Review: Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3) by Amanda Foody

Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game, #3)Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Welcome to New Reynes, self-proclaimed City of Sin, and one of the most interesting worlds in YA literature.

Queen of Volts is the final installment of The Shadow Game trilogy and therefore, was destined to break my heart.

I dragged out my time reading this. Literally, tried to make it last as long as possible.

Picking up where King of Fools left off, this third book finds Levi and Enne forced to play the most dangerous game yet.

Levi, who is being drawn to the straight life of politics, and Enne, who must figure out how to navigate with her true nature exposed, grapple with their feelings for one another.

Should they play the game as allies or enemies?

I mean, that was my vote.

If you know nothing about this series, I urge you to go read about Ace of Shades. These books are full of intrigue, plotting, scheming, backstabbing and compelling ambitions.

There are street gangs, crime lords, corrupt politicians, gambling dens and magic.

Legends come to life. It’s a dangerous, seedy world and I loved every minute of it. Such a vibe.

I could go on and on about the many things I loved about this series, but honestly, you just need to try it for yourself.

I will say the story truly matured along the way, so perhaps if you picked up Ace of Shades and it was just okay for you, I would urge you to give the second book a shot.

This is one of my favorite YA trilogies of all time. I love the low key MacBeth vibes that I picked up throughout.

It’s just everything. I love it. Amazing job, Amanda Foody. I can’t wait to binge read the series in its entirety someday.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

This was absolutely one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I truly appreciate it!

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Review: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A bittersweet conclusion to a fantastic YA-SciFi series. This is retelling GOLD!

Winter is the fourth, and concluding novel, in Marissa Meyer’s beloved, Lunar Chronicles series.

Coming in at over 800-pages, this hefty book provides the final stand-off between our intrepid heroes, their allies, and the wicked Lunar Queen.

There was a ton of action in this installment, some of it quite brutal, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about each of our main characters.

I can’t believe it is over. As some of you may know, I have a difficult time continuing with series. There was no problem with this one. I was that compelled to pick it up.

I love how Meyer built the world out. Each book, you gain more characters, more knowledge of the world and the stakes are steadily increased.

In this book, our newest character, per the title, is Winter, the Lunar Princess.

She was such a delight. Due to repressing the use of her glamour, her mind is a bit janky. She hallucinates and people in the kingdom think she is bit crazy, but love her nonetheless.

Again with this one, I appreciate so much the connections to the original fairy tales.

As a set of retellings, I think The Lunar Chronicles is top notch work. I would love to read further retellings from Meyer and definitely have boosted Heartless up by TBR.

I’m so happy that I finally took the time to pick this series up! I was enthralled the entire way through.

If you haven’t given this one a shot yet, and are a Sci-Fi fan, you should definitely check it out!

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Review: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

City of Ashes, the second installment in Cassandra Clare’s beloved Mortal Instruments series has sealed the deal for me.

I am, in fact, a Shadowhunter fan.

In this second book, someone is murdering Downworlder children in New York City.

Clary and the crew fear that the evil Valentine, the Darth Vader of the Shadowhunter realm, may be behind the killings.

But how can they prove it, find him and most importantly, stop him?

I love how the world is continuing to be built out in this sequel. The stakes are higher and the action never stops.

There is so much drama, so much angst, wildly inappropriate relationships, or one in particular, witty banter, dark humor, Magnus Bane…what is there not to love about all that!?

I am so looking forward to continuing on with this series and the world overall!

My plan was to read the first three books of TMI, then all three TID, followed by the last three of TMI. Let me know below if you disagree with that reading order and why.

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Review: Shielded (Shielded #1) by KayLynn Flanders

Shielded (Shielded, #1)Shielded by KayLynn Flanders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With the kingdom of Halendi at war, and rumors of a deadlier threat looming at the border, the King promises his daughter’s hand to the Prince of the neighboring kingdom of Turia.

In exchange for her hand, Halendi will get the troops they desperately need to stage a better defense. Princess Jennesara is disheartened to learn of her father’s deal.

Jenna has a warrior’s heart and she knows she could be an advantage if her father would just give her the chance to fight for the kingdom she loves.

Unfortunately, the King, and her older brother, Ren, will not be deterred in their goals. Therefore, Jenna will head to Turia just after her 17th-birthday to meet her betrothed, Prince Enzo.

As the journey gets underway, all are aware that a dangerous road lies ahead.

They have to pass through the Wild in order to reach their destination. Let’s just say the area is aptly named.

After the traveling party is ambushed, Jenna is forced to leave all she knows behind her and set out on her own.

Hiding her identity, she ultimately ends up in Turia, a guest in the royal castle. What she learns there could be the key to saving not just her kingdom, but their entire world.

Settling in with Shielded, I was expecting a fairly typical YA Fantasy story. However, I’m happy to report, this exceeded my expectations.

I really enjoyed the world-development and magic system in this. While Jenna seemed like a fairly typical, ‘not like other Princesses’-Princess, I was able to overlook that because the underlining plot was so darn interesting.

The villains in this story, a trio of powerful ancient mages, were incredibly creepy and well done. Their abilities alone upped the stakes, as opposed to just one kingdom battling another.

I also liked how much of a role the royal library at Turia played in the story. Once her enemy is known, Jenna does a lot of research on the history of the mages to try to figure out how to defeat them. I loved that element! Give me all them books!!

Overall, I think this is a strong start to a new series. I am super happy with where this left off and the possibilities for the sequel!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. This is such a great debut and I look forward to reading more from KayLynn Flanders in the future!

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Review: Dying for Dominoes (A Cardboard Cottage Mystery) by Jane Elzey

Dying for DominoesDying for Dominoes by Jane Elzey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

A vibrant start to an all-new Cozy Mystery series!

Dying for Dominoes is part Designing Women, part Murder, She Wrote and was just as fun as the cover would have you believe.

At one of their regular game nights, best friends, Amy, Genna, Zelda and Rian, chat it up and air grievances as any friends would.

Zelda has been having a hard time with her husband, Zack. And by hard time, I mean he is driving her crazy.

She expresses to her friends that she wants him gone. The talk from there gets quite morbid indeed.

When Zack ends up dead, the victim of a hit-and-run in a parking garage at a hotel where he was going to be meeting Zelda for a romantic evening, all of the friends secretly suspect one another.

Unfortunately for the ladies, the police suspect them too!

Determined not to see any of her friends go down for Zack’s untimely death, Amy vows to find out the truth, no matter the cost.

She then sets out on some fantastic amateur sleuthing and gets herself in a whole host of additional trouble.

This was so much fun, y’all. It gave me pretty much everything I am looking for in a cozy: good humor, strong friendship group, over-the-top crimes and amateur sleuthing.

With this being said, there were a few minor details that didn’t quite work for me, but I know as the series progresses, they will get stronger and stronger.

I feel like a lot of Cozy Mystery series are that way. As you get deeper into them, you get more attached to the characters and everything just seems to have a better flow.

I am definitely planning to continue on with this series. I loved all of the characters and their friendship dynamics made me miss my own friends.

Thank you so much to the author, Jane Elzey, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.

I had so much fun with it and look forward to being back with Amy and the rest of the girls!

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Review: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful surprise!

Since I have become an active participant in the Book Community in 2017, I have watched countless books set in the Shadowhunter world be released.

I have quietly watched from the sidelines as fans swooned about the continuation of the world and ongoing story arcs.

Looking forward, with The Wicked Powers series in the works for Cassandra Clare, I want to take part, gosh darn it!

So, now it is time for some catch-up. A lot of it.

I have previously read Clockwork Angel and really enjoyed it. Ultimately though, I decided that I want to start with The Mortal Instruments series instead, so here we are!

I’m not going to provide a short synopsis for City of Bones, as I usually do in my reviews, because honestly, everyone already knows what this is about.

For this first novel, I chose to listen to the audiobook and I adored it. I thought the narration was engaging and it kept me focused the whole way through.

I loved finally getting to meet characters that I have heard referenced so frequently, like Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle and Magnus.

I was pleasantly surprised at how witty the banter was between characters. I live for that.

It always gives me all the feels when a character can literally make me laugh.

In short, I guess I am a Shadowhunter fan now. Is there a special term for us that I should know?

Looking forward to continuing on with this world. This really did it for me!

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Review: Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moody, dark and secretive, just like me.

Ninth House was a delightfully intriguing start to the all-new, Alex Stern series by Leigh Bardugo.

I have been fascinated by the idea of this book for a while. What’s not to love about the Yale campus, secret societies and magic.

On a recent road trip, I finally decided to give this one a shot.

I have to say, while I really enjoyed the audiobook, particularly the two narrators, I think I may have enjoyed it even more if I had read a hard copy.

I feel like I may have been able to concentrate more on the story if I had been holding the book in my hands and there’s a lot to take in here.

A lot of details regarding the setting of the Yale campus, the magic system, the lore of the secret societies, as well as back and forth timelines, I think just got lost somewhere around mile marker 50.

I was intrigued by Alex’s character. Here was a girl who had a rough start at life, raised by a hippie Mom in California, who ends up at one of the most elite institutions in the world.

After a close call that could have ended her life, Alex instead ends up being offered a seat in the Freshman class at Yale, but why? Her academic transcript certainly wasn’t recommending her for the slot.

Regardless of any trauma experienced in her life, Alex is a survivor and a fighter. I loved that about her.

When she starts at Yale, Alex gets tapped for Lethe House; the ninth of the secret societies at Yale and the one with the closest ties to the occult.

It’s also the responsibility of Lethe House to oversee the other houses to ensure there are no bad actors.

Alex, as it turns out, is well-suited for her new house, as she has an arcane ability she has been struggling with her entire life. This allows her a close connection to the spiritual underworld surrounding her.

Essentially a murder mystery, this novel offers up a lot of darker real world topics for consideration as well.

One of these topics that I found extremely interesting, was the great amount of privilege on the Yale campus, and the way uneven power dynamics can contribute to an extremely harmful environment.

There is also quite a bit on page of drug abuse, sexual assault and rape culture in general. If you are sensitive to these topics, I would tread cautiously.

With this being said, I was impressed overall with Bardugo’s transition to the Adult space. This is definitely an Adult novel. There are some real dark scenes in here and frankly, I am glad that she went as dark as she did.

It made this seedy underbelly of a privileged world seem so incredibly real.

I think as the series progresses the stories will continue to get stronger and stronger.

I may even read this one again, my hard copy, before the second novel is released.

I would love to experience this entire story in a more controlled environment than an SUV whizzing down the highway.

Also, does anyone else want to go snoop around New Haven in the middle of the night now, or just me?

The atmosphere, as always with Bardugo, was really something to behold; loved that aspect so much. I am really looking forward to getting back into this world when the next book releases!

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Review: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Not going to lie, this sort of crushed my heart.

I found this story to be so sad, y’all. It truly hit me right in the heart.

The idea of childhood innocence and optimism being dashed on the rocks of reality.

You cannot outsmart the market; you cannot have it all.

In an Absent Dream, a prequel novella, tells the backstory of Katherine Lundy, Eleanor West’s Assistant.

Her world was a goblin market with the door first manifesting to her in a large, mysterious tree which appears in a place it had never been before.

Talk about every child’s dream!

A portal world accessed through a tree that probably only you could see.

The description of the goblin market itself, not just the vibrant atmosphere, but also the system’s function, was fascinating. I think a lot can be taken from that as a social commentary on our own economic system.

That’s one of the things I love about McGuire’s writing, the stories hold so many different layers depending on how far you want to look.

There’s something for every reader within the pages.

I thought this was a super solid addition to this series. I enjoyed the relationships and how Lundy got to travel back and forth between the two places.

I’m looking forward to continuing on my Wayward Children journey. I wish this series would keep going on forever and ever!

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Review: Dark Disciple (Star Wars) by Christie Golden

Dark Disciple: Star WarsDark Disciple: Star Wars by Christie Golden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The only way to bring down the Sith’s most powerful warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.

Dark Disciple is an Adult novel within the Disney Star Wars Canon. To put it in timeline perspective, it is my understanding that this book falls after the novel, Catalyst and just prior to the Revenge of the Sith movie.

Interestingly, or at least for fans, this novel is based on a story arc scripted for The Clone Wars television series that went unproduced after the show was canceled.

My initial attraction to this book, besides the fact that I want to read all the Canon novels, was Asajj Ventress, the infamous former apprentice to Count Dooku.

This book built out her character in such a pleasing way. I love when a antihero gets their time to shine.

As the war rages on in the galaxy, Count Dooku’s tactics become more and more brutal. The Republic cannot stand by while hundreds more innocent lives are lost.

The Jedi Council surmises the best way to defeat Dooku, perhaps the only way, would be to join forces with someone who knows him best.

Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku’s former protege, becomes their focus for the mission.

Ventress, now making ends meet as a bounty hunter, is perfect for the assignment. After Dooku attempted to have her killed, she severed all ties with him and that hatred runs deep.

Quinlan Vos, the Jedi Knight assigned the mission, sets out to find Asajj with the goal of getting her to assist him in assassinating Dooku.

Once the two meet up, their budding relationship grows quickly. I loved the banter between them as they struggled to figure out a power balance.

Ventress ultimately teaches Vos many things, including how to harness the power of the dark side; a line that is most dangerous to cross.

As is to be expected, there was a ton of action in here. I loved the various battle scenes, but also loved the quieter moments between Vos and Ventress.

I certainly don’t need romance in my Star Wars, but for me, it was more about watching Ventress being able to let her guard down and open up to someone.

She has such a tough facade and reputation, and rarely lets that slip, even for a moment. Reading her in the more vulnerable moments, particularly when she told Vos the truth of what happened to her fellow Nightsisters, it gave me all the feels.

Additionally, the deep bond that forms between them was so well written. A forbidden romance if ever there was one.

Ultimately, this story did shred my heart in a hundred million pieces, but I’m willing to forgive Christie Golden because she wrote it with such care and grace.

Overall, I loved this story. Highly recommend to Star Wars fans who enjoy to dabble in the power of the dark side.

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Review: Party of Two (Wedding Date #5) by Jasmine Guillory

Party of TwoParty of Two by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

My favorite Guillory yet!!!

Party of Two follows Olivia Monroe, Alexa’s older sister, just after she returns to California to open her own law firm with her long-time friend, Ellie.

Olivia had been in NYC since law school and when the opportunity presented itself for her to get out of the big firm game, and all the negative aspects that came with it, and move closer to her family, she jumps on it.

Setting up temporary lodging at a L.A. hotel, she has a lot on her plate. In addition to all of the busy work starting a new business entails, she also needs to find a more permanent place to live, buy a car and get a lot of networking done.

The last thing she is thinking about is starting a relationship. That is, until a very handsome man at the hotel bar starts chatting her up over one of her favorite topics: DESSERT!

She is polite and does enjoy talking to him, but seriously, the last thing she needs is to hook up with a stranger from her hotel bar.

He was charming though. Those eyes…

Saying their goodbyes, Olivia heads back to her room, exhausted. As she turns on the television, she can’t believe her eyes. It’s the man from the bar!

Senator Max Powell.

When the two accidentally run into each other again, the spark is still there and this time, there’s no turning Max away.

Y’all, this book was so much fun!

As mentioned above, it’s my favorite of The Wedding Date series thus far.

I think as far as protagonists go, I related to Olivia the most. I love how analytically she views her world and the cautious way she has of interacting with others.

I liked that she did fall all over herself just because a cute guy was paying attention to her. She had her own goals and wasn’t letting anything distract her from reaching them.

Max as a male lead was great. I loved how earnest he was with his feelings and how genuine his intentions were toward Olivia.

I would say in comparison to the earlier novels in the series, this one had more of a solid foundation to the relationship. There wasn’t as much unnecessary drama, which I appreciated.

I liked the open communication between Olivia and Max. They both exuded maturity which could be expected with two such successful people.

We saw a lot behind the scenes of Max’s life as Senator, the travel required, the staff, the schmoozing. I love politics in books, so was definitely down for all that.

In addition to the normal things you go through when starting a new relationship, Olivia and Max had to navigate surviving a long distance relationship and the paparazzi.

If there would have been a couple more sex scenes, this could have been a full five stars. However, in this installment, there was more dessert than sex and sometimes, that’s okay.

Overall, this is a great summer romance. Available now!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much and would be more than happy to get more books in this series.

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