Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1) – Kerri Maniscalco [ARC Review]

52735921. sx318 sy475

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new blockbuster series…

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is at is seems…

Review:

Huge thank you to JIMMY Patterson Books and Negalley for providing this e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

Kingdom of the Wicked is my first venture into Kerri Maniscalo’s writing. I have always been super intrigued by her Stalking Jack the Ripper series, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Gotta love that never ending TBR! Now that I’ve read Kingdom of the Wicked I am definitely hooked on Kerri’s writing.

Kingdom of the Wicked tells the story of Emilia and Vittoria di Carlo, twin witches who live nineteenth century Sicily. The twins spend their days hiding in plain sight and cooking at the family restaurant . . . until Vittoria is brutally murdered. Emilia sets off on a journey full of dark magic and ends up teaming up with Wrath, one of the Wicked princes of Hell.

Kingdom of the Wicked is a solid 3.5 star read for me. It was an exciting story full of action, mystery, and magic. There are parts I loved and parts that I thought were just ok.

My favorite part of Kingdom of the Wicked is the setting. It is simply stunning. Seriously go google pictures of Palermo, Italy and your jaw will drop. Maniscalco did an excellent job with her descriptions and truly painting a picture of the scenery. I have been to Italy, but just Rome and up from there. This story made me want to visit Sicily and Southern Italy. Simply stunning!!

This is also true for the food! My mouth was literally watering with all of the amazing food descriptions. Everything sounded so delicious! I love how Maniscalco seamlessly wove in food and cooking to the story. I feel like I really understand how much cooking is a part of Emilia’s life!

One super random thing that I loved about Kingdom of the Wicked is the mention of the card game Scopa. My mom is 100% Italian so all of our family gatherings are VERY Italian. Members of my family have been playing Scopa at every single gathering since I can remember. I never actually learned to play, but I totally associate Scopa with my family. It was so fun for me to see the game mentioned!

Another thing that I really loved about Kingdom of the Wicked is the Wicked! I am fascinated by the Princes of Hell!!! I was hooked from the second Emilia meets Wrath. He is such a great “enemies to lovers” trope . . . dark, mysterious, and a bit evil! My only complaint is that I want more of him. I feel like we got very minimal actual interaction between Wrath and Emilia. I want more!!! I have a feeling that the sequel will have lots more! And the other demon princes were so sinister! They make great villains!!

And now for the not so great things . . . my primary complaint about Kingdom of the Wicked is the pacing. Everything happened very quickly and felt super rushed. To me, it feels like not a whole lot actually happened in this book. This goes along with wanting more of Wrath and Emilia interactions. I just wanted more, but everything seemed rushed. My other issue was that the plot was fairly predictable. I guessed who the murderer was almost immediately and I also could see Emilia’s journey coming from miles away. That being said, I still really enjoyed the plot. It was exciting, mysterious, and definitely captivating! This was a super fast read and I really enjoyed it!

Kingdom of the Wicked ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. I’m keeping this review spoiler free so all I’ll say is that I am excited to see what Emilia has up her sleeve in the next book! I’m definitely excited to explore more of the Kingdom of the Wicked.

Kingdom of the Wicked will be released October 27th by JIMMY Patterson Books!

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1) – Tracy Deonn [ARC Review]

Amazon.com: Legendborn (9781534441606): Deonn, Tracy: Books

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

Review:

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster, Margaret K. McElderry Books, and Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn is a King Arthur retelling that follows sixteen year old Bree Matthews as she begins her Early College program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Bree hasn’t been the same since her mother was killed in a car accident. This program is the perfect escape for her to get away. On Bree’s first night on campus she witnesses a supernatural attack that sends her on an adventure to find answers. Bree is thrust into a world of demons, magic, knights, and legends. She discovers the Legendborn, a group who are the descendents of King Arthur and his thirteen knights. These Legendbord are all that stands between demons (the Shadowborn) and the human world. 

I absolutely LOVED this book! Legendborn is an incredible YA fantasy that tells a wholly original story. Yes, it is a King Arthur retelling, but Legendborn is so much more than magic, spells, and legends. Legendborn is an urban fantasy that deals with grief, loss, power, legacies of colonization and slavery, being a Black woman in the South, and finding oneself. 

I did not expect to be so profoundly affected by Bree’s story. Tracy Deoon tells an incredible fictional story that she connects to our society by directly confronting racism and the history plus the continued effects of colonization, slavery, and violence against Black people. As the reader, we see Bree encounter racism everyday . . .whether it be slurs, discrimination, stereotypes, or more. She also lives in a constant reminder of the slavery and brutality against Black people. As a white woman I will never understand what Bree is feeling or going through. I am so thankful that Tracy has given us this story and allowed me to gain more perspective through Bree’s eyes. I definitely recommend reading Tracy’s author’s note at the end of the book.

One of my favorite parts of Legendborn is Bree connecting with her answers and learning about her own family’s history. 


Legendborn contains magic, mystery, romance, competition, and some MAJOR twists! I will say that the King Arthur lore and the history involved with the society, inheritance and magic was a bit confusing. I didn’t know much about King Arthur besides a little bit from “Merlin” and “Monty Python & the Holy Grail” so not much lol. I didn’t really know what to expect. I definitely had to take my time and do lots of highlights to keep everything straight. It is so extensive and there is a ton going on, but it never felt overwhelming. I felt like I was with Bree discovering and learning with her as she did. The world-building is all encompassing and so complete. Tracy Deoon truly crafted an entire world and lore using the legend of King Arthur. 

The magic is also fascinating! From aether to Rootcraft . .. it was all so interesting! I was very excited to read the author’s note and discover that Rootcraft is inspired by African American history and spiritual traditions. Rootwork was created by enslaved Africans and their descendents. The Rootcraft that Bree encounters is fictional, but inspired by this Rootwork. This is such a cool detail and I love learning something new! Again . . . please read the author’s note. It is not only inspiring, but also provided some really awesome insight into the inspiration for Legendborn.

The cast of characters in Legendborn is amazing and so incredibly diverse! The best part is that the diversity is done naturally and it doesn’t feel like a “shtick” or just for token diversity points. A great example of this is one of the Legendborn pages, Greer. Greer is non-binary. This is not announced or a big deal in the slightest. Instead Greer’s non-binary status is seemlessly part of the story. I love that They are just another character and They are accepted as such. It’s incredible to see! I hope this is an inspiration for everyone that reads this to be more accepting and tolerant of those different than you. The world needs more kindness and respect.

Bree is an excellent lead. She is strong, fierce, and loving. It was heartbreaking to watch her experience the grief from losing her mother. I truly felt like I was with her on this adventure.

I am a little undecided on how I feel about the romance. It definitely was on the insta-lovey side. It kind of has to be though because the whole book only takes place over about three weeks. Also, there is an explanation for the insta-love near the end which helps. There’s also a potential love triangle that I think will be delved into more in the following books. I am not a huge fan of love triangles, but I am intrigued by this one! 

The only reasons why I deducted a star is because of the insta-love and the overall rushed-ness of the beginning. Everything felt very boom boom boom. It all progressed very quickly. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it just felt a little rushed in the beginning. 


Legendborn is an exciting fantasy story that has so many important themes. I am so glad that I read this book because 1) it’s a fantastic and unique story & 2) I am thankful that I was able to read a modern day fantasy through the eyes of a young Black woman. It’s not enough and I will continue to work to improve myself to be a better ally, but Bree’s story is one step and allowed me to gain more insight into what Black men and women experience every day.  

I absolutely loved Legendborn. Even though it is inspired by the legend of King Arthur, this retelling feels totally original and utterly fascinating! I loved all the detail and the world building! And the ending was a rollercoaster of twists and reveals! I cannot wait to see where the story goes in the next book.

Legendborn will be released on September 15th by Margaret K. McElderry Books!

Fable (Fable, #1) – Adrienne Young [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue and adventure.

Review:

When I saw that Netgalley had Fable available to read for seventy-two hours I immediately snatched it up! I had heard good things about Fable and the cover is stunning! So I was dying to read it! I am super happy to report that I absolutely LOVED Fable!

MASSIVE thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for providing this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Fable is an action-packed, fun-filled, exciting adventure set on the high seas! There’s traders, rivalry, treasure, and seafaring exploits! Fable follows the titular character four years after she was abandoned on an island by her successful trader father. This island is not paradise . . . Fable is left on a dangerous island full of men who will attack and steal from her whenever the chance arrives. Fable spends four years fighting against the odds and using her resourcefulness to survive. After working hard as a dredger (basically someone who dives for gems and treasure) she finally saves up enough coin to pay for passage off the island. But of course, nothing is ever easy for Fable and she must run for her life. To escape the island, Fable joins up with the crew of the Marigold. West, Willa, Hamish, Paj, and Auster are less than welcoming and there’s definitely more going on than meets the eye.

Fable is one of my new favorite characters. She is so strong, resourceful, and independent. No matter what life throws her way, Fable always gets back up. She is a fighter. I love how courageous and strong she is. This story is all about Fable finding herself and I loved being a part of her journey.

I also loved the entire crew of the Marigold. They are not the nicest to Fable when she arrives, but I totally understand it. Every single one of them (including Fable) is guarding and hiding something. They all have a reason to keep their secrets close. I love how the relationships develop. The dynamic between each of them is so well done. The crew of the Marigold is already family, but I love seeing Fable become a part of this. They are such a great found family for her! The romance is a little insta-lovey and totally obvious from the beginning, but it didn’t bother me. I actually loved it!! I can’t wait for the relationship to be explored more in the next book.

The world, setting, and adventures at sea were also amazing. It was all so immersive. I loved visiting the different port cities and exploring different parts of the sea. Even just the day to day life on the ship was exciting. One of my favorite parts is the scenes where Fable is diving. The imagery and scenery is beautiful and the way Fable senses the gemstones is so cool! And *that* scene where she dives in Tempest Snare is the best!

Fable ends with a giant cliffhanger that has me dying for more! I did see part of the cliffhanger coming, but there was more than I expected and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Fable will be released September 1st, 2020 by Wednesday Books!

Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars, #2) – Elizabeth Lim [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Maia Tamarin proved her skill as a tailor when she wove the dresses of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but it will take more than a beautiful gown to hide the darkness rising up within her. . . . The stakes are higher than ever in this breathtaking sequel to Spin the Dawn, perfect for fans of Six of Crows.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon, and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. Edan, the boy she loves, is gone–perhaps forever–and no sooner does she set foot in the Autumn Palace than she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace. When the emperor’s rivals learn of her deception, there is hell to pay, but the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has beenchanging . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red; losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, and in the meantime she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

Review:

Thank you to Netgalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

So I absolutely adored the first book in this duology! Spin the Dawn was such a fun, magical adventure! I’m so bummed to say that Unravel the Dusk was a let down.

The story picks up right after the events of Spin the Dawn . In this story, Maia must face becoming a demon after striking a bargain to create the dresses of Amana. I did not connect to this story at all. I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters or the plot. I just wasn’t invested in Maia’s journey. And honestly, I was pretty bored. The plot just seemed to drag. This was one of those books where I kept checking how long I had left because I just wanted to be done.

I would never guess that this was the sequel to a Mulan inspired tale of a girl competing to be the imperial tailor and then going on an adventure to make three fantastical dresses. This book honestly felt like a whole different world. There was also just too much going on. Maia’s battle against her literal inner demon should have been the focus. The addition of the emperor, the Shansen, and the impending war were just distracting. I felt like Lady Sarnai and the Shansen should have been a totally separate book. It just didn’t fit with Maia’s journey. And the ending was . . . interesting. I definitely didn’t expect it. It also seemed like it was a very easy resolution.

I am so disappointed that I didn’t love Unravel the Dusk . I wish that Spin the Dawn was a standalone. I will say that the cover of Unravel the Dusk is STUNNING. The imagery throughout the story was also gorgeous.

Unravel the Dusk will be released on July 7th, 2020.

The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow, #2) – Margaret Owen [ARC Review]

41022295. sy475

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in The Faithless Hawk, the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.

As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.

With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.

A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.

Review:

Huge thank you to Fierce Reads for providing this advanced readers copy of The Faithless Hawk! I was able to pick up this advanced copy at the Fierce Reads booth at C2E2 (Chicago Comic Con) this year! Fierce Reads was giving away The Faithless Hawk advanced copies if you purchased a copy of the first book. Did I already have two copies of The Merciful Crow!? Yep! Did that stop me from buying a third!? Not at all!! So now I’m the proud owner of three copies of The Merciful Crow and I have no regrets.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen was one of my absolute favorite books from last year! From the world building to the caste hierarchy and the incredible magic system . . . The Merciful Crow is such a fun, action-packed, and unique story. The story ended with a big cliffhanger and I have been dying to know where the story would go next. I am happy to say that The Faithless Hawk did not disappoint!

I love the world that Margaret Owen has created. Everything is built and developed so well. This is especially true for the castes and magic system. This story takes place in the world made up of twelve castes, with each represented by a different bird. These castes were founded by thousands of gods who created the castes in their image and gifted each with a birthright (power). All of the castes have a birthright (fire, stealth, etc.) except for the Crows. There are also witches (who have stronger powers) born within each caste. The top caste is the Phoenixes, who make up the royalty and rule this world. The lowest caste is the Crows. They have no birthright and are universally looked down upon. They are abused, hated, and discriminated against. The treatment of the Crows is appalling. However, the castes rely on the Crows for a very important purpose . . . the Crows are the only ones immune to the Sinner’s Plague. The Sinner’s Plague is a horrible disease, highly contagious, and is fatal to anyone who contracts it. In order to stop the spread of the disease, any time someone contracts the Plague, the Crows are summoned to deliver mercy killings and to burn the bodies. This is why they are known as “The Merciful Crows.” Our lead, Fie, is a Crow chief and a Bone Thief witch. This means she can draw power from bones and teeth. For example: Sparrows have the birthright to hide in plain sight. Fie often calls upon Sparrow teeth to hide from enemies. I am just so fascinated by the incredible world and magic system that Owen has created!

My favorite part of The Faithless Hawk is the vivid imagery. Margaret Owen is able to create such stunning scenes that I can truly see in my mind. I especially love the scenes inside the palace. Everything is so gorgeous! Some of the imagery was so eerie! The skin ghasts and the effects of the Sinner’s Plague are so dang creepy! Owen is just so good at building the scenes.

I also loved how much Fie has grown throughout these two books. She has matured and become so much less selfish. This all happened naturally too. It wasn’t immediate or rushed at all.

Lastly, I loved all the espionage that takes place in The Faithless Hawk! There is so much spying, manipulation, and sneaking! Especially in all the palace scenes! It was so exciting and I couldn’t get enough of these parts!

The only reason I took off a star is the pacing. It was very on and off. There were lulls that seemed to drag, but then super exciting parts that were very fast paced! It was a mixed bag, but I overall really enjoyed The Faithless Hawk.

The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen is set to be released August 18th, 2020 by Henry Holt and Co.

The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy, #3) – S. A. Chakraborty [ARC Review]

52166786

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

Review:

Huge thank you to HarperCollins Publishers and Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!!

This review will contain some spoilers for The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper.

I freaked out when I got approved for this advanced readers copy on Netgalley! I have been dying to get my hands on The Empire of Gold since I read The Kingdom of Copper last year. The Daevabad Trilogy is one of my all time favorites. The story has kept me totally hooked from the very beginning. The Empire of Gold is an absolutely incredible conclusion to this breathtaking series.

The world and story that S. A. Chakraborty has created is absolutely incredible. There are only a few other authors that are able to write such all encompassing stories. Chakraborty has created an epic and stunning world with an entire culture in the Daevabad Trilogy. I genuinely don’t know how to describe how truly talented Chakraborty is. She is an author I consider to be a master storyteller.

The Kingdom of Copper ended on a huge cliffhanger! Actually multiple huge cliffhangers!! The Empire of Gold picks up right where The Kingdom of Copper left off with Dara in Daevabad and Nahri & Ali in Egypt. It hit the ground running and DID. NOT. STOP. The story is exciting, action packed, and full of adventure. There are so many twists and turns and I never knew what to expect next. I couldn’t put it down! One of my favorite parts is that the world of Daevabad is expanded upon beyond what we’ve already known. I absolutely love getting to explore more and more of this world. Especially Ta Ntry and the Marid!

Once again, the story is told through the multiple points of view of Nahri, Ali, and Dara. I can’t believe how much these characters have gone through. I’ve always loved Nahri and Ali, but I love them even more than I thought possible — even though they both took me through the ringer in this one! Dara’s chapters were difficult to read because it was really hard to have any sympathy for him. I ended KOC hating him and the feeling continued throughout EOG. That being said, he does have a great character arc. Dara’s character has taken me on quite the emotional rollercoaster throughout this series. Chakraborty really knows how to pull on my emotions.

Speaking of emotions . . . I went through the full spectrum while reading The Empire of Gold. Anger, fear, sadness, grief, happiness . . . you name it and I felt it! I truly felt like I was on this adventure and feeling everything Nahri, Ali, etc. felt. All of the characters in this world have experienced so much violence, trauma, and heartbreak. They all have made good and bad decisions. It’s one of the things that I like most about this series — no character is perfect. Each and every one has flaws. The character growth from the beginning of the series to now is truly amazing.

The Empire of Gold was an absolutely perfect ending to this amazing series. I honestly could not have asked for more. I totally loved every characters conclusions. The themes of love, family, acceptance, redemption, and willingness to change are so well done. I am seriously in awe of The Empire of Gold and I know that this series will stick with me forever.

The Empire of Gold will be released June 30th, 2020 by Harper Collins.

TRUEL1F3 (LIFEL1K3, #3) – Jay Kristoff [ARC Review]

42871642. sy475

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

From the bestselling co-author of the Illuminae Files comes the thrilling finale in the LIFEL1K3 trilogy — hailed by Marie Lu as “a breathless, action-packed exploration of what humanity really means.”

Best friends have become enemies. Lovers have become strangers. And deciding whose side you’re on could be the difference between life and death. For Eve and Lemon, discovering the truth about themselves–and each other–was too much for their friendship to take. But with the country on the brink of a new world war–this time between the BioMaas swarm at CityHive and Daedalus’s army at Megopolis, loyalties will be pushed to the brink, unlikely alliances will form and with them, betrayals. But the threat doesn’t stop there, because the lifelikes are determined to access the program that will set every robot free, a task requiring both Eve and Ana, the girl she was created to replace. In the end, violent clashes and heartbreaking choices reveal the true heroes . . . and they may not be who you think they are.

Review:

Huge thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Jay Kristoff has done it again. I seriously don’t know how he does it, but Kristoff consistently puts out absolute bangers. He is one of my favorite authors. One of the things that I like best about Kristoff’s books is that he includes a quick recap of the previous books in the beginning. This is so helpful when it’s been a long time since reading the previous books. He did this again with TRUEL1F3 and I loved it!

TRUEL1F3 picks up immediately after the events of DEV1AT3. The action starts immediately and does not let up. The entire book is non-stop! And I mean literally NON! STOP! Our rag tag group of characters are constantly getting themselves into all sorts of dangerous situations. TRUEL1F3 is a super exciting, fast-paced read that is jam packed full of fun.

I was so happy to be back with this incredible cast of characters . . . Cricket, the freaks, and my girl LEMON FRESH! Spank my spankables! Lemon is one of my favorite characters ever and she was once again she is totally *brilliful*! Lemon is fierce, sassy, independent, and so much fun. Her point of view chapters are always my favorite. I’m keeping this review spoiler free, but Lemon goes through a horrible trauma in TRUEL1F3. Kristoff did a great job of showing Lemon dealing with the physical and emotional tolls of this. It made Lemon Fresh even more fierce and powerful!

Besides Lemon Fresh, my favorite part of this series is the freaks . . . Diesel and Grimm. The team of freaks grows in TRUEL1F3 and I couldn’t be happier! I would definitely want to be a part of the team.

Of course I have to mention that it’s a Kristoff book . . . so that means I was an emotional wreck multiple times.

One character that I did not like at all . . . Eve. She has been the worst since the second book. I understand she is dealing with an identity crisis and incredible emotional stress, but Eve’s decisions and actions are horrible. One of the overarching themes of TRUEL1F3 is that your actions are what defines the type of person you are. So basically Eve is awful. The ONLY reason I deducted 1/2 star from my review is Eve’s arc/ending. It was too easy and seemed way off base for her story. To keep this spoiler free, I will include what I think would have been a more appropriate ending at the end of my review.

The LIFEL1K3 trilogy is an exciting, fast-paced, and action-packed series. Jay Kristoff creates the most thrilling worlds and captivating characters. TRUEL1F3 is no exception. I flew threw this book and I could not get enough of this incredible story.

TRUEL1F3 will be released June 30th by Knopf Books for Young Readers!

SPOILERS ON PAGE 2 . . .

The Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1) – Kester Grant [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

Review:

Huge thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.”

When I saw this tagline and then the GORGEOUS cover of The Court of Miracles I knew I absolutely had to read it. France + Les Misérables + secret underground societies + history + Six of Crows!? Sign me up! I was thrilled to be approved for an eARC of The Court of Miracles.

Overall, I liked The Court of Miracles. Was it amazing? No, but it was a fun story with beautifully descriptive scenes and an intriguing criminal underworld.

My favorite parts of The Court of Miracles were the author’s descriptions and then the actual Miracle Court. This is Kester Grant’s debut novel and I have to say I am very impressed with her writing. The way she described each scene . . . whether it be the gaudy palace or the creepy Halls of the Dead . . . everything was vivid and excellently crafted. I could truly see the scenes playing out in my head.

My other favorite part was the Miracle Court itself. This criminal underground made up of nine guilds was totally captivating. Each guild is overseen by a Lord or Lady who leads their “Wretched Children” in whatever their guild specializes in. It is a fascinating system of politics and court intrigue. I could have spent so much time just exploring each guild!

The Court of Miracles started off with a bang! I was immediately pulled in by the first chapter. It was super intense because we are immediately thrown into this life and death situation in which our main character, Nina, is forced to run for her life. The whole first sequence of Nina joining the Guild of Thieves was so exciting! The plot kept me interested, but I will say that the timeline was somewhat confusing at first. There are several time jumps throughout the book.

Part four of The Court of Miracles is by far the best part. The plot is non-stop and so exciting. I flew through the end of this book!!

I think the main thing that caused me not to love The Court of Miracles was the choppiness of the plot. This was due to two reasons. First, the time jumps. I don’t mind time jumps, but these felt very stop start. That probably doesn’t make sense, but the time jumps felt abrupt and made me feel very disconnected. The second reason why I didn’t love The Court of Miracles was the structure of the plot. Everything was very task oriented. Our protagonist would encounter a problem then immediately solve it and move on to the next problem. It felt like a bunch of mini plots rather than one cohesive plot. It was just . . . weird.

I did like all the Les Misérables aspects. Although dumb me did not catch that Ettie is short for Cosette.

Overall I enjoyed The Court of Miracles. It was a fun story with a beautiful setting. I would love to explore the guilds of the Miracle Court more. The Court of Miracles is set to be a trilogy, but I think this book works as a stand-alone too.

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant will be released on June 2nd, 2020.

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1) – Janella Angeles [ARC Review]

40144224

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️

Synopsis:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Review:

Huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

When I saw that Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles was pitched as “Phantom of the Opera” meets “Moulin Rouge” I knew I absolutely had to read it. The synopsis totally pulled me in and intrigued me to see what Where Dreams Descend was all about. The competition aspect actually also made me think of that one Disney Channel Original Movie, Now You See Me!

Where Dreams Descend is an atmospheric, fantasy tale that follows a female magician named Kallia as she competes in a magician competition in the icy city of Glorian. It is a high tension story of magicians, their dark pasts, and a mysterious presence wreaking havoc on the city. 

Unfortunately, Where Dreams Descend fell flat for me. My overall feeling is just … meh. It was ok. I hate when I can’t be super positive about books, but I have to share my honest opinions. 

I’ll start with what I liked . . .

  • The vibe and atmosphere is by far the best part of Where Dreams Descend. The whole story is fantastical with a dark mood. The Dire Woods and the city of Dorian are so captivating and have this air of mystery. Honestly, this was the only thing that kept me invested in the story. 
  • The first chapter/prologue totally pulled me in. I was like ooooh this is going to be sexy and magical! It definitely started off strong. 

Now, onto what I did not enjoy. 

  • First, and perhaps most important, the lack of world building and characterization. Where Dreams Descend starts off strong with an eerie and mysterious setting, but does nothing to build upon it. I feel like I know nothing about this world. We get a little bit of history with the tale of the four families of Glorian, but even that is vague and quite brief. I just felt like I was kind of thrown into this world. The same goes for the characters . . . I really don’t know that much about them. Like I barely even know what they look like. It seems like the main detail is that every character is running from their past and has a bunch of secrets. That’s it. I don’t know, I’m just not attached to any of the characters. I wanted so badly to love Kallia, but it just wasn’t there. 
  • Going along with characters and character development, I was not a fan of the romance. The two characters involved just like suddenly fall for each other. I mean it was obvious that they were going to be love interests from the beginning, but I would have liked to see some development and actual formation of a relationship. To me it felt like they were attracted to one another, talked twice, and then were obsessed. It just didn’t feel natural and was definitely rushed. At one point they’re together, broken up, and together again all within like three chapters. Their relationship didn’t feel authentic to me. 
  • I wanted more! Going into this book I was expecting exciting and extravagant magical competition scenes, but there were only a couple. And these scenes were cool, but it didn’t really translate into reading. Maybe it would have been better on screen? It just wasn’t what I expected. 
  • Along with the magician’s competition, I wanted more of the Conquering Circus performers. These awesome ladies had so much potential, but they felt more like a prop to be used for Kallia’s performances. 
  • We got no answers about the mystery. Now I know that this is a duology and the author can’t give away everything in the first book, but I would have liked at least some answers!

Wow, while writing all of this out I feel bad being so hard on a book. Especially for a debut author. It just sucks to be let down by a book that I was excited for! 

I do have to mention the cover, because it is seriously gorgeous! I feel like it perfectly captures the vibe of the first chapter and the mysteriousness of the setting. 

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles will be released on August 25th, 2020 by Wednesday Books.

House of Earth & Blood (Crescent City, #1) – Sarah J. Maas

44778083

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas launches her brand-new CRESCENT CITY series with House of Earth and Blood: the story of half-Fae and half-human Bryce Quinlan as she seeks revenge in a contemporary fantasy world of magic, danger, and searing romance.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life-working hard all day and partying all night-until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose-to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion-one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom-and the power of love.

Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve actually written up a full review, but I knew I had to do one for House of Earth & Blood (Crescent City, #1) by Sarah J. Maas. I am going to refer to this book as Crescent City because it’s a shorter name. 

I will keep this review spoiler free. 

She’s done it again. Congrats to Sarah J. Maas on another absolutely incredible book. Crescent City totally blew me away. I finished a few days ago and I still am in awe. 

Crescent City tells the story of Bryce Quinlan, a half-human half-fae woman living in the titular “Crescent City.” She is care free and fun loving until tragedy strikes. While dealing with her grief, Bryce must team up with the Archangel Governor’s personal assassin to solve a series of brutal murders. Crescent City is a story of love, magic, mystery, romance, and page-turning suspense. 

I absolutely loved this book! I’m always a tiny bit nervous when authors that I love start a new series and/or new genre. Sarah J. Maas did both with Crescent City and it did not disappoint at all. I didn’t know how SJM could possibly write another book that becomes an instant favorite, but she did it again! I love this new world!

The first part of Crescent City is very information heavy. There’s a lot to learn and to know about this new world. I was glad to be reading on my kindle because I was able to highlight certain information. It was a lot of info but it didn’t feel like information dumping. Maas’s worlds are always rich, detailed, and all encompassing. She is an expert world builder and Crescent City is no different. 

Besides her world building, one of the things that Sarah J. Maas does best is portray mental health. All of her books have characters experiencing some level of grief, PTSD, and/or depression. The best part is that it’s always accepted and seen as normal (which it is). There is no ridicule or judgment. Crescent City is no exception. Once again Sarah J. Maas beautifully and accurately portrays these things within her characters. I’m keeping this review spoiler free so I won’t go into details, but just know that she’s done an excellent job with these topics again through both Bryce and Hunt. 

I seriously loved this book. Bryce is another totally fierce, independent, and bad ass female lead that is complex and so captivating to read! Some friends on Bookstagram have asked what my favorite scene is and I can’t possibly choose. I keep thinking of more scenes that I love and scenes that are so powerful. Also, there were so many twists and turns that I truly didn’t see coming. I thought the story was going to go one way, but then it shocked me! And the romance . . . SWOON!! I don’t know how Sarah J. Maas keeps coming up with these incredible stories, worlds, and characters. She is truly a master storyteller.

I can’t believe I have to wait for the sequel! Sarah J. Maas did a fantastic job of wrapping up this story, but ending with a great cliffhanger. I’m hooked and I need more!! 

In case you couldn’t tell, I totally loved this book! Sarah J Maas is my favorite author and she always blows me away. I already want to reread this. 

Have you read my read Crescent City yet? What did you think?! Message me so we can chat about this incredible book!