City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from OwlCrate and Scholastic from BookCon as part of an arc drop. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Genre: MG/YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 12+ (ghosts, death, scary moments, slight violence)

 

Pages: 272

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

 

Another book that wowed me. I am a lover of ghosts and all things paranormal. And, don’t laugh at me, but I actually believe in ghosts. So this book was right up my alley in regards to that. But going into it I was worried that the book would be really dumbed down because this book appeals more to the middle grade genre, but I was mistaken. This book is phenomenal and probably ranks up there with This Savage Song for me. While the characters were younger than my normal reading characters, they had a maturity about them that made the book very enjoyable for me personally. The book was well thoughtout and researched. The book had a campfire feel to it but it wasn’t too scary for younger readers in my opinion. The characters were all very well developed for the genre and the plot and pacing were superb.

 

The only downside I had to this was that I felt the book ended too early. I really want to continue my adventures with Cassidy and Jacob and I hope that Schwab writes another book for this series.

 

Verdict: Basically, this is another Schwab book – fantastic and must-read material.

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The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Disclaimer: I received this book from KidLitExchange and Bloomsbury. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy?

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, assault, murder, cult like behavior, creepy kids, and confusion)

 

Pages: 432

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

 

Okay this book is strange and I’m not sure if it’s in a good way. For the sake of order I will say what I liked about it first. I liked that it’s strange and interesting. I feel this will be a big selling point of the book and that maybe there will be people who will understand this book and explain it to me.

 

However, I really didn’t like this book. Nothing was explained until about halfway through the book and even then not all of my questions were answered. The world building was nonexistent and I’m not even sure if this book is a fantasy, a contemporary, a dystopian, high fantasy, etc. The book tended to repeat itself… A LOT. The book was just confusing and frustrating to me. The characters weren’t developed at all and when I got to the end I still struggled to remember who was who. And the book was weirdly paced. While I felt that the book happened pretty fast, the book was also really slow?? I’m so confused by the book and I’m confused on how to even talk about it.

 

Verdict: If you’ve read this book please explain it to me!

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Nyan

Disclaimer: I received this book at Bookcon from the publishing company because I got lucky! Thanks! All opinions are my own!

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 17+ (rape, torture, lgbt+, political intrigue)

 

Pages: 336

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.

 

Oh wow. Those were the words I was thinking immediately after finishing this book. It blew me away with how amazing and awesome it was! The character development was amazing, the plot was so well developed and easy to follow along with, and the pacing was on point. The writing was also fantastic and the book was just A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I think this is one of my favorites of 2018 and I’m super stoked for when the book finally releases!

 

The only issue I had is that I felt that the some of the time shifts were a little awkward, but I was also on very little sleep when I read this book so it was probably me being weird.

 

Verdict: Amazing, fantastic, unique, and definitely should be on your TBR this October!

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

Disclaimer: I bought this book on my own. Yay me! No disclaimer needed =).

Rating: 3.5/5

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, disease, concentration like conditions, overthrowing the kingdom)

Pages: 390

Author Website

Amazon Link

Synopsis: A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.

I love books with new concepts and this one was definitely one of those. Not a lot of books take place from the perspective of a doctor, but this one did and it was fabulous! I loved Zivah and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. The book was very good at character development and plot development. The plot was always intriguing and the writing was really good. You can tell the author is very intelligent and that she knows how the brain works.

However, I do feel that the book had some pacing issues and it failed to hold my interest as it kept repeating itself in my opinion. The book also had a problem with time. It moved inconsistently and sometimes scenes would take place over a matter of weeks or they would take place over a matter of hours.

Verdict: Overall, the book is really good, but it just failed to catch my attention.

Seconds: The Shared Soul Chronicles by Brindi Quinn

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the author because I’m on her Street Team. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy/Steampunk

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (love and steampunk and twists and turns)

 

Pages: 278

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: “The scarlet tattoo marked him as one who’d never been born. It marked him as a Second.”

In a steam-filled world, Seconds run rampant. Split-personalities manifested into human form, these beings possess thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

But do they deserve to live?

One scrap huntress is about to find out.

Tide is no ordinary girl; she zones out, possesses freakishly good climbing skills, and claims to have a serpentine demon after her. Simply put, she’s abnormal.

When Tide meets a fanboy named Rye, she thinks she’s found her match. He’s cute, he’s quirky; but there’s a problem: Rye is a Second. Can Tide find a way to make Rye whole before his existence kills?

It’ll take more than just love and luck on this journey to discover the secrets of the soul.

 

I’m usually not a big fan of steampunk and I’ve been severely burned by some of them (I’m looking at you Wendy Spinale) but I decided to give this book a try… anddddd… and I thought it was really good for the most part. The world building and the plot were very well developed and the story was engaging for most of the book. The characters were memorable and unique. They were well developed as was the plot.

 

However, I do feel that the after the first 13 chapters the book took a weird turn and it became a bit harder to follow. I also feel that the last part of the book was very fast paced and uneven with how the rest of the book was told. For the most part the writing was extremely well done, but the ending just threw me off the book.

 

Verdict: An adventure that only Brindi can write in her own funky, but entertaining way. Seriously, if you’ve not read a book from Brindi Quinn definitely pick one up today.

The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley for my opinions on it. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 1/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: DNF

 

Pages: 288

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: In the ancient moors of Scotland, the king of Calidon lies on his deathbed, cursed by a ring that cannot be removed from his finger. When a mysterious fey stranger appears to save the king, he also carries a secret that could tear the royal family apart.

The kingdom’s only hope will lie with two young men raised worlds apart. Aric is the beloved heir to the throne of Calidon; Albaric is clearly of noble origin yet strangely out of place.

The Oddling Prince is a tale of brothers whose love and loyalty to each other is such that it defies impending warfare, sundering seas, fated hatred, and the very course of time itself. In her long-awaited new fantasy novel, Nancy Springer (the Books of Isle series) explores the darkness of the human heart as well as its unceasing capacity for love.

 

This will be a fairly short review as I had to DNF this book. The book immediately jumps into the story and doesn’t give the reader any backstory nor does it give the reader any orientation as to world building or character development. The book reads as a fast paced movie and that type of story doesn’t translate well in book form. Also, the synopsis gets solved in the first chapter of the book…. Soooo…. There’s not that much of a plot. It also seemed that the two main characters might be into each other which is cool, I’m all for LGBT books and stuff but I will say that my dislike for instalove transcends all orientations.

 

Verdict: Hopefully you have a better experience with this book than I do.

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from Just Reads Tour to provide a review for the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 13+ (some violence)

 

Pages: 328

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Tanwen doesn’t just tell stories—she weaves them into crystallized sculptures that sell for more than a few bits. But the only way to escape the control of her cruel mentor and claw her way from poverty is to set her sights on something grander: becoming Royal Storyteller to the king.

During her final story peddling tour, a tale of treason spills from her hands, threatening the king himself. Tanwen goes from peddler to prey as the king’s guard hunts her down . . . and they’re not known for their mercy. As Tanwen flees for her life, she unearths long-buried secrets and discovers she’s not the only outlaw in the empire. There’s a rebel group of weavers . . . and they’re after her too

 

In a world where almost every idea has been done at least once before, can there be an original idea? Yes there still can be and a prime example of this is The Story Peddler! The book was super unique and very imaginative. The writing was well done and the plot was very well developed. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and I can’t wait for the next book.

 

However, I did have some issues with the book. I really didn’t understand why we had a POV from Braith, but I did enjoy her story as well. I didn’t like how the magic wasn’t explained. I’d really like to know more about how it works and what causes it in certain people. Lastly, I didn’t like how she strung her friend along the whole story. It was a nice change of pace from the girl being strung along by the guy, but I still get angry at characters who do it.

 

Verdict: Overall a fantastic story that will leave you wanting more.

Bright Burns the Night (Dark Breaks the Dawn Duology #2)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free courtesy of KidLitExchange and the publishing company. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (slight gore, violence, sexual references)

 

Pages: 320

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn and cut her conduit stone from her. Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended and the Draíolon of Éadrolan lose more power every day. But once a year, Lorcan transforms her back to her Draíolon form and offers a truce. And every year Evelayn refuses — for he requires her to Bind herself to him for life.But now, with an Ancient power bearing down upon them, everything may change. Evelayn will learn that the truths she once believed have shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? Can friendship — perhaps even love — bloom where hatred has taken root?Sara B. Larson delivers a thrillingly romantic and hauntingly satisfying end to this extraordinary duology.

 

I really need to watch Swan Lake. The ballet can’t be as beautifully tragic as this book right? Anyways, we return where we left off in the first novel of this duology: Evelayn is trapped as a swan doing her swan thing. She actually got a gathering as swans to see her as their queen, which was kinda cool. Anyways, I can’t say anymore because of spoilers but the novel was beautifully well written and it actually feels like you’re in a mid 1500s book. The plot was interesting and the premise was as well.

 

However, I do have some qualms about this book. The plot was intriguing, but at the end nothing is really solved. It just ends. I’m not sure if there was more to the novel that I’m missing since I only have an arc but the book just ended without a proper ending. The characters weren’t that well developed and the book really failed the Bechdel Test. The female characters in particular were lazily written and added nothing to the plot. Even Evelayn, who was my favorite of the previous novel, was severely weakened in this one. The other two females, who had their own strengths, were so weak in comparison to the males of this book. The men in this book basically protected and shielded the females and the book was so tropey that it made me angry. The book didn’t even go back into the swan thing, which I thought was the main point of Swan Lake.

 

Verdict: This book had so much potential, but in the end it let me down. It’s still a beautifully well written book however.

Ozland by Wendy Spinale (Everland #3)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through KidLitExchange from the publishing company Scholastic Press in exchange for review and promotion. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Dystopian/Fantasy/Retelling

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (violence, slight gore, murder, and poison)

 

Pages: 288

 

Amazon Link

 

Author Website

 

Synopsis: With Everland and Umberland both destroyed, the survivors have taken refuge in a small village tucked within the shadows of the Bloodred Queen’s castle. Doc has found an actual cure for the Horologia virus, while Gwen, Pete, and Alyssa begin plotting the assassination of the queen with the help of Gail, an excellent huntress. But killing the queen won’t be enough. The world has been destroyed and its needs a ruler to set things right again. A ruler who is good, kind, and fair. Someone like the former king of Germany. But he’s dead … or is he?

There’s a rumor that the king has been hidden away in a secret land, where only the worthiest can find him. Desperate to end the war, a plan is hatched that could put everything right again, only before it’s set in motion, the village is burned to the ground, all survivors taken prisoner to the castle. Except Gail.

But is one girl enough to find a long-dead king, kill the wicked queen, and save the world?

 

While I was heavily disappointed with how Umberland turned out I wanted to complete the series, thus I started this book. This book takes place a few months (weeks? Unsure) after the events in Umberland. The book does really well at drawing in your interest immediately with all the death and destruction of this world and it’s amazing to see how twisted a retelling can be. The plot overall was also good and well thought-out as was the steampunk elements of the book.

 

However, I did feel that there wasn’t any character development and that the book was incredibly fast paced. Dystopians are usually slower paced then what we see in this read and the pacing of this book really makes the reader rush through all the elements of this world. The world building in this book was almost non-existent and the writing was a bit confusing to read. I’m not sure if the fault in that was from the multiple POV or because the writing flew by a lot of important items and retelling portions in the book. The book is good overall, but I feel that if this entire series was expanded in terms of world building and character development then I think the series would be better overall.

 

Verdict: Good, but not as good as the original.

Umberland by Wendy Spinale (Everland #2)

Disclaimer: None, I got this on my own accord!

 

Rating: 2/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopian/Steampunk

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, murder, slight gore, sexual references, drug references)

 

Pages: 275

 

Amazon Link

 

Author Website

 

Synopsis: Gwen, Pete, and the others have escaped from Everland. Except the safe haven they hoped to find at Alnwick Castle doesn’t exist. With the Queen of England on her deathbed, Duchess Alyssa has stepped in, but things have gotten worse as the cure Doc created for the Horologia virus has mutated into something even more deadly. The only possible solution he can think of is to go back to the virus’s origin: an extinct poisonous apple.

Legend has it, though, that a tree bearing the apple might be found at the center of an impossible labyrinth hidden deep within Germany. A place no one in their right mind enters. With no other options, Alyssa sets out with only her sword, her wits, and the help of Maddox Hadder, a wild boy who oversees the castle gardens. To get to the center of the maze, she’ll be forced to battle monsters more terrifying than her darkest nightmares.

But can anyone truly survive the madness of the maze? And what if there’s no apple to be found there?

 

I adored the first book in this series and seeing as how Alice in Wonderland is one of my faves I decided to give this book a try. For the most part is was okay. The steampunk elements were still there, the plot was okay, and for the most part this was a pretty good book.

 

However, there were a lot of issues with this book.  For starters, let’s just say that if you’re going to read this book make sure to read the first one right before. The book begins immediately with no backstory information/helpful hints for the reader who might have not read the last book in a bit. The characters are flat and boring, the world building is super confusing and too much of a reach for what this book needed, the continuation from the first book felt super forced, and the plot was awful. I don’t understand what happened between book 1 and book 2, but there’s a stark contrast between the two. I don’t understand what make it possible for any of the events that happen in book 2 to happen in book 2 and I like how the author tried to cram everything Alice in Wonderland into this book. Retellings are supposed to borrow things from their originals, not take everything and recreate it. No one complained when the shoes were turned from silver to ruby and no one complained when Belle became an inventor. Some of my favorite retellings are those that have just some elements from the originals, not everything in it. This book needed a complete overhaul to be as good as the first book, but I wonder if there ever should have been a continuation at all.

 

Verdict: Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.