Once Upon Another Time by James Riley

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Once Upon Another Time

Author: James Riley

Book Series: Once Upon Another Time Book 1

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: children’s readers, fantasy, retellings, fairytales

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

Age Relevance: 7+ (prejudice, scary moments)

Explanation of Above: There is some scary moments in the book and prejudice is discussed.

Publisher: Aladdin

Pages: 321

Synopsis: Five and a half feet might seem pretty tall for a twelve-year-old, but it’s not when your parents are giants. Lena has kept the fact that she’s a tiny giant secret, using magic to grow when out in the giant village. But hiding who she is has always felt wrong, even though she knows the other giants might not accept her. Fortunately, Lena has friends down in the Cursed City who understand that looking different doesn’t make her less of a giant.

Someone who knows not to judge by appearances is Jin, a young genie currently serving one thousand and thirty-eight years of genie training that requires him to fulfill the wish of whoever holds his magical ring. In Jin’s case, it’s the power-hungry Golden King. At least the king only has two wishes left, one of which is for Jin to go to the Cursed City and capture its protector, the Last Knight—one of Lena’s closest friends.

What Lena and Jin don’t know is how close the Golden King’s plans are to coming together, between his dark magic and his horrible Faceless knights. If Jin does find the Last Knight and bring him to the Golden King, why, that could doom the entire fairy-tale world.

…This sounds like it’ll end badly, doesn’t it?

Review: For the most part this was a good book. I loved the mashup and twist on fairy tale tropes and this would be a fun book for younger readers! The book had some fun themes and it was overall a very fun read. The book also leaves you with lots of questions for the next book. The character development is good and the world building was great!

The only issues I had with the book is that the pacing is a bit wonky in places and it goes from fast to slow in some spots. The book also took a bit for me to get into.

Verdict: It was great!

Book Title: Once Upon Another Time

Author: James Riley

Publisher: Aladdin

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58437693-once-upon-another-time

Book Purchase link:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Once-Upon-Another-Time/James-Riley/Once-Upon-Another-Time/9781534425873

Book Description: 

Storybook characters collide in this first book in a new trilogy of twisted fairy tales from New York Times bestselling author James Riley, set in the world of his popular Half Upon a Time series—perfect for fans of Fablehaven and Chris Colfer’s A Tale of Magic series!

Five and a half feet might seem pretty tall for a twelve-year-old, but it’s not when your parents are giants. Lena has kept the fact that she’s a tiny giant secret, using magic to grow when out in the giant village. But hiding who she is has always felt wrong, even though she knows the other giants might not accept her. Fortunately, Lena has friends down in the Cursed City who understand that looking different doesn’t make her less of a giant.

Someone who knows not to judge by appearances is Jin, a young genie currently serving one thousand and thirty-eight years of genie training that requires him to fulfill the wish of whoever holds his magical ring. In Jin’s case, it’s the power-hungry Golden King. At least the king only has two wishes left, one of which is for Jin to go to the Cursed City and capture its protector, the Last Knight—one of Lena’s closest friends.

What Lena and Jin don’t know is how close the Golden King’s plans are to coming together, between his dark magic and his horrible Faceless knights. If Jin does find the Last Knight and bring him to the Golden King, why, that could doom the entire fairy-tale world.

…This sounds like it’ll end badly, doesn’t it?

Author Bio:

James Riley is the New York Times bestelling author of the HALF UPON A TIME series, the STORY THIEVES series, and the REVENGE OF MAGIC series. Contrary to what previous biographies have stated, he is a) real and b) not the character Nobody from his STORY THIEVES books. Where would people even get that idea? (Spoiler: From him. He totally made it sound like he really was Nobody. He thought it’d be funny. We’re sorry.)

He was born in Connecticut, where he lived for only a short time before moving to … well, quite a few states. He currently lives in Northern Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., because that’s where his cats are. He has four of them. Other people think that’s a bit much.

James is currently working on getting REVENGE OF MAGIC books out every six months, so he might be a little busy. But feel free to e-mail him with questions at jamesrileythatwriterguy@gmail.com, or ask on his blog. (Please don’t send book or series ideas, as I can’t use them legally!)

Author Links:

https://jamesrileyauthor.com/

https://www.instagram.com/jamesrileyauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/jamesrileyauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4337106.James_Riley

The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Blood Trials

Author: N.E. Davenport

Book Series: The Blood Gift Book 1

Rating: 3.5/5

Diversity: Black MC, Biracial side character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, sci-fi, fantasy, revenge

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: YA Sci-fi

Age Relevance: 16+ (alcohol consumption, violence, torture, gore, death, language, racism, misogyny)

Explanation of Above: The book has a lot of violence, including torture, and gore in the book, especially blood and vomiting. The book shows alcohol consumption and mentions death. There is a lot of cursing in the book as well as racism and misogyny shown.

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Pages: 448

Synopsis: It’s all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.

For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.

Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.

Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials–a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that–if found out–would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time…

Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself–and one’s blood–is more important than anything.

Review: Overall, this was a good book. I love a good revenge-seeking book and this one had it locked down! I loved how the action kept rolling in the book and the book blended fantasy magic elements with sci-fi. The book had well written characters and the world building was amazingly well done as well. I flew through the book and liked it well enough.

However, the beginning of the book is super confusing and it immediately jumps into the story with little backstory. I feel like some of that backstory is in the synopsis, which is unfortunate. And while the action was rolling continuously in the book, I felt like there was a lot of slow moments.

Verdict: It was good!

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE: The Blood Trials
AUTHOR: N. E. Davenport
PUBLISHER: Harper Voyager
RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2022
GENRE: NA Scifi, NA fantasy
PURCHASE LINKS:
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/a/25463/

SYNOPSIS:
Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport’s fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior.
It’s all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.

For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.
Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.
Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials–a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that–if found out–would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time…
Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself–and one’s blood–is more important than anything.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Author’s website:
Author’s instagram: instagram.com/
Author’s twitter:

The Matchbreaker Summer by Annie Rains

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Matchbreaker Summer

Author: Annie Rains

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: young adult readers, middle grade readers, contemporary, romance, camp, summer camp

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Age Relevance: 12+ (parental death, romance, grief)

Explanation of Above: The book discusses a parental death and the grief following that. There is also small bits of romance here and there, but nothing beyond crushes and slight kissing.

Publisher: Underlined

Pages: 304

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Paisley Manning has been attending Camp Seabrook since she was a little girl, when her parents ran it together. For the last few years, since her father’s death, she’s been the one helping her mom run the camp behind the scenes. This year, however, will be Camp Seabrook’s last hurrah because Paisley’s mom has met a guy online and they’re getting married.

Enter Hayden Bennett, who is working alongside Paisley. Paisley and Hayden are like oil and water. She follows the rules, and he seems to live to break them all. But when Hayden catches wind of Paisley’s predicament, he has an idea. If a matchmaker in some computer algorithm caused the issue, a couple of real-life matchbreakers can fix it.

As they work to break up the happy couple, Paisley discovers that maybe Hayden’s not so bad after all. Has she met her own perfect match in her fellow matchbreaker?

Review: For the most part this was an ok book. The book had a great premise with relatable characters. The characters were fairly well developed and the world building was pretty good. The romance was enemies to lovers and the romance was fairly cute for the most part.

However, I did have a few issues with this book. The book’s main characters are 16 but the book reads like a middle grade novel. That’s not necessarily bad and a lot of younger/pre-teen teens need books but it was just kinda an odd choice. The books characters weren’t that well developed and I would have liked to see that more. I also thought the pacing of the book was too fast and the manner of which the romance moved was also too fast.

Verdict: It was ok.

Book Info:

The Matchbreaker Summer by Annie Rains

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Publishing Date: April 5, 2022

Synopsis:

A pitch-perfect summer camp rom-com about two teens with nothing in common who come together to help break up a romance and unexpectedly start one of their own

Sixteen-year-old Paisley Manning has been attending Camp Seabrook since she was a little girl, when her parents ran it together. For the last few years, since her father’s death, she’s been the one helping her mom run the camp behind the scenes. This year, however, will be Camp Seabrook’s last hurrah because Paisley’s mom has met a guy online and they’re getting married.

Enter Hayden Bennett, who is working alongside Paisley. Paisley and Hayden are like oil and water. She follows the rules, and he seems to live to break them all. But when Hayden catches wind of Paisley’s predicament, he has an idea. If a matchmaker in some computer algorithm caused the issue, a couple of real-life matchbreakers can fix it.

As they work to break up the happy couple, Paisley discovers that maybe Hayden’s not so bad after all. Has she met her own perfect match in her fellow matchbreaker?

Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57839826-the-matchbreaker-summer

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0593481550/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-matchbreaker-summer-annie-rains/1139798123?ean=9780593481554

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Matchbreaker-Summer-Annie-Rains/9780593481554

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-matchbreaker-summer/9780593481554-item.html?ikwid=the+matchbreaker+summer&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=de2cc6bc0152ca4b64bfaa6ed266789f

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593481554

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Annie Rains lives in a small, coastal North Carolina town, full of lovable folks, scenic downtown areas, and breathtaking nature—similar to the towns she writes about in her books. Annie’s love of reading and writing grabbed hold of her at a young age and never let go. Her first book was published in 2015, and she’s been writing heartfelt, page-turning stories ever since. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s reading from her never-ending TBR stack on her bedside table, taking long walks while plotting her characters’ happy endings, and living out her own happily ever after with her husband, three children, feisty rescue cat, and mischievous dog.

Author Links:

Website: http://www.annierains.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnieRainsBooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annierainsbooks/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13911602.Annie_Rains

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annierainsbooks/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/annie4094/

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