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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Review: Warmaidens by Kelly Coon

WarmaidensWarmaidens by Kelly Coon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m sorry everyone, but this is going to sting a bit.

Unfortunately, Warmaidens was a disappointment for me.

I enjoyed Gravemaidens quite a bit when I read it last year. In fact, I felt overall it was underrated.

The world of Alu was very interesting. The whole concept of the gravemaidens, the competition that led to their selection and the fact that even though it was essentially a death sentence for the women chosen, the position was revered within their society.

I also loved reading about the relationship between the main character, Kammani, and her younger sister, Nanaea.

They were complete opposites, with Kammani being responsible and serious, while Nanaea was more vain and emotional.

Their relationship had some volatility to it that kept it interesting and there were some beautifully written, emotional scenes involving them learning to love one another even through disagreements.

Those scenes were some of my favorite of the first book.

Since Gravemaidens ended on such an intriguing cliffhanger, I was super stoked to get into this sequel.

Unfortunately, this continuation was lacking all of the things I enjoyed the most about the first book.

Nanaea was unrecognizable in comparison to her character in Gravemaidens. While I understand that her character would have grown based on what she went through in the first book, would there be no shred of her original personality left?

Also, I never felt any real high stakes drama. It was just fairly bland the entire way through and read extremely slowly.

It was so singular in focus, taking forever to get anywhere, and my eyes definitely glazed over on more than one occasion.

The conclusion was in no way exciting, or surprising. At the end there was this odd scene that was like the end of a Saturday Night Live episode.

You know, where the whole cast gathers on stage as the music plays them out, hugging and congratulating one another. It was a choice.

With all of this being said, even though this didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If you read the first book and enjoyed it, you should absolutely try this one for yourself. Don’t take my word for it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my thoughts and opinion.

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Review: How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (Folk of the Air #3.5) by Holly Black

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And just like that my faith is restored in this thing we call a world. Thank you, Holly Black. We needed this.

Unsurprisingly, Cardan had me entranced from the start.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a collection of beautifully illustrated short-stories, following Cardan’s perspective from when he was just a little boy, all the way through and after, The Queen of Nothing.

I knew going in that this was illustrated, but my goodness, it is absolutely stunning.

As I was reading I would often stop and just soak in the illustrations. It truly brought these stories to life and gave them the magical quality of an old-time fairy tale.

Cardan is such a fun character and reading his life from his perspective provided all new insight into his decisions and motivations. I love him even more now than ever.

For true fans of this series, this is bonus content that should not be missed!

Personally, I will pick up anything Black chooses to write regarding these characters, or Elfhame in general. This book is a wonderful collector’s piece and one I am happy to add to my collection.

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Review: City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

City of Glass, the third installment in Cassandra Clare’s well-loved, Mortal Instruments series, brought all the addictive teen drama I was hoping for!

Since this is the third book in a series, some mild spoilers may be found within this review. I do not plan to hide them.

You have been warned.

Clary still needs to save her Mom. She thinks the answer lies somewhere within the City of Glass, Alicante, the capital of Idris and the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters.

Unfortunately, it’s against the law to travel there without permission and Clary definitely does not have that. Regardless, she’s not letting a little thing like frightening magical laws come between her and her mother’s potential cure.

The rest of the crew travel to Idris as well, including Simon, although he isn’t received as well as the others.

The bulk of the action in this novel, therefore, takes place in the land of the Shadowhunters, which I absolutely loved.

I feel like I learned so much more about this world, their history and the powers and relationships amongst the various beings that inhabit it.

This is what I had been waiting for. Things are finally beginning to come together and as a whole, make a lot more sense.

The relationship dynamics between all of our main characters continued to be built out as well. I enjoyed watching the evolution of friendships, as well as romantic relationships.

There were some huge reveals; one in particular that entirely changed how I viewed a certain character. I really enjoyed that, although some of the build-up to that reveal still makes me a little uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, that entire storyline certainly brought the angst that kept me turning pages. Luckily for the story, it wasn’t just that though.

There is a lot of compelling content in here. Valentine is an incredibly well-imagined villain. The stakes are high and the action flows along at a nice, steady pace.

I’m so stoked to carry one with my journey through the Shadowhunter Chronicles. If this book is any indication, it’s just going to continue to get better and better.

Up next, Clockwork Angel!!!

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Review: A Universe of Wishes, edited by Dhonielle Clayton

A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books AnthologyA Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology by Dhonielle Clayton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Universe of Wishes is an upcoming YA Fantasy Anthology from We Need Diverse Books, edited by the talented, Dhonielle Clayton.

Featuring fifteen diverse stories from some of the best OwnVoices authors currently writing in the YA genre, this collection has something for everyone.

As I read this collection, I kept track of my rating for each story, as well as a short description. The following are my initial notes:

1. A Universe of Wishes by Tara Sim, ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I really enjoyed this one, surprisingly moving for such a short story. Buzzwords: m/m romance, dark magic, family tragedy, hope, justice, wishes.

2. The Silk Blade by Natalie C. Parker, ⭐⭐⭐.5
The Bloom of Everhart is ready to choose his consort. A competition ensues. One contestant feels more drawn to another than she does to her stated prize.

3. The Scarlet Woman: A Gemma Doyle Story by Libba Bray, ⭐⭐⭐
New York City, 1897. I feel like I am missing something? Am I supposed to know Gemma Doyle?

4. Cristal y Ceniza by Anna-Marie Mclemore, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Cinderella retelling where a peasant girl sneaks into the kingdom during a ball, hoping for an audience with the King and Queen, to plead for the rights of her two mothers, their relationship and others like them. She meets the trans-Prince and he changes everything.

5. Liberia by Kwame Mbalia, ⭐⭐⭐.5
Following a crew on a futuristic mission. One of the characters is attached to the plants they are cultivating from their long distant homeland. I don’t think I got as much out of this as I should have, but Mbalia’s writing is so strong.

6. A Royal Affair by V.E. Schwab, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Now I definitely need to read the Shades of Magic trilogy!! I loved this. Following Alucard Emery, his relationship with Ray Marshall, and how he came to Captain the Night Spire.

7. The Takeback Tango by Rebecca Roadhouse, ⭐⭐⭐.5
A solo space Captain who has lost everything sets out to steal back artifacts stolen from her people and housed in a museum. She discovers an unlikely and charming ally along the way.

8. Dream and Dare by Nic Stone, ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
The story of two misunderstood girls being crushed by traditional gender roles and societal expectations. Remember girls, to always Dare to Dream!

9. Wish by Jenni Balch, ⭐⭐⭐.5
A wish granter from a lamp is surprised when he is summoned to find he is no longer on Earth, but a colony on Venus. The wisher has very special circumstances and he is determined to help her, no matter the cost.

10. The Weight by Dhonielle Clayton, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Every heart tells a story. Futuristic and odd, this story of a young couple secretly questioning love gave me chills!

11. Unmoor by Mark Oshiro, ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
In a world where magic exists, young Felix uses a very different method for ridding himself of heartache. This was powerful.

12. The Coldest Spot in the Universe by Samira Ahmed, ⭐⭐⭐⭐
An uninhabitable Earth left behind. An abandoned wasteland. A futuristic archeologist finds record of a girl who once lived. Sadly too realistic.

13. The Beginning of Monsters by Tessa Gratton, ⭐⭐.5
An architect who redesigns human form begins a relationship with the heir of a King whose body she is redesigning. Enjoyed the commentary on gender and gender fluidity, but other than that, I found this one quite slow.

14. Longer Than the Threads of Time by Zoraida Cordova, ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Boy meets girl. Danae and Fabian. A girl from the DR, locked in a tower for decades. A brujo with the power to save her. A delightfully dark Rapunzel retelling.

15. Habibi by Tochi Onyebuchi, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A powerful closing story for this collection. Two young men, a world apart, are each held in solitary confinement. One, from Long Beach, California, the other from the Gaza Strip in Palestine. They develop a channel for corresponding and build a deep and binding connection.

This is a really well-rounded collection. Obviously, there were stories that I connected with more than others, but that is always the way with anthologies.

Every person who reads this will have a different experience with these stories, and that’s okay. That’s what it’s all about.

I think all of the contributors to this collection should be proud of their work. I am so happy that this book, and others like it, exist.

I highly recommend this anthology and hope that We Need Diverse Books continues to produce materials like this for a long time to come. For more information on WNDB, click this link:

We Need Diverse Books

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

It was one of my most anticipated anthologies of the year and it definitely did not disappoint!!

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Review: Rebel Rose (The Queen’s Council #1) by Emma Theriault

Rebel Rose (The Queen's Council, #1)Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Rebel Rose is the first book in the new series by Disney, The Queen’s Council.

Each book will be written by a different author and follow the story of a different Disney heroine.

This first novel follows my favorite Disney heroine, Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. The action picks up a few months after the conclusion of the Disney animated movie.

Belle and Lio have defeated the curse and his kingdom has been restored to its former glory.

The couple have since been married, although Belle refuses to take the title of Princess of Aveyon. One of their first orders of business as a couple is to travel to the beautiful city of Paris, with the hopes of restoring Lio’s relationship with the King of France.

Arriving in the City of Lights, Lio is reunited with his cousin, Bastien. They will be staying with him, which is fortunate for Lio, since as a Duc, Bastien is used to navigating the ins and outs of France’s ruling class.

Lio’s a bit out of his element, having been under the curse for a decade.

The year is 1789 and France finds itself on the brink of revolution. Belle is fascinated as she learns about the potential populous uprising.

She personally feels caught between the two worlds. She lived her early life as a commoner. It was only after being held prisoner at the enchanted castle, and starting a relationship with Lio, that she would ever be allowed to walk among the aristocracy.

She understands the plight and demands of the people and hopes that Lio will listen to her urgings to make their province a better place for all.

Returning to their own castle, Bastien travels along with them, trying to distance himself from the potential violence of the city. Lucky, Belle.

This guy is a creeper, y’all, and Belle can see if from the very beginning. She doesn’t trust him and the two are at each others throats.

What happens next is an odd series of events that leaves Belle and Bastien alone in the castle while Lio travels the province.

Things do not go well.

I really enjoyed this one, guys, and feel like this is a solid start to The Queen’s Council series.

I wasn’t sure going in what the connection of the series would be, but there were some reveals in here that provided insight into that. Let’s just say, I am really looking forward to continuing.

Theriault did a wonderful job of creating this historical world. I also loved how true to the characters she stuck.

I felt like it was a smooth transition from the movie content to this story. Belle, Lio and some other favorites, such as Mrs. Potts, Lumiere and Cogsworth, all behaved as you would expect them too and I appreciated that consistency.

There is quite a bit of serious subject matter within this story and I do felt it read fairly slow. There were some lulls in the action, or even some portions I felt could have been removed.

I love politics in stories though, so for me, it worked. I can definitely see how some people may not be as interested in those aspects however, or feel that the pace is too slow for their personal tastes.

Overall, I think this is a solid story and one that any Beauty and the Beast fan should check out. Particularly, if you are a fan of Belle’s strength, stubbornness and pure heart.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to the next book!

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Review: Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1)Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Emilia and her twin sister, Vittoria, are witches, who live secretly among humans on the island of Sicily. Their family runs a renowned local restaurant, where both girls work.

At eighteen years old, they’ve been raised hearing the lore of their family, and other beings of the underworld; mostly at the knee of their beloved Nonna.

But these stories become all too real after Emilia discovers the body of her murdered sister.

Overcome with grief, Emilia’s saving grace seems to be her need for vengeance. Her overwhelming need to find her sister’s killer keeps her from wallowing in despair for too long.

Pairing herself with a Prince from Hell, Wrath, Emilia begins to follow clues through the shadow-ridden Sicilian streets, as more and more witches fall to the same fate as Vittoria.

In the beginning, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sold.

The first couple of chapters seemed generic. Emilia felt like many YA characters I had read before. I was sceptical.

However, I am so happy to report, I had no reason to be. Once Emilia and Wrath met up, everything began to fall into place and I ended up really enjoying this.

While the format was slightly typical, as far as enemies-to-lovers tropes go, I still thought it was special; and I love that trope.

I thought the evolution of their relationship was perfectly paced and the way they worked together, two thumbs up. Until the bitter end, I was with them, hook, line and sinker.

As the story unfolded, I was so impressed with Emilia’s guts and determination. She’s up against some super scary forces, yet never backs down.

Pushing herself to the limits, her ability to stare straight in the face of danger was admirable. By the end, she’s one of my new favorite heroines.

As far as Wrath goes, we stan. Everything about him, from his snarky attitude, his knowledge of all things dark and hellish, his tattoos, his sexy outfits, I loved it all.

I also feel like we have so much more to learn about him. Fingers crossed this happens moving forward in the series.

The atmosphere is top notch as well and I liked that Maniscalco didn’t shy away from some very dark images and scenes. This last bit of this book was absolutely wild and I cannot wait for the next one to be released!!!

Seriously, is it too early to request a copy!?

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

I truly appreciate it!

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