[ARC] Review: Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Review of Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Thank you to the Balzer + Bray for sending me a review copy via Edelweiss and finished copy in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.


REVIEW

This was one of my most anticipated 2019 releases, but it just wasn’t for me.

Instead, it was exhausting. And also one of my biggest letdowns as of late. It started off great, then got soooo slow, then weird and unconvincing. Honestly, I’m really proud of myself for actually having finished this – I was so close to DNFing it and that is something I adamantly try to avoid. I try limit myself to one read and one audiobook at a time, but I became so disinterested in this that I set it aside multiple times. It took me almost three weeks to finish this and in that time I finished eight other books.

Maybe it’s just me? Hopefully it’s just me because I WANT this book and author to be successful – but I really feel like there was so much untapped potential here.

The story started out with a truly fantastic premise. Bonded warriors, a unique magic system and intriguing mythology! However, after our two main characters infiltrate the enemy’s forces, the action and progression of the story really felt as though it fell to the wayside. For most of this book I felt as if things were dead in the water.

Near the end, the story became incredibly over-the-top and just plain weird. Not to mention, the romance aspect in this went in a totally unexpected and uncomfortable direction. One of the main characters is approached romantically while recovering from hallucinogens and it wasn’t even treated as wrong. I really couldn’t make sense of how the romance in this took a complete 180 – it was just so forced and convoluted.

Overall, I felt as though Circle of Shadows definitely deserved a little more polishing before it hit the shelves. I will be speaking about it on my Instagram soon – as I am apart of the tour (I am super excited and grateful for this!) – unfortunately this just wasn’t for me. I certainly hope others will enjoy it more than I did!

View Review on Goodreads


Order Circle of Shadows from these booksellers

On Sale Date: January 22nd 2019

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound

[ARC] Review: Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake

Review of Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thank you to Entangled Teen for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley and the author for a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

Half-Blood meets Antigoddess in a thrilling, romantic new series from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Drake.

When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world—from herself.


REVIEW

Analiese Rising is a fun and fast-paced story that takes its reader from the streets of New York City to Rome to Paris.

Analiese, a girl shouldered with grief and anxiety, is shocked when she is approached by a man moments before his death and given a cryptic message. Among his personal belongings she discovers a list with names of the deceased, as well as her own. Analiese soon finds herself thrown into a hunt of monumental proportions, alongside the man’s grandson, Marek – the only other person in the world who can help her find answers.

Overall, this story was a little predictable and cliche, but certainly pleasurable with an aire of urgency. Brenda Drake did a wonderful job conveying the haste behind Analiese and Marek’s search, as well as adding in fair bits of humor and romance. The almost quest-like nature of this book kept the pacing on point and the puzzles always had my mind working. I thoughly enjoyed the introduction of gods and goddesses, particulary those more obscure and how she blended their traits and talents into the story.

If you enjoy urban fantasy, cryptology, mystery and mythology – this is the perfect read for you!

View Review on Goodreads


Order Analiese Rising from these booksellers

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound

Be sure to checkout my bookstagram for more information on Analiese Rising and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

010619_analieserising_1.png

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Review of It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★


DESCRIPTION

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.


REVIEW

“Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person. Fifteen.”

I am utterly wrecked. WRECKED.

How many of us can think of a person we care for that has done wonderful and terrible things? All. Of. Us. How many of us have excused those terrible things with the wonderful things? All. Of. Us. Why do we give these people hall passes for their bad actions because we know they’re capable of good? Everyone is capable of good. Those people shouldn’t be allowed a pass for doing what we are all capable of.

This book closely examines what it is to love the person who hurts you the most and navigating that hurt. How many of us have wondered what goes through the head of a victim of abuse? How many of us have heard, “Why don’t they just leave them?” or “I would never allow that to happen to me.” How many of us have thought those words ourselves? I like to think I’m at a place in my life that I don’t allow myself to judge in this manner or make these assumptions. But I know I am guilty of speaking these words in the past. And I know I can look at the person I love most in the world and cannot honestly tell you what I would do if I were faced with the type of abuse portrayed in this book.

This is my first Colleen Hoover novel and I knew going into this that it would affect me deeply. Well. This is one of those books that can change you. I constantly found myself a confused bundle of emotions through much of this book and I am so damn grateful for it all.

I too was charmed by and came to love a certain character. At one point I WANTED them to be redeemed. But then I thought: Why does this character deserve to be redeemed? They don’t. I love redemption plots. There are some really wonderful characters out there that have been given and deserve redemption. But guys, some characters don’t deserve redemption. Perhaps this character received a modicum if redemption toward the end but damnit he had to work for it and he is going to suffer for every second and inch of it he is allowed.

This book is beautiful and poignant and absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever read. It’s also one of the most devastating and emotionally gutting things I’ve ever read. I hope I never forget it.

View Review on Goodreads


Order It Ends With Us from these booksellers

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound

[ARC] Review: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Review of Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Review copy provided by Page Street Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart after her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an offer: for her to come and live with him for a year. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, Echo discovers centuries-old secrets, a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up—otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.


REVIEW

”There is one thing you must not do, one rule you must not break.”

Echo North is a brilliant and magical retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, while also pulling inspiration from the stories of Cupid & Pysche, as well as Tam Lin. I read this in less than a day and was completely enthralled with everything about it.

Echo is the daughter of a bookseller that has always struggled to find her place and purpose in the world. She loves her family, her books and is a devourer of knowledge – but a fateful encounter with a wolf as a child left her face terribly scarred. Because of this Echo has experienced terrible rumors and unnecessary cruelty.

Tragically, Echo’s father goes missing for months, until Echo, lost in the woods herself, finds him half-frozen with the wolf from her childhood by his side. She makes a deal with the wolf to live with him in his enchanted house for one year. The only rule is that Echo may never look upon him between midnight and dawn.

I LOVED the wolf’s magical house in this book, the stories within stories in the mirror library, the growing companionship and dependence between Echo and the wolf, Echo’s adventures with Hal and Mokosh, the budding romance, as well as the mystery surrounding how to save the characters under “her” enchantments. If you’ve read the stories that inspire Echo North, its no surprise as to where the plot will take us, however Meyer puts her own twists into the story, creating a refreshing and new take on time honored classics.

Echo North is one of those books that drops breadcrumbs along the way, while you’re fully engrossed in the beauty and mystery of the story. They are there to piece together or you can let the answers come to you, while the story sweeps you off your feet.

I highly recommend this one!

View Review on Goodreads


Order Echo North from these booksellers

Release Date: January 15th, 2019

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound

[ARC] Review: Evermore by Sara Holland

Review of Evermore by Sara Holland

(Everless #2)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Review copy provided by HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

Possible spoilers ahead for Everless, the first book in this duology!


DESCRIPTION

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.


REVIEW

“Don’t you know, Jules? Everything worth doing is dangerous.”

It’s no secret that Everless was one of my favorite 2018 releases and shouldn’t be a surprise that I was prepared to perform dark magic to get my hands on Evermore. Luckily, HarperTeen saved us all from that catastrophe and provided me with an advanced reading copy.

Evermore begins with Jules on the run from Caro, still reeling from what she has learned about herself and grappling with her new reality. Jules struggles to choose her next path – flee or fight for the final life she has? Much of this book follows Jules on the run while she searches her past for any way to defeat the sorceress.

And of course there is Liam, our dark, dashingly intelligent antihero. I wont lie … Liam Gerling is one of the sole reasons I am here. His character was my favorite from the first book and continues to hold that title through Evermore. Liam enters the book in total Liam style and is by Jules’ side for much of the book, to share what he has learned of the Alchemist’s life and as a steady companion through all of Jules’ searching. And maybe a little something more?

Evermore had has plenty of action, the pacing was great, the character arcs were well done and I got the romance I had been pining after. We learn quite a bit about Jules’ and Caro’s pasts, as well as what fueled the divide between them. Friendship was a large undertone to this story and I was really feeling the emotions near the end! Jules knows Caro is seeking her every weakness, most of all her friends – but its the help of others Jules must be willing to rely upon.

While I had hoped it would be as sweeping and mysterious as Everless, Evermore is certainly a worthy sequel and will give you all the answers you seek!

I will absolutely be reading more from Sara Holland.

View Review on Goodreads


Order Evermore from these booksellers

Release Date: December 31st, 2018

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound

Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Review of Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


DESCRIPTION

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….


REVIEW

I am SO glad I’ve decided to binge read these and highly anticipate this becoming another favorite series of mine. The set up for this story and world is gritty, relentless and has the building of something epic. This is the type of series that has great crossover appeal, to every sex and age!

“Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is darkness. The question is, will one give in to the dark or the light? It’s something we decide with every choice we make, every day that we exist. What might not be evil to you could be evil to someone else. Knowing this makes us powerful even without magic.”

If you’ve been around YA fantasy for any amount of time you’ve probably heard of this series and have probably even had some parts spoiled for you (like me, hah!). I’ve heard nothing but GOOD about this and can safely say I am hooked. Despite the spoilers I’ve had, I’ve been assured there are a ton of plot twists in the series and can say I was surprised a number of times in this book! I listened the the audiobook (fantastic narrator!) and immediately jumped on downloading the sequel, Rebel Spring, the moment I finished this.

This first installment is largely character driven, with the likes of Princess Cleiona of Auranos, Prince Magnus of Limeros, Princess Lucia of Limeros and rebel Jonas of Paelsia taking the forefront. From the first pages, this story builds upon itself until you expect spontaneous combustion when everyone crosses paths.

“Then his heart, now broken into a thousand pieces, slowly began to turn to ice.”

Magnus, Prince of Blood. HAH. Better yet, Prince of let me hold you and comfort you, I’m sorry this has happened to you, don’t be an ass and stay pure. I LOVE Magnus’ character and expect a ton of growth from him as the series goes on. That said, I feel Magnus has a dark path to walk before he can find any semblance of happiness. BUT I AM HERE FOR YOU MAGNUS. I’ll hold your hand through the dark.

Cleiona experiences so much in this book. Her fierce love for her sister is undeniable, however her actions are what you might expect from a teenage princess, always sheltered amongst the court and her castle. My hope is to see her become stronger and more cautious in her actions. She makes some really poor decisions in this that lead to the pain of others!

Lucia is completely blindsided in this book by revelation after revelation and I cannot help but wonder how utterly alone she must feel! I can only hope she will find the tutelage she needs, plus some sort of reconciliation with her brother.

Jonas! I loved his character as well and the final pages really have me looking forward to the role he’ll play in future books. He goes through so many shades of grief in this, I love how complex his character is and cannot wait to learn more about where his path will take him!

Oh hi Aron. I hate you. Shut up, go be drunk somewhere else. You suck and started this WHOLE FREAKING MESS.

NIC! I love Nic’s character. Funny, pure and perfect best friend material. Excuse me while we go get into trouble somewhere.

“Hate is such a strong emotion. Much more powerful than indifference. But those who burn with hate can also love just as intensely. Can’t they? When you hate–or love–do you do so with all your heart? So much that it feels as if you might die from it?”

 

Overall, this is one of those series I own every book of but still had not read. One of those series I kept telling myself: YOU NEED TO READ THOSE. Well, I can assure you this will be my next favorite series.

View Review on Goodreads


Order Falling Kingdoms from these booksellers

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound

[ARC] Review: The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

Review of The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Review copy provided by Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley and Storygram Tours in exchange for an honest review

I’m teaming up with the publisher and Storygram Tours as a tour host for The Lying Woods’ release! Check my bookstagram on November 13th for more information!


DESCRIPTION

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees’ retirement accounts, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father’s crimes. It’s bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac–and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen’s only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets–and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past–and write a better future.


REVIEW

Guys. I rarely read anything outside of fantasy and science fiction but I loved this book. It was absolutely riveting and had me feeling all sorts of emotional and questioning everything. Despite being a mystery, this was a totally atmospheric book that had me feeling some serious Raven Cycle vibes. You don’t want to skip this one!

This story follows Owen Foster, who discovers his father has vanished and embezzled millions from his company and its employees. After Owen is pulled from his boarding school, he is thrust back into small town life and must face the people whose lives his father ruined.

The Lying Woods has so many captivating elements but most of all is the alternating timeline. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story shifts from present day Owen to the summer of 1999, when Owen’s parents meet. I found myself questioning every little bit of information we gather between timelines – most of all, how could the young man we see falling in love with Owen’s mother become so terrible in present day? Don’t worry folks, you’ll get your answer and you will not see it coming. I was shook! Seriously, all I wanted to do was get home from work so I could finish this, it had me that enthralled!

Additionally, I really appreciated the growth we see in Owen and his characterization throughout the book. From his fierce protectiveness of his mother, to his growing relationship with Pippa, to his compassion for those his father harmed. Owen just wants to fit in again and find answers to his father’s actions, but to do so he must let down his own barriers and accept the truth of what has happened.

There were so many emotional scenes for me in this book. Namely: Gus’ grief, Noah’s love for Maggie and selflessness, Owen and Pippa after the auction and the whole diner scene was just SO MUCH.

The Lying Woods is delightful and mysterious. As someone who tends to stick within her SFF bubble, this was a pleasant derailment from the norm for me and I hope everyone will read and enjoy it as much as I did!

View Review on Goodreads


Order The Lying Woods from these booksellers

Release Date: November 13, 2018

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound