Review: Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic #1) by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like MagicBlood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dang, this was good!!! I can’t stop smiling.

💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜

Voya Thomas is initially excited for her Calling. It’s a task each witch in her family must complete before they are able to come into their powers.

The tasks are assigned by different ancestors and over the years have varied in detail and difficulty.

The ancestor who assigns her task, however, is known to be tough, as she should be. Her life was extremely tough, parts of which are shown to Voya through visions.

After Voya fails, she is given an unprecedented second chance, but her task seems impossible. Not only does the task seem impossible, the stakes are higher than ever.

Generally, if a witch fails in her Calling, she doesn’t gain her powers. Yeah, that sucks, but you can overcome that. You just have to live like any other person without magical abilities.

For Voya, if she fails, her entire family will lose their powers. Every single one of them! Their livelihoods are based on their powers, and most importantly, her little sister’s life depends on their powers.


Her task is to destroy her first love. Problems, Voya has never been in love, not even close, and she’s a little against killing someone.

The task seems clear, there is no way around it, so in order to save her family, Voya must make the ultimate decision. Can she take a life?

I loved this book from the very start. Sambury created such an intricate and addictive story with Blood Like Magic.

I absolutely adored the mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements. A lot of the story is based around a corporation that has created a genetic match-making program; I love those sort of futuristic tech elements added to a story. They definitely make my nerd heart soar.

Additionally, I quickly became attached to Voya. She’s a very likable character. She drew me in and had me feeling everything she was feeling.

The Thomas family itself, is full of drama, but also love and support. Voya had many special connections within her family and I think those relationships really provided her with the strength she needed to progress with her Calling.

The love interest, Luc, was fun to learn about as well. He’s had an interesting life up until the time he meets Voya and is frequently misunderstood.

In Voya, he found someone he could open up to and watching their relationship evolve made me swoon. Somewhat enemies to lovers; so, if you’re into that…

This did not end how I thought it would end. There were so many twists that I never could have predicted. My jaw spent the last quarter of the book on the floor!

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. Liselle Sambury is amazing and I predict a long, successful career ahead of her.

I fully expect this will end up as one of my top books of the year. An absolutely phenomenal debut!

PICK THIS BOOK UP!!!

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Review: Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1) by Bree Barton

Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1)Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Mia Rose lives in the River Kingdom, where her Father is the Captain of a guard that hunts Gwyrach, evil women who possess magic.

The Kingdom is hoping to banish all magic from within its borders and Mia Rose, a lover of science, wants nothing more than to assist with that pursuit. A Gwyrach killed her Mother after all; she wants revenge.

Unfortunately, that’s not really a common profession for women in her kingdom. In fact, there is only one woman currently serving in the guard.

Additionally, Mia’s Father has different plans for her. Needing an alliance with the royal family, he pledges his daughter’s hand to the Prince.

Although the last thing Mia wants is to marry Prince Quin, she is willing to make the sacrifice in order to save her younger sister. She knows her Dad is going to get the alliance he wants one way or another; either with her hand or Angelyne’s.

Going forward with the wedding, Mia has secretly plotted an escape, for her and her sister.

As the ceremony gets underway, a shocking turn of events ultimately exposes the fact that Mia possesses the very powers she has vowed to destroy.

How is that possible? The powers of the Gwyrach are passed on from mothers to daughters. What does this mean about Mia’s own Mother?

Mia is forced to team up with Quin in her search for answers and as with many Princes and unwillingly brides before them, sparks begin to fly.

Heart of Thorns is a nice, solid story. I’ve had it on my shelves for a while and I’m glad I finally got around to picking it up.

In my opinion, it falls on the younger-side of YA; more of Tween category, or for Readers just delving into YA Fantasy, but that’s absolutely fine. Those Readers deserve good stories too!

The narrative contains a lot of the usual YA Fantasy tropes, but it also had a strong feminist undertone that was well done and that I appreciated.

I enjoyed the characters, Quin, most of all, and never felt bored or lost. It read quickly and although, at times, predictable, there was one giant reveal at the end that left my jaw on the floor!

This had an exciting conclusion and I am looking forward to continuing on with the series.

Marking this one in the books as another successful BACKLIST BUMP!!!

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Review: Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries #2) by T.J. Klune

Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries, #2)Flash Fire by T.J. Klune
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars **

Flash Fire is the second book in T.J. Klune’s trilogy, The Extraordinaries. Set in the fictional town of Nova City, this novel takes place in a world where Superheroes are real.

They’re called Extraordinaries, have secret identities, wear costumes, save the day and sometimes cause a lot of damage. They’re worshipped, they’re feared and they’re a constant source of mystery and rumor.

Nick Bell is a Extraordinaries superfan and the author of their most popular fanfic. He also struggles with ADHD, the loss of his Mom and with maintaining a open relationship with his Dad.

One major plus is that he now has the Superhero boyfriend of his dreams. However, with new Extraordinaries arriving in Nova City, including powerful new villains, and hormones raging like never before, life is suddenly more complicated than ever.

Nick and his friends, Seth, Gibby and Jazz, must team up to protect Nova City from these evil forces, all while trying to figure out their regular teenage life stuff and PROM!!

I had so much fun returning to Nova City and this incredibly lovable cast of characters. Klune writes with such intention and that can definitely be felt within these pages. It filled my heart with so many emotions.

While this is set in a world with fantastical elements, there are also so many relevant contemporary topics explored. I personally enjoy that mixing of real-life with the fantastical. It’s a novel you can sink your teeth into.

Even though I enjoyed this story throughout, particularly Klune’s continued witty writing and Nick’s character growth, I don’t think I enjoyed it quite as much as the first book.

For me, this was a pretty solid 4-star read for the majority of the book. I was really enjoying it, but not in love.

Then, the ending. The freaking diabolical cliffhanger ending that left me with my jaw on the floor and my head screaming, I NEED THE NEXT BOOK!!!

Well played, Klune. This is a fantastic series. It’s funny, it’s heart-warming, it’s full of action and uncomfortable teenage moments. I am so excited to see what happens in the next book. I can’t imagine how this series is going to end.

Obviously I am hoping for a happily ever after…

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

I am in love with these books and am really looking forward to the final installment!

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Review: The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Sky Weaver (Iskari, #3)The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sky Weaver is the third, and sadly, the final installment of companion novels within Kristen Ciccarelli’s Iskari series.

I started this series on a whim earlier this year and immediately fell in love with it. It’s so underrated.

In this edition we get to follow a character who has intrigued me from the very first book. Safire, a soldier and cousin to the new King, Dax, and his sister, the Last Namsara, Asha.

We also follow a new character, a pirate, Eris, known as the Death Dancer, who has the power to travel between worlds, thus making her next to impossible to catch.

When important items begin to be stolen from the kingdom, Safire, commander of the King’s forces, determines the Death Dancer may be plaguing them.

She’s correct and in fact, Eris has taken a special interest in the beautiful commander.

The two play cat and mouse for a bit, which only piques their interests more.

As their fates are pushed further together, both seeking Asha, albeit for different reasons, the two women build a tentative alliance, learning more about one another and about their greater world in general.

I loved this story so much. My favorite of the series. It was action-packed, full of reveals, high stakes and swoon-worthy pining.

An Enemies-to-Lovers trope set in a dragon Fantasy world, with beautifully told lore for the world sprinkled throughout. What is not to love?

Additionally, I enjoyed how the three storylines all really came together in this one. Ciccarelli wrapped it up nicely, although I will say, if she ever chooses to write more in this world, I will be the first one to line up to buy it.

One of my favorite aspects of this series, was the lush and lyrical legends Ciccarelli created as a base for this world. Those sections are included in all three books and are connected to Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Lore of the world of Iskari.

It connected so well with the main storyline and characters; absolutely seamless.

If you have had this series on your radar for a while, you should definitely check it out. I am so happy that I did and now consider it to be one of my favorite YA Fantasy series!!

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Review: Star Wars The High Republic: Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland

Star Wars The High Republic: Out of the ShadowsStar Wars The High Republic: Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out of the Shadows, is an upcoming Young Adult novel set to be released on July 27th, as part of the new Disney Star Wars: The High Republic content.

This novel is set approximately a year after the galaxy-wide event known as the Great Disaster.

This is the fourth installment of the High Republic materials that I have read and I enjoyed watching all the various storylines converge a bit in this one.

The larger, outlying picture is beginning to come more into focus. This novel follows a host of different perspectives including one of my favorite new characters, Jedi Vernestra Rowh, along with various other characters that I have come across in the earlier HR works.

As generally happens with Star Wars novels, there was quite a bit of action, but this additionally had a healthy dose of back-handed political maneuverings and finer details surrounding the Nihil raiders.

While the Young Reader installments, such as A Test of Courage and Race to Crashpoint Tower focus on a singular encounter with the Nihil, this was broader in scope. It clearly shows that the Nihil are much more resourceful a foe than the Jedi initially surmised.

Following shortly after the Nihil attack on Valo, many of the characters are still reeling from that trauma and are ill-prepared for what may be coming next.

I appreciated how Ireland kept that a part of the narrative. Allowing even Jedi to question their role and feelings regarding the current threats in the galaxy. Particularly conversations between Vernestra and her Padawan, Imri, I found to be quite touching.

I am genuinely excited to see what happens from here. Also, I still have a couple earlier HR books I still need to get to, so definitely plan to do that soon.

Like any Star Wars book, the HR books can be read in any order, as long as you are cognizant of where it falls in the timeline.

With this being said, you do have some time until this one releases, so I would definitely recommend checking out some of the previously published HR books while you wait. To make things easier for you, I will list them below:

Light of the Jedi
Into the Dark
A Test of Courage
The Rising Storm
Star Wars The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower

That’s a lot of great content to sink your teeth into. Don’t delay, start today!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney LucasFilms Press, for providing me with an early copy of this to read and review. It has been my absolute pleasure to devour all these recent publications!!!

This is top-notch Canon content here and I’m living for it!

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Review: The Caged Queen (Iskari #2) by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Caged Queen (Iskari, #2)The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s official. I am complete trash for the Iskari series.

The Caged Queen is the second installment of Kristen Ciccarelli’s highly underrated YA Fantasy series, Iskari.

If you are unaware, the three books within this trilogy are actually companion novels. Even though they follow a linear story, with the same cast of characters, each installment features the perspectives of different main characters.

Picking up shortly after the conclusion of The Last Namsara, this volume focuses mainly on Roa, her sister Essie, and the new King of Firgaard, Dax.

Roa and Dax, now married, are working on merging the interests of their two kingdom. As the two are still learning to trust one another, things don’t always go smoothly.

Although Roa did appear in the first book, we really didn’t learn too much about her; she remained the mysterious beauty that Dax hoped to marry, in order to (view spoiler).

The Caged Queen gives her full story. Most interestingly to me, is that her sister, Essie, who died in a tragic childhood accident, has remained with Roa in the form a bird of prey.

The two sisters share a very special bond and are able to communicate with one another in spite of Essie unconventional form.

Roa would love nothing more than to get her sister back to her old self and when she learns of a way to make that happen, she vows to try.

The only catch, she’ll need to kill the King, her new husband, Dax, in order to do so. Who will she choose? Her sister, or the man she could learn to love.

I am obsessed with this story. Ciccarelli has fully drawn me into this world. There are so many fabulous elements, I could swoon for days.

I’d like to keep this review somewhat succinct, however, so I will list just a few of my favorites.

The World. I really enjoyed how a good portion of this volume was set in the Scrublands and other outlying areas, as opposed to strictly in Firgaard.

Our main characters are traveling for a bit and I loved the desert atmosphere, with the stark, inhospitable terrain. It made the characters work that much harder for every gain.

The Legends and Back Stories. Interspersed amongst the core narrative are sections that tell of the lore and legends of this world, as well as some character’s early life/back stories.

This is the same across all three volumes and is one of my very favorite aspects. I find it to be such a lush and creative way of building out the world.

The Characters. I enjoy all of the characters. Their thoughts, motivations, inner and outer turmoil, angst, love, longing, grief, agony; it’s devastatingly addictive.

I was intrigued by Roa in the first book. I wanted to know more about her and I got exactly what I wanted with this volume. I loved the focus on grief, forgiveness and sisterhood, in this one as well.

If that doesn’t motivate you to give this series a shot, I’m not sure what will.

If you have had this one on your radar for a long time, like I did, take my advice and pick it up now. It’s a perfect escape for your reading pleasure!! That is all.

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Review: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

My Contrary Mary (Mary, #1)My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

**4.5-stars**

Returning with all the fantastical humor of My Lady Jane, My Contrary Mary follows Mary Queen of Scots as a teenager in 16th-century France.

Although she has the title of Queen of Scotland, Mary has actually spent most of her life living in France, where she is betrothed to the Dauphin; future King, Francis.

She has her handmaidens with her, all named Mary, but luckily assigned nicknames so they don’t all respond at the same time. Less confusing that way.

Mary, our Mary, Mary Queen of Scots, also feels fortunate that she and Francis actually get along quite well; many young people aren’t as fortunate with their arranged marriages. #blessed

Just look at Francis’s mother, Catherine de Medici. It’s pretty clear she despises her husband, King Henry II and frequently plots against him in various ways.

Oh, the drama of the royal court!!!

Our varied cast of characters doesn’t end there however, we also have the infamous seer Nostradamus, along with his daughter, Ari, on Catherine’s payroll.

Lurking about behind the scenes providing predictions, potions and more!

I should also probably mention that our Mary is an edian, a shapeshifter, transforming into a mouse when it suits her.

This is an awfully handy skill for palace eavesdropping, as you can imagine, and has helped our dear Mary on more than one occasion.

Y’all, I’m giddy. This was so much fun. It was everything I wanted it to be.

I love the Lady Janies’ creative narrative style. It’s quirky, funny and full of subtle pop culture references. These authors sure know how to tell a delightful story!

Captivating from the start, if you enjoyed My Lady Jane, I think you will love this just as much. I know I did.

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Teen and Harper Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It was pure fun on the page and I can’t wait to meet more Marys are the series continues!!!

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Review: Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke

Curse of the Specter QueenCurse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Curse of the Specter Queen is an YA Archaeological Adventure story set in the 1920s, written by Jenny Elder Moke.

Samantha Knox works at an antique bookshop where she repairs damaged books. She receives an extra-special volume one day from the Professor of a childhood friend, Bennett.

The diary is said to contain secrets to an occult ritual that could possibly raise the Morrigan, a goddess from Celtic folklore said to be a harbinger of war and death.

Sam doesn’t think too much of the diary at first, but when dangerous men break into her shop looking for it, she begins to realize its greatly powerful value.

Pairing up with her estranged best friend, Joana, and Joana’s brother, Bennett, Sam flees from Illinois to Ireland in order to reunite with the Professor and try to solve the mystery of the diary.

Of utmost importance, is keeping the diary out of the hands of any evil-doers who may be seeking it for their own diabolical purposes.

On the steamer journey from New York to Ireland, Sam, Joana and Bennett meet up with Philip, a classmate of Bennett’s, and the four spend the trip chumming around, bickering and trying to decipher the message they found hidden within the diary.

It is clear after someone breaks into Sam’s room that the villains are still hot on their trail.

Once the foursome arrive in Ireland the stakes get higher as they come into contact with even more individuals seeking the diary.

It’s a race against time as Sam and friends try to decipher the clues and prevent the baddies from summoning the Morrigan.

This was a fun story. It took me a long time to read it, I’m not really sure why, but upon reflection I don’t think it was the book’s fault.

I enjoyed watching Sam decipher the clues. It was nice to have a heroine use her mind as her number weapon, versus swords and fists.

At times, I felt like the characters were a little lackluster, but overall, it was a compelling adventure. The ending definitely leads me to believe there may be further books in this world.

I would definitely be willing to pick up more stories featuring Sam as a protagonist. While she did gain a lot of self-confidence over the course of this story, I think there is still so much more room for her to grow.

If you are interested in ancient Celtic folklore, legends, archaeological artifacts, ciphers, books featuring books and mysterious orders, you should absolutely check this one out. It may be the perfect adventure for you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and hope to see more Samantha Knox in the future!

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Review: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like ThisWe Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You’ve swept me off my feet again, Rachel Lynn Solomon. I see you and it’s like you see me too.

Quinn Berkowitz is the harpist for her parent’s wedding planning business.

Tarek Monsour is a cater-waiter, and aspiring baker, whose family’s catering business is frequently hired on by the Berkowitzs for events.

Over the years, the two have worked a lot of weddings together.

Somewhere along the way, Quinn became a skeptic of the whole love thing, while Tarek went completely in the other direction. He’s now over-the-top romantic; full of positivity with regards to love.

Last summer, Quinn became fed up with watching Tarek’s grand gestures to other girls. Perhaps she had secretly grown to like him more than she admitted.

When she called him out on it though, her ire seemed to ruin everything. He left for college and they didn’t talk for a year.

As summer returns, so too does Tarek, home from college and again working with his parents.

The first wedding Quinn sees him at is uncomfortable as heck, but this is a romantic comedy, so y’all know what’s coming.

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is exactly as adorable as it sounds. Solomon always knows how to bring the cute, as well as relatable substance.

This book is full of incredible OCD rep, sex positivity and exploration of other issues a lot of young adults go through; like, what the heck do I want to do with the rest of my life?

Solomon is always able to handle serious topics well and seamlessly incorporates them into otherwise light-hearted narratives.

This is the YA Summer Romance that should be on everyone’s reading list. I highly, highly recommend it!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is an autobuy author for me and I can’t wait to see what cutesy-creation she dreams up next!!!

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Review: Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw

Mina and the UndeadMina and the Undead by Amy McCaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up **

🦇🖤🦇🖤🦇🖤🦇🖤🦇🖤🦇🖤🦇🖤🦇

Shortly after arriving in New Orleans, 17-year old, Mina, can already tell it will be a summer she’ll never forget.

She’s there to visit her estranged sister, Libby, who moved from their hometown, Whitby, in England, to New Orleans the prior year.

After their mother abandoned them, Mina and Libby went to live with their uninterested Aunt. When Libby left as well, Mina felt completely alone.

Mina is hoping that this summer with give the two of them a chance to talk about everything that’s happened and repair their relationship. After all, sisters are for life.

Their first stop is the Horror Mansion at which Libby works. The good news is, Libby has gotten Mina a chance to audition for a job there as well.

Fairly quickly after that, Mina is introduced to all of the people in her sister’s new life. Her girlfriend, Della, roommates, Jared and Lucas and her boss, Thandie.

At the conclusion of her audition for a position in the interactive walking tour of the Horror Mansion, Mina tries to find the girl she is supposed to hand her costume off to.

Mina discovers the girl’s very dead and mutilated body in the attic of the Mansion. She screams, chaos ensues.

When Libby becomes a suspect for that murder and others, Mina teams up with her new crush, Jared, to try to clear her sister’s name.

The two discover a dark underworld around them that ties to some of New Orleans oldest and scariest legends.

This was such a fun, nostalgic treat for my horror-loving heart! The vibe is campy, teenage horror, like Buffy, or The Lost Boys.

I live for that kind of story, as it takes me back to a time when life was simple, hair was big and vampires were real.

This story is full of classic horror tropes and 90s-pop culture. If you are looking for a light, easy, nostalgic read, I definitely recommend picking this one up.

While it’s not a perfect story, I think if you are in the right head space, it can be a hell of a good time. It certainly was for me!!

So, grab your butterfly clips, your VHS tapes, your wooden stakes and pick up a copy today.

I am really excited to see what Amy McCaw comes up with next! This is a super solid debut!!

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