Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault

Disclaimer: I received the e-arc of this book from the publisher. Thanks! I also bought my own copy. Support your authors! All opinions are my own.

Book: Rebel Rose

Author: Emma Theriault

Book Series: The Queen’s Council Book 1

Rating: 4.5/5

Diversity: Lesbian side character, gay side character

Recommended For…: retelling fans, fantasy fans, historical fiction fans, ya readers

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Genre: YA Retelling Historical Ficiton Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+ (romance, gore, violence, revolution, PTSD symptoms)

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue—and a touch of magic.

It’s 1789 and France is on the brink of revolution. Belle has finally broken the Enchantress’s curse, restoring the Beast to his human form and bringing life back to their castle in the province of Aveyon. But in Paris, the fires of change are burning, and it’s only a matter of time before the rebellion arrives on their doorstep.

Not so very long ago, Belle dreamed of leaving her provincial home for a life of adventure. But now she finds herself living in a palace, torn between her past as a commoner, and her future as royalty. While Belle grapples with her newfound position, there are those who would do anything to keep her from power.

When she stumbles across a magic mirror that holds a dire warning, Belle wants nothing more than to ignore the mysterious voice calling her to accept a crown she never desired. But violent factions of the revolution may already be lurking within her own castle, and doing nothing would endanger everything she holds dear. With the fate of her country, her love, and her life at stake, Belle must decide if she is ready to embrace her own strength–and the magic that ties her to so many female rulers before her–to become the queen she is meant to be.

Review: this was a really good book and a really interesting historical take on the Disney princesses. I really like the historical aspects and from what I could see and what I know of that time., I believe that it is mostly accurate. I felt like the character development was pretty well done as well as the overall plot of the book. The book kept me hooked and I pretty much read it in one sitting.

However, I did have some issues with the book. I feel like the book was really slow paced and that the action portions of the book were here and there. The book is also weirdly written in that a lot of things are repeated that I felt were unnecessarily repeated. I also didn’t like that Adam’s name was changed to Lio in this book. I like the little explanation that they gave for why, but his name is Adam and I don’t know why the author went with that. I also felt like the world building could have been a little bit better. 

Verdict: It was good!

For Better or Cursed by Kate Williams

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

Book: For Better or Cursed

Author: Kate Williams

Book Series: The Babysitters Coven Book 2

Diversity: f/f relationships

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: December 15, 2020

Publication Date:

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 384

Recommended Age: 16+ (Gore, Violence, Animal violence/near starvation)

Synopsis: Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed sequel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil.

Esme Pearl’s life used to be all about bumming rides and babysitting. Sure, it wasn’t glamorous, but it was predictable. All that changed when Cassandra Heaven came to town, and they discovered their complicated, and connected, legacy: Esme and Cassandra are Sitters, supernaturally-gifted teens armed with an ever-changing grimoire of Sitter witchcraft to help them protect the innocent and keep evil demons at bay. You know, the typical teenage stuff.
But just as Esme is starting to adjust to–and maybe even like–her new normal, life lobs another glitter bomb her way. The Synod–the Sitterhood’s governing circle–has called a Summit, a once-in-a-generation gathering that promises training, education, and whole lot of ice-breakers.
Esme should be excited–a Summit might mean she can finally get the answers she desperately wants–but she can’t shake a building sense of panic. Especially since Cassandra’s not acting like herself; Esme’s dad is MIA; Pig is out of dog food; Janis is scared to be alone; and there’s a guy who seems too good to be true, again. Worst of all, it soon becomes clear, there’s no one watching the kids. It’s obvious the Summit is a haute mess, but will it be a deadly one, too?

Review: Oh my word I fell in love with this sequel! While the first book is still a bit better in my opinion I really enjoyed this sequel. I felt that the world building was very well done and the character development of the main characters and our side characters were also very well done. The plot of this book is much more intriguing then the first book and I am interested to see where this goes. I think this has an excellent shot of being one of my favorite series in most recent years. I love all of the little callbacks to babysitters and horror films and I love just basically everything about this book.

The only thing that I could really fault the book for is that it did take a little bit for me to remember the events of book one. but I do say that the author did well with presenting the material in a more relatable way than just a big info dump at the very beginning. but in getting that information it did take a little bit and I was confused through the first couple of chapters.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

Warmaidens by Kelly Coon

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

Book: Warmaidens

Author: Kelly Coon

Book Series: Gravemaidens Book 2

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: fantasy lovers, romance lovers, ya readers

Publication Date: December 15, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+  (violence, gore, romance, ptsd, animal violence, attempted rape)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 384

Synopsis: Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.

But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.

Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war.

Review: For the most part this was a well done book. The world building is amazing and the character development is awesome. The pacing is pretty on key and the story is very interesting and hooked me from the beginning.

There were a few things I didn’t like as much in this book. The book takes place 9 months after the events in the first book but fails to reintroduce characters you might have forgotten. The language, while immersive, also takes a bit to get used to and there’s no directory in the book to help with words used. The main character is also one who, throughout the majority of the series, wanted to be childless but then in the end gave a hint that she did want kids in the future. I think that’s kind of a sad blow to women who don’t want to kids and takes away a character that they could have looked up to.

Verdict: I loved this book, but it could have been a little better.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

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

Book: Lore

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 1/5

Diversity: one gay side character by the time I DNFed

Recommended For…: Greek Mythology lovers

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, DNFed

Publisher: Hyperion

Pages: 480

Synopsis: Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

Review: I DNFed this read at 134 pages. I really like the concept of it, but Alexandra Bracken basically drops you into the middle of a story and 134 pages in and I’m still so lost and confused about what’s going on. The characters aren’t developed, the book expects you to know the backstory and to have read the blurb before you read it, the timeline and world building are disastrous, and the whole thing is just so cluttered. If you didn’t have any knowledge of Greek Gods you’d be utterly confused throughout the book and even with my basic knowledge I’m still very lost. The author didn’t take the time to set up anything in the book, we hit the ground running from page 1. I feel like I’m reading the rough draft of this book while I’m actually reading the first edition. I think this would have been a good sequel book, but as a first it’s bad and underdeveloped.

Verdict: I wish it was just a little bit better in the beginning and helped bring you into the world.

Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibanez

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

Book: Written in Starlight

Author: Isabel Ibanez

Book Series: Woven in Moonlight Book 2

Rating: 1/5

Diversity: Indigenous Bolivian culture and people, but racist views and statements and misconceptions about the culture and religious aspects

Recommended For…: fantasy readers, ya readers

Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, dnf-ed

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages: 368

Synopsis: If the jungle wants you, it will have you…

Catalina Quiroga is a Condesa without a country. She’s lost the Inkasisa throne, the loyalty of her people, and her best friend. Banished to the perilous Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows her chances of survival are slim, but that won’t stop her from trying to escape. It’s her duty to reclaim the throne.

When Manuel, the son of her former general, rescues Catalina from a jaguar, a plan forms. Deep in the jungle, the city of gold is hidden, home to the fierce Illari people, who she could strike an alliance with.

But the elusive Illari are fighting a battle of their own—a mysterious blight is corrupting the jungle, laying waste to everything they hold dear. As a seer, Catalina should be able to help, but her ability to read the future in the stars is as feeble as her survival instincts. While searching for the Illari, Catalina must reckon with her duty and her heart to find her true calling, which could be the key to stopping the corruption before it destroys the jungle completely.

Review: I’m DNFing this book at 1%. I’m disturbed by the reports I’ve heard and evidence I’ve seen about how the indigenous culture and people are mistreated and how the book has a white savior complex. I can’t, in good faith, read this book right now. I might come back to it in the future, but right now there’s too much not being taken seriously about the valid concerns of people who are hurt by this book.

Verdict: I’m unsteady about this series from the concerns I read and what I remember from reading it myself. I’m also very concerned about the lack of a statement from the author and the amount of people who have attacked those who voiced their valid concerns about the book. The author isn’t doing anything to help the matter by remaining silent and letting people continue to attack those who voiced concerns and letting them continue to make racist remarks about the people and culture the books are based on.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan

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

Book: Wench

Author: Maxine Kaplan

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: ya readers, fantasy lovers

Publication Date: January 19, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 15+ (TW self-harm, violence, gore, sexual content)

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 400

Synopsis: Tanya has worked at her tavern since she was able to see over the bar. She broke up her first fight at 11. By the time she was a teenager she knew everything about the place, and she could run it with her eyes closed. She’d never let anyone—whether it be a drunkard or a captain of the queen’s guard—take advantage of her. But when her guardian dies, she might lose it all: the bar, her home, her purpose in life. So she heads out on a quest to petition the queen to keep the tavern in her name—dodging unscrupulous guards, a band of thieves, and a powerful, enchanted feather that seems drawn to her. Fast-paced, magical, and unapologetically feminist, Wench is epic fantasy like you’ve never seen it before.

Review: For the most part I thought that this was an okay book. The plot is really interesting and the book hooks you in immediately upon reading it. And I also like the premise of the book and the ending was very satisfying I like some of the books that I’ve read in this genre.

However, there were some things that didn’t make this a memorable book. The character development is literally non-existent and the author takes no time to world build. The pacing is super fast and within about 30 pages I was in a completely different setting and very confused. the author also doesn’t explain the backstory and expects us to feel sorry for this character for the death of a father figure to her but yet we are given no information on how he was a father figure to her. I think that this book read more like a first draft than it did a book.

Verdict: It’s good, just needed more work.

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria

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

Book: This Golden Flame

Author: Emily Victoria

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: sci-fi readers, fantasy readers, ya readers

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 15+ (slight violence and gore, death)

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 384

Synopsis: Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.

In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.

Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.

Review: Overall, I really liked this book. I do want to remark that the book was really good. The book is diverse, having aro/ace characters, gay, and other lgbt+ characters and also showing and writing disabled characters. I really liked how the story flowed and for a debut novel this was really well done. The characters were well developed and, from what I could tell, wrote with care in who they are. The world building was also well done.

However, I did have issues connecting to some of the characters, specifically Zara, and the pacing in some places was really too slow for my liking.

Verdict: It’s pretty good!

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Disclaimer: I bought this book for book club. Support your authors! All opinions are my own.

Book: Even the Darkest Stars

Author: Heather Fawcett

Book Series: Even the Darkest Stars Book 1

Rating: 3.5/5

Recommended For…: Fantasy lovers, ya readers

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Balzer and Bray

Pages: 437

Recommended Age: 16+ (Alcohol, Drunkenness, Language, Romance, Death, Slight gore, Violence, Animal death and violence to animals)

Synopsis: Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Review: Overall, this was a good novel. I thought the main character was really well done and I had never read a book with a mountain trekker as the main character before (to my immediate mind). I liked the world building and the plot as well. The book did keep my interest throughout the novel and I had fun reading it.

However, I did feel like the character development lacked in this book and the book was super fast paced. I felt like I was continuously catching up in information and I was really confused throughout some of the novel. I didn’t think the story was well written in my opinion because of the scattered writing and lack of development for the characters. Also, minus points for a love triangle and for the main character sounding 10 throughout the book (which gave me the creeps when the 19 year old fell for her). There was also an undefined magic system which didn’t make sense to me.

Verdict: I liked this one, just needs work.

Genesis by T. Sae-Low

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Genesis

Author: T. Sae-Low

Book Series: Prophecy Rock Book 1

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: d&D like books, fantasy reads

Publication Date: January 29, 2013

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, gore)

Publisher: Indie Published

Pages: 329

Synopsis: As rumors swirl across the war torn lands of Eos of a possible Candidate—the long prophesied savior of peace— young Raden Nite finds himself unexpectedly chosen to discover the truth to these rumors. Raden’s top-secret mission will send him and his closest friends on a heart-pounding adventure through the mysterious Voras Mountains, the impenetrable fortress of Sargatum, and deep into strange new lands where dangerous enemies await.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Disputed Lands, Prince Aric sits third in line to the crown of Vicedonia. Seeking to escape the overwhelming shadow of his elder brother, and to prove to his father, the king, that he is indeed a worthy successor, Aric embarks on a path into the darkest corners of Eos. On his journey, he will encounter the sinister magic of the Dark Forest, the epic battlegrounds of Lake Raphia, and discover the harsh realities of what it truly means to be king.

In the first book of the Prophecy Rock Series, fates will collide in this epic tale of action, loyalty, and love, where the ultimate meaning of true sacrifice will be discovered.

Review: For the most part I really liked this book. It felt more like a D&D game than it did a book and I really got into it. The book had some great fantastical moments. The world building was well done and superb. The character development was amazing. The book was also fast paced and action packed.

The only thing that was a little off-putting was that the book had a lot of battles and they were frequent, fast, a little confusing, and a bit on the overly brutal side.

Verdict: I really liked this book!

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

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

Book: These Violence Delights

Author: Chloe Gong

Book Series: These Violence Delights Book 1

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Asian ownvoice main characters

Recommended For…: ownvoice readers, ya readers, fantasy lovers, classic retelling lovers

Publication Date: November 17, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, gore, death, romance, monsters)

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages: 464

Synopsis: The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Review: I really loved this book! The book had me hooked from page 1 and I read the whole thing within a couple of hours. The book is fast paced and a whirlwind from start to finish. The romance was amazingly well done and I love stories where the couple already has dating history. The character development was well done and the world building was amazing as well. I also really liked the story and how it evolved from a Romeo and Juliet retelling to a monster book!

The only issue I really had was that the monster wasn’t well utilized in the book in my opinion. I liked how it was concepted and how it sounded, but I didn’t see much of it in the book until the end and then it became a bit more complex that had me bewildered.

Verdict: I loved it! Highly recommend!