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: 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: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

The Good Luck Girls (The Good Luck Girls, #1)The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the country of Arketta, young girls sometimes get sold to ‘Welcome Houses’ by impoverished families.

The families are told the girls will be well-cared for and they pull a good price. Additionally, it’s one less mouth for the family to feed.

While it’s true, the girls have a roof over their heads, clothing and food, let’s not beat around the bush here, they’re sex slaves.

Keep in mind, this isn’t blatantly expressed on the page, but they are living in brothels, run by a Madame, being frequented by wealthy men with money to spend on pleasure.

Initially, when the girls are too young to service the patrons, they provide general labor around the house.

When they finally come of age, their first night with a patron is called their ‘Lucky Night’. It’s a big deal with everyone prepping the girl to look her finest.

Once she is ready, into a room she goes to await her client, and her fate.

Our story opens on Clementine’s Lucky Night. She’s nervous, but with an older sister, Aster, already at the Good Luck Girls stage, she’s ready to join her and the more easy lifestyle she believes comes with it.

When her night doesn’t go as planned, and the patron ends up dead, Clementine seeks out her sister for help. Aster knows they need to run or Clementine will be killed herself.

Unbeknownst to them, some of the other girls aren’t happy at the Welcome House either and they want to go with. They’re fed up and they’re not going to take it anymore.

The Good Luck Girls took me by surprise. I had no idea what it was about going in and I ended up really getting into it.

I loved the sort of Western-feel setting and the light fantasy elements sprinkled throughout.

There is a lot of action and the characters were engaging. I wanted the girls to find safety wherever they could.

I also enjoyed the relationships among the girls and the people they met along the way. They basically were following clues held in a bedtime story that they felt was the secret to their freedom.

Overall, I felt this was a unique story. It was well-written and kept me coming back for more. I read it so quickly.

If Charlotte Nicole Davis releases more stories in this world, I will definitely be reading them!

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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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Blog Tour: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

‘Sometimes the princess is a monster’

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is the sophomore novel for Melissa Bashardoust; one I have been highly anticipating.

Her debut, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, a wildly creative reimagining of Snow White, blew me away when I read it back in 2018. I was astounded by her vivid imagination and level of skill bringing it to the page.

This latest story is an original fairy tale following a princess, Soraya, who due to a curse put upon her before she was even born, is poisonous to the touch. Because of this, her family has kept her locked away, a secret from the rest of the kingdom.

As she grows older, watching the world move around her from high atop the castle, unseen, she begins to grow resentful. Her brother, the Shah, is set to marry a girl she once considered her best friend; who was in fact, her only friend.

When circumstances arrive that bring a captured Div, a magical demon, into the castle’s dungeons, Soraya believes they may hold the answers she seeks. The cure for her curse. Little does she know, that one bit of information could be the downfall of them all.

I enjoyed this so much. Bashardoust’s writing continues to impress. The world-building was fantastic. I loved the Persian feel of it all.

Although this is an original story, I could feel the influences from many other mythologies and fairy tales. I thought it was executed beautifully. There were moments when I could see a bit of Beauty and the Beast, Arabian Nights, Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel, to name a few.

Although it was a story full of magic powers and beings, the writing didn’t suffer from trying to be overly whimsical. I find with some stories, they try to up the magic so much that it ends up overshadowing the overall plot with its whimsy. That certainly wasn’t the case here!

As Soraya discovers the truth of her curse, she begins to question her entire life, what she has been told and who she can trust. There was a lot of back and forth between different characters, where as the reader, you weren’t even sure who she could trust.

There were a few deep deceptions, a lot of plotting and a lot of monsters. The stakes were high and I was definitely cheering for Soraya the whole way through. She has a great arc over the course of the story as she grew in confidence and courage.

I would highly recommend this to YA Fantasy readers. If you are looking for a diverse Fantasy, Soraya is a bi-MC and the Persian influence can be felt throughout. I think this book really has something for everyone. There is a lot more I could talk about with regards to the plot, it has plenty of depth and intricacies to explore, but I think it is best to go into the story knowing as little as possible.

You can enter this one confident you are in the hands of a skilled storyteller. Bashardoust has never let me down and I will continue to pick up anything she has published.

I would like to thank the publisher, Flatiron Books, for not only providing me with a copy of this read and review, but also including me on the blog tour for its release. It is an honor to be able to help promote Bashardoust and her beautiful stories!

 

 

Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third installment of the beloved Wayward Children series, returns the reader to Eleanor West’s School.

At the beginning of our story, a girl, Rini, falls from the sky into the little pond behind the school. Students observing her arrival are shocked, but what she has to tell them shocks them even more.

Rini comes from the land of Confection and she is searching for her mother, Sumi.

But how is that possible? Sumi died years before, at the school, before she ever had the chance to conceive a child.

Nevertheless, Rini persists. She is clearly real, she is right there in front of them, although she is slowly starting to disappear. With her life on the line, Rini won’t let reality and logic stand in the way of her finding her mom and saving not just herself, but also her world.

Sumi was one of my favorite characters from Every Heart a Doorway, so I was excited to get to this book, as I knew there was a connection to her.

In spite of Eleanor’s rule for no quests, a quest is very much where this book goes. Cora, Christopher, Nadya and another one of my absolute favorites, Kade, assist Rini in her search.

A bone flute is used in this story, which I thought was so cool. Christopher, whose world was a skeleton underworld, was able to use the bone flute to summon skeletons right out of their graves and I was living for it!

The kids meet up with another of the original characters from Every Heart, so that was a lovely surprise as well.

The land of Confection, the world Sumi and thus, her daughter is from, is a nonsense world with some logic; some rules the nonsense must follow.

I’ll be honest, the whole concept of a nonsense world freaks me the heck out and Confection is no exception.

Even as a kid, I was super weirded out by Alice in Wonderland, which I would also classify as a nonsense world with some logic.

Overall, this is a delightful novella. Unsurprisingly, the characters were fantastic, the writing is top shelf beautiful; I just really, really enjoyed it.

I cannot wait to continue on with the next book in the series! Do you think Seanan McGuire could just keep adding to this series forever?

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Review: Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading Dark Shores last year and consider it to be an extremely underrated YA Fantasy novel.

Going into this second installment, I was completely prepared to enjoy it, but Dark Skies takes it to a whole new level.

One very interesting point of note on the format of this series, which I was unaware of going into this, is that this book’s storyline runs parallel to the storyline of Dark Shores.

I expected this to be a linear continuation of the series, picking up directly after the events of the first book.

However, that is not this case. This book follows two completely different perspectives during the course of the same period of time as the first book.

It was so interesting to see the story unfold this way. Lydia, one of the protagonists in this book, is a side character in Dark Shores. The other protagonist, Killian, is new, I believe.

Lydia lives within the Celandor Empire and she was actually the impetus for a great many of the events in Dark Shores, but as the reader, you don’t know the whole story.

Dark Skies fills it in. Not only does this book fill in some missing pieces, it continues to grow the world at an impressive rate.

Lydia meets Killian when she is forced to flee her home due to a botched assassination plot. She ends up in the West, on the far side of the endless sea.

Killian is a solider, marked by the God of War for great things. He is sworn to protect the Princess of Mudamore, a principality on the brink of war.

There are too many incredible elements of this story, but some of my favorites include: Lydia’s character arc, the brutal world that seems inspired by ancient Rome, the political intrigue, the dangerous, dragon-like creatures terrorizing the city by night, the blight infecting the citizens and yes, the extremely slow-burn romance.

This book is close to 500-pages and there is always something going on. These characters have to constantly be on guard and it certainly made me tense.

I had no idea where this was going to go. There is so much left to this story and I was shocked and delighted to learn, this is slated to be a 4-book series!

If you have not picked this series up yet, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Personally, I did enjoy this more than Dark Shores and that’s saying a lot. I think the main reason is because of Lydia and Killian. Not their relationship, well yes, that helps, but just because I loved each of them both as characters.

Lydia is the legit best. A bookworm who gets in over her head and then learns to be a certifiable badass. Talk about coming out of your shell!

I cannot wait for the next book in the series, which if I understand correctly, will follow the events of the first two books and will have all four main character perspectives: Teriana and Marcus, from Dark Shores, and Lydia and Killian, from Dark Skies.

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

I am really looking forward to continuing with this series!

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Review: Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2)Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruthless Gods, the second installment of Emily A. Duncan’s debut YA Fantasy trilogy, Something Dark and Holy, continues to bring the dark atmosphere I cherish.

Significantly darker than your average YA Fantasy, this second book especially, toed the line of Horror and I’m here for it.

Our three main characters, Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz, return and, y’all, they go through it.

This world is hella brutal. The magic, the landscape, it seems everything is out to get them, maybe even each other.

I enjoyed the character growth in this sequel, as each of them is faced with their own private battles. As they seemingly grow closer towards one another, outside forces are simultaneously pushing them apart.

Each is conflicted with their own demons, causing conflict amongst them. Meddlesome Gods play them like pawns in a game. The intensity is constant.

This was definitely an action-packed ride!

I’ll admit, I wish I would have taken the time to go back and review the first novel, particularly the ending, prior to picking this one up.

Up to around the 50% point of this book, I was confused. I was enjoying it, but it was a confused enjoyment.

My plan is to reread the first two books prior to the release of the third. I absolutely will be following through with this until its, no doubt, brutal conclusion.

I love this world. Based on an Eastern European culture and landscape, I find that the aspects of terrain and local folklore and legends, really add to my overall enjoyment of the story.

If you are a fan of Grimdark Fantasy, Blood Magic and Gods who manipulate the greater worlds around them, then you should definitely pick this series up!

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

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Review: Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost

Elysium GirlsElysium Girls by Kate Pentecost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Ten years ago, the Goddesses of Life and Death decided to play a little game. Their game board, a settlement town called Elysium, set amidst a stark desert landscape.

The inhabitants, the game pieces, scurrying around like the ants in A Bug’s Life, trying to gather up enough sacrificial materials to please the Goddesses once the ten years are up.

Within the settlement, an elder witch, Mother Morvena, seeks her replacement. She is nearing the end of her life, and as the settlement’s unofficial leader, someone needs to take over her duties.

Sal Wilkerson has never quite fit in. She’s different than the other girls and has few friends. She lost her mother to the Dust Sickness and has found it hard trying to make it on her own.

She knows she is meant to be a leader, but getting others to see her as such will be a battle. Her recurring false visions of rain aren’t helping matters.

But when Mother Morvena selects Sal as her successor, things change. Sal begins to see how she can truly contribute and discovers her powers as a witch.

Her new found celebrity is dimmed, however, when a new man arrives in town.

A magician named, Asa, who happens to be a Daemon in disguise! All the townsfolk are completely enamored with him and constantly after him to perform tricks.

When a magical duel between Sal and Asa goes horribly wrong, the entire fate of the game has been ruined. Blamed for the catastrophic result, they face excommunication and Asa disappears.

Now alone, Sal is tossed outside the border wall and forced to survive in the desert, where cannibals are said to lurk.

When all hope seems to be lost, Sal finds her salvation. A badass group of girls, the leader of which was also kicked out of Elysium for bad behavior.

The group takes Sal in, along with Asa, who just couldn’t keep away from those darn humans. They form a beloved found family that was an absolute delight to read.

Together they plan to get back in the game and save all of Elysium from the clutches of Death.

Y’all this book was so much fun to read. Super unique and absolutely full of action. I loved the setting, a sort of magical Deadwood meets Mad Max: Fury Road, and if that isn’t reason enough to pick it up, I’m not sure what is.

I loved both Sal and Asa, as well as many of the side characters. They were full of grit and fun to follow. I really started rooting for this girl gang.

They were smart, tough and never afraid of a fight. The giant mechanical horse on the cover is in the story as well, so there’s that!

The whole way through I was so into it. Thinking all along, this is a 5-star read, but then, the last 20% sort of lost me.

I found it confusing, it was going so fast and there were multiple twists thrown in right at the end. I still don’t really understand the conclusion. I guess if I would have had more information on the world outside of Elysium, it may have solved some of the uncertainties.

With this being said, this is still a highly enjoyable read. One that I can treasure for its magical narrative and captivating setting.

I would urge anyone who finds the synopsis interesting to pick it up. I do not think you will be disappointed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so much fun with it and look forward to seeing what Kate Pentecost dreams up next!

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Review: Conceal, Don’t Feel (Twisted Tales #6) by Jen Calonita

Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tale)Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Meg’s ratings for The Twisted Tale series:

1. Reflection (Mulan): 4-stars
2. As Old As Time (Beauty & the Beast): 3.5-stars rounded up
3. Mirror, Mirror (Snow White): 3.5-stars rounded up
4. Conceal, Don’t Feel (Frozen): 3.5-stars
5. A Whole New World (Aladdin): 3-stars
6. Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid): 2-stars

I was greatly anticipating the release of Conceal, Don’t Feel, the Frozen retelling of my dreams!

I love the story of Anna and Elsa. There’s so much about being true to yourself and being who you are no matter what others think.

The loads and loads of humor and fantastic side characters is another strong selling point for this story.

In this installment of Disney’s Twisted Tale series, we are proposed the twist of Anna and Elsa never knowing one another.

In this version, after Elsa’s magic harms Anna, their parents give Anna away to a family in the village to raise her. The girl’s memories are wiped and they grow up with no knowledge that they even have a sister.

It started out a little slow for me, but did pick up towards the middle and the conclusion was lovely.

Although slightly underwhelming, most likely because I had hyped it up so much for myself, this is still a good book. It was fun to spend some time with all of these dynamic characters again.

After this though, I am very happy the girls grew up the way they did in the movie and not some other version. That was sad enough!

Am I right?!

If you enjoyed the movie version of Frozen, you should definitely give this one a shot! Let Anna, Elsa, Olaf and all the rest, take your mind off the world for a while.

You won’t regret it!

I love the whole concept behind this series. I am always checking to see what tale Disney is going to twist next!

I am looking forward to continuing on with the rest of the books!

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