s inexperienced and hermit-like. I may even venture that she is even unloved, even by her family. Her character arc comes full circle by the last 50 pages or so. Some may shun me for this but I love when books start out with the sad little protagonists who eventually shift into badass heroines with fierce looks who bare their teeth and kill without abandon. I may be a simple girl with simple needs.

I had some really strong Stolen Songbird vibes at one point, which is fine. I loved that book. Also Labyrinth in one or two scenes. Which is also fine. That’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

The only word I can think of to describe this book is intriguing. Don’t read this book thinking you know what’s going to happen. You don’t. It will destroy you. Don’t come crying to me.

Skyhunter: Review

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the advance copy!

I don’t even know how to start this review. My stomach hurts, and my heart aches, and I feel like the world is spinning without me. I don’t want to live a life outside of the one Marie Lu created. I yearn for Red and Talin. This book was everything the cover suggests. My words will not do it justice.

Talin, a voiceless refugee from a Federation conquered territory joins the elite force of Strikers in the city of Mara. She and her team battle Ghosts, the Federation’s ghastly experiments and attempt to push them away from taking over their city. When a runaway from the Federation is caught, Talin sees something different in the man that should be her enemy. Instead, she finds a loyal and fearsome warrior and Talin finds herself rescuing him from execution-only for her Firstblade to assign him as her Shield. Now attached to the Red, in more ways than one, she and her loyal friends discover a way to beat the Ghosts, if all goes according to plan.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that we’re getting a slow burn romance. SLOW BURN. I mean we get hints of what both Red and Talin feel, but it’s natural and in no way insta-love. Instead, there’s a bond that goes beyond that and we see it with stark clarity. I just wanted to hugh them both and tell them it’s going to be OK.

Then there’s the writing. Holy crap. I think Marie Lu is evolving. Every time I read a book of hers, it’s better and better. I feel like her next book is literally going to break my heart and make me sob for days.

I haven’t read a YA book this good in a long time.

This will definitely be a book for my shelf. I recommend it to…everyone. Everyone needs to read this. The End.

Agnes at the End of the World: Review

Here is a list of two things that go together:

  1. Macaroni and Cheese
  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly
  3. Bacon and Eggs
  4. Pros and Cons
  5. Coffee and Me
  6. Cults and pandemics

wait, what?

Welcome to my review of AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD. In other words, a review of one of the best books I’ve read in 2020 or, like, ever.

Agnes and her siblings live in Red Creek, a fundamentalist cult ruled by their Prophet and the Patriarchs. In order to keep her diabetic brother alive, Agnes sneaks out to get insulin from the “outsiders”, or people who live out in the real world of sin. It’s there that she first learns of a pandemic going on outside her community. Privy to this, Red Creek’s Prophet prepares to order his people into an underground bunker to escape the apocalypse (aka, drinking the Kool-aid). Agnes, seeing this as certain for her sick brother, plans to escape, taking her chances on a world-wide pandemic than let her brother die a slow death without his medicine.

AGNES is told in a split POV narrative. Sisters Agnes and Beth are on their own paths of accepting the truths about Red Creek’s past and it’s inevitable end. Both have their own core beliefs and their own strengths that guide them through breaking free of what they were raised to become. It was hard reading about the situations the women in Red Creek endured. There were a lot of Handmaid’s Tale, The Grace Year, etc themes in this book. My blood was boiling and I was screaming in FEMINIST. But I digress…

I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into (I hardly read reviews at all until I’ve read the book in its entirety) and this book took some turns I did not expect. The virus described in the book mirrored what we’re going through right now, without the nesting thing and a few other things…ok it’s not the same, but I felt for the Outsiders. It was startlingly real and terrifying, what a pandemic can do.

This novel was part Branch Davidians, part all the pandemic books you can imagine but throw in some Clive Barker and Margaret Atwood, a great diabetic rep, strong females, kind boys (I’m looking at you Danny and Cory. Let’s talk about Cory for a split second. That character arc though) and you have a recipe for perfection.

I loved this book from start to satisfying finish.

Read if: you love cults and dystopian societies.
Don’t read: if you don’t like Christian themes.

Under the Surface: Review

Before I start this review, let me say that I am so glad I got the chance to read this. I thank Instagram for connecting me with so many bloggers, reviewers, and authors. One of those is Sonya Blake.

I received this book for review purposes. This does not, in any way, affect my rating.

I don’t read enough paranormal romance and I’m wondering why. The ones I do pick up I end up really liking. But they typically involve vamps or werewolves or even ghosts. Never have I read one involving a siren, a selkie, and a skinwalker.

Yes, you heard right.

After a bad breakup, Kaia moves from the south to the east coast where she plans to sell her parent’s home. But before she settles in, she meets Sam, a fisherman. After an accident sends them both plunging into the Atlantic, Kaia discovers that she’s a siren. And f87k-boy Sam finds himself falling for her.

In the midst of a steamy (I can’t wait to tell you about the sexy scenes OMG) romance, Kaia finds herself in a battle with a local siren clan while Sam confronts his own secrets. Both fights could rip these two apart if they let it.

I can’t remember the last time I fell in love with a book couple. I mean, I’m rooting for these two, to the ends of the earth BUT LIFE WANTS TO KEEP THEM APART AND I CANNOT STAND IT. UGH. The romance was sweet, not insta-love per se, but way steamier than Maas or Ward could ever put to words. I mean, this one scene…and then this other one….and then THAT ONE.

Well-written, impressive characters, drool-worthy sex scenes, extreme power plays, an antagonist to truly hate, this book is for anyone who likes J.R Ward, Patricia Briggs, and Charlaine Harris, to name a few that come to mind. I definitely think everyone should give Kaia and Sam a try.

Shielded: Review

This is one of those rare, fun-loving, heart-breaking, terrifically plotted books that suck you right in from page one. Jenna is a top-notch heroine; brave, level-headed, and strong. And don’t me started on the cover. I can’t wait to hold the finished copy in my hands and take lots of bookstgram pics with it because that is what I do with pretty books. I love them and squeeze them and make sure the world knows about them.

Jennesara, who is our protagonist, has a head on her shoulders. She loves to sword-fight, but her father, the king, frowns upon it. When he marries her off to a neighboring kingdom, she swallows her stubbornness and obeys, if only for the good of her kingdom. She’s brave in more ways than one in that she puts her kingdom before her own well-being. But when it is time to fight for her own life, she does so without hesitation. She’s tough in a way that is self-taught and not overly done. She’s not a warrior. She’s just a princess with a secret passion for weapons.

I won’t spill too many details but let’s talk about the romance. When the romantic interest was finally revealed, I was totally knocked off my seat. That twist though! I actually thought one character would be the love interest, but the author took it a different direction. When the feels began, it was OH SO SWEET! I want to just hug them both until they beg for mercy. MY LITTLE CINNAMON ROLLS!!!!

KayLynn Flanders has a unique way with words. While she does not go overly flowery, her writing flows well and sucks you in.

So, my four-star rating is because of the pacing. I found myself without breath at some points, with no real room to take it all in. I understand this is a fast-paced book and there’s A LOT going on. I only felt it was smushed together too tightly.

While the themes and the basic structure of the book are the same as a million others, there’s something different about this one that I can’t pinpoint. Mostly, I think it’s because it reminds me of an early book I once wrote about a defiant princess with secret magic and a handsome boy who fight together against the baddies who want them dead.

Maybe I should dig that story out and revamp it. KayLynn, you have inspired me!

But other than that, SHIELDED is an addicting book that YA fantasy fans with devour.

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the e-arc.

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.