Summary: Rune Germain is shipped off to a French boarding school where she realizes that the The Phantom of the Opera is not just a story, and that she has inherited a curse that makes her the Phantom’s long awaited target.
Thoughts: DNF less than eighty pages from the ending. I was really excited for this book, and so sure that I’d love it but I just couldn’t get into it. The main character had a very weak personality, which made her narration so hard to get into therefore making the entire story read meh. There were some beautiful sentences and descriptions in the book but the MC’s voice made it so difficult to focus or feel their importance. Sentences were packed with more adjectives than was necessary, making it hard to follow those sentences. And the other MC in the story – Thorn, the Phantom’s apprentice and Rune’s instant love interest – his narration was more focused than hers but packed with so much backstory that by the point the backstory was finished, you couldn’t remember where he was at or what he was doing once he started reminiscing. I’m so bummed I couldn’t enjoy this book, and because I didn’t finish it, I can’t rate it.
Summary: Captain Alosa, the daughter of the notorious Pirate King, tricks a rival ship into kidnapping her to ransom her off to her father while she searches their ship for a piece of a map that will lead to an island of vast treasure.
Thoughts: I love this book from the very first page. Alosa was a cocky, confident and funny heroine whose voice stood out from the start. Despite Alosa’s light tone, she is brutal when she needs to be and she is exactly what I look for in a character. I loved her relationship with Riden, the first mate of the ship she was held “hostage” on, and how honest she was with herself about using him to get what she wanted, no guilt involved, even if she did like him, and didn’t want to admit it. The world building was light, mainly because most of the scenes took place on a ship somewhere out at sea, and what happened on land wasn’t as important as what was happening between the pirate lords. This is one book where less world building made it read better. Even though the plot twists weren’t so surprising, they were very enjoyable and they kept me hooked. If you’re looking for a swashbuckling adventure full of heartfelt humor and a romance that doesn’t overshadow the main plot, then you will love Daughter of the Pirate King.
Summary: Possessed by the Furies, Amelie Ainsworth is driven by their bloodlust to deliver their violent justice whether she wants to or not. After escaping the Asylum where she had spent years, all she wants is to have a normal life. And things work out for a while as Amelie meets a boy who the Furies grow silent around until someone – the doctor who had taken away her freedom and subjected her to harsh medical testing – shows up again. The Furies are violent beyond control, turning her mind into a battlefield. Amelie must choose what is more important. Denying the Furies the power they have over her, or letting them take control and seek vengeance.
Thoughts: Vengeance Road wasn’t like I thought it would be. For starters, there was less mythology than I was expecting but it was a very fast read. The premise was really interesting, and I enjoyed the writing. However, Amelie changed a lot from the girl at the start and I’m not really sure how I felt about her character development. It read like a lot of change in so little time. Her relationship with Niko threw me off, because it was too instantaneous. Amelie was so preoccupied with the Furies in her head and what they made her do, and she was so focused on her end-goal and how nothing could get in the way of that, that when Niko showed up and her opinions changed all of a sudden, I couldn’t believe it. Niko was too bland of a character for my liking, but all the other male characters in the book were either 1- rapists and molesters or 2- idiot high school jerks that I had no choice but to like the only normal, though be it, characterless character. And even all the other female characters in the story weren’t normal – they were either insane, jealous or psychotic. I tried to like this book, I even held off an entire week on writing this review hoping my confusing thoughts would sort themselves out, but aside from premise, prose and a decent enough main character, I can’t find anything to love about the story.
** Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: After Starr Bishop, swim-team star and all around popular girl, gets hunted down by an organization that wants to recruit her as an assassin, she goes on the run. With the help of a friend, Christian – the school’s bad boy and social outcast — they travel across the country to Christian’s parents cabin deep in the woods. But the organization finds them there, and there’s nowhere left to run anymore. Starr must face the organization that took everything away from her for a chance to return to her old life.
Thoughts: Alright! I almost read this book in one sitting. Starr Fall is a quick and addictive read, full of surprises and twists and a swoon-worthy love interest. There’s equal parts action and romance, and honestly, the build up to it was enough for me. I loved how well put together Starr was, despite the fact that her life had turned upside down. That stable quality in her voice really made all the turns and twists read well. And Christian. Hahaha! No way was he the same person I thought he was. I really loved him and every scene he was in, but I felt like the turn from goth recluse to dashing hero was a little too fast. He liked Starr from the start, but I don’t know why I wanted him to fight/resist his feelings for her more. Ugh, I guess I just like tortured characters. I also wanted to know more about the organization and I wanted Starr to have more close calls with them so that I could find out more about them, but the book is 160 pages only, so I get why I couldn’t find all that out. And now I want the second book because I just have to know what happens next! If this book were a TV show, I’d binge watch it pausing!
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Summary: Tella arranges for her sister, Scarlett, to be kidnapped and taken to a magical island where they can play a mysterious game known as Caraval. All Scarlet wants is to go back home. But when Tella gets kidnapped as part of the game, the only way to save her is to win. But the game is dangerous and nothing is what it seems.
Thoughts: I haven’t read a book so ridiculously magical in a very loooong time. Not since The Night Circus came out, to be exact. This book was very character-focused and light on the world-building. Usually, this is not something I look for in a fantasy novel, but with Caraval, I think any more world-building would have just upped the word-count without adding much to the plot because – put simply – everything important in it, revolved around the competition and the mystery around it. The prose in this book was so gorgeous. Scarlett felt things in color, and the writing reflected that very beautifully. As a character, I found her a bit hard to sympathize with at the start because she was very uptight and whiny – and for the better half of the book – very dependent on Julian – the love-interest and the sailor who Tella got to kidnap her. But I really loved their relationship’s progression and how she grew more confident of herself towards the end. And Julian is my favorite character in this book! What I loved most about Caraval was how every time I thought one thing, it turned out to be something else. Nothing is what it seems, for real. That’s so very literal in this book. Prepare to doubt every word you’ve read! Caraval is a thrilling book full of magic, intelligent twists and mysteries and a beautiful setting you’d be wishing was real.
Summary: Ever since a horse fell on him and killed his mother, Finn Easton has seen the world through miles instead of minutes. Besides that, he’s convinced he’s a character from one of his father’s best selling books. But when Julia Bishop – his first love – leaves town, Finn is heartbroken. Soon after that, Finn and his best-friend Cade Hernandez embark on a trip from Southern California to Oklahoma that shows them that sometimes life’s many detours can take them to exactly where they needed to be.
Thoughts: This book was everything I look for in a YA Contemporary! Finn was a smart and funny character. From the very first chapter he had me laughing out loud as I read. Andrew Smith isn’t an author I’m familiar with but from now on, I’m aiming to read all of his books. This book had no plot, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages for some reason. Oh yeah, Finn’s very realistic and funny narration!! Ugh, I miss him and Cade already. I think one of the main reasons I kept flipping the page to read what happens even though I didn’t know what I was reading towards was because of all the random things that kept happening. Ultimately, this book was about all the unexpected detours that life takes you on to get you to where you need to be and Smith’s writing did that so well. Now the one thing that made it a 4-star instead of a 5 was the blurb. It spelled out everything for me, including the ending. If you haven’t read the blurb yet, then don’t. You’ll enjoy the book more that way. I still loved the book and I think that it’s definitely worth a read. Especially if you haven’t read any of Andrew Smith’s books yet, this one will get you wanting to do so right away!
Summary: For Cate Cahill and her sisters, keeping their magic a secret is the difference between life and death. After she uncovers a secret that changes everything she’s ever known, keeping her sisters and herself safe becomes almost impossible.
Thoughts: For a book that heavily revolved around romance, I really really loved it. Months before her seventeenth birthday, Cate must choose whether she’ll marry or choose the sisterhood. Except she doesn’t want to join the Sisterhood – which is basically a convent. And as for marriage, who will she marry? All that aside, Cate and her sisters are all witches and if anyone finds out the truth about them, then they will be sentenced to the mad house or sent to a prison ship. I loved Cate’s relationship with her sisters and I loved how much she fought to keep them safe. Cate’s narration and her ability to read into things, really made the story and plot that much more engaging. The story is set in New England in the 1890’s, and it follows an alternate timeline. However, one thing pulled me out of the story, which was the mention of other cities in the world – specifically Dubai. Ugh Dubai is a very new city that did not exist in the 1890’s and the history geek in me could not let that slip. That aside, the story was full of so many secrets that really heightened the stakes. Cate was a strong heroine who didn’t shy away from doing what was right even though it was hard and would have cost her what she wanted most. The setting was beautiful and Spotswood’s prose made the story read so real! I’m looking forward to reading the sequel!
Summary: While breaking into the house of the man who allegedly murdered her mother to steal incriminating evidence from his hard drive, Tina gets caught by his son and her childhood friend, Michael. To stop her from releasing all the information, they strike a deal to investigate her mother’s murder before releasing the evidence. But her crime boss is waiting and the more she waits, the more her life is in danger.
Thoughts: I was really looking forward to this book because it was pitched as The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo meets Gone Girl but set in Kenya. I think that pitch set my expectations too high. While it was an enjoyable mystery, it wasn’t a page-turning kind of thriller. The setting was great, and the characters as well even though they read a bit too mature for their age, but then again, it makes sense that they would be having gone through the things that they have. I loved how focused Tina was on avenging her mother, but at the same time, it was that very focus that made every thing else around her seem unimportant. And that includes her relationship with Michael. I feel like if the romance aspect was taken out, I’d have enjoyed the book more because I just couldn’t believe it when it happened. Tina was such a fierce and determined character, and her capacity for love was clearly evident in how much she loved and tried to give her sister a good life, that the Michael thing read a bit forced and unnecessary because Tina herself was only aware of it sporadically and most of it was concentrated towards the very end. However, what I loved most about this book though, and what set it apart from many other books out there, is how Anderson sheds light on real atrocities happening in the world and to the Congolese people specifically – like crime, war, violence against women, greed etc. If you’re looking for a YA novel set in Africa, with an interesting plot, great characters, and some real world stories, then you will really like City of Saints and Thieves. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read any page-turning thrillers with interesting settings that I need to read ASAP. Happy reading!
Summary: After Damen’s half-brother takes his throne from him, he gifts him as a pleasure slave to the prince of an enemy nation. Caught in the middle of a manipulative court, Damen must hide his identity from Prince Laurent because if there is one person Laurent hates, it is the Prince of Akielos, Damen, who killed his brother in battle.
Thoughts: Ahhh, where do I even start? I love this book so much I’m thinking of rereading it right now as I type this review. The first book was really a 4/5 for me but by the end of the second one, I was more hooked than I was after the first. The plot follows Damen as he’s sent off to Vere as a slave to the manipulative and sadistic Prince of Vere, Laurent. There he struggles to hide his identity in a court full of violence and lies and constant manipulation and back-stabbing. *sighs* What’s not to love, right? Add to that combination the one and only villain of his kind – Laurent. I want to wrap Laurent in bubble wrap and hide him from the world. I have so much love for that well-developed psychopath. Both Laurent’s and Damen’s character growth is amazing for a series as fast paced as this. The world-building in this book is flawless. It feels like you’re reading a historical fic and not a fantasy novel. I won’t say more, because really, these books leave you speechless, but I highly recommend you read them. If you haven’t read many m/m fics, this and The Song of Achilles are really good books to start with. Of course the latter will leave you crying into a bucket, so I’d start with the Captive Prince Trilogy and then move to TSOA. Happy reading!
Summary: When Elizabeth’s younger sister Kathe gets kidnapped by the Goblin King to become his Queen in the Underworld, Elizabeth sacrifices herself in exchange. But life as Queen of the Underworld and wife to the Goblin King is not as Elizabeth thought it would be. She soon finds herself falling in love with the Goblin King and creating beautiful music but it all comes at a price that is bigger than just her life.
Thoughts: This is the book I’ve wanted to read for so long but I didn’t even know it. Even though the stakes aren’t so high, the writing is transportive from the very first page. Elizabeth is such a flawed and relatable. She starts off being very level-headed and selfless as the big sister taking care of everyone, and I loved how I got to see the other side of her after she struck the deal with the Goblin King. Who also made it into one of my top ten favorite male characters list, coming a close fourth after Will Herondale. A very high honor in my book. But my favorite character in Wintersong is hands down: Constanze, the rude-mouthed, salt-spraying and superstitious grandmother who I really really missed once the story progressed into the Underworld and left Constanze behind. You would assume that the setting would get depressing once it shifted to the Underworld, but the opposite is true. It’s so rare that I find a book where a character is passionate, actually passionate, about something like Elizabeth is about music and composing music. Reading about it really brought all the underlying emotions to life and I’m pretty sure my ears have been opened. Wintersong is ultimately a story about the selfish and selfless things people do for love, and it’s such a dark and raw book full of amazing mythological beings and music that you can feel.
Summary: After a failed assassination attempt on the day of her coronation, Crown Princess Rhiannon vows to reclaim her thrown and seek vengeance on the person who led to her family’s murder years ago. Alyosha is the star of a reality show and a war refugee who is framed for the alleged death of the Crown Princess Rhiannon. Both Alyosha and Rhiannon travel across the galaxy in search of answers.
Thoughts: I have so many mixed feelings about this book. For starters, it’s a beautiful blend of science-fiction and fantasy, with great and complex world-building that is boosted by a diverse cast of characters facing real-world problems (like being refugees and immigrants in a place they’re not wanted). The book is fast-paced and full of daring adventure and it’s this very thing that made it so hard to connect with the characters. There’s scarcely a moment where they stop running to take stock of themselves and one another. Everything is happening so fast, that by the end of the book, I was more familiar with the plot than the characters. There were a few things that I found repetitive like Rhiannon’s determination to seek vengeance. It just pulled me out of the story every time she mentioned it, and I think it reads repetitively because there was more “telling” than “showing” her need for vengeance. Despite what the blurb said, the fugitive and empress don’t actually join forces to do anything. The one scene where they met was when they spotted each other across a crowded room, for one second, and used each other’s presence to make their own individual escape. I was sort of let down by that because I kept waiting for them to cross paths and join forces. The big spoiler at the end wasn’t a spoiler, really. I saw it coming, and I think the ending would have been much stronger if it wasn’t so obvious. Nevertheless, Belleza’s prose was very beautiful and aside from characterization, repetitiveness and a sort of misleading blurb, this was an enjoyable read with great world-building and high stakes.
Summary: Set in alternating historical and future time periods, the story follows Katherine and Mathew as they are born again and again only to fall hopelessly in love every time before being tragically separated.
Thoughts: You know that feeling when you’re reading a book and every page is better than the one before and you can’t stop reading and you’re just following an upward trajectory of awesomeness but then you reach the end, and that trajectory slopes downwards so suddenly? That’s what it felt like. The book was so amazing, almost perfect enough to get five beautiful stars of awesomeness, but then the ending happened and I wasn’t satisfied with the answers I was getting. Despite that, this was a beautiful story about the power of love and its ability to transcend time and hardships. It was unlike any time-travel story I’ve ever read because of its focus on the romance more than the other aspects that kept pecking at my brain (time-travel, reincarnation – how is this happening?). Wanting the answers to these questions and wanting to reach a time period where Catherine and Mathew weren’t terribly separated, was another thing that kept pushing me to finish immediately. The story followed Mathew and Catherine through 4 different time periods, but they were woven together so flawlessly and the attention to historical detail was very well-done. The history geek in me has to praise this. As for the futuristic time-line, it read very realistically and a bit like modern-times rather than the super technological future you’d probably have in mind. Catherine’s voice was so real and funny that it lightened whatever dark and sad road the story was about to take. Overall, if you’re a fan of historical novels, or romance novels, or light sci-fi novels, then I highly recommend you read this book (it being a brilliant mashup of all these things). However, bear in mind that the ending may not go as far as you’d hoped.