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BOOK REVIEW: Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)

BOOK REVIEW: Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)by Marie Lu
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Oh man. Marie Lu KILLED it. This was phenomenal, and easily one of my favorite books of 2017.

I don’t even want to say much about the plot (hah if you know me, I normally like to go into books blind anyway). I’ll just say this – Emika is a kick ass heroine struggling to survive in a world where digital reigns. But she does something unexpected, which leads to a domino of events that land her in a crazy cool situation with the maker of Warcross.

Thats it. That’s all you get.

Hah okay but seriously… I am not a huge sci fi/futuristic/dystopian (not sure if this is actually dystopian though) fan. I’m a fantasy reader, point blank period. However, I LOVED Ready Player One, mostly because I played World of Warcraft for years when I was in college (heyo to my gamer friends.) And if you’ve read Ready Player One, you know its the perfect balance between fun references to crazy intense plot line, and it appeals to an audience beyond the themes it references. It was a freaking great story.

The same can be said about this.

Right now, my husband is actually reading my ARC of this and loving it. Like when we read Ready Player One together, he’s constantly nudging me and freaking out because Marie Lu knows her stuff. (Oh my gosh there’s a certain reference to WoW that had me actually screaming.)

But even if you have no gamer knowledge or you’re intimidated by books like this – trust me, don’t pre judge it. The story is damn fun and full of feels. Marie Lu has a way of sucking you into her characters, and her writing is so easy to follow. Not to mention, this is one of the coolest worlds I’ve read about, and Emika is so thoroughly developed in the beginning of the book that you’re instantly drawn to her and rooting for her hardcore.

You guys, I enjoyed EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. The whole book is so well written and holy crap, I think I jumped out of my bed a few times. Oh man. I wish I could say more, but there are some FUN plot twists. I guessed a few, but oh Marie Lu got me in the end. But try not to go in with expectations. Just get pulled along with the plot and have fun.

AND HOLY CRAP SLDFKJ:SLKFDJ BOOK TWO AHHHH I NEED IT NOWWWW. That set up… ermergershalkdjfal;skdfj.

***

Initial pre-review:

If you like Ready Player one, read this book.
If you didn’t like Ready Player one, read this book.
If you read only fantasy(like me), trust me, take a break from it and read this book.
If you liked this book, read Ready Player one (once the trauma wears down.) And then come off the high of RP1 and read this book.

Basically read this book.

BOOK REVIEW: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1)

BOOK REVIEW: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1)Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1)
by Rachel L. Dementer
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

* * *

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

* * *

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Beauty of the Beast is a slow-burn romance that features a descriptive, richly detailed, and atmospheric writing style. (l

I need to scream the word *TRIGGER* because there is extremely graphic rape. It is not glorified but it is extremely disturbing.

The writing hooked me from page one. I mean seriously guys, this might be the best prologue I’ve ever read. I was floored and TOTALLY into it. I had no doubt it was going to be a five star book.

And then things started to change. First of all, I need to commend the writing. I can’t even tell you how many lines I highlighted because of how beautifully written this book is. The rest? Perhaps its personal preference, but the story just didn’t work for me.

While the story is reminiscent of the Disney version (probably the closest I’ve read yet), it still holds up on its own as unique. No magic here folks, and it is MUCH darker. Not to mention the issues the book deals with (everything from abuse, rape, PTSD, etc.) Does it handle them well? Most of the time, yes, but I definitely had some issues with it. Especially with the rape. No, it is not glorified in the least OR made romantic in any way, but my question is… why? Why describe it in great detail? (No, it isn’t the beast who does it. It’s the ‘Gaston’ character – FYI.) I don’t know, I was just disturbed.

The other issues I had were the pacing. While I wanted to soak up the language, I was also trying to keep my eyes open for large chunks at a time.

The overall story (I.e. the romance) was okay at first, but then got cheesy, lustful, and just not my cup of tea. I think I’m just done reading Beauty and the Beast retellings. It’s more than likely personal taste, but I’m just not into the disturbed man going after the damsel in destress trope. I’m probably in the rare on that one. This book also reminded me of ‘Romancing the Duke’ – so that’s probably a good tell on whether or not you’ll like this. I see some comparing it to Phantom of the Opera and that kinda fits too (but I LOVE Phantom of the Opera soooo I don’t know.)

Additionally, I didn’t connect to the romance. The author was certainly going for the ‘healing’ aspect of romance – where both characters involved are recovering from PTSD – but I just didn’t buy it. Lust overtook the healing aspect and it just felt awkward at times.

I don’t want to say too much more, aside from that I DID appreciate little bits, for instance – Isabelle DOES stand up to Adam when he crosses a line / personal boundaries.

Anyway, I think I’m a rare one here, as I’ve seen only positive reviews for the most part. But it just wasn’t my cup of tea, unfortunately.

BOOK REVIEW: Roar by Cora Carmack

BOOK REVIEW: Roar by Cora CarmackRoar (Stormheart #1)
by Cora Carmack
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Okay, so there was A LOT of really cool elements and honestly the sequel is set up to be even better than the first, so I’m not looking forward to a year of waiting. On the same note, definitely some corny elements, which is to be expected. All in all though, it was definitely fun!

I’ll start with Aurora, or ‘Roar’. I actually really liked her. She’s a weak heroine, and to be honest, she DOES grow but her character development is far from finished, so by the end of the book, she still had her weak elements. I think some will get annoyed at her for it, but I appreciated it. Not every heroine has to be 100% badass 100% of the time.

At the beginning, she’s a princess who is held in isolation inside her castle by her mother in order to prevent people from finding out she doesn’t have storm magic, which is a hereditary thing in the royal family. So yeah, kinda a big deal that she doesn’t have it. She’s being forced to marry Cassius (more on this lovely chunk of words later) as quickly as possible so she can keep her kingdom before others find out. But as you can tell by the synopsis, Roar runs away, and I won’t say much more than that. I love the direction the author took her in because book two should be GREAT as I said above. Anyway, she has a cute little temper but a good heart and wasn’t overly spoiled by the whole palace life thing.

Now for Cassius, our resident dark and very questionable prince… YES. I am so here for him. He needed MUCH more screen time and I’m hoping he gets it in book two because asldkfja;lsdkjf. The beginning was SO STRONG when he first met Aurora. Like what even, can we please talk about chemistry? But then Roar overhears him and realizes he only plans to use her to get the crown. Whatever guys, I know that is *kinda true* but there’s also a lot more about him that we don’t understand, and he DEFINITELY has a good side too. I’m labeling him as an antihero and you can’t stop me. I have such high hopes for him. He’s kinda like… a baby Darkling?? Yes? Anyone?? (Dearest Cora… please please more Cassius…and Cassius and Roar…)

I kina have a feeling the author was hinting at something between Cassius an Nova but nooooooo aldskfja;ldkfj I need Cassius and Roar.

I’m also super interested in Casimir an the rest of Cassius’s family.

Once Roar runs away, she ends up with a new gang of storm hunters (which are super cool). Actually, let me stop there for a moment. The whole storm fighting and storm hearts thing was really neat and took this from being a typical fantasy book to a super unique magic system and storyline. As I mentioned above, there are definitely some cliches and cheesy parts that you find in most fantasies (especially in the romance egh) but the A+ world building kept me invested even during those times.

That bring me to Locke (resident head storm hunter broody guy). I liked him, but I didn’t fall head over heels with him. I think it was because he was the sole focus for Roar in, and by the end of the book, he kinda felt like a typical overprotective boyfriend who gets angry at anyone who even looks at his girl wrong. I don’t know. I mean, he and Roar did have some chemistry and I didn’t mind him, and I did feel for him and his story, but Cassius is just so much more interesting and I liked his dynamic with Roar more. I CAN’T HELP IT.

To summarize…

The Good:
-really cool world
-freaking cool magic system
-um the storms have personalities? SO COOL
-CASSIUS
-likeable yet weak heroine
-excellent villain development
-A+ set up for the sequel

The ‘eh’:
-romance got cheesy later on
-cheesy writing in the whole ‘love declaration’ blah blah stuff
-Cassius didn’t get enough book time
-not much resolution for things I wanted to see before the sequel (more below)

Before I get into spoilers below, I’ll just say definitely give this book a go if you’re in for a unique fantasy/world and don’t mind romance being the main focus (because it is) – but even if you aren’t huge on that part of it, there’s for sure hope for the sequel.

******SPOILERS BELOW******

Anyway, about 70% of the book is Roar traveling with Locke and his crew, and I did enjoy it and the pacing was pretty good, but at the end, I expected a cliffhanger, but I felt like there was way too much left open. I mean, Cassius never even gets close to her or gets any clues, and I was super disappointed because I was totally on board for a cat and mouse thing (I’m so lame) and Locke never finds out who she is… so we literally had no resolution in this book aside from Locke and Roar getting feelsy. We get a glimpse at Roar’s ‘ability’ which is cool, but not much else. Berlghhg I just need the second book please and thank you.

OKAY OKAY AND WHAAAT CASSIUS IS THE FIRST BORN OGMARGHER YESS I AM HERE FOR THIS.
(Are you guys tired of me talking about Cassius? Sorry.)

All the while Locke and Roar and their gang are doing their thing, there’s another villain being set up in the background so I’m super interested in that. Especially with the last paragraph of the book.

Anyway, is it too early to beg for an ARC of book two? Yes? Poo.

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri ManiscalcoStalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper)
by Kerri Maniscalco
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world

Wow okay this was super fun. I mean really – if you’re in the market for YA Sherlock Holmes with a badass heroine and a super snarky (and charming) sidekick, definitely pick this up. I do have some mixed feelings about parts and I’ll admit I skipped some chunks because ew, not for me. Some of the ending really rubbed me the wrong way, but you can see those details below in the spoiler tag.

Aubrey Rose is basically an unconventional female in her society. She’s super into education and volunteers her time at her uncle’s lab studying forensic science. And we get all the gory details, lol. So if you’re here for that kinda thing, you’ll enjoy it. If not, just skip over it. I’d say the story is just as enjoyable without the details of the… dead.

And then she meets the cocky, ever so flirty Thomas Cresswell who is pretty much Captain Carswell Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles reincarnate. Ohmigosh he is pretty much the reason I loved this book. The banter and everythinggggggg yessss give me more.

“Thomas smiled at my eye roll, puffing his chest up and standing with one foot proudly resting on a chair as if posing for a portrait. “I don’t blame you, I am rather attractive. The tall, dark hero of your dreams, swooping in to save you with my vast intellect. You should accept my hand at once.”

Anyway, a string of murders starts going down and as the story progresses, Aubrey starts to realize the murderer might be connected to her family somehow. And of course, Thomas is there to annoy Aubrey while she figures it all out.

“If I don’t murder you this afternoon, it’ll be a gift sent directly from God Himself, and I vow to attend services again,” I said, holding a hand against my heart.
“I knew I’d get you to church eventually.”

I would just like to say, for the record (and friends can vouch for me…) I KNEW WHO THE MURDER WAS ALL ALONG. So I win a cookie or something, right? I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT.

Anyway, I definitely was not into the saence part and I skipped it. Spirits are just not my thing, yo. I don’t feel like I missed out on much.

***Minor spoilers below – don’t read if you want to keep the mystery alive!***

As far as the ending, I definitely felt a bit of glee knowing I guessed the killer, but aside from that, it was just really sad. I actually even teared up a bit. And honestly, some of it really rubbed me the wrong way. (view spoiler)

But as far as the set up for the next book, I’m super on board with that. I’m already REALLY looking forward to it and trying to beg my way to an arc lol. Mostly I’m just hoping for lots of time with Thomas Cresswell, though I hope the banter stays alive!

BOOK REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

BOOK REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E SmithWindfall Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Part of this is a ‘it’s you, not me’ thing, because the writing was lovely. The author clearly put her heart and soul into this book. Some of the conversations and inner monologue is breathtakingly heart-achingly beautiful.

A certain type of reader will probably hug this book to pieces and cry over it. For me, I’m not exactly a contemporary reader, and this book kinda reminded me why. I have a really hard time dealing with modern day issues because my own life has so many right now – so it’s just one of those things. For some reason, I was thinking this was more of a light hearted book, but it really wasn’t. It deals with loss, death, some aspects of poverty, and the romance part of it was just really sad IMO. I mean, the ending was cute and all, but I just feel kinda sad and depressed?

I’m not going to retype the synopsis or even summarize it aside from saying it’s about a girl who is a ‘do-gooder’ and her best friend Teddy (whom she’s in love with) wins the lottery and basically changes into a total jerk face (even if he realizes it eventually).

65% of the plot is basically us seeing the MC get her hopes up only to be shoved off and brushed over time and time again by Teddy. We watch him make a million dumb asshole mistakes before he finally comes around. SO much of me was raging at how selfish someone could be with the money aspect and the relationship aspects. It literally hurt to read.

There were definitely some pacing issues too. I read the book really fast because I did feel emotionally invested at some points, but over all, not a ton happened to be honest. It’s very much about the inner struggle vs. big events happening.

Trigger warning for anyone who has a hard time diving into the aftermath of painful deaths/etc.

It did have a great ending, but all in all, I just feel kinda empty after having read it. I’m glad the characters make some amazing discoveries and decisions, but blah. It just isn’t the type of story that works well for me.

I still recommend it to those who love contemporaries who make you think about life/etc.

Thank you to the publisher & blogging for books for giving me a copy of this book to review!

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