Book Review | The Unfairfolk (Valenbound, #1)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Unfairfolk (Valenbound, #1)

Author: Sara Wolf

Format: eBook (KU)

Pages: 446

Categories: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

A promise made is a promise kept, until the very end of all death. 

Sixteen year old Lilith Pierce’s mom is getting remarried. Which, sucks. To one of the richest men in Europe. Which, honestly? Sucks a little less. 

Lilith’s warily stoked – after Dad disappeared, it’s been all tears and police visits and sleeping pills for Mom. So, yeah. She’ll suck it up for seven months and get shipped off to the ultra-luxe, ultra-selective Institut Le Silvere – a prestigious boarding school in the Swiss Alps – while they honeymoon. How hard can it really be? It’s not like she’s got maybe-permanent hypervigilance, or anything.

It’s not like the woods around the school are maybe-alive. 

It’s not like she’s being stalked by a man with glowing red eyes. 

It’s not like the neighboring village whispers that all the students are cursed.

It’s not like resident model Ciel Lautrec is the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen, or anything. Too beautiful to be human. So beautiful the hypervigilance shuts right up. It’s not like she can’t handle Silvere’s self-appointed, self-conceited lawkeeper slash bully Alistair Strickland. Because she can. She can handle it all.

She’s always handled it all. Because she’s Lilith-fucking-Pierce.

And the forest knows that best of all.

After bingeing both books from the Bring Me Their Hearts series, I went in search for more Sara Wolf books and found this one called The Unfairfolk. It sounded interesting and it was on Kindle Unlimited, so I downloaded it right away.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was a definitely a wild ride. We get a front row seat into Lilith’s thoughts, a she is a teenager with many, many thoughts – sometimes it’s maddening! She gets sent to a boarding school in Europe where dignitaries from all over the world, send their kids. The only connection to money she has, is her new step-father, so she doesn’t quite belong in this school.

Lilith does manage to make friends and an enemy as well. But school social hierarchies are not the only thing that poses a challenge to Lilith – there is something going on at the Institut de Silvere, something dark and sinister. Will Lilith uncover what is going on or will it be too late?

  • I love Sara Wolf’s snarky characters! And it’s the same in The Unfairfolk where Lilith is just full of comebacks and humor to shield herself. She is a complicated teen. She is fearful from something traumatizing that happened in the past but that doesn’t stop her from seeming tough on the outside. There is an array of interesting and diverse characters in this story – I look forward to learning more about them!
  • Most of the story takes place at the boarding school with hints of something sinister in the woods. There was a dark tone to this story and I tend to love stories that go there, but also it’s vague which was frustrating.
  • Lilith has a past and this book touches on some dark topics like domestic abuse and there is also a part about someone who is a cutter. It’s definite triggers, but also – I remember being a teenager and knowing people in my circle dealing with those problems…so it definitely brings up real feelings about this issues. I liked Lilith’s teenage voice, being a victim of abuse herself and witnessing it. I felt her fears when it came to people grabbing her out of the blue or just people touching her in general. That was eye-opening and a good reminder, some people don’t want to be hugged or touched for reasons we don’t know about.
  • Coming off reading Bring Me Their Hearts series, I did start comparing this to that and this story is way different and not what I was expecting. The Unfairfolk is urban fantasy…but the fantasy or magic is mostly hinted at in this volume. Nothing really happens until the very end where we are thrown into another world! It’s wild, and I was hoping we’d get there sooner in the story but most of the book is about Lilith and being at boarding school.
  • If you don’t want to be stuck in a teenager’s head who curses a lot and has crude humor then you might not enjoy this book. I don’t mind and thought a lot of it was funny as well. 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • What is up with the ending and cliffhanger! Ugh…just when we were being introduced to the Fair Folk of Valen! 😏
  • Triggers: abuse, cutting

Am I going to read the next book in the series, YES. Was I entertained? Yes. Were we in Lilith’s head a bit too much – maybe. Do I want to know what the heck Valen is and who we will meet there?….Heck yes. This story was funny, at times dark and mysterious. Strange? For sure, at times I wasn’t sure what I was reading but it definitely kept me intrigued. Solid first book for a young adult urban fantasy with lots of room to grow!

Book Review | A Heart So Fierce and Broken

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 450

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Book Series, Romance

Find the heir, win the crown. 

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom. 

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

What happened?!

The sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lovely, takes place right after the events of the first book. Grey is on the run, there is a search for the missing heir, and there is a new character thrown into the mix – Lia Mara, Karis Luran’s eldest daughter. The story is told through their perspectives.

I don’t know why this book didn’t hold my attention, maybe I wanted too see more of Rhen and Harper, but not in the way they appeared in this book. Anyway let’s get to my likes and hmmm’s:

  • I loved Grey in the first book, so it was nice to have this be his story and perspective. I’m even happy he found someone to fall for.
  • Lia Mara is an intriguing new character because she is the eldest daughter of Karis Luran but not the heir, that title belongs to her sister. But she wants to help bring peace to the warring sides and tries to do it on her own and gets into some trouble. I like how she never gives up.
  • By the end of this book there is such a conflict between Rhen and Grey…I can’t imagine how book three is going to pan out.
  • I was bored in the beginning. I loved Grey in book one so why did his story, THIS story – not keep me interested? Not even with Lia Mara in the picture made this story move any faster for me. I skimmed a lot from the halfway point until the end. Maybe I was just waiting for more Rhen and Harper appearances.
  • Rhen turned into like…evil Rhen! I thought he was cold in book one, but wow…he really wanted to find out who the heir was huh? And at any cost AND Harper couldn’t even stop him. 🤭 Like, what happened Rhen? SMH. Rhen is still trapped it seems even though the curse was broken. 😒
  • I had no expectations for this book – I remember the first one because Harper stood out a lot, and I may be in the minority but I liked her with Grey haha, not Rhen. Rhen was just a bit cold to me and he is definitely cold in this one!

Overall, I think if you wanted a book from Grey’s perspective then here you have it! I guess I was expecting to see Rhen and Harper in it but when they did appear…it was definitely different from what I imagined. The two kingdoms are definitely now on the brink of war and I will definitely read the next book to see who wins but I’m also kind of sad for Rhen and Harper. We shall see what happens…

Book Review | Find Me Their Bones (Bring Me Their Hearts, #2)

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Find Me Their Bones (Bring Me Their Hearts, #2)

Author: Sara Wolf

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 400

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

No one can save her.

In order to protect Prince Lucien d’Malvane’s heart, Zera had to betray him. Now, he hates the sight of her. Trapped in Cavanos as a prisoner of the king, she awaits the inevitable moment her witch severs their magical connection and finally ends her life.

But fate isn’t ready to give her up just yet.

With freedom coming from the most unlikely of sources, Zera is given a second chance at life as a Heartless. But it comes with a terrible price. As the king mobilizes his army to march against the witches, Zera must tame an elusive and deadly valkerax trapped in the tunnels underneath the city if she wants to regain her humanity.

Winning over a bloodthirsty valkerax? Hard. Winning back her friends before war breaks out? A little harder.

But a Heartless winning back Prince Lucien’s heart?

The hardest thing she’s ever done.

I’m addicted to this series. I started reading the sequel after I read the first book and the only regret I have is I have to wait for the third book. 🥺

Book two takes off right after Bring Me Their Hearts and that cliffhanger. Zera still doesn’t have her heart but she’s lost the friends she made when they didn’t know she was a Heartless. Now they know and they don’t trust her and she doesn’t trust herself around them either, especially Lucien. So why does he keep trying to see her still?

Zera is on a new mission to get her heart back from her new witch and this time she won’t let her feelings for Lucien come between her and her real heart.

  • I love how Zera has to pick up the pieces from shattering her “unheart” and face the people who now hate or are afraid of her. She resolved to focus on getting her heart back and not fall over Lucien like before. And I really loved her new dangerous mission because we get to meet Yorl, a celeon and see Zera antagonize her. Plus it is NOT a love triangle, yay! She just makes a new friend and she needs one after she lost her old friends. She’s as sassy as ever, wearing a smile as her armor, I kept thinking, “Chin up! That’s my girl!” lol.
  • This mission involves getting very close to a dangerous creature the valkerax, which is a giant wyrm with serrated teeth and sounds crazy frightening. But Zera wants her heart back so bad…she needs to do this, even if she dies each time she’s with it!
  • The introduction of a new villain…Lucien’s sister, Varia and I really hate her. UGH. I don’t like her but I like that this story has a villain that isn’t so clear cut evil. People love her, adore her and Zera is bound to her now. So how does Zera not hurt Lucien again and yet break free from Varia somehow. Varia also has grand plans of peace between witches and humans but to others it sounds like dominant control over everyone.
  • The story never lags, it moves on hurtling towards the end and ANOTHER cliff-hanger. We watch Zera deal with her conflicted feelings about Lucien, her heart, her fears, her humor, her many deaths dealing with the valkerax. She’s so freaking brave and I love her. I want her to have a happy ending somehow.
  • Hmmm? Another cliffhanger…😭 and I need book three. TODAY.
  • This book is killing me with Zera and Lucien being apart – like…I need them to just come together and let bygones be bygones. ☹️ I want them both happy!
  • Triggers: violence, blood, self-harm (I really hate Varia)

I’m so glad I decided to read this series and I am going to scour NetGalley daily hoping the third book is available for request because I need to know what happens to Zera and the whole crew. Even Varia…is there a chance for her to redeem herself? I am a new fan of this author and I hope to read more of her work. I need the third book – that is all. 😍

Book Review | Bring Me Their Hearts

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Bring Us Their Hearts

Author: Sara Wolf

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 370

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

It was a crazy week of negative news all over the world and I decided to pick up this book and read it. I read it one night, finally reading past midnight (it’s been awhile since a book kept me up!).

A Heartless, Zera wants her heart back but her witch won’t give it back until she completes a mission to prevent another war between witches and humans. The mission? Take the heart of the Crown Prince, Lucien d’Malvane. And I mean, TAKE THE HEART, not win his heart…she has to pull it out of his chest. 😳 By the end of the book, can she do it?

  • This was pure escapism and so fun for me to read! Yes, a bit morbid and dark at times, but Zera is on a mission to take the heart of someone. Like she literally has to put her hand into his chest and rip it out. 😳
  • Zera is a Heartless, she “died” when she was 16 but now she’s immortal just as long her witch has her heart. I love Zera, she’s kind of all over the place, but her humor is her armor and she cracked me up a lot. I felt for her so much, she just wants her heart back and her memories of her past life with her mom and dad. For the most part she can pass off as human, but when the hunger in her takes over she turns into a monster and kills. 😥 I am rooting so hard for Zera and I hate her tough choices but it makes this story so addicting.
  • Malachite – Prince Lucien’s bodyguard is awesome and I love how he and Zera tease each other. He has Prince Lucien’s back and I like learning about him being a Beneather or Bene-Thar. As I said, I love the humor!
  • The world building is rich with witchlore, a war between witches and humans and different kinds of beings in this world like celeons (like cat people) and of course the Heartless. I was immersed into the world right in the beginning.
  • There was action, humor, a romance budding between a cold prince and a funny Heartless – of course she’s supposed to take his heart though, which makes things complicated. I loved the angst.
  • Then ending is killer! It’s crazy and wild and a cliff-hanger. Thank goodness I had the foresight to borrow the sequel at the same time!
  • Lucien comes off arrogant and irritating but that doesn’t deter Zera. She gets under his skin and it’s so good that I wanted MORE of them.
  • Triggers: death, violence

This was the perfect series to start during this crazy time with the everything shutting down around us in the real world. I loved learning what it means to be Heartless and reading quickly to the end to see if Zera could really take Lucien’s heart. I liked the court intrigue and the world building. Zera was made a Heartless without a choice…and now she has a chance to get her heart back. Will she? I’m addicted to this series and cannot wait to find out what happens next.

Book Review | Circle of Shadows

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Circle of Shadows

Author: Evelyn Skye

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 451

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

I really, really wanted to love this one but sadly it felt so short of my expectations.

Sora and her gemina, Daemon are Taiga warriors – think ninjas. They are sent on a mission and instead get caught up in a bigger problem when they spy Prince Gin – the Empress’ brother – alive and with a new magic.

This story has fighting, secrets, betrayals and more.

  • I loved the world building. It seems inspired by Japan but don’t quote me on that. The kingdom of Kichona came to life when it was described. When Sora and Daemon travel from town to town, I could envision myself in that town eating the foods and watching the celebrations.
  • There is action, mostly in the latter half of the book and let me just tell you…it’s pretty ruthless. Story wise when it came to Prince Gin’s mission, it was brutal and I’m actually glad it went there – because he is quite a villain.
  • I liked the short chapters because it moved the story along faster because I was getting bored with the story in the middle. So yay for the short chapters.
  • Not gonna lie, I skimmed this book starting from almost midway into the book because I couldn’t get into it. I think my biggest issue was the names. Fairy. Broomstick. Glass Lady. Like…give me a name like Sora and Daemon! Sora is also Spirit and Daemon is Wolf and it interchanged and at times I was like…who? What?….so it bugged me a lot. Now if this was a graphic novel (because I think this would make an awesome graphic novel…)…I wouldn’t mind names like Broomstick.
  • And with the names being that way…this very detailed world building and complicated story felt at times…simple or it never went deep when I wanted it to. It literally felt flat to me.
  • Then there is the love triangle which appeared almost at the end! 🤨 Why?
  • Triggers: violence, sacrificial scene

This story fell flat for me but I think it has so much potential! I love the world building, and I think the characters are fun except I disliked their not having names except for a few main people. There is a message of loyalty and family in this story and the ending was pretty shocking. 😳 Overall I’m sure it’s a story that will find it’s audience, I’m not sure if I will pick up the sequel – we shall see.

ARC Review | Girls with Razor Hearts

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Girl with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #2)

Author: Suzanne Young

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Romance

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

Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Thank you to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

This book is the sequel to Girls with Sharp Sticks and right away it picks off after the end of the first book. Mena and the girls have left Innovations Academy and are on a mission to take down the investors who made them.

  • I felt this second book was faster paced, at least, the latter half is and I enjoyed it very much.
  • This whole series has been about the harassment and abuse that women are subjected to because they are female but this time, Mena and her girls are doing what they can to find their power and make their own choices. It is inspiring!
  • We learn more about the history of women, yet at times this book felt very current because of the issues and situations that Mena and the girls at Stoneridge Prep experience. So I’m not really sure what time this series is set in – but it’s definitely a time when women have been reduced to being very insignificant. And now they are trying to replace women altogether with these perfect AI girls.
  • We find out more about the players behind Innovations Academy and as more secrets are revealed, I did find myself surprised. We meet some new people in this sequel, a lot of them are just more people who want to control the girls but Mena and her friends are fighting back, thank goodness.
  • Mena and her girls have an amazing bond and can love – even though they are considered machines. I love that about them.
  • Lots of times in this book it made me wonder where the story was going, but mostly in a good way. We meet new characters like Garrett, Raven, Adrian and Rosemarie and it makes the story more intriguing!
  • I think at times when Mena and Sydney was at the school investigating who the son of a investor could be, I wondered if there was a better to find out that information. 🤔 It definitely worked to show how awful the boys at this school was 😒 but Mena and Sydney were straight out of the academy and I felt like they were in danger so many times. But at times I felt not much was happening on their investigation part (going to Rugby games…) and I wanted a breakthrough to happen.
  • There are a lot of bad men and boys in this series…not a lot of good ones. I wish there were more good ones! Jackson is a good one, and there are feelings involved with him and Mena but their relationship is not the focus of this series.
  • Triggers: sexual harassment, assault, violence

This is a series with a message, that girls have been mistreated for way too long and they are fighting back against men. It made me angry, it made me feel helpless for these girls and I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series. Will they get their revenge on men and the investors? Will they become girls with razor hearts? 😟 We shall see.

ARC Review | It Sounded Better in My Head

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: It Sounded Better in My Head

Author: Nina Kenwood

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 272

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

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

When her parents announce their impending divorce, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting, or at least mildly upset. Then Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, hook up, leaving her feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward. She’d always imagined she would end up with Zach one day―in the version of her life that played out like a TV show, with just the right amount of banter, pining, and meaningful looks. Now everything has changed, and nothing is quite making sense. Until an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even further.

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

It Sounded Good in My Head is a surprising and delightful read that left me smiling. The story is set in Australia and follows Natalie who is full of teenage insecurities and who can blame her? She’s suffered from bad acne in her adolescent years, and it was so bad she was teased relentlessly. Medication has helped her but it’s left her scarred, and so anxious. Thank goodness for her best friends Zach and Lucy, who know the best of her and maybe this someone new who will see past her insecurities and hopefully like her too.

  • Natalie’s teenage insecurities are on point. I never suffered from bad acne until after I turned 19, but my sister suffered from it in middle school. It eats away at your confidence, makes you feel horrible and especially in high school where everything seems magnified – it can be awful. Natalie’s fears have made her into an anxious person, especially about her appearance. All the thoughts in her head, I’ve had them – haven’t we all?
  • So happy Natalie had two best friends, Zach and Lucy, she could count on. I liked knowing her true thoughts about when said two best friends started dating each other, but the fact they might a cool trio made me happy Natalie had a support group. And I love Zach’s family who treated her like their family also.
  • The awkwardness in this book is so funny and cringe-worthy, I felt for Natalie at the first party she attends with Owen and Alex. It was giving me anxiety just reading it because I wanted her to be okay. And all the awkwardness between her and Alex hooking up or trying to get together was so real.
  • Natalie’s voice is strong. I got swept up in her thoughts and insecurities. We even get back story on some of her reactions, like the boys who teased her about her pimples. 😒 She tells us how she became so anxious – and we see her try to wade through social situations and a lot of times failing at them. What I love about Natalie is that yes she will flee a situation and break down and cry but that doesn’t stop her from getting up the next day and living her life as best she can with her anxiety. It’s scary to like a boy when you aren’t even sure what is there to like about yourself. Alex was the somewhat non-perfect guy to like because hiding under what she thought was “perfection” was someone as insecure with his life also. We don’t have it together folks! I mean, who really does?
  • The story starts off with Natalie’s parents announcing their divorce and though it seems like a big issue, I felt like it faded to the background. Maybe it was how Natalie was coping with the situation though – she does talk more to her parents about it closer to the end of the book but it’s an amicable parting so maybe there was much drama there to begin with.
  • Natalie and Alex’s relationship happens pretty quick in the timeline of this book but it’s due to the both of them stumbling around trying to figure what they are doing. It’s not insta-love since she’s known Alex for a long time, but Natalie tries to move the relationship to the next level pretty quick, again, due to insecurities.

I absolutely enjoyed reading this book! Natalie’s insecurities and anxieties are so relatable. I liked watching her go from a girl who seems absolutely terrified to be at a party to the girl telling Alex what she feels and showing him her scars. 👏🏼 I was so proud of her. This is a wonderful debut book that teens will be able to relate to and I look forward to reading more books from this author.