Shielded | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Shielded

Author: KayLynn Flanders

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 352

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

My Attention: read in 2 days

World Building: kingdoms at war with one another, a marriage will bring them together

Writing Style: easy to read

Crazy in Love: slow burn

Creativity: I’ve read many of these stories before

Triggers: violence, death

My Takeaway: Keep moving forward.

  • I love the cover!
  • Creativity wise – I’ve read this story many times before. I did enjoy the story telling though. I liked Jenna’s connection to her family, especially her brother Ren.
  • Jennasara our MC has lived quite a sheltered life. She faces a bunch of challenges when she ventures outside of Halendi to meet her betrothed. We see her grow as she experiences the world outside of Halendi.
  • I thought the romance was cute and didn’t take over the story which was nice! Enzo, the Prince, is a nice guy, nothing problematic there.
  • I think this is a wonderful book for teens and young adults alike. It doesn’t have too much angst and the focus on Jenna finding her way in a different land, without family, after a traumatic experience is inspiring.
  • The villains didn’t stand out as big bad guys. They were bad but almost comical – one guy was gray…and his name is Graymere. And at times it got confusing trying to follow the story when a chapter from the villain’s perspective would appear. I didn’t know it was the villain at first!
  • Pacing wise, I think the beginning was a bit slow because Jenna is traveling but it definitely picks up once she she reaches the Wild and Turia. From them on I was engaged in the story.

This book is an enjoyable young adult fantasy that is easy to read. The story follows a princess who has to stop the villain that has hurt the people she loves the most. Jenna finds strength, friendship, family and love in the most challenging time in her life. Though it may sound similar to many other young adult fantasy book out there I still enjoyed it very much. The message to stay strong and keep going will resonate with many readers out there.

💕 ~Yolanda

The Hunter and the Mage | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Hunter and the Mage (The Raven and the Dove, #2)

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 525

Publication Date: 9/21/20

Publisher: Kaitlyn Davis

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A mage written in prophecy… 

When Lyana wakes in the Sea of Mist, adventure is the first thing on her mind. But between her unruly new magic and an unyielding young king, the world below comes with more responsibility than she ever dreamed. An entire civilization exists within the fog, and its survival depends entirely on her. 

A hunter forged in blood… 

Adrift at sea on a ship full of strangers, Rafe fights to cope with his new reality. He’ll do anything to return to the sky and the people he left behind. When a surprising offer comes his way, he instantly accepts, sparing no time to consider the consequences. 

Loyalties are tested and an ancient war begins anew… 

With rebellion in her heart, Cassi defies her king and befriends the prince she’s been ordered to kill. Oblivious to the threat, Xander welcomes her into his inner circle, determined to rescue his mate. As one works to help and the other to hinder, an ancient enemy stirs, forcing Cassi to choose between trusting the man who broke her heart and turning her back on everything she’s ever known.

Thank you to Kaitlyn Davis for giving me a chance to read a copy of this book for an honest review.

Let’s break it down:

My Attention: intrigue by the world in the mist

World Building: love the world building of these two worlds separated by mist and lore…but two different versions

Writing Style: easy to digest, flows nicely

Bringing the Heat: 🔥

Crazy in Love: Rafe and Lyana will always be…but the other couple? We shall see… 

Creativity: I enjoyed learning more about this world of magic and winged people

Mood: curious  

Triggers: violence, betrayal

My Takeaway: Forgiveness.

  • We get more of Xander and Cassi. Yes I wanted more of Cassi and honestly, but wow…Cassi. Oh Cassi. She fascinated me in book one, especially after that cliffhanger ending. I wanted to know her motivations and how far she would go…and how she could put aside her love and friendship with Lyana. She almost went too far for her to be redeemed in my eyes…but Lyana has a bigger heart than I do!
  • The world building is as lush as ever. I love this innovative story of bird people, it’s so different.
  • Since this is mostly Xander and Cassi’s story, we get a few chapters on Rafe and Lyana. They are going through their own challenges and hardships but it’s a trial they have to go through.
  • The twist was unexpected! It came at the end and made me wish book three was out.
  • The are many perspectives in the story and this time around for some reason there were times I felt like I was zoning out of the story. There is Xander, Cassi, Rafe, Lyana, Malek and even Brighty (a new character), gets a chapter. So there was a lot going on.
  • This is a light fantasy and for me the second half of the book was better than the first half because it had so much more action with people finally coming together after being apart for most of the book.
  • Malek is an interesting character because he’s training Lyana to use her real magic and comes off as maybe someone who isn’t conniving and scheming – he even made me forget for a moment that he sent Cassi to infiltrate Lyana’s world. But he really is a villain…ugh…

There is a lot to like in this sequel, especially if you were waiting for Xander and Cassi to get some page time. You get it in this book! We get to venture into the mist with Rafe and Lyana. Also, we get to learn more about Malek. It makes me wonder what book three will be like…what will Malek do? How will everyone react to Lyana and Rafe? Will Cassi ever find happiness? And will Brighty’s role be in all of this?! So many more questions to answer and I look forward to reading book three.

💕 ~ Yolanda

The author, Kaitlyn Davis is having a giveaway! Go to this link to check out the details:

https://www.kaitlyndavisbooks.com/p/pre-order-giveaway.html

Legendborn | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)

Author: Tracy Deonn

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 512

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Categories/Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance/Love Triangle, King Arthur, Diversity, Black MC, History, Secret Society, Demons, Magic, Grief, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her previous life, family memories, or her childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at a local university seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure reveals Bree’s own, unique magic and unlocks a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that she knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, Bree will do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn by becoming one of their initiates. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur and his knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight. 

Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I was nervous to read this book because I wanted it to be amazing! Look at that blurb, look at that cover! I could hold off no longer and I read all 500+ pages in one night. I was up until 5am in the morning and then was up at 8am to take care of two rowdy kids…I have NO regrets. 😬

My Reactions:

My Attention: totally captured and even though I needed my sleep, I just could not put the book down!

World Building: luscious, layered, epic world building – set in North Carolina, we get this secret society hiding at the University of North Carolina. This story combines the legend of King Arthur, Southern Black history, racism, and intricate magic systems.

Writing Style: the beginning is slower than the second half of the book but it’s because we are meeting Bree and she is dealing with major grief, but I was immersed in every aspect of this book and there are so many quotes I highlighted.

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 – some kisses and flirtation but mostly pretty mild 

Crazy in Love: ohhhhhh boy…the love drama between Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot is VERY well known…so…I’ll leave it at that! Haha

Creativity: absolutely amazing, I love how everything blended together

Mood: excited, ecstatic, obsessed 

Triggers: grief, racism, prejudice, violence, death

My Takeaway: you think you know and then you don’t

  • World building – I am in love with this world. King Arthur legend, secret society, mixed in with southern black history and magic? It made me feel warm all over, like it was ticking off all the boxes I love in a contemporary fantasy story. It was refreshing to see the King Arthur’s legend brought into our modern day world with a girl dealing with today’s societal issues plus the past and present of racism in America, especially in the South. The story has so many layers.
  • The magic systems combined in this book is so good. We have Merlins (mages) who protect our “knights of the round table” heirs (Legendborns), and the enemy are the Shadowborn or various demons that come through gates. Then we have the Southern black magic or rootcraft magic that I loved SO much. It’s organic, it’s powerful, it’s the magic I would choose to practice because it involves ancestors helping to guide you. It’s beautiful. You borrow magic from your ancestors as opposed to Legendborns who have taken magic at a cost(colonizer magic!).
  • Bree – I love that she’s not perfect and all her pain, all her journey through grief is relatable to me. I recognized all her stages of grief. She makes so many mistakes, but she also tries to do the right thing. And when she comes into her power…it is glorious! I was rooting for her all of the way!
  • Nick and Selwyn…okay – yes, there is a love triangle brewing but according to legend, it’s expected. I love Nick, he is such an Arthur…but Selwyn and the enemies-to-whatever he and Bree are? I can’t help myself with enemies-to-lovers tropes and they aren’t even lovers…YET and I don’t know if they ever will be. 😭 And around them is a diverse bunch of couples – love is love is LOVE.
  • There is action with so many demons to fight and a Page trial as well. There is a mystery about Bree’s mother, there is so much danger, there is friendship and love. There is truth, there is forgiveness, and there is a twist.
  • As I mentioned, if love triangles turn you off – then this book will not be for you.
  • For any new fantasy book with a lot of details and characters, it’s easy to get bogged down with info dumps but personally, I did not feel that way with this story. I was so engrossed in learning about Merlins, rootcraft and everything else in this world.

Some books give you that feeling: heart pumping, adrenaline in your veins, wanting to relive the world again and even wishing you could see the story come to life on screen. That was how I felt after I read this book. I was on this wild, emotional ride with Bree. I want more of the characters, more rootcraft, more of Bree and Selwyn, okay I don’t mind Nick too. I want book two in my hands right now. I think I’ve found a new book to obsess over.❤️

Havenfall | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Havenfall

Author: Sara Holland

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 305

Categories: Young Adult Fantasy, Magic, Mystery

A safe haven between four realms and the girl sworn to protect it—at any cost.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds—each with its own magic. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic firsthand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens—a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer, Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie—no one can be trusted, and no one is safe…

My Attention: waned a bit

World Building: great world building about a meeting house for the supernatural from other worlds

Writing Style: easy and quick read

Bringing the Heat: none

Crazy in Love: not so much

Creativity: I thought it was cool how there is a meeting place for creatures from other worlds meet to keep the peace and do business

Mood: in love with the cover 

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: When you are a given a chance to lead, take it and do the best you can.

  • The cover…it’s one of my favorite covers ever, I think. The moons, the colors, the title placement? It’s so GOOD.
  • It’s a quick read and more geared for teens than young adult.
  • I enjoyed the idea of an Inn on a mountain where it’s a crossroads for other worldly magical creatures come to congregate and keep the peace between them.
  • As far as Maddie is concerned, she’s a girl running from some troubling things going on in her family and Havenfall is the place she loves the most. Maddie finds that trouble followed her there as well though and now it’s responsible for making sure things don’t take a turn for the worst.
  • Learning about the Inn was important to the story, obviously, but because everyone is pretty much stuck there – at times I found myself bored. It would have been cool to visit a different world, maybe where the Silver Prince is from.
  • The romance is mild, Brekken and Maddie already had something going but they don’t see each other much. So there is one scene where they are together and that’s about it. He’s gone for most of the book.
  • Most of the book is a mystery because there are some things going on at the Inn that has just come to light. Maddie is investigating the players and what it could mean to her and Havenfall.

Havenfall is a light fantasy read suitable for teen readers. It has a wonderful concept with the Havenfall Inn as the crossroads where delegates from other worlds meet. There is mystery, magic, secrets and betrayal, a little something for everybody.

💕 ~ Yolanda

Master of Poisons | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Master of Poisons

Author: Andrea Hairston

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 464

Publication Date: 9/8/20

Publisher: Tor.com

Categories: Fantasy, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.

Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.

Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.

Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston’s characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will leave you aching for the world it burns into being.

Thank you to Tor.com and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Attention: waned

World Building: African epic fantasy – the most amazing thing about this story is the world building of the Arkhysian Empire. The reader travels across so many terrains and come across different kinds of people and tribes.

Writing Style: beautifully written

Bringing the Heat: no

Crazy in Love: there is love but it isn’t crazy 

Creativity: imaginative world building of magic, griots and politics

Mood: inspired

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: African inspired fantasies are so rich in culture and magic!

  • The world building in this epic story takes center stage. It is an African inspired fantasy, and filled with lush scenery and characters. There is political intrigue, danger, music, adventure, gods, spirits and so much magic.
  • One thing I love about fantasy stories is that diversity is usually a given. This book is no exception.
  • The story follows two main characters Djola who is the Master of Poisons, and Awa a young griot. I think both of them were interesting but I was drawn towards Awa more, maybe because she was the female character and griots are something I’ve been reading more about lately in other African inspired fantasies. Djola is an Elder and is knowledgable and knows the political landscape of the Arkhysian Empire. He has magic as well. The story moves faster when Awa and Djola finally meet. I like their interactions because they both learn from one another.
  • The writing is so visual, like when Awa’s bees surround her. I can see this book translated into a fantasy series on screen. I can only imagine how amazing the scenes would look. This story is beautiful in the way some sentences flow and sound like proverbs. There are deep meanings and messages in this story.
  • The story is written beautifully but it lost my attention in the middle because it moved too slow and I was learning about the different people, their magic, and the language. Djola is tasked to basically the cure to the land and Awa is a young griot new to her growing powers. I wanted it to move faster in the beginning but I understand the scope of the storytelling especially with the world building.
  • While the world building is fantastic, I wish I had connected to the characters more. Awa was my favorite, and her character was vibrant but emotionally, I felt like I didn’t connect to anyone in the story.

This landscape of African inspired fantasy is a wonderful eye-opening reading experience for me. I’m usually a reader of young adult fantasy, but this adult fantasy, Master of Poisons, is epic. Maybe because I’m so used to young adult fiction the slow building of this story challenged my attention span. The world-building for me is the stand out in this book, it is so seamless and imaginative. Lovers of fantasy will definitely enjoy this one.

💕 ~ Yolanda

ARC Review | The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: September 22, 2020

Categories: Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book but wow, I waited to read this arc because the publication got pushed back but I’m glad I finally did read it!

We return to the world of The Gilded Wolves, but the crew has been torn apart by the death of Tristan, Severin’s brother. They come together again for another mission to find a mythological artifact – The Divine Lyrics. This time their quest takes them to Russia and Siberia. Severin wants it badly to make him and his friends, gods. Yet Laila needs it to stay alive. Once again we have the amazing characters I came to love in book one, but this time they are dealing with grief and questioning their self-worth. The heists, puzzles, riddles, action and surprises make this sequel so much more exciting to me than the first book. But this one also broke my heart! 🥺

  • The characters are what make this series. They are awesome and diverse! I love how they are all different and have fascinating back stories. Enrique is my favorite, but Hypnos really shined in this one too. They are all smart and skilled in their own ways but in this sequel we see their vulnerabilities and it got me in the feels. I am heartbroken for all of them, for losing Tristan. But Enrique and Zophia kept this mission afloat – they had to since Severin and Laila were falling apart.
  • The clues, riddles, high stakes, and heists are so much fun to me. I love, love, love Enrique’s inquisitive mind and capacity for memorizing historical information. But there are dangerous moments in this sequel as well and the twists in the story were good too!
  • There is so much emotion in this book: grief being a major part of it for Severin and all of them really, but Severin most of all. Also the wall between Severin and Laila was hurting my heart. They love each other but Severin fears love because it can be lost, like how Tristan was. The same for Laila – why love Severin when knowing her life could be lost soon, she doesn’t want to hurt him. They all want love and to be loved yet there is so much fear in it too. The ending gutted me, when love is explained as something that looks different to people – I felt that strongly.
  • Hypnos…I mentioned him earlier, but thank goodness he brings such humor to this story. I love him.
  • Severin takes a back seat in this story…and he is COLD hearted in this one. He is dealing with grief but wow…he is not the same guy from book one – and I was scared how far he’d gone at the end! We shall see what happens to him in the next book.
  • Sometimes there is so much information that Enrique is spewing out, I get lost LOL…which is funny because he mentions he feels like no one cares or listens to him. He is my fave but even sometimes his incessant talking goes over my head…and why am I talking about him like he’s real?! 🤣😍
  • Triggers: blood (a new character, a blood forger is introduced), violence, grief

I loved this book more than the first one! It was faster in pace, with another high stakes quest but with the crew falling apart at times. Yet there were funny moments too especially with Hypnos helping them out. I loved seeing the characters deal with their vulnerabilities, which was so relatable. And the thing I take away from this book is love – how it looks different to every one of us but we all want love. Love from family, from a friend, or from a partner. ❤️ But love is scary too because the pain of losing a loved one is hell. There are a few quotes from this book that I absolutely adore but can’t post since it’s an arc…but it made me want to weep, for Severin and the rest of the crew. Definitely looking forward to the next book!

The Damned | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Damned (The Beautiful, #2)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 456

Categories: Vampires, Young Adult, New Orleans, Romance, Historical Fantasy

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien. 

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn. 

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

My Attention: struggled to stay interested

World Building: lovely world building of New Orleans

Writing Style: slow…writing is lovely, but to slow paced for me

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 – I was expecting more 

Crazy in Love: not much of a love triangle because it’s clear who Celine wants

Creativity: I did enjoy the supernaturals and in this book more of the fey world is explained

Mood: mixed feelings 

Triggers: blood, violence

My Takeaway: Family can betray you.

  • The reason I enjoyed the first book in the series was the lush setting of New Orleans. Once again, the setting is enjoyable plus we get to travel to another world, that of the Lady of the Vale (the fey).
  • We learn more about the past – we find out how vampires were made. We are introduced to the fey and we get to know backstories about a few characters.
  • I like knowing more about Celine’s past and makes me wonder about her future.
  • The secondary characters like Odette, Jae and Arjun stand out in this volume more than Bastien and Celine. I really got into Jae’s story.
  • I like the diversity in the book with the characters whether it be their ethnicity or sexual preferences.
  • I was expecting way more from this book (like WAY more action) but was disappointed with the slow pace of the beginning.
  • Bastien and Celine’s relationship was what was enticing about The Beautiful but in this one they are mostly apart…or try to stay apart. It left me with mild feelings and I was expecting a burning longing between them. There were some moments between them…but again, my expectations were high.
  • As much as I did enjoy learning about the fey…I think it took away from the whole vampire element – at least for me. It took off in a direction that was unexpected…and I’m not sure if it was a good surprise, at least to me. Maybe I’m still processing…
  • There are SO many questions still -Emilie for one hasn’t been dealt with at all. Also there is a cliffhanger…one that was shocking but, does it make want to read book three? Right now…I’d say no. But who knows how I will feel next year?

The world building is still lush, the cast of characters is diverse, and it’s a world of supernaturals from vampires, werewolves and fey. The romance is predictable since we obviously can see Michael has no chance in hell with Celine if Bastien’s around. There is a lot here to keep readers entertained but for me it fell short of my expectations.

💕 ~Yolanda

Chosen Ones |ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Chosen Ones (The Chosen One, #1)

Author: Veronica Roth

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 419

Categories: Adult Fiction, Supernatural, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons–and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Thank you to John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Attention: struggled

World Building: urban fantasy, Chicago

Writing Style: writing flows well, I just thought the beginning was hard to get into because it takes the form of an investigation/reports and that usually kills my interest

Bringing the Heat: 🔥

Crazy in Love: nope

Creativity: ten years ago, there were 5 chosen ones who fought of the Dark One…here they are on the anniversary still dealing with the PTSD of what took place in that fight

Mood: not feeling it

Triggers: violence, PTSD, suicide

My Takeaway: Heroes can come out scarred.

  • Sloane is an interesting, morally grey, character – she is spunky, blunt and angry. She’s dealing with a lot of stuff and mostly because she was one of the chosen ones 10 years who fought the Dark One. And it messed her up. She knows it messed her up even though her boyfriend Matt says this side of her, is “not” her. I’m glad we got into her head and thoughts.
  • The premise about what happens to the heroes after they defeat the bad guy, is an awesome topic to explore. Some of them move on, some of them suffer from PTSD and don’t know how to accept who they are after what happened. I really liked how mental health issues were on display in this story.
  • On top of the PTSD, these chosen ones became “celebrities” whether they wanted to be or not. They saved the world and was thrown into the spotlight. Matt navigated fame expertly, but Sloane despises it. I like how the author brought to light the issues heroes would have to deal with after saving the world.
  • This story is imaginative and different. I appreciate that the story is thought-provoking.
  • This is an adult fiction book but for me it reads like NA (New Adult) or even could pass for YA at times.
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy is a challenging genre for me to delve into especially when there are a lot of flashbacks. It didn’t help me that the story unraveled slowly. The writing is good but it just didn’t hook me with the flashbacks.
  • I couldn’t connect with any of the characters.
  • Definitely a mood read kind of book for me – and I think I was in the wrong mood for this.

Overall, this wasn’t for me. I’m a fan of the author’s previous work but this one was too slow for me and the flashbacks didn’t engage me. I did enjoy how the story explored how heroes deal with the aftermath of saving the world. I think fans of sci-fi will enjoy this one a lot.

Fable | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Fable

Author: Adrienne Young

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 9/01/20

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Pirates, Young Adult, Adventure, Romance, Family, Survival, Fantasy

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

WOW.

My Reactions:

My Attention: absolutely swept away – read this in one sitting

World Building: epic – the setting is in the islands I’m sure inspired by the Caribbean but I could feel the humid air, see the school of fish in the reef, feel the pressure of the water as Fable dove deep….SO good.

Writing Style: flowed beautifully

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 – barely any but it didn’t need it

Crazy in Love: slow burn love story

Creativity: I loved everything about Fable and her gem mage powers, I want to learn more about it

Mood: Excited 

Triggers: violence, thieving

My Takeaway: Fable is abandoned by the only parent she has but makes a promise to herself to survive and take what is hers.

  • First off – that COVER. It is to die for! Absolutely beautiful.
  • Fable’s story is pretty amazing – she is surviving on her own, trying to get back to the father that left her to die (or survive). She has grit, brains and courage! It also helps she’s a gem mage, it helps her skills as a dredger (a diver). She does what she has to do to survive. My heart broke for her when it came to her relationship with her father.
  • In any pirate story, it’s ALL about the crew and the crew of the Marigold is great. We have a gay couple, siblings and lots and lots of secrets. West is the helmsman who commandeers the ship and he is as mysterious as they come but we learn about his background.
  • Fable’s dad, Saint, tells Fable she doesn’t belong in this world. She feels like he means in the world in general…but he means HIS world, this rough, dangerous, cold trading world of the Narrows. It’s cutthroat and he meant for her to be safe. I like the complicated feelings and history between them.
  • Danger is everywhere in this story and the author captures the setting so well. I was rooting for Fable and nervous for her from the moment I started the book and I could not STOP reading. And when the book came to an end, I wanted the next book.
  • I’ve read this author’s previous series but this one to me takes her writing to a whole new level. I was so immersed in this story.
  • The magic Fable has is as a gem mage and though she uses it while doing her work as a dredger – I think there is more to learn about her skill and her mother’s history. I want to definitely learn more about her mom’s family!
  • The romance doesn’t overtake this story, it’s slowly building and you wonder if it will turn into something and when it does…wow. We shall see what this means for the sequel!

I love a good pirate story, there is danger, high stakes, traders trying to be or stay the top dog and keeping their territories under their rule. This story hooked me right away! I loved everything about this book and I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Into the Crooked Place | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Into the Crooked Place ( #1)

Author: Alexandra Christo

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 384

Categories: Fantasy, Crime, Young Adult, Romance

The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.

Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.

Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.

Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.

And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.

Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.

My Attention: I had to be in the right mood to read this, so I did pick this up and then shelved it for a month – once I was in the right mood to read a “gangster fantasy” type of book I finished it in one sitting

World Building: story takes place in Criejie, where an evil Kingpin boss runs the the city.

Writing Style: story flowed nicely once I got into it

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 

Crazy in Love: there is a queer romance and a friends to maybe lovers situation going on as well

Creativity: sounds similar to other gangster fantasy stories, but I did enjoy the magic

Mood: okay 

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Who can you really trust?

  • I enjoyed the characters:
    • Tavia – she’s funny and has heart. Like Wesley says she is the glue to their crew and I think it’s because she gets a long with everyone.
    • Wesley – the bad boy who has a secret past that he doesn’t even know about. He’s an underboss wanting to be the alpha, Kingpin of Criejie. He grew up in the streets and has killed to survive. His weakness? Tavia – the person who’s known him the longest. He is my favorite character so far because he is dangerous – we’ll see what happens with him.
    • Saxony – has a secret past and is in Creije for revenge. She and Karam used to be lovers. Theirs is a complicated relationship.
    • Karam – another person with a secret past. She is a kick ass warrior bound to protect Saxony.
  • I liked the world building of Creije and learning about the Crafters as well. The magic system was interesting – Crafters (true magic wielders) were killed in a war so now people only use trick magic.
  • I enjoyed the diversity with Saxony and Karam’s queer romance taking the forefront of the other relationships in this book.
  • There are a few twists in this story that kept me engaged until the end.
  • I think I wanted the Kingpin, Dante Ashwood, to be more villainous. As a heist/gangster crew? The team don’t quite trust each other. Everyone has a past and the one leading them has the darkest one of all.
  • There are many perspectives being told in this book and I think between the main four it didn’t take away from the story but then there were perspectives from Krause and Deniel – and I don’t even know if they were needed.
  • There are a lot of characters in this book but one is mentioned as being another powerful player, Doyen Shulze. If the Kingpin is helping Wesley, then the Doyen is the politician trying to take them down. But she never makes an appearance…maybe in book two?

Overall, I found the story entertaining once I was in the mood to read a gangster fantasy. Wesley is the character that intrigued me the most and made me keep reading. I wanted to know how bad he really was and if there was any good in him. The ending was an interesting twist that makes me want to read the sequel so I’m looking forward to that.