The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1) – Lynette Noni [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.

Review:

HUGE thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

I was browsing Netgalley one day when I came across a cover that caught my eye. It was The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni. I was immediately drawn in by the title and cover. Plus, while I had never read anything by Noni, my book bestie has read her The Medoran Chronicles series and is a massive fan! So suffice to say that I was thrilled when I got approved for an arc! And holy cow. Guys. The Prison Healer was freaking amazing!

The Prison Healer tells the story of Kiva Meridan. Kiva was imprisoned with her father ten years ago and she has been fighting to survive ever since. She works in the Zalindov prison as — you guessed it — the healer. Kiva spends everyday caring for the inmates of the brutal prison while maintaining hope that her family will rescue her. But everything changes when the Rebel Queen is captured and Kiva is placed in charge of the sick woman’s care. The Rebel Queen is sentenced to the Trial by Ordeal, but Kiva receives a message from her family to keep the queen alive. Kiva sacrifices everything and volunteers to take the Trials in the queen’s place. What comes next is intense, action-packed, and full of all kinds of twists and turns.

I absolutely loved The Prison Healer. I was immediately hooked by the atmosphere and high-stakes setting. The prison is intense, grim, and full of danger around every corner. I found myself so nervous as Kiva explained the day to day life of the prison. It is simply terrifying. Lynette Noni did an exceptional job of crafting this world and creating an all-encompassing, tension-filled atmosphere. I truly felt Kiva’s terror as she dealt with both the horrors of the prison and the Trial by Ordeal tasks. Kiva encounters abusive guards, aggressive fellow inmates, and truly terrifying trials. I was so on edge during the trials . . . especially the Trial by Fire. I’ll keep this spoiler free, but all you have to know is that I was petrified during this trial. Once again, Noni did such an incredible job of making me feel like I was with Kiva. I was with Kiva throughout the entire book and I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened next!!

One of my favorite parts of The Prison Healer is the healer aspect. As a nurse, I love to see characters who are passionate about healing and healthcare. Kiva was so incredibly inspiring with how she was truly selfless in her care. She cares for everyone who comes through her door the exact same way. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done. It’s what we all are trained to do as healthcare workers and I love seeing it represented so well in a fantasy book! I saw parts of myself in Kiva as she cared for her patients!

I was also fascinated by Kiva’s research and investigation into finding out the cause of the stomach virus plague that has overrun the prison. It was so fun (lol I am such a nerd) watching Kiva reason through the outbreak and come up with a plan to investigate. I am a huge nerd so I was loving all of the research and evidence based experimenting that Kiva was doing. Yay science!! This subplot was not only super interesting, but it also was another way that Noni was able to illustrate the injustices taking place at the prison.

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for . . . the romance. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of romance in The Prison Healer. There are definitely moments and the start to more, but the romance was not the overall focus of the book. I was initially worried that the romance/love-interest was a bit too insta-lovey. It seemed liked that was the direction the story was going, but I definitely changed my mind. I think what started in the beginning as an initial attraction/insta-love became a supportive friendship that slowly developed over time. The way that Jaren supports Kiva throughout the story was amazing. I was definitely swooning! Even in his prison disarray . . . Jaren is dreamy!

As much as I love Jaren, he is not my favorite character from the book. That title belongs to Tipp!!! He is absolutely adorable and such a sweet kid. I loved all of his scenes. It’s heartbreaking that a sweet, innocent eleven-year-old is in a horrible prison, but Tipp is such a light in the darkness. He really pulls Kiva out of herself and I love it. Tipp, Jaren, and Naari (a prison guard) were all fantastic supporting characters. Shout out to Mot too! The whole cast of characters is so well done. Even the bad guys . . they were so creepy and truly evil, but so well done!

The Prison Healer ends with several major twists and a huge cliffhanger! I suspected a couple aspects of some of the twists, but I had no idea the extent. I was shocked! There are so many reveals and truly EPIC twists that my jaw dropped. And that ending?! Are you kidding!? I need book two now!!

As you can see I absolutely loved The Prison Healer! This book was incredible. The world-building, cast of characters, plot, and twists were all exceptional. My only problem now is that I need more. The Prison Healer hooked me from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat. It is definitely one of my new favorite books and I cannot recommend it enough!

The Prison Healer is set to be released April 13th, 2021.

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

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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!

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
      The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
     But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
      Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Review:

I am speechless. I do not know how I am going to form coherent thoughts to write this review. I am now OBSESSED with Illuminae. I don’t know why it took me so long to read it! I had heard that it was incredible and everyone loved it, but it just kept getting pushed down on my TBR list. I have been missing out!!! Illuminae (and I’m sure the other books in the series which I am currently waiting on Amazon to deliver) is one of my new FAVORITE books. It was so damn good.

I absolutely loved the way Illuminae was written. The first time I flipped through the book I was a little nervous about the “dossier of hacked documents” style of writing. I was worried it would be difficult to follow. IT WAS NOT AT ALL DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW! I don’t know how they did it, but Kaufman and Kristoff were able to pull off this incredible story-telling style. My brain literally cannot process how these two super-humans were not only able to successfully co-write an incredible story, but also format it in such an untraditional way that not only worked but elevated the story! I have no other way to describe the formatting and story telling method other than IT IS SO COOL!

As for the actual story of Illuminae . . . it was exciting, suspenseful, emotional, and action-packed. I adored our main characters, Kady and Ezra. All of the different POVs (including Kady and Ezra’s) were so well done. I felt like I was there on the Hypatia and Alexander with them. I was stressed, anxious, terrified (looking at you plague afflicted), and grief stricken along side Kady, Ezra, and the rest of the passengers. Marie Lu’s quote on the cover describes my feelings about Illuminae perfectly . . . “Brace yourself. You’re about to be immersed in a mindscape that you’ll never want to leave.” She’s 100% correct . . . I never want to leave this incredible story.

Illuminae was an emotional twisty-turny super intense rollercoaster. And I loved every minute. I am officially on the Illuminae hype train! I am so freaking excited for Gemina and Obsidio to be delivered so I can dive in to the rest of the series!

Throne of Glass SERIES – Sarah J. Maas

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So this post is going to be different from my previous reviews. I have recently been in a major reading slump. I decided to reread the Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas because it is my favorite series (besides Harry Potter…obviously) and I knew it would get me out of my slump. I also wanted to reread this series because the finale, Kingdom of Ash, is coming out in October. So instead of posting a review for each book in the series as I read them, I am going to do one post on the entire Throne of Glass Series up to Kingdom of Ash. Warning…my reviews get progressively longer with each book. They last two books’ sections also have a lot more recap in them. I really need to rein in my thoughts, but I just love this series so much. And I included an absurd amount of favorite quotes for each book…but I blame Sarah J. Maas and her incredible writing for that :). Also, I really need to come up with a different word than love, but I can’t help it because I love it all so much!!

This review will also contain spoilers. Please do not read further if you want to avoid spoilers!!

First, and perhaps most important…I would like to say that Sarah J. Maas is a queen and she is a gift to all of us. SJM is an exceptional writer with a gift of creating fantastic and beautiful worlds. She is at the top of my list of favorite authors and shares the #1 spot with J.K. Rowling.

Now onto the books!!

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Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) – Laini Taylor

28449207RATING:⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

SYNOPSIS:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around–and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old, he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the form of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? And who is the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams?

In this sweeping and breathtaking novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

The answers await in Weep.

REVIEW (Spoiler Free):

Strange the Dreamer was absolute magic. I was speechless when I finished because it was so beautiful. Laini Taylor has the exceptional gifts of story telling and world building. Her writing is stunning. There is really nothing else like it. She literally writes magic! I really liked the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy but Strange the Dreamer blew me away. I don’t know how I can possible write a review that adequately describes how spectacular it is.

I don’t know how she does it, but once again Laini Taylor has built a beautiful world. The Unseen City is so creative and original. I had never read anything like it. I was completely immersed in this world. The atmosphere is whimsical, lyrical, and at times bleak. I wanted to savor every single moment. The characters and plot were completely unique. Lazlo and Sarai are excellent leads. I especially adore Lazlo because he is so kind, dorky, and a book lover! I loved reading both of their POVs. I truly felt like I was there with them, especially in the dream sequences. And Minya!? What a creepy and well-done antagonist! I love to hate her!!

The story is filled with magic, dreams and nightmares, gods and goddesses, godslayers, ghosts, romance, friendship, and moths! There also is the strong theme and message about race and how wrong it is to judge someone based on the color of their skin. This book was not only a fantastical story, but also can relate to our society. I love when authors are able to do this with their books.

The mystery, the love, and the messages of Strange the Dreamer are all phenomenal. I was hooked from the first line. It is a love letter to reading and book lovers everywhere. There is a quote in the book that says, “On the occasions that he did look up from the page, he would seem as though he were awakening from a dream.” I absolutely felt like I was in a dream while reading Strange the Dreamer. It took my breath away and I will carry this story with me forever. I cannot wait to read what happens next in Muse of Nightmares.

Thank you, Laini Taylor. You are a queen.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn’t sleep at all.”
  • “You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.” “Beautiful and full of monsters?” “All the best stories are.”
  • “It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.”
  • “I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you’ll let me be in your story.”
  • “Life won’t just happen to you boy, he said. You have to happen to it.”
  • “I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.”
  • “He looked him right in the eyes and saw a man who was great and good and human, who had done extraordinary things and terrible things and been broken and reassembled as a shell, only then to do the bravest thing of all: He had kept on living, though there are easier paths to take.”
  • “And they gazed at themselves in it, side by side and hand in hand, and they beheld neither gods nor monsters. They were so nearly unchanged, and yet that one thing – the color of their skin – would, in the real world, change everything.”