Tag: Fantasy (page 1 of 89)

BOOK REVIEW: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

BOOK REVIEW: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. CraigHouse of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Thank you to Netgalley, Delacorte and Erin A. Craig for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly can’t believe this book doesn’t come out until August, because all I want to do is shove it in people’s hands and make them feel all the same magical feelings I felt when reading this phenomenal novel.

It honestly had everything I love in a book: Castles. Royalty. Strong family ties. Unique but not overly complicated world. Strong female lead. Swoon-worthy romance. Creepy atmosphere. Supernatural entities. Heart stopping peril. A book cover to die for.

Once there were twelve of us: the Thaumas Dozen. Now we stood in a small line, my seven sisters and I, and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a ring of truth to the grim speculations.

From the very opening scene, which was a funeral for one of the Thaumas Dozen sisters, I was immediately taken into this world, where (originally) twelve sisters, their father and their stepmother live in Highmoor, a grand castle near the ocean and rule over the land, but always in touch with the sea.

Unfortunately for Annaleigh, after her mother passes some years ago, her older sisters keep dying in mysterious and unfortunate ways until she is suddenly the second in line to take over the throne after her father’s passing. While several of the deaths could be attributed to accidents or suicide, Annaleigh is certain her most recent sister’s passing has something more sinister beneath it and is determined to figure out what is happening to her family. It is on one of her sleuthing missions does she meet the wonderful Cassius, who Annaleigh comes to befriend and trust.

I couldn’t help but smile, remembering their confrontation at the ball. “You sound jealous!”
“Hardly. And do you know why?” I shook my head. “Because I’m the one whispering in the corner with the prettiest girl in the room.”

Even with a blossoming romance to contend with, Annaleigh is determined to figure out what is causing members of her family to die. And here is where it starts to get creepy: one Annaleigh’s younger sisters starts drawing incredibly disturbing images she shouldn’t know anything about, Annaleigh experiences vivid dreams/moments that she can’t figure out if they are real or not, and all manner of spooky things are occurring around the house. Plus, more death.

I shook my head, as if warding off a buzzing mosquito.
None of this is real, it persisted. No one else sees it because it’s not really here to see. You’ve gone mad, my girl.
No. that wasn’t it. That wasn’t possible.
I wasn’t mad.
There had to be another explanation.
Does there?

The story continues to climb and build until everything comes crashing together at the end. And let me tell you, what an ending it was. Some things I had kind of guessed relatively close, while others I didn’t see coming at all. So many different plot points were so expertly tied up that I felt exhausted when I finally finished the last page. So much happens at the end and I just want to talk about it. I have so many feelings! I need to reread it, honestly, because I’m sure I missed things as I raced to see who made it out alive.

I loved Annaleigh’s dedication to her family, even when it meant putting others’ feelings ahead of hers, but at the end of the day, she had the ultimate say in what what would make her happy. Her relationship with her sisters was complicated, but full of love, and the same can be said of her relationship with her father. I adored Cassius and the wonderful aspects of Annaleigh he highlighted. His arc was super interesting and only added to the awesome world building of the story.

I’m honestly surprised this is the author’s first published novel, as it was so well done. I truly do not have enough good words to say about it and am already looking forward to reading it again, probably closer to the fall when the atmosphere will perfectly lend itself.

In case it wasn’t clear, I adored this book and almost all that it entailed. I will say, there are two scenes that involve an animal (a turtle). They aren’t the worst I’ve ever read, but they are disturbing, albeit short. As this is a major trigger for me, I feel it’s only fair to give others notice as well. So just be warned, but it’s easy to skip. I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did!

“All my years of imagining you,” he murmured, leaving a trail of kisses across my face, “and you are so much more than I ever could have dreamed of…”

This book will be released on August 6, 2019.

BOOK REVIEW: Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard

BOOK REVIEW: Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan DennardWindwitch (The Witchlands #2)
by Susan Dennard
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

Review:


“The holiest always have the farthest to fall.”
 

Want to hear something funny? At about 45% of the way through this I was convinced that this was just going to be a four star. I literally texted Chelsea that. It seemed to just be one of those typical middle books that really just had a lot of travelling going on. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just not completely an EPIC thing….Ahhhhahahaha. Boy was I SO VERY WRONG. The entire last half made me eat my words. 

She was broken. She was useless. She was the pointless half of a friendship. The one who would live forever in shadows, no matter what she did. No matter whom she fought.

While each book has featured everyone, each one is more focused around a specific character. Obviously this one is about Merik. At the beginning of the book the Jana is attacked and burned by seafire. Many die and all but one of Merik’s sailors believe he is dead. Basically, he is. He was very severely burned and if hadn’t of been for Cam, I’m not sure what would have happened. 

Honestly Merik’s story was pretty frustrating to read about in this book. After what’s happened with Kullen, with his ship, his burns, Vivia….just everything, really…Merik is pissed. He’s pissed at himself, pissed at the world—just a lot different from the Merik I knew and loved from the first book. And I got it, really I did. But that didn’t make reading about it any easier. I absolutely LOVE the quote that I’m putting below this because it marked a point where he basically started to get his head out of his ass about everything. Realizing Vivia was. Not. The. Enemy. Realizing Cam wanted to identify as a boy (like good lord took him way too long to get that through his thick skull, haha). Realizing that sometimes, you just have to save that one, instead of saving many. THAT PART WAS SO EPIC, TOO, AHHHH.

For weeks he had wanted that evidence, so he could prove once and for all that her approach to leadership was wrong—and Merik’s approach was right. 
That was the truth of it right there, wasn’t it? He’d seen what he’d wanted to see, even though, in the deepest furrows of his mind, he’d known Vivia was not the enemy. He had simply needed someone to blame for his own failings.

Speaking of Viva, I was SOOOOO pleasantly surprised with her character. She’s made out to be HORRIBLE in the first book and even for most of this one it’s easy to see how much of a stubborn ass she is. When she finally dropped that façade for the self that she truly was—she shone. So brightly. I can only hope the siblings can mend more together, later.

And there it was—that was who she was. Split right down the middle, she bore her father’s strength, her father’s drive. She carried her mother’s compassion, her mother’s love for Nubrevna. 
As that certainty settled over Vivia’s heart, she knew exactly what she had to do. It was time to be the person she should have been all along.

Other things that I loved in this book:
-Iseult journeying with Aeduan
-Aeudan interacting with Owl
-Vaness
-Every single thing about Safi (but I’m praying she finds out Merik is still alive ASAP)
-Learning more about Hell Bards 
-The impending doom of the upcoming war?????? Can only lead to epic-ness
-A lot of other things, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers

ALSO, can I just say how AMAZING Dennard’s writing is? There were SEVERAL parts towards the end where I got literal goosebumps reading about certain things happening or certain things being said. I am so happy I still have two more that I have instant access too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Initiate, complete.

BOOK REVIEW: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

BOOK REVIEW: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan DennardTruthwitch (The Witchlands #1)
by Susan Dennard
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Review:

“It wasn’t freedom she wanted. It was belief in something—a prize big enough to run for and to fight for and to keep on reaching toward no matter what.” 

AaaaaahhhHHHHH. <–this is a telltale sign that I loved a book if you haven’t noticed. I don’t even want to know how many reviews I’ve started like that ahahaha. Anyway, what the hell? Why didn’t I read this book YEARS ago?! I am obsessed right now. I went on a Tumblr stalking spree last night and kind of regret it, just like I always do because I’ve already spoiled a few things for myself. I can’t help it. It’s really a problem. So yeah, I am FIRMLY in the camp of people that LOVE this book and while it saddens me to know that a lot of people just felt “meh” about it, I think I get why.

“I’ll be fine, Safi. You forget that I taught you the art of evisceration.”
Safi scoffed, but her Threads flared with with amused pink. “Is that so, dear Threadsister? Have you already forgotten that it was me they called The Great Eviscerator back in Veñaza City?”Safi flung a dramatic hand high as she twirled toward Ryber. 
Now Iseult didn’t have to fake a grin. “Is that what you thought they said?” she called. “It was actually The Great Vociferator, Safi, because that mouth of yours is so big.”

It’s no secret that this series is super heavy on complex world building and even has a complex magic structure. In YA, when a lot of the books are read for quick pleasure, that can obviously throw people off guard. For me, though, I grew up reading high fantasy and happen to love those complex worlds. I mean, I don’t know how you can love those same aspects of LOTR if you don’t love this series. Tolkien even created an ENTIRELY new language based on the world of LOTR. If that isn’t intense and complex, I don’t know what is. Normally as long as there is a map that I can use to visualize the different places, I’m good to go. Did it take me a few chapters to get to know the characters and their powers and try to figure out which country they kept mentioning? Yes. Did that bother me or take away from the story? No. I was much too entranced by the story line and the characters and in the back of my mind I knew that eventually my questions would be answered.

Speaking of characters, I also really need to talk about how much I love both Safi and Iseult..and Merrik, and Ryber, and Aeduan, and literally everyone else. But ESP my gals. Safi was freakin hilarious. Not only was she a BA fighter, she cares about the people she loves so deeply AND she has hilarious sayings, usually reserved for when she’s in trouble (I might have to steal goat tits for myself, lol). Iseult is obviously also a BA fighter too and had some pretty great dry humor. The main thing I loved about them was how they loved each other. This is best friend GOALS. They would literally die for one another and I just loved the concept of them being Threadsisters because I have always thought that family doesn’t just have to be those who are blood related to you but those you choose to have as your family.   Neither one of them were perfect and they both recognized that and also knew that being together made both of them better.

And the ships! Oh the ships! I mean I guess I should technically only say ship for now but you better believe I know what’s coming for Iseult and a certain someone. SAFI AND MERRIK FOR LIFE THO. Like wtf wow. I don’t know if you’d exactly say there is a hate-to-love kind of a situation but..kind of? Basically they had no trouble butting heads throughout the entire book and still Safi came through for him in the end, BIG TIME. Oh my heart. And then when Iseult was witnessing their threads interact. I loved every second.

The ending was so intriguing and intense and I am SO GLAD I had the foresight to snatch up the entire rest of the series while they were all miraculously checked in at my library. I will be starting Windwitch ASAP and I cannot wait to see where the rest of this series goes!

“Yes,” Safi breathed, swaying into one of the men holding her up. She flashed a grin at him and said, “I’m Safiya fon Hasstrel, and I can do anything.”

BOOK REVIEW: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly BlackThe Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2)
by Holly Black
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

“Carda—” I remember myself and sink into a bow. “Your Infernal Majesty.”

I honestly feel like I am one of the last people on GR to have read this book. I want to commend all of you, though, because even though I did skim a lot of reviews and saw a million different versions of the sentence “WTF THAT ENDING, THO” I never once was spoiled! Do you know how rare that is?!?!? I think you all probably do. So great job, everyone. I really appreciate it because even though I was dreading/terrified of finding out what the ending was, I really thought I might have figured it out before I did. Hahahahahah nope. What a sucker punch. You better believe I have loads to say about it under a spoiler tag later on…

Cardan gives me a look up through his lashes that I find hard to interpret and then rises, too. He takes my hand. “Nothing is sweeter,” he says, kissing the back of it, “but that which is scarce.”

Soooo basically this book was WAY better than the first. I liked the first, I liked the characters, but looking back I hadn’t connected like I should have. I was sucked into this one immediately. It seemed like we hit the ground running with Jude, right on the very first page. She already had so many schemes going on and I was so nervous for her. Honestly even though Cardan is the appeal factor in this series, Jude makes the entire thing. SHE IS SO BAD ASS. I’ve been thinking about this for a few days now and I think Black went above and beyond with her character. There were points in both books where I would…get annoyed (?) whenever she mentioned being frightened when she was around a certain character or her life was being threatened. I kept thinking, ‘Jude, you’ve lived in this place all your life and look how far you’ve made it! Why are you scared??’ BUT. YOU GUYS. That is so dumb of me because she’s human! And mortal! And her body is relatively so fragile. And…I honestly think that all of those facts make it that much more impressive that she tricked Cardan into taking the crown and became his seneschal and literally every other plot she’s put into movement. And the fact that she’s tricked faeries that have been alive for probably centuries is just….it’s so good. I love her. And I also love that even though she’s accomplished all of those things, she’s completely clueless when it comes to feelings involving Cardan. I’m leaving that subject alone though haha. That’s for the reader to enjoy alllll on their own.

“You made me the High King, Jude. Let me be the High King.”

AND SPEAKING OF CARDAN. I fell so much deeper in this book. My interest was certainly piqued in the last 25% of CP but in this one we get to know him so much better and find out that he has so much more to him than you initially would think. He’s funny AF. SO FUNNY. He *cares* about Jude. He has what it takes to truly be a really great king. I mean, wow. I was glued to very single interaction between him and Jude. Like she just didn’t get it and that can’t be more funny to me (while also wanting to hug her and then let her know) hahaha. How could he have been more clear??!?! 

Now it is time for me to spew spoilers under a tag below this SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW, DON’T LOOK!

Maybe I wouldn’t have to be afraid to love him. Maybe it would be okay. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be scared of all the things I’ve been scared of my whole life, of being diminished and weak and lesser. Maybe I would become a little bit magic.

View Spoiler »

BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY + REVIEW: To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY + REVIEW: To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY + REVIEW: To Best the Boys by Mary WeberTo Best the Boys by Mary Weber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

Review:

What do you want?

I want my mum to live.
I want the right to earn an education.
I want to be the first female scientist.
I want to create my own happiness.
I want . . .

Okay this was a really interestingly good book. Like I almost don’t even know how to begin this review???? This is another case of me starting an ARC, being interrupted and reading a million other books, and then finally finishing it. Luckily, I finished the last 52% today all in one sitting so it’s still really resonating with me at this moment.

I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me was the writing. Weber is a new-to-me author so I really had had no idea what to expect. Sometimes though, you can tell right away whether or not you are going to like an author’s writing or not. With this book, I literally was entranced within the first paragraph. I can’t really put my finger on what it is about it but I can tell you right now that it was quality writing. I’m actually really happy I immediately thought of the word entranced to describe it. I think the same can be said about the actual story, too.

Like…..it was just so unique. There were times throughout the book where I found myself very interested in this world that Weber created because it all could feel very foreign at certain points but never in a way that made me feel disconnected. At times the language that was used and customs that were mentioned seemed to be a nod at almost a medieval, old fairy tale kind of place??? They all referred to each other and Miss and Mr and women were expected to just become mothers and wives but then Rhen and her father also worked on vaccines and she experimented on rats and dead bodies and there was a king and also an eccentric old man who no one had ever seen but hosted a game within a labyrinth and all these other things that kind of didn’t make sense together but also weirdly meshed and made sense and the same time. That was an incredibly long and convoluted sentence but that’s also how I felt reading this at times lol. BUT NOT IN A BAD WAY! That’s why it’s so hard to explain!

So basically I’m just going to stop trying so that you can pick this book up for yourself and be sucked into this new world and be entranced yourselves!

I will say this, though. I LOVED the characters. Rhen was so amazing and was a genius (while also having dyslexia and never letting it slow her down). She never tried to be anything other than who she was or tried to pretend like her interests (medicine and science and dead bodies) were any different to impress ANYONE. In fact, I loved that when she was truly happy she seemed to word vomit facts about the human body and it made me laugh and love her a little more every single time. Seleni and Beryll, too, were interesting and well fleshed out and I LOVED how Seleni always supported her cousin to the very end. And Lute. OH LUTE. BBF. Like from the very first time he was mentioned I knew I was going to love him and he never let me or Rhen down. Ugh what a dream boat. 

This, overall, is just purely a tale that warmed my freakin heart. I loved every single bit of Rhen and what she achieved over the course of this book (just all sorts of women empowerment in general). I loved that she didn’t have to sacrifice any bit of her happiness at the end, either. I was worried she might have to for a hot second. I also loved that note from Weber at the end explaining that certain characters were representative of people in her own life (Rhen having dyslexia and Lute’s brother having what seemed like autism to me). So while those things might seem different to other people who have dyslexia or know people with Down syndrome and autism, these specific characters and traits came from the people she knew and loved. I had an uncle with Down syndrome and he lived with my parents and me for the last four years of his life when I was in high school and community college. You don’t know what it’s like to be a caregiver to someone with those special needs unless you actually are one. Even with this challenges and specific quirks, I LOVED having him with us because it meant that I now have a better understanding and love for people with Down syndrome. I loved him more than almost anyone in my entire life so knowing Lute acted as caretaker for his mother and brother like that made me love him so much more than I already did. 

Gotta wrap things up before this gets too crazy long but I also kind of liked that this was a standalone? Or is it??? Seems like it is. I haven’t read a great fantasy standalone in who knows how long but everything was tied up perfectly in my opinion. I very much recommend! 

“You take this world and make it what it should be. And don’t let the beliefs of a backward system define you. You are the one who has to live with the future, baby girl. So you live it. You understand?” 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Giveaway:

✮ Enter to win 1 of 2 finished copies of To Best the Boys by Mary Weber (1 INTERNATIONAL winner & 1 US ONLY winner)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About Mary Weber:
Hi. I write books. I eat things. I kiss things. I believe in mermaids.
 
I’m also the author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, The Evaporation of Sofi Snow series, and the March 2019 release, To Best the Boys. When not working, I sing 80’s hairband songs to my three muggle children, and ogle my husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. We live in California, which is perfect for stalking aging movie stars while wearing fanny packs and sweatpants.
 
For those who like to know such things (mainly my mom), Storm Siren was featured in the Scholastic Book Fair and my novels have been endorsed by such nice humans as Marissa Meyer, CJ Redwine, Shannon Messenger, and Jonathan Maberry (in fact, Marissa Meyer and I have a fun interview in the paperback of her book, CRESS). Also, Boba tea & sweatpants are life. {We can chat about life (in sweatpants over tea, obviously) in my Newsletter.

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