Review: Malice by Heather Walter

MaliceMalice by Heather Walter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once upon a time, an evil fairy cursed a line of Princesses to die. The only way to break the curse, true love’s kiss.

You may be thinking you’ve heard this story before, right?

I’d say, not quite like this. in Malice, Heather Walter has put her own darkly creative spin on the beloved tale, Sleeping Beauty.

Alyce is a Dark Grace, living in a house of Beauty Graces since she was just a young girl.

While the wealthy of Briar set appointments with the other Graces to enhance their beauty, they go to Alyce for more sinister potions and tinctures.

Alyce has never fit in with the other girls and is frequently harassed by them; particularly by the beautiful and talented, Rose.

As deplorable as their treatment of her is, Alyce grows used to it. She even comes to accept it, in a way.

That’s why when she crosses paths with the last Princess, Aurora, and Aurora shows her kindness, Alyce isn’t quite sure how to react. Why would the Princess want to be friends with her? It doesn’t make any sense.

In the midst of all of this, Alyce actually stumbles upon, and befriends someone else. Kal, a man magically imprisoned in a tower, who promises to teach her how to harness her powers.

Through her meetings with him, Alyce begins to learn more about her history, potential and the world outside of Briar.

The world Walter created within this story was absolutely immersive. I loved the magic system. Learning about the Graces and their powers, but also the interactions with Fae and the history of Briar.

It’s richly detailed, but in a way that stays engaging. Alyce was a fantastically created character. I felt her every emotion; also extra points for including her kestrel, Callow. Three cheers for animal companions.

I also thought the relationship between Alyce and Aurora was well done. It felt natural. The stakes were really high and it definitely pushed the drama of the story.

I did feel like the end dragged on a bit, but overall, I was so impressed with this. I would definitely recommend Malice for Readers who enjoy the darker side of fairy tales.

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

I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from Heather Walter!

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Review: Go the Distance (A Twisted Tale) by Jen Calonita

Go the Distance (A Twisted Tale: Hercules)Go the Distance by Jen Calonita
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5-stars rounded up**

Picking up directly after the events of the Disney animated movie, Go the Distance follows Megara as she fights for her right to be with Hercules.

After Herc regains his godship, the couple are ready to celebrate. As Hercules is called by his parents to return to Mount Olympus, however, they run into a problem. Zeus quickly points out that Meg cannot go, as she is a mere mortal.

Meg can’t believe it. After everything they have been through, is this how it is going to end?

Hercules is shocked as well and advocates to stay with Meg. He’d rather be with her than have a life of immortality alone.

His parents aren’t going to stand for that though; no way. Hera, seeing how happy Meg makes her son, offers Meg a deal; a way for her to earn her way into a spot on Mount Olympus.

All she has to do is complete a mysterious quest in 10-days. Unfortunately, the quest involves saving her ex-boyfriend’s, new wife’s soul from the Underworld.

Obviously, Meg has some mixed feelings on this, but she agrees nonetheless. We’re talking about eternity with the man she loves here.

Joining her for support is Philoctetes, better known as Phil. The coach to the Gods. If anyone can help Meg work through her quest, it is him. And let’s not forget Pegasus!! He’s along as well, to give Meg a helping hoof.

Meg needs to put her hurt emotions aside, as well as face her nemesis, Hades, again. She escaped his clutches once, could she be so lucky as to do it again?

I really had a fun time reading this story. I love Megara. She’s one of my favorite characters within the Disney universe. She’s smart, she’s snarky and she’s not constantly looking for someone to save her.

I enjoyed the backstory Calonita created for her. The loss of her mother, their relationship, her previous relationship with her ex-boyfriend and even Hades manipulation of her.

I thought the quest was fun. Having Phil and Pegasus along definitely made it more humorous. I loved watching both of them come to accept Meg for who she is.

Overall, I think this is a fun addition to this series. If you are a Megara fan, as I am, you should definitely give this one a shot!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always look forward to the new releases in the Twisted Tales series!!!

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Review: Namesake (Fable #2) by Adrienne Young

Namesake (Fable, #2)Namesake by Adrienne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Namesake is the conclusion to Adrienne Young’s, Fable duology; a Seafaring Fantasy story with action, adventure and heart.

After the cliffhanger ending of Fable, our protagonist finds herself once again, separated from the one’s she loves, as she is used as a pawn in a rival trader’s scheme for power.

Just as she was beginning to find the place she felt she belonged, more challenges are thrown in her face.

On her new ship, she runs into an old acquaintance. A close friend of her parents, who she thought was lost forever.

In her struggle to return to the Marigold, and the handsome Captain she left behind, Fable ends up learning a lot more about her Mother, particularly her earlier life; some of it surprising, to say the least.

This story takes the plotting and scheming to a whole new level, as the different trading organizations in this world vie for power and position.

I really enjoyed watching Fable’s evolution as a character over the course of these two books. Although she has always been a fighter, she was fairly helpless in the beginning in a lot of ways.

She was used so often as a pawn in other people’s games, but as she grew and discovered her own power, she became a force to be reckoned with. She became like the center of a whirlpool, sucking everyone in around her.

Overall, I am so satisfied with how this turned out. It was really a lot of fun. I enjoyed the complexity that Young brought to this one, which I felt was lacking a bit in the first novel.

In my opinion, Fable deserves the world! She discovered so much about herself, that she didn’t understand before. I feel like with that understanding, she was able to become who she was truly meant to be. My baby bird has left the nest.

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

I really enjoyed it!

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Review: Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

Fable (Fable, #1)Fable by Adrienne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Four years ago, 17-year old, Fable, was abandoned by her Father on a notorious island full of dangers and thieves. Her mother had just died, the victim of a terrible storm, and Fable was truly alone.

All her Father left her with were the parting words, you’re not cut out for a life on the sea. Fable disagrees, however, and has spent her time in the proceeding years trying to figure out a way back to him and into her rightful place on his crew.

She finally secures her means of escape with a companion she has met through trading, a young man named, West.

Him and his crew allow Fable to come aboard their ship, the Marigold, for the journey across The Narrows. As we all expect with a sea-faring tale, dangers lurk around every corner and the crew must band together in order to survive.

Fable is definitely a slow burn. It’s quite character-driven, but I did enjoy my time learning about Fable, West and the other characters on the Marigold. There’s a nice found-family element to it that I liked quite a bit as well.

This reminded me a lot of Daughter of the Pirate King. There’s actually more than a few similarities, although I do feel this story feels a bit more mature than that one. I do think if you enjoyed that book, you’ll enjoy this one too.

There are some light magical elements to this that I hope are built out a bit more in the second book. Fable’s ability at reading gems is unique and I want to know more.

This left off on such a great cliffhanger. I have already picked up the second book, Namesake and am excited to see how Fable’s story concludes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys an adventure on the high seas!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it very much!

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Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Down Comes the NightDown Comes the Night by Allison Saft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wren Southerland is a magical healer and the niece of the Queen, but that hasn’t won her any favors. In fact, her Aunt treats her very poorly.

After Wren’s empathy causes her to make a mistake on the battlefield, she gets banished from the Queen’s Guard and sent back to live in a remote abbey.

Most upsettingly, this causes Wren to be separated from her best friend, Una, a Captain in the Queen’s Guard. She also happens to be the woman Wren loves.

Wren is kicking herself for her mistake and just trying to figure out a way back to Una. Certainly her Aunt will find it in her heart to forgive her.

While at the abbey, stewing in her misery, Wren receives a letter from Lord Alistair Lowry, inviting her to his home, in order to help him with a little problem.

His servants are sick and dying from a mysterious illness. One man is still alive, suffering and he wants Wren to try to heal him before it is to late.

She considers it a great opportunity and decides to take him up on his offer, traveling to the neighboring kingdom of Cernos, to Lowry’s estate of Colwick Hall.

((cue the gothic ambiance))

Her movements weren’t exactly approved by the Queen, so Wren finds herself a bit of an Outlaw. In her eyes, it is worth it though.

Shockingly, her new patient turns out to be someone she knows. Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria, her kingdom’s sworn enemy.

There’s political gains to be made here. Perhaps Wren can still work her way into the Queen’s good graces and be reunited with Una.

As she begins to get to know Hal, however, she starts to question a lot of her previous beliefs. Soon, Wren and Hal are working together to solve a murder mystery chilling enough for even the sturdiest of characters.

Down Comes the Night was such a pleasant surprise. A great debut for Saft!

There were so many aspects to this that I enjoyed, but first and foremost would be the atmosphere. Colwick Hall felt like the creepy, gothic mansion of my dreams. Reading this, I felt like I was there. I could smell it, feel the cold and dread what was hiding in every shadow.

Hal and Wren working together, watching their relationship evolve, was fantastic. They were complete opposites, but grew to understand and appreciate each other because of that.

I was genuinely afraid for them. The dangers they faced as the explored the secrets of Colwick Hall were palpable.

I also thought the magic was well done. Wren’s work as a magic-based healer was quite detailed and I liked that it was a bit on the gruesome side.

Saft definitely didn’t shy away from blood and gore, so if you enjoy that, as I do, you should definitely check this one out. You know who you are.

Overall, I think this is a very fun standalone YA Fantasy. There were a few little things that didn’t work as well for my tastes, but they were definitely overshadowed by the aspects I enjoyed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had a great time with it and look forward to reading more from Allison Saft!

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Blog Tour: The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall, #1)The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Iron Raven is the first installment to a new trilogy set in the world of Julie Kagawa’s, Iron Fey series.

There have been seven previous full-length novels, as well as a handful of novellas, in this series. This is the first to feature Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck, as the narrator.

I must confess, I have never read any of the novels set in this world. In spite of that, I still had a ton of fun reading this story and loved all of the characters!

I’m sure for long-time fans of the series, this book is full of nostalgic content and it will be even more wonderful for them to read.

I was excited to pick this up because Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox trilogy is my favorite YA Fantasy trilogy of all time.

Her witty and vibrant writing style mesh extremely well with my tastes. In fact, after this, I am quite tempted to go back and read the Iron Fey series from the beginning!

This novel is a classic adventure story, complete with a dangerous quest, set in the lands of the Fae.

It begins with Puck chancing upon the King of the Forgotten, Kierran, who needs to get a message to his mother, Meghan, the Iron Queen. He is trying to warn her of a vicious monster currently wrecking havoc in the Between.

When the monster does show it’s face, it is unlike anything Puck as ever encountered. He’s injured in the process, as well as his new friend, the lady’s assassin, Nyx.

They set out together to find Meghan and engage her help with putting a stop to the monster’s reign of terror before it is too late.

I really enjoyed Puck as narrator. He is sarcastic and funny even in the most dire of situations. He is also a character struggling with past hurts and negative aspects of his own personality.

I always love a quest, as a hodge-podge team of traveling companions are constructed, you just know that you are in for an action-packed good time. That was certainly the case here.

Puck and Nyx are ultimately joined by Meghan, Ash, Coaleater and Grim, as they try to find out the truth behind the monster and what threatens the lands of the Fae.

They encounter some dangerous obstacles and a whole host of magical and mythical creatures along the way; all while trying to navigate their own interpersonal challenges.

I was completely swept up into this world. As always, Kagawa’s character interactions stole the show for me. I love her dialogue and laughed out loud numerous times.

The ending is a compelling cliffhanger, leaving off with a prophecy that definitely let’s the Reader know this adventure is far from over!

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

I had so much fun with it and cannot wait for the next book to be released!!!

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Review: City of Villains (Book #1) by Estelle Laure

City of VillainsCity of Villains by Estelle Laure
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

City of Villains is the first book in an all new Fairy Tale-inspired Crime series from Disney Books.

We follow Mary Elizabeth, a teenage girl living in the Scar, an area where once magic was prevalent, but now supposedly no longer exists.

Having lost her family tragically, Mary’s main goal is to one day become a police officer. In addition to her schooling, Mary currently works as an intern for the Monarch City Police Department.

While her main duties generally involve pushing paperwork, when a classmate of hers, Mally Saint, disappears, the Chief actually assigns her to the case, partnering with a young detective, Bella.

Mary is over the moon to finally have the chance to prove to the Chief what she can do. She sees this as her opportunity to seal a position within the department after she finishes school.

Mary and Bella begin their investigation, but instead of gaining any clarity, the mystery only thickens.

After Mary’s best friend, Ursula, disappears as well, Mary knows something more sinister is happening than just kids running away from the Scar, but who will believe her!?

Even though I found this story intriguing, I did want to get to the bottom of the disappearances, the writing and overall plot are a little basic for my tastes.

I think this could have used another round of editing, perhaps cutting out some of the romantic aspects, changing Mary’s age, and allowing this to fall more into a higher Middle Grade, or Tween, category.

I just personally feel it is a better fit within that space than in YA; and that’s okay!

Tweens and Middle Graders deserve great stories as well!

I did like the appearance of some of my favorite Disney characters, Maleficent, Ursula and Captain Hook, with aspects of this story providing possible origin stories for all of them.

Overall, I think this is a solid premise for a series and I would be interested in picking up the second book. I’m not entirely sure where it will go from here, but I would like to find out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4) by Cassandra Clare

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

**3.5-stars rounded up**

While I wasn’t as enamored with City of Fallen Angels, the fourth installment of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, as I was with the earlier books, I still really enjoyed it.

Please note, since this is the fourth book of a series, there will be spoilers in this review. Assuming pretty much the entire world has read this but me, I will not be hiding them.

Following the events of City of Glass, Clary and company have returned to New York, where Simon continues to hide his new condition from his mother, Jocelyn and Luke are planning their wedding, and Clary and Jace are now able to date openly.

All is well in the Big Apple, until Shadowhunters begin turning up dead. Murdered to be more precise.

It seems Clary’s choices whilst in Alicante have some fairly serious repercussions. We learn within this story what those are and it’s not good.

One of these choices caused an imbalance in the world, opening a door to an ancient evil.

I did enjoy the fact that the boys get quite a bit of page time in this one, with Simon forced to move out of his family home and into an apartment with a new friend, and band member, Kyle.

Jace begins to distance himself from Clary, as he is plagued with dreams in which he murders her.

I also discovered fairly early on why it is important to read these in publication order, as one of the most intriguing characters from Clockwork Angel appears trying to recruit Simon.

While there is a lot happening, it definitely isn’t slow by any stretch of the imagination, I wasn’t super engaged with it until the second half.

Once the truth begins to unfold regarding Jace’s haunting dreams, I was hooked. Then it got really intense and really action-packed through the finish.

I think part of my disconnect with the beginning was that I was a little annoyed with Clary and Jace. After completing Clockwork Angel, and loving all those characters, coming back to Clary and Jace made them seem irritating in comparison.

By the end, I had forgiven them for their earlier behavior and we are all friends again.

With this being said, I am so excited to move on with Clockwork Prince, up next. So far, my 2021 Shadowhunter Chronicles journey is going swimmingly!!

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Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Settle in y’all, I have got a lot to say about this!

I originally read Clockwork Angel in December of 2018. It was my first Cassandra Clare book.

I knew about The Mortal Instruments series, but mistakenly believed that I wouldn’t like it and since this one is set in Victorian London, a setting I adore, I figured I could start here.

I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy this world. I knew after I completed this, I wanted to read every single word Clare had ever written in the Shadowhunter Chronicles.

In addition to that, I want to be caught up and able to pick up her upcoming trilogy, The Wicked Powers, as it is published. With the first book expected to drop in 2022, I definitely think I can accomplish my goal.

I have since done some research and decided to read these books in publication order.

Early in 2020, I started the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, City of Glass and really enjoyed it.

Since then I have completed the first three books in that series and before I knew it, it was time to reread Clockwork Angel.

Reading it this time, with the background of TMI, I definitely picked up more intricate details than I did the first time around.

The first time I read it, I never felt lost, or like there was information I was missing, but it definitely made more sense this time around.

I liked how Clare introduced us to Tessa, who like Clary, is new to the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

These characters learning the ins-and-outs of that system allows the Reader to learn along with them, without it feeling info-dumpy.

Going into this book, even the first time, I had heard so much about Will and Jem. I can definitely say, their characters do not disappoint.

I think this time around, I found myself focusing a bit more on their friendship. I really appreciate how connected they are to one another. It’s nice to see that unconditional support.

The intrigue in this was great and the action, especially towards the end, was so much fun!

Next up for me is City of Fallen Angels, which I am planning to get to this month.

I am beyond ready to continue on my journey through the Shadowhunters Chronicles. If these first four books are any indication, I have an exciting road ahead!

**If you have made it through this entire semi-review without nodding off, and happen to be a Shadowhunter fan, perhaps leave a comment down below telling me something you love about these books.

Whether it is your favorite book, favorite series within the world, favorite character, etc. No spoilers, please. Remember, I am a Shadowhunter baby. I don’t know a lot yet!

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Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

LoreLore by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I fully acknowledge Lore won’t be for everyone, I freaking loved this so much!!!

Greek Mythology meets The Hunger Games?

Every seven years, the Agon begins. Essentially a punishment, during the Agon, nine Greek Gods are forced to walk the Earth as mortals, all the while being hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines.

If a God is killed during the Agon, the hunter responsible for their death gets to seize their powers and immortality, thus becoming a New God.

Melora, known as Lore, is a part of the Perseous line. She is no longer participating in the Agon. Lore has left that whole world behind and kept herself hidden since the last hunt left her entire family dead in their home, including her two little sisters, murdered by a rival clan.

Living in New York City, Lore has done a good job blending in and has successfully flown under the radar of anyone related to the hunt. At least that’s what she thinks.

One night a blast from her past, her childhood best friend, Castor, ends up tracking her down. Their brief conversation intrigues Lore enough to make her question whether she really can leave that life behind.

Their interaction really rattles her. She has suspected that Castor was dead, so to have him just show up like that, it was a lot.

Little does she know, things are about to get a lot more interesting.

Arriving home, she discovers the Greek Goddess Athena, one of the few remaining original Gods, injured on the steps of her brownstone, pleading for her help!

Before she knows it, Lore has rejoined the hunt, pairing with Athena and hoping to finally get revenge on the man she blames for the murder of her family.

Y’all, I loved this book from the start.

I was so intrigued about this whole concept and absolutely loved the characters.

I think Bracken did a great job of building this out and keeping the pace steady throughout. There was always plenty of action and intrigue to keep me wanting more.

Lore is a very strong character, but you can tell that she is hurting a lot. As her past is slowly revealed, through chapters focusing on her childhood and the end of the last Agon, my heart absolutely ached for her.

This girl has been through it.

Over the course of the story, you really watch her character evolve from a damaged soul to a true force to be reckoned with.

I loved the relationships within this story. The friend group, made up of Lore, Castor, Van, Miles and Iro, was so great to read. I loved their dynamic and the way their personalities played off of one another; particularly Miles, the only one not from an ancient bloodline.

The Agon, at its heart, really is a competition; one of my favorite tropes. There was a lot of danger. I mean really, the entire time, Lore and her friends are on the move.

They’re constantly in fear for their lives, which makes you constantly in fear for their lives!

This felt like a superhero story to me and I was living for it. Towards the end, there are all sorts of surprising twists and reveals. Lore is a blast to read!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate it.

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