Tag: Fantasy (page 1 of 93)

BOOK REVIEW: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh BardugoNinth House (Alex Stern #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

If you were going to hell together, murder seemed like a good place to start.

When I say this book took my breath away, I truly mean it. It was thrilling and shocking and eerie and just a total surprise. As dark as the book was, I truly loved it and cannot wait for the next installment.

I had read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t absolutely love it. But I know how talented Leigh is, so when I saw she was writing an adult fantasy book based on secret societies and ghosts in New Haven, I was SO in. Talk about checking off a lot of boxes for me.

The book follows two main characters: Galaxy “Alex” Stern and Daniel “Darlington” Arlington. Both are students at Yale, but come from very different backgrounds. I don’t really want to spoil a lot of it, but Alex grew up in a not so great family and had some troubled teenage years that led to the death of some people, as well as the reason for her admittance to Yale and Lethe. Darlington, meanwhile, while not having a perfect childhood, did have some family and a more privileged upbringing. The two have far more in common than they think they do.

Alex gave a sharp shake of her head. “I mean tell me what I’m in for here…with you.”
That was the hard question to answer. Nothing. Everything. Lethe was meant to be a gift, but could it be to her? There was too much to tell.


Darlington is tasked with teaching Alex the ways of Lethe and its role to the other secret societies of Yale. However, something very dark and powerful is at play and it ultimately causes some dire consequences for both Darlington and Alex. On top of what they are dealing with in the present, there is a lot of trauma from their pasts, especial Alex’s, that comes into play.

Daniel Arlington prided himself on being prepared for anything, but if he’d had to choose a way to describe Alex Stern, it would have been “an unwelcome surprise.”

This book certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be very vivid in its descriptions at times, and there’s a ton of talk of death, dying and murder. There’s also a decent amount of mentions of drug and alcohol use, self-harm, unhealthy relationships and the big one, a very descriptive account of a sexual assault of a minor. It’s not overly long (I believe just a few pages) and could be easily skipped (it takes place in a bathroom on a school trip if that helps). It plays a large part into this character’s story, but I understand for some readers this kind of material is an absolute no-go. This has been discussed by a lot of other reviewers in the lead up to this book, but just want to make it very clear of the content in this book.

I’m in danger, she wanted to say. Someone hurt me and I don’t think they’re finished. Help me. But what good had that ever done?

I loved the mystery in this book. It was very layered and multi-faceted and loved how it blended the magical and real worlds. I didn’t guess the ending and am cautiously optimistic a *certain important character* will be making a return. I truly did not see that character exit coming or the circumstances surrounding it. It honestly broke my heart a little bit and hope there is a positive resolution to it.

I let you die. To save myself, I let you die.
That is the danger in keeping company with survivors.


Overall this was truly a five-star read for me. I certainly understand this book will not be for everyone: it’s very dark and has a lot of heavy topics and themes. However, I just loved the setting, the world-building and the characters. I can’t wait for what’s next and hope Bardugo continues to bounce back and forth between young adult and adult novels.

BOOK REVIEW: Slippers And Thieves (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #4) by Christina Bauer

BOOK REVIEW: Slippers And Thieves (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #4) by Christina BauerSlippers And Thieves (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #4)
by Christina Bauer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Years ago, Elle ― never call her Cinderella ― escaped her evil step family in order to build a new life for herself in Manhattan. Today, Elle’s awful past is a distant memory. In fact, Elle even attends West Lake Prep, an exclusive high school where regular humans mix with members of the Magicorum, such as fairies, shifters and witches. Although she still must live in hiding from her evil step family, Elle always has found ways to get whatever her heart desires.

That is, until Alec Le Charme. Sure, Alec is the heir to the Le Charme dynasty of high-end jewelers, but he's also kind, charismatic, and has a knee-melting smile.

Long story short, Elle has fallen for Alec, hard. Unfortunately, thanks to Elle’s evil step family, the Le Charme heir is absolutely off limits. In fact, if Elle and Alec so much as kiss, it could start a magical chain reaction that would end in powerful factions of witches and wizards going to war. As a result, Elle and Alec vow to stay friends, no matter what. Then West Lake Prep holds a masquerade ball. Identities get mixed up and forbidden kisses are finally shared.

Time for the Magicorum to go to war, and for Elle to confront her hidden past in ways she never thought possible.

Review:

Slippers and Thieves unfortunately didn’t work for me.  This makes me so sad because I loved this series.  The previous books were intricate and made me smile and laugh.  They were impossible to put down and I was always glued to the pages.  But Slippers and Thieves didn’t even feel like the others books. It felt choppy and there were inconsistencies with the previous books.  I’m not sure what happened, but the further I got into this story, the more it didn’t work for me.  I’m so sad because I loved these characters, ugh.  So here were some of my problems with this story…

 

✮ Elle’s Backstory Differs✮

In Shifters and Glyphs, Elle didn’t know she was a Warden.  Until the Colonel told her what she truly was, and she was shocked.  But in this book, she knew she was a Warden even before she met Briar Rose or the Colonel.  Her parents told her when she was little.

Another inconsistency was that in this book, Elle said her parents took her wings.  In the previous book, Colonel said he took her wings.  It was so she could change the way she looked and escape the captors who imprisoned her since they knew she was the warden of fae magic.  But that doesn’t line up with the history we’re given about her in this story – She was always with her parents, they took her wings in this book and she was never imprisoned when she was a child.

Also in the previous books, Elle said that she couldn’t use her magic or her family would find her.  But in this book, she couldn’t use her magic because the fae would kill her if they found out she was their Warden.

 

✮ Missing Houses✮

In the first book, Wolves and Roses, Elle said she had other safe houses. Besides the cabin. Yet in this book, when they have to find a place to stay, she only says she has her place in the village. Where are the other safe houses? Why weren’t they mentioned? And even though her cabin burnt down, she was supposed to have it rebuilt with the insurance money. The cabin wasn’t even mentioned once in this story.

 

✮ Where’s The Money✮

I don’t get how Elle had two houses in the first book. Yes she returns stolen jewels to their rightful owner, but in this book she gets paid a few hundred dollars here and a few hundred dollars there.  How did she afford two houses, especially one in the village?  She couldn’t access the money she saved, so I don’t get it.

 

✮ Gustav✮

In the movie Cinderella, she was kind and friends with the mice.  She had saved and fed them, in exchange they did favors for her.  But in this book, Elle continually asked Gustav for help and why he kept coming back was beyond me.  It always left a bitter taste in my mouth that she expected him to help and she never did anything back in return. Except that one time.  But even that one time, she threatened him with something he hates.  Not nice.

 

✮ Things That Made Me Say Why✮

I don’t get why her dad said they needed the future step sisters help in their shop.  Especially when he said they couldn’t survive without them.  Not only did he cover one of their shifts in the shop that left him frazzled, but they never did any work from what we saw.  They just hid in the back.  What was the point of that conversation between Elle and her dad?

 

✮ More Questions✮

In the previous books, Alex says his parents will pay a scholarship and give the girls an apartment in their building. But in this book, his mom was shocked they went to the same school and it wasn’t even mentioned that they helped give the girls their apartment.  The mom didn’t even realize they were living there.

Also, in the first book, Elle was in Alec’s office. People saw them together and it was such a huge deal they had to escape. But in this story we learn how his moves were being watched. Nothing was said to his mom, how did she not know?

 

There were so many more issues than this, but these were the ones that bothered me the most.  If you can’t tell, I struggle when there are inconsistencies in a story.  Especially when it feels like I’m reading a beta version in a finished copy.  So I’m sad to be walking away from this series.  But when I constantly get pulled out of a story for hiccups, it doesn’t matter how fabulous the characters are, I just can’t go on.

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid KemmererA Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2)
by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

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.

Review

“Must you men make everything about violence?” I say. “Not every problem can be solved by the edge of a sword.”

This was SO good. Even after reading my review from A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I can’t say that I remember a whole lot about the first book in this series. I remember liking it but not being completely in love. I also remember wanting to focus more on Rhen since he was the actual love interest/ part of the main couple BUT being more drawn to Grey instead. You see, Grey is my exact brand of BBF. He reminded me a lot of Chaol from the Throne of Glass series and anyone who knows me, should know that he is the damaged cinnamon roll of my heart.

As much as I feel bad saying this, too, I didn’t get into the book fully until after we leave Rhen and Harper in Emberfall and fully get to Grey and Lia Mara’s time together. Rhen does….some pretty shitty things in this book. I don’t think that they were really out of character for him for a number of different reasons however, I think there’s a good chance that it’s going to piss some die hard Rhen fans off when they read this…at least until they get to the epilogue.

Anyway, Grey not surprisingly, was a damn treat. Again, he is so like Chaol in the sense that he has this very specific sense of duty and honor and following orders without question because that’s all he’s done all his life. When he’s inevitably found and brought back to the castle, he refuses to tell Rhen that he’s the heir/the one with magic. He thinks he’s keeping Rhen safe and when Rhen does a certain something that I can’t say, his old and steady view of things drastically changes.

It’s then that the real story begins. He ends up on a journey with Lia Mara, eldest daughter (but not heir) of the queen of Syhl Shallow, a boy named Tycho that has become quite attached to Grey, a new magical creature called a scraver that is named Iisak, and Harper’s brother, Jake and boyfriend Noah round out the rag-tag group. Even though Jake annoyed me at first, he actually became a really well rounded character. I mean all of them, really. I felt like I was way connected to them than half the people mentioned in book one. Lia Mara was my favorite, though. She was so smart and kind and STRONG. Like the scene where she and Grey carried that deer to the fire…that was amazing. I loved how he just basically was this cheerleader for her and held her up with kind (but always very truthful) words. He made her see the potential in herself and that she WAS smart, kind, strong, and important. Also, their romantic scenes were so. Damn. Swoony. I want to go back and re-read them all immediately and probably will.

Overall I think this book had a lot more development than the first. Grey’s growth as a character in itself was beyond what I could have imagined. I had already been dying to see how things were going to pan out in book three but even more so after the epilogue. 

View Spoiler »

“But you are far more dangerous.”
I can hardly think with his fingers tracing a line down the side of my face.
“Ah, yes, the most dangerous person at the party is always the girl sitting alone with a book.”


Huge thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury YA for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

BOOK REVIEW: Find Me Their Bones (Bring Me Their Hearts #2) by Sara Wolf

BOOK REVIEW: Find Me Their Bones (Bring Me Their Hearts #2) by Sara WolfFind Me Their Bones (Bring Me Their Hearts #2)
by Sara Wolf
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

Find Me Their Bones was an incredible continuation of the Bring Me Their Hearts Series.  This book started off right where the last one ended.  The action packed pages were filled with secrets, friendship, betrayal, and finding faith in yourself.  And it never once slowed down.  So hold on because you’re about to be taken on a fabulous journey!  So here are some of my favorite things about this book…..

I’m being forced to choose again. Between my heart and him. But this time… this time I’ll make the right choice.

 

✮ Zera & Sacrifice:

“How can something that was a lie mean anything at all?”

Zera was a force to be reckoned with.  The fact that she was a heartless who could weep, she was wanted for something special.  No matter how dark that path would become, she still had her voice.  Zera still had her snark.  But she had so much to learn.  Who to trust.  How to choose what was right.  While Zera made some excellent decisions, she also made some that hurt my heart.  Even if it was truly for the best.

A thousand things flood my mouth and jockey for first place: I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you. I didn’t mean to hurt you—

I loved that Zera was smart, quick witted and had a heart, even if it wasn’t in her chest.  I hoped she’d finally find the path that led her to happiness.  Because she had lost so much.  Her life felt even more horrific now and I cried for her, for the injustice of it all.  It hurt that she had to tarnish herself and the friendships she had with others.  Her lies hurt.  Her actions hurt.  It all hurt.  But her reasons behind it were pure hearted.  She wanted to make amends with those she betrayed.  But I wanted her to be selfish for once.  To take what she wanted.  She deserved happiness, love and friendship.  She was such an amazing person and I kept waiting for her to realize how truly astounding she was.

 

✮ Prince Lucien & The Truth:

He’s beautiful. And I can’t bear to tear my gaze away. No matter how much I know I should, no matter how much I know I need to push him away, I can’t bring myself to.
Neither of us speaks.

Prince Lucien was even more swoon worthy in Find Me Their Bones.  And don’t tell Zera, but I loved him the most!  Just like the first book, I looked for clues surrounding Prince Lucien.  He emitted anger and disgust towards Zera.  After all, she was a heartless who deceived him and murdered others.  Yet I kept my fingers crossed that he would see the light for who she truly was.

“You actually think I would tell you the truth? After everything I’ve done?” I whisper up at him.
“I’m giving you another chance to,” he says.

My heart was in my throat when Prince Lucien would say things that made me pause or second guess what he was saying.  A touch here.  A glance there.  Was I only reading into how I wanted it to all turn out?  But Prince Lucien was also on an emotional journey.  One I can’t say why, other than I was so extremely proud of him!

 

✮ Lost In The Story:

This one moment is all I could ever ask for. It is all I will ever have, and I tattoo it into every part of my aching flesh.

Find Me Their Bones was perfectly paced and always kept me entertained.  There were twists and turns and while I saw a lot of them coming, I was still in shock.  I was in disbelief that that truly happened.  With heart stopping peril and moments that made me laugh out loud, this book was the perfect combination.  So much was revealed and it all became so clear what was happening and where it was all leading us to.  

 

He laughs softly, hollowly, keeping his mouth by my ear. “Don’t look so troubled, Lady Zera. You and I both know it’s true. It was only two weeks. What sort of love is ever true after only two weeks? We were infatuated, and nothing more.”
His thoughts mirror mine, the truth like needles piercing any joy I held secretly.
“And yet,” he says, “emotions aren’t convenient pieces of jewelry you can put on and take off whenever you want to.”

Looking back, I was even more emotional with this story.  I had tears for the tiny remnants of friendship I found.  I had tears for when the truth was spoken.  And I even shed tears for what Zera was able to accomplish.  I was SO proud of her. But this story isn’t close to being over, so I’ll be desperately counting down until the next book is released and I can be back in this world I love.  I can’t wait to be back with my friends.  So yes, I definitely recommend this series. But be prepared, it’s a wild and fabulous ride!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) by Marie Rutkoski

BOOK REVIEW: The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) by Marie RutkoskiThe Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1)
by Marie Rutkoski
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

Quotes are from an uncorrected eARC and are subject to change.

It is a midnight lie, she said.
A kind of lie told for someone else’s sake, a lie that sits between goodness and wrong, just as midnight is the moment between night and morning.


This book….met every expectation I could have had for it. The very first thing I want, no NEED to say in this review, though, is to leave every thought about the Winner’s Trilogy in the back seat. If people “ruin” another book by comparing it to its beloved predecessor or a similar series, I will lose my shit. Yes, this book is by the same author and set it the same world as the previous series, but it is its own entity with its own story and characters. We catch glimpses of old characters that I don’t know if everyone is going to like. I have questions but…I’m assuming we’ll learn more later on.

Anyhow, I was addicted to this book. I started last night and finished today (and that’s with work). I ate up every word, every line, every page. Her writing has cast a spell on me and I honestly don’t even want to be free of. Different aspects reminded me of a few other books, all of which I loved—mainly Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. That book has left one of the biggest emotional impacts on me that no other back has even come close to. I don’t really want to get into what aspects are similar as that would ruin parts of this plot but I just wanted to mention it.

“Nirrim, I can’t be good to you.”
“Then be bad.”


The thing about this book is that you start out knowing very little. My eARC didn’t come with a map and I wasn’t sure if that was because it was an ARC or because that would have clued us in on certain things. Because I trust Rutkoski’s storytelling abilities, I figured there was a reason for us being left in the dark for a while. Having us figure out things as slowly as Nirrim was maddening at times but I got it, I really did. You could tell that she was the way she was, and thought the way she did because of her upbringing. You can’t just change how you see the world when you’ve gone your whole life in a routine along with all of the people around you. I would start to get frustrated with her and how childish and trusting she could be until I stopped myself and reminded myself WHY this was the case. I feel like I’m literally talking myself in circles right now BUT I DON’T WANT TO GIVE ANYTHING AWAY.

Other than the satisfaction of Nirrim slowly tearing the cobwebs from her eyes and figuring things out, my favorite part of this story was Sid. That cheeky lil flirt. OMGGGG. I loved her so much, many flaws and all. I think it’s great that this features its two female MCs in a relationship. You NEVER see that in YA fantasy by a popular author…ever. I’m assuming we’re going to start to see more and more as time goes on but for now, this is the first one that I can think of/ have come into contact with. Their relationship happened a lot quicker than Arin and Kestrel’s but man…I don’t even care. It was straight up lust at first sight and the sexual tension was….so addicting. I loved every single one of their interactions and I am dying to see where things end up in the next book *bites nails*.

This is going to be a book that you DON’T want to miss next year, you guys. Adding some comments under a spoiler tag below!

I realized that wanted in a kind of power even if you don’t get what you want. Wanting illuminates everything you need, and how the world failed you.

View Spoiler »

Huge thanks to Edelweiss and FSG Books for Young Readers for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinions ♥

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