Friday, February 23, 2018

ARC Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Written by: Alexandra Christo
Published: March 8, 2018 by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

*** I received an advance copy of this book from Michelle who got it from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

When Michelle told me she had an ARC of this book and asked me if I wanted to read I immediately said yes. It sounded like a completely brilliant story, and it was. It was a dark YA fantasy with great characters and a fascinating world.

My first thought about this book is how dark and brutal that it is. If this is a Little Mermaid retelling, and I think it most certainly is, it's a very dark one. This book doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the brutality pf the world and plot. The characters are vicious, the plot is bloody, and the world is intense. I love my fantasy to be on the darker side and I very much appreciated that with this book. It added the drama and interest of the book.

The plot added to the drama as well. I don't think that it's the most cohesive plot but it was a pretty interesting one. For one thing there was the  retelling aspect. I can't say that I have read a lot of Little Mermaid retellings but they are typically really interesting ones and this was no exception. I loved the changes that the author made. It elements of the familiar story but still made it a story all its own. But there was more to it that that. There was a good amount of political intrigue and plenty of action. It did built to an exciting conclusion but if I am being entirely honest I wish there were more twists and turns along the way. It's not that this book was trying to be a mystery it's just that I like a good mystery and I wish this book had one.

The plot of this book was also dull of drama and darkness. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to the world of the sirens, controlled by the Sea Queen, ripping out hearts to celebrate their birthdays. There is a culture and history to the sirens that was inventive and engaging. I really liked learning about them and seeing it all play out. Then later in the book we learn about the human kingdoms and the war they have been having with the sirens. It was just another interesting layer to the story.  But I do kind of wish we learned more about it, particularly the history of the world. I had thought and hoped there was more to it but like the plot, that's just me overthinking things and wanted a mystery and twists that didn't exist.

I also enjoyed the characters. They were intense and complex. We really have two main characters here. Lira, who is the daughter of the Sea Queen, and Elian who is a prince and wannabe pirate. Both characters, while different, are similar in that they want to be what they desire independent of their families expectations of them. Lira is tough and headstrong while Elian is smart and dedicated to his people and purpose. I was rooting for both characters to get what they wanted even when those two things were different. But they were even better together. They had great banter and by the end I think their relationship even one me over. It wasn't super swoony but it kind of surprised me that I enjoyed it.

All in all I think this was a good read and a very enjoyable debut. As a fan of dark fantasies I really enjoyed of intense and brutal it was. I'd love a prequel so I could learn more about the world.

I give To Kill a Kingdom by Alexander Christo 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I really enjoyed this book. Fans of dark YA fantasies should check it out. And also if you are looking for a new and different fairy tale retelling with a lot of magic then pick up this book.

Have you read To Kill a Kingdom? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Series I've Decided I No Longer Want to Read/Finish

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

1.) The Remnant Chronicles by Mary Pearson
I know a lot of people love this series. I am not one of those people. I was super excited about the first book, I loved the tension and mystery, then suddenly it became a travel and all the drama was gone. I'm not really interested in more.

2.) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Another series that a ton of people love and I just couldn't get into. I'm not a big contemporary fan and I tried this series because I know a lot of people love it. But it just wasn't for me. I didn't like the romance and I didn't love the characters.

3.) A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I thought I was gping to love this book and this series. But then I read the first book and hated it so much that I started this blog. I think I heard recently that they are doing a TV show and I am slightly tempted to watch it, but not finish the series.

4.) Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
The first book in this series was okay, and for awhile I considered reading the next book in the series. But mostly I was just curious to have my theories validated and to own them because the covers are so pretty. But over time I have just lost interest.

 5.) Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
The second book in this duology comes out soon and I really don't want to read it. I saw it on Netgalley and considered requesting it but then I remembered that I wasn't blown away by the first book and would rather read something I would love.

6.) The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
This is another book I was super excited to read but didn't love as much as I had hoped and another series I want to own because the covers are so pretty. But I just saw the new cover and while I thought it was beautiful I have no interest in reading it.

7.) Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
I was not super impressed by the first book in this series. But it wasn't as dark as I was hoping or as interesting a retelling. So when the new books in the series came out I just had no interest in reading the rest.

8.) Zodiac by Romina Russell
I thought this was going to be an amazing YA science fiction series but it didn't blow me away. I mean don't get me wrong, it was fine. But it wasn't so good that I had much interest in reading more books in the series. Plus I think it's up to four books now and I'm just not interested.

9.) Kingdom of Fire by Jessica Cluess
I just saw the cover for the third book in this series and my first thought was "wow, is there still more books coming out in that series?" I'm just not all that interested in reading them. The first book was fine but I'm not invested enough to read more.

10.) The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
I saw the cover for the third book in this series and thought it looked really cool and then I saw what it was for and I lost interest. I thought this book was going to be a total be book but it wasn't and I don't want to finish it.

11.) Reawakened by Collen Houck
I was super excited to read a book inspired by Egyptian mythology. But I really just wasn't impressed by this book. It was just too cliché a supernatural romance. The covers are cool but that's where my interest in this series ends.

12.) The Black Angel Chronicles by Kristen Orlando
I read the first book in this series recently and I was super excited for a spy novel but that's not really what this book was. It was much more of a contemporary romance. But with the second book coming out I just am not interested.

There you have it. All the series I have decided I'm not interested in reading anymore or finishing. Have you read any of these series? What did you think? Are there any that I should actually finish? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, February 19, 2018

ARC Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Title: Tess of the Road
Written by: Rachel Hartman
Published: February 27, 2018 by Random House Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I loved the Seraphina series and I was so excited to jump back into this world and see more of Goredd and the larger world of this series. And while that aspect of the book was great, I didn't love the book as much as I expected.

I will say however that I did love the characters, especially the main character. I remember with the Seraphina series I loved the secondary characters but didn't totally love the main character. Here it was the other way around. Tess is an amazing main character. Unlike Seraphina, she was incredibly sympathetic. She had been through a lot in her life and it's definitely not all good. When we first meet her she's not really coping with it very well. As the book develops and we learn more about what happened, we watch Tess come to terms with it and move past her tragic past. It makes her a resilient and likeable character. There were a few secondary characters I did like, including Pathka. Pathka is Tess's best friend and a quigutl, which is basically a small dragon. And Pathka's daughter Kiriku was also really interesting. In case you are wondering, you do get to check back in with Seraphina and a few other characters from that series. If I had read it more recently I may have remembered a few more.

I also really loved the world of this series. In Tess of the Road it will come as no surprise that you get to see more of the world as Tess takes us on the road. A lot of the book is spent in other kingdoms including Samsam and Ninys. I loved being able to see those kingdoms and interact with their citizens. And while the religious aspect of the book was as important as it was in the two previous books it is still a part of it. We even get to see more religious orders and more of their practitioners. I really love that about this series. It makes it feel more like an old school fantasy or even like historical fiction for that reason.

But we can't walk about the world of this book without talking about dragons. In this book it wasn't about the traditional dragons or even half dragons like in the first two books. Here we have the quigutl. They are such interesting creatures. They are sort of like small and spiky dragons. But they also have their own language, culture, and behaviors. I really loved learning about them and seeing them interactions with each other and the larger world. There is more to it than that, more fantasy creatures than that, but I don't want to give too much away. It was a great addition to the world and really expanded things in a complex and interesting way.

My biggest frustration with this book however was with the plot. I'm a big plot driven reader so having a good plot is very important to me. I was expecting a book with some mystery and adventure, but I got very little of both. This book was much more of a travel story, which as you may know if you are a longtime follower of this blog isn't something that I ever really enjoy. To me a travel story isn't enough of a plot, it's a means to an end not an actual story. Luckily there was more to it than that  though. This was much more of a character-driven story which actually pretty interesting but I still kind of wanted more. I think perhaps because this was a long book. It took kind of a long time for me to get into the book and as the book developed I wasn't as hooked as I hoped. I think that the plot here just wasn't my kind of thing. But I still enjoyed it.

On the whole this was an interesting and unique Young Adult Fantasy. It had a fascinating world full of fantastical creatures and likable and complex characters with engaging develop. I just think the plot wasn't what I was hoping for and it just didn't blow me away.

I give Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you liked Seraphina then you should definitely check this book out. It's a good return to the world that you fell for in this series. But even if you haven't read that series and you are looking for a fantasy travel adventure pick this up.

Have you read Tess of the Road? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Sky in the Deep
Published: April 24, 2018 by Wednesday Books (Macmillan)


Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Why I'm Waiting:

This is one of, if not, my most anticipated debut of 2018. I mean it's been on my TBR for ages since I first learned about it from I think Mackenzi Lee last year at some point.  It is a total me book. High fantasy inspired by Vikings. I mean COME ON! I've been wanting a good Viking book for ages and I'm super excited for this one in the hopes that I finally found it.

I'm also super intrigued by this book because of the character. The main character is a tough female warrior and I am totally on board for that. I love strong female characters and I am so on board for that in this book. I haven't seen a ton of early reviews for this one but the reviews I have seen were mostly really positive and even the negative ones enjoyed the character.
I am definitely excited about this book. I was approved for an e-ARC on Netgalley so I am hoping to read it sooner rather than later. But I am a little nervous. I don't want hype or my expectations to get the best of me here. I am really looking forward to this one and I hope it lived up to my hype.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Sky in the Deep along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Relationships I Would Like to Check Back In On

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

If you are a regular reader here you know that I am not a big fan of romance and in most books I wish there was no romance at all. But every once in awhile there will be a relationship that I am super curious about that I will want to check back in about. Sometimes it's to verify that they're still together and sometimes it's to make sure they broke up.

1.) Lara Jean and Peter K in To All the Boys I've Loved Before series by Jenny Han
Spoilers for Always and Forever, Lara Jean: I am so curious what these two are up now. Did they make it work long distance and stay together while they are away at college? I sure hope so. If these crazy kids can't make it work, who can?

2.) Kaz and Inej in the Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo
This relationship was so painful in how long it took to develop. Never in my life have I been so excited about two characters holding hands. But I need to check in to make sure they did more. I need that! We all do.

3.) Ronan and Adam in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater
I think we will get just this in the new Ronan series Maggie is working on. Unless it's a prequel which I am also okay with. I just feel like this ship had such a slow payoff I want to make sure they are still together and still happy.

4.) Kel and Lila in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
And yet another book with a long payoff. I guess I really like a slowburm. Anyway, I would like to check back in to see what these two are up to. Are they being pirates together? Traveling through dimensions? Just chilling in Red London? I'm hoping all of the above.

5.) Simon and Blue in Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Another good slowburn. I really love these two and I want to make sure they are still together. Young/first love is tricky that way. But I am very hopeful that we will get some updates in Leah on the Offbeat.

6.) Abigail and Charlie in the Jackaby series by William Ritter
I don't want to give too much away because that would spoil some of the best moments from The Dire King, which was great. But I will say, there are two very specific reasons why I want to check in on this ship. I'd love a spinoff series.

7.) Kestrel and Arin the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkowski
This relationship is one I am kind of surprised I shipped but they had been through so much. But I want to make sure they are still together because, as I said, they have been through so much.

8.) Chubs and Vida in The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken
Now don't get me wrong, I ship these two hardcore but a part of me thinks that they aren't really in it for the long haul. I want them to stay together but I feel like they are just too different and end up

9.) David and Megan in The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson
This is another one like the previous one. I love these two and I ship them real bad but I feel like they are just so different. A part of me thinks that over time they would definitely break up. Sorry, David.

10.) Sophronia and Soap in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger
So here's the thing about these two, I wasn't sure I shipped it until something happened that I was really sad about. But this series has expanded and has spinoffs but there has not been any references to Sophronia and Soap and I wish there was.

Honorable mention from some I don't ship:

How to Hang a Witch by Adrianna Mather
Is this girl still making out with ghosts? I sure hope not. There was a perfectly good guy next door.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I didn't finish this series but I heard Anna and Etienne got engaged and like, what?

There you have it. All the ships I wish I could check back in on. What ships do you want to follow up with? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Audiobook Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (or J.K. Rowling)

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Written by: Newt Scamander/J/K. Rowling
Published: Revised Edition March 11, 2017 by Pottermore

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A brand new edition of this essential companion to the Harry Potter stories, with a new foreword from J.K. Rowling (writing as Newt Scamander), and 6 new beasts!

A set textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander’s masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the wizarding world. Scamander’s years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books – the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail...Others will surprise even the most ardent amateur Magizoologist. Dip in to discover the curious habits of magical beasts across five continents… .

This is going to be a short and sweet review because this was a short and sweet book. I have been wanting to read this for awhile but I had never picked up the book but then I snagged the audiobook and it was the perfect time to listen with my dragon themed month. So I listened to the audio on a few drives and I am glad I did.

The fun thing about this audiobook is that it is narrated by Eddie Redmayne who plays Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts movies. It gave it a really fun feel to it. Eddie has a very distinct voice so it t really felt like Newt was the one narrating the book and therefore writing it. Narrator is so important when it comes to an audiobook so I really appreciated that got such a specific and good narrator for this one.

As far as the content, it was cool to learn more about the beasts and beings featured in Harry Potter. Unsurprisingly certain creatures had more information about them. For example there was a lot of dragons, phoenixes, hippogriffs, centaurs, and other ones that feature heavily in the actual series. But other creatures didn't have much information at all. I think the point is supposed to be that we don't know much about these kinds of creatures but as a reader I would have liked to learn more. I would have especially liked there to be more about the new creatures. You can tell the ones that were added as part of the movie tie in. I liked being able to learn about Thunderbirds and Horned-Serpents but they almost felt like an afterthoughts. I know I can't  expect massive amounts of information but I just wanted more.

But as a big fan of the Harry Potter series that was a great read and listen. It was nice to get some additional information and context that makes an already interesting and deep world seem even deeper. I think fans of the series who have not taken the time to read the book should definitely do that if for no other reason than to level up your fandom cred.

I give Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I definitely recommends this book to Harry Potter fans. And if you are fan of audiobooks and you are looking for one that is short and sweet for a trip I think this is worth it for that,

Have you read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, February 9, 2018

ARC Review: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Reign the Earth
Series: The Elementae #1
Written by: A.C. Gaughen
Published: January 30, 2018 by Bloomsbury

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I really enjoyed the Scarlet trilogy so I was incredibly excited that she was coming out with a new book, especially one that is a YA fantasy with a world based on elemental magic. And I was not at all disappointed by this book. It was a fantastic read with great characters and an amazing world.

I honestly think that my favorite thing about this book was the characters. A.C. Gaughen really knows how to develop complex and likable characters. This book proved that even more. Our main character Shalia was so easy to root for and want to succeed. For one thing I really loved how kind and caring Shalia was. She is the kind of person that you want in powers. She sticks up for those less fortunate and wants to do what's best for her people. She is also tough and resilient despite everything that she had been through, which was a lot. There was an incredibly vicious antagonist here who I absolutely despised. But that was just another example of how A.C. Gaughen does characterization so well. Seriously, the characters just jump off the page and made this book so enjoyable.

The real great thing about the characters and heart of this book was in its relationships, both positive and negative. As far as the good relationships go, so much of this book had to do with family and the power of family. I really loved the way that Shalia and her family interacted. You can tell they loved each other so much. In fact I think my favorite character may have been Shalia's brother Kairos. Kai was amazing and such a great brother. He was protective but supportive. Then you had Calix's family which was such an interesting dynamic. The way they interacted was so different. But his sister Danae was super interesting and so was his brother Galen. The two brothers couldn't be more different, most shown by the way they treated Shalia. Calix was abusive and aggressive. And when I say abusive, I mean it. They did not shy away from the physical and emotional abuse. But Galen, by contrast, was kind and gentle. I didn't really ship it but I can see people who are more into romance would. But either way, the best part of this book was definitely the characters and their relationships.

The other really fantastic thing about this book was the world. I used to not really love elemental magic because it always reminded me of Avatar: The Last Airbender. But maybe I stopped caring about that or maybe books have just been leaning into that comparison because these days I love when books remind me of that, and this book definitely did. The magical system was based on elemental magic and in the book we got to see people using the power of water, earth, and a little fire. I really appreciated this too because it was a magical system that had clear rules and even a history to it. We didn't learn too much about it but Gaughen did a good job of showing the reader the world and not telling them about it. I'm excited to learn more in later books.

As far as the plot I definitely did enjoy it, but I feel like this is a book that just didn't have much of a plot. I'd say that it is probably much more character-driven than plot driven. There was plenty of tension and the booked moved along in a consistent and interesting way but it was less about reaching for a specific goal and more about the characters and their decisions affecting what happened. I'm not usually a big fan of character-driven narratives but I really loved the characters here and so it made it all worthwhile.

I really loved this book. It had amazing characters with great relationships, an engaging world with a great magical system, and a character-driven plot that kept me interested from beginning to end. This is a great start to a series I am really excited to see develop.

I give Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! This is such a fantastic book. It's a great YA fantasy read that fans of the genre should definitely read. And if you loved the Scarlet series then definitely check out Gaughen's new series.

Have you read Reign the Earth? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!