Review: Akata Warrior (Akata Witch #2) by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2)Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A year has passed since Sunny first discovered she was a part of the magical Leopard Society and along with her friends, Orlu, Sasha and Chichi, formed the youngest Oha Coven ever.

Now a little older, and a bit more experienced, each of the four kids have been selected by a powerful Leopard mentor to oversee their studies and continue strengthening their powers.

Sunny’s mentor, Sugar Cream, is a wise older woman with incredible power. She’s tough and I loved reading their interactions with one another. You can tell that Sugar Cream sees something very special in Sunny.

Through it all, Sunny continues to try to understand her visions of a coming apocalypse. What can she possibly do to prevent the horrific things she envisions from happening?

In the midst of all of this, her older brother departs for college. When he arrives home unexpectedly, late one night bloody and battered, Sunny knows she needs to do something.

Enlisting Chichi’s help, the two girls head off to the University to set things right. Their escapade causes Sunny to break one of the Leopard Society’s rules however and detection is swift.

Her punishment consists of Sunny being locked in the library basement, which trust me, is not as magical as it sounds.

It is during this time of isolation that Sunny begins to feel more compelled towards her quest.

Along with her friends, she must find the secret town of Osisi, facing off against mortal enemies along the way in order to stop the end of the world from coming.

I flew through this story. There is so much going on. Sunny is basically living a dual life. She has her home life with her family and regular school, as well as all of her dealings within the Leopard world.

I enjoyed watching her relationship with her family change as she changes and grows more confident in herself and her powers. Particularly, her relationship with her older brother.

The friend group, again, is the highlight of this story for me. I love the way the four personalities play off of one another.

There’s more drama in this installment as the relationships veer out of friendship territory and more into romance. Although this wasn’t my favorite plot point, I think it was executed naturally and therefore, I didn’t mind it.

In addition to the characters and relationships, I loved the world so much. It’s actually quite dark and dangerous. Our protagonists definitely do not have an easy go at it.

Okorafor uses excerpts from books that Sunny is studying to help educate the reader on the lore, history and magic system of the world. I thought that was such a fun way to develop the story.

I did get a little lost towards the end, but I think it was because I was reading so fast. I was anxious for everyone to be okay and I let that get the best of me!

The ending was so satisfying. Initially, before picking up this sequel, I wished there were more books in the series. Now that I have completed it, I couldn’t be happier with how Okorafor left Sunny.

This is odd to say, but I am proud of Sunny. Her growth and accomplishments. I am okay with leaving her here and moving on.

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Review: Akata Witch (Akata Witch #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Nnedi Okorafor’s, Akata Witch, is an absolute treat for any YA or Middle Grade Reader who loves a magical school trope!

I was absolutely blown away by how invested I became in this story. The lore, the action, the relationships were all beautifully done.

Sunny, a 12-year old albino girl, who recently moved from New York city to Aba, Nigeria, has a hard-time fitting in. When people look at her, they seem to immediately pass judgement on her because she looks different.

At school, there are some kids she always seems to be butting heads with.

The one person who seems to accept her, full stop, is a boy named Orlu. They begin spending time together and he introduces her to a vibrant girl named, Chichi.

Chichi doesn’t go to their school as she is home-schooled by her Mom.

When Sunny first goes to Chichi’s home, she’s astounded by the number of books. The house itself seems to be built of books and on such interesting topics.

It is through Orlu and Chichi, and their afternoons together, that Sunny ultimately learns of the Leopard People, a group of magical individuals living amongst them.

Sunny is then told, that she herself, is one of these people. It is then that Sunny’s education truly begins.

Orlu and Chichi have been learning about their gifts as Leopard People for a while, so Sunny starts out a little behind.

In spite of this, she learns quickly and begins to relish her new found powers.

Together the three kids are joined by Sasha, a boy from America, and they form the youngest Oha Coven ever.

They are tasked with hunting down a serial killer, Black Hat Otokoto, kidnapping and killing children in their area.

The fearsome-foursome go head-to-head against some truly dark forces to try to protect life as we know it.

I loved this friend group so much. Their relationships blossomed over the course of the story and I grew to love each and every one of them.

I loved how Okorafor weaved the magical realm seamlessly into our own world. It was so believable. It made me believe anyway.

If you are someone who loves a strong friendship group, coming together in the face of evil, with magic, heart and humor, you absolutely need to pick this book up.

It’s so much from the very start. Super engaging, full of action and interesting characters.

I also loved the the way the folklore and legends were introduced into the story. I thought it was such a clever format for learning about the world.

I will absolutely be picking up the next book, Akata Warrior, very soon.

Is this really only going to be a duology? I feel like there is so much room this story to grow. I never want to say goodbye to Sunny, Orlu, Chichi or Sasha. Damn. I’m getting emotional already and I’ve only read the first book…

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Review: This Coven Won’t Break (These Witches Don’t Burn #2) by Isabel Sterling

This Coven Won't Break (These Witches Don't Burn, #2)This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

As this is the second book in the These Witches Don’t Burn duology, this review may contain minor spoilers for the first book.

Proceed at your own risk!

Now entering her Senior year of high school, Hannah Walsh just wants to put the pieces of her life back together and forget about the tragedy that happened last year.

Her father is gone, her home destroyed, but she still has her Mom, best friend and girlfriend, Morgan, to count on.

While struggling with her grief, Hannah matured a lot. Sometimes it was hard to remember that she was still in high school.

I love that she remained connected to her ex-girlfriend, Veronica, and that we got to learn so much more about the infamous NYC Blood Witch incident. That’s what I had been hoping for all along.

As Hannah tries to recover however, the Witch Hunters are actually increasing their activities and apparently, they are now nationwide!

Armed with a biological serum that can strip Witches of their powers, the Hunters are determined to clear the world of Hannah and others like her.

There was quite a bit of action in this installment and moving from place-to-place. For me, it lost a little of its charm compared to the first book because of this.

Odd, I know, but one of the things I enjoyed so much about the first book was the examination of relationships and I didn’t feel that as much in this.

With this being said, I do think this was a lovely conclusion and I definitely plan to pick up the prequel novella, This Spell Can’t Last.

I also will pick up anything else this author chooses to write!

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Review: Evermore (Everless #2) by Sara Holland

Evermore (Everless, #2)Evermore by Sara Holland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have done it. I have finally completed another duology!

I feel so accomplished.

After the events of Everless, Jules Ember finds herself with a bounty on her head.

She’s now on the run with Liam Gerling still at her side. The stakes are high as Jules scrambles to uncover the secrets of her past in order to save her future.

We learn more about the lore of the Alchemist and the Sorceress and how that lore affects the current land of Everless.

The ultimate game of good versus evil is afoot. Who will reign victorious?

Unfortunately, while I think this is a solid YA Fantasy story, for me, it wasn’t overly exciting or particularly memorable.

With this being said, I think for readers who are just breaking into YA Fantasy, this may be a good place to start. For veteran readers of the genre, however, it may seem a bit formulaic.

In spite of not being blown away, I do feel that Sara Holland is a creative and lush writer. I will continue to read more from her in the future even though this duology wasn’t a favorite for me.

Again, I think for younger readers, or for individuals looking to get more into the YA Fantasy genre, this would be a great place to start.

The storyline is easy to follow and the action compelling. If you read the synopsis and it intrigues you, you should absolutely give it a shot!

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Review: Immunity (Contagion #2) by Erin Bowman

Immunity (Contagion, #2)Immunity by Erin Bowman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

After narrowly escaping an infectious zombie horde on Achyls, Nova, Thea and Coen find themselves facing a completely different threat altogether.

What they thought was their salvation, may actually end up as their demise.

The three must band together, along with some new allies, to stop the possible destruction of the galaxy.

So, no pressure.

With fewer characters in this sequel, at least to start, I felt like I had a bit more time to get to know them. While that was nice, it did give it a slightly different feel to the first novel.

Don’t get me wrong, there was still a ton of action here, but in my opinion, there was definitely more character examination.

Another difference in feel concerns the atmosphere. As high-stakes as Immunity is, we’re talking possible interstellar catastrophe here, the atmosphere of this installment was completely different.

In the first book, we have the slightly unqualified crew heading out on a SAR-mission to an abandoned mining planet.

It’s remote, cold, dark and dangerous. They have no idea what they are go to find and what they found was terrifying.

Contagion, the first book, grabbed me because of its edge-of-your-seat SciFi-Horror narrative; one of my favorite subgenres within Science Fiction.

While this is still a really good book, I would categorize this as strict SciFi.

So, for me, it lost a bit of that edge over the course of the evolution of the story.

With this being said, the events were wrapped up nicely and I am happy to have another completed duology on my shelves.

Overall, this is a super solid YA Science Fiction duology that I would absolutely recommend to any fan of the genre.

Even though I didn’t love this one quite as much as Contagion, I can definitely appreciate how fully developed this story is.

Well done. I look forward to reading more from Erin Bowman!

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Review: Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1)Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

…no one left in the world to love her…only the promise of retribution.

On the debtor’s ship, The Brackish, young Silverfish, once known as Amaya, spends her days diving for pearls and counting down the moments until she can regain her freedom.

Things aboard the ship are far from smooth sailing. The Captain is cruel and treats his young prisoners with an iron fist.

When Amaya rescues a man from drowning, she fears she may be punished by further time added to her sentence.

And although that may be true, she’s taken with this mysterious stranger wrangled from the depths. When she begins to interact with him, Boon promises her unimaginable riches and the possibility of returning to the city of her birth.

With his help, she’ll be able to find out the truth about the cause of the downfall of her family, and in turn, seek revenge of her own.

Through an exciting series of events, Amaya is able to flee the ship and does indeed return to her hometown of Moray, a port-city with an even mix of old-world opulence and new-world problems.

Set up by Boon, she poses as a wealthy Countess in order to infiltrate polite society and bring down the man Boon feels responsible for his problems.

The man he seeks is Kamon Mercado, a high-society businessman, who has secretly fallen into hard times of his own.

His son, Cayo, once involved heavily in the Vice Sector, gambling, drinking and carousing, is trying to stay clean but definitely played his part in dragging the family name through the mud.

Amaya is directed to befriend Cayo and use him to get access to his father. Once she does however, she finds all may not be as easy as it once seemed.

This story is a gender-flipped retelling of the adventure classic, The Count of Monte Cristo, and I definitely felt the themes of that woven throughout.

I loved the back and forth between Amaya’s and Cayo’s perspectives, as they both pieced together the darkness and mysteries surrounding their lives.

I enjoyed so much watching their relationship grow and am definitely interested to see where it will go in the second book.

The setting of Moray reminded me quite a bit of New Reynes, from Amanda Foody’s, Ace of Shades. So, if you enjoyed those books, you should definitely pick this one up.

The Vice Sector, with it’s gambling dens and ruling Slum King, was steeped in danger and underhand dealings. Corruption is a major theme in this book, as is deception and individuals being used as pawns for other’s gains.

Additionally, I enjoyed the pacing and felt it was cleverly plotted, although some of the reveals felt a tad convenient. I did ultimately like the way it all came together. The conclusion was an nice set up going into the final portion of this duology.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this and look forward to continuing with the story!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to get my hands on it early!

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Review: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2)Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Daughter of the Siren Queen accompanied me on my holiday travels this past weekend and I finished it up yesterday. While I won’t be adding it to my all-time favorites list, it was definitely an entertaining weekend read.

Picking up where the first installment left off, we find Alosa back on her ship with the best crew in the business. Her old enemies are now her captives and she feels successful having gathered the pieces of the map leading to the treasure of the Isla de Canta

She plans to work alongside her father to recover the spoils, however, all of this is changed when a giant secret is revealed. Alosa is devastated to learn her father has been lying to her for her entire life. She feels betrayed and oh, so very angry.

With this new knowledge of her father’s true nature in mind, she decides to set out on her own to claim the booty for herself and her crew.

Her skills as a Captain are put to the test but no one can deny, Alosa is fierce. Struggling to gain control of her Siren powers, she grows closer and closer to Riden when she realizes that something about him makes that easier. I did enjoy their relationship and reading about the Siren’s and their nature.

This was action-packed but I did find my mind wandering from time to time. I am not sure if that is because of the circumstances under which I read it (on vacation) or whether it was because I just wasn’t engaging fully with the narrative. I think for me personally, it read a little young.

Definitely a solid story however, so if you enjoy a good pirate tale, go ahead and pick up this duology and give her a go. We could all use a little more swashbuckling in our lives!

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Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King, #1)Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Sent on a mission to retrieve a part of a map leading to the mysterious Isla de Canta, where a secret treasure trove is said to be, Alosa, a 17-year old Pirate Captain, goes and purposefully gets herself kidnapped by her enemies.

Odd tactic, true, but her thought is, once aboard the enemy ship, The Nightfarer, she will have ample opportunity to search for said map.

Her enemies, too busy patting themselves on the back for capturing the Pirate King’s daughter, won’t even notice when she goes slinking about.

Using her numerous abilities, Alosa does do a pretty good job with her search. Her biggest challenge, handsome and smart, First Mate, Riden. He’s a bit of a distraction.

This is definitely a cute story. I really enjoyed Alosa’s character. She was confident and stubborn, not to mention a real badass. There’s something about a Lady Pirate that I can definitely get behind. The setting was fun and Riden was a swoony worthy love interest to be sure.

However, this being said, it took me a LONG time to get through this. It wasn’t really drawing me in. I didn’t find anything compelling about it.

Perhaps if I had read it when it was first released, I could have joined the hype and been more jazzed for it. Overall, for me, it was a good story but there was nothing really groundbreaking about it.

I will probably continue on with the duology, mostly because I want to visit the home of the sirens. I think a young Meg would have enjoyed this a bit more.

Alas, if you are looking for a fun pirate adventure with a bit of romance, it is definitely worth picking this one up.

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Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Rating: 3.5-stars:  This was a good book. A fun, fast-paced, easy read. I made the mistake of reading some Goodreads reviews before I started it, which I generally try to avoid, and kept waiting for the terribleness to set it. It didn’t for me. I had a great time reading this. Granted I didn’t go into it expecting Pulitzer Prize for Fiction quality so maybe that helped.

This story is a retelling of the fairy tale of Rapunzel. In this very dark world, where an eclipse of the sun has darkened the land for almost two decades, we meet Luna, now 17-years old, having lived in the tower since the day of her birth. She is sweet and innocent and obviously dreams of the world outside her tower walls. There is a boy, Fowler, who ends up at the tower and yes, there is instalove on her part. In some reviews people were quite negative on the instalove but I say in this case, it actually kind of works. I mean, the girl has legit been locked in a tower her entire life with only the two adults who have raised her for human interaction. I do not find it surprising or cliche that when a young man her age finally comes into her life she would be instantly attached to him. I mean, when I was 17, I could see a guy for 2-minutes and be smitten and I certainly didn’t grow up in a tower.

The action really picks up when Luna and Fowler are forced to leave the tower and try to make their way to the island of Allu where they anticipate safety. This world is really scary, dangerous and literally dark so they come to rely on one another and over their long journey do grow to love one another. The book left off on an amazing cliff hanger and I am excited to start the second book.

So, in conclusion (hehehe), was this book perfect? No. Were there parts I rolled my eyes at slightly or noted that the author had used the same exact phrasing in previous paragraphs? Sure. Did I have a heck of good time reading it? Yes.
If you are looking for a dark fairy tale retelling that you can read quickly and just forget about life for a while, I would definitely recommend this book!

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Publication date: February 7, 2017

Stunning – 5-stars – I loved this book.

For pretty much the entire book I was thinking I would be giving this one a 4-stars (which is a great rating, it means, I really liked a book) but then I reached the last portion of the story and it stripped my breath from me. So enchanting, so beautiful, so heartbreaking. I will admit that the first 50 to 70 pages of the book, I really wasn’t sure what to think; if I liked it, didn’t like it, what was going on, how the heck do I pronounce these names…but eventually, with a little patience, it started to weave together the most intricate, spellbinding story of forbidden love I have ever read. Perhaps it makes sense to view it as a musical composition, timid at first as the story begins to unfold, solid and constant through the middle then a crescendo as we rush towards our ultimate conclusion.

I do not read a lot of books with a strong romance element, and this story is definitely all about the romance, but this one touched me deeply. I was surprised by how quickly it turned steamy actually and believe I even blushed once or twice! The love between Elisabeth and her Goblin King is somehow fractious, violent and childish all at the same time. Their connection is so tangible, I felt it in my heart; the ups and downs of their lustful and rough coming together. The musical elements of the story were beautiful – they bring it alive – if this were to be turned into a movie, I believe it would have an absolutely revolutionary soundtrack! Overall, I felt drawn into the story, slowly but surely and once I was in, I was in, entire. I cannot wait to read the next book of the series which is titled Shadowsong and was released on February 6, 2018. I actually received a free copy of Shadowsong from the publisher in exchange for an honest review – so, time to get start!

Happy reading bookworms!