[ARC] Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Review of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Series: The Gilded Wolves #1

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books for sending me a review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history—but only if they can stay alive.


REVIEW

Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.

The Gilded Wolves is a wonderful, powerful and imaginative story, teeming with representation for marginalized groups and with a superb cast of unforgettable characters.

With lush descriptions and thought provoking narratives, I was swept into the world of Belle Époque Paris. Roshani does a wonderful job of painting a world teaming with life, while shining a strong light onto those who pay for other’s privileges.

This book is PERFECT for fans of Six of Crows. If you are in dire need of #squadgoals and heists, this is the book for you. I absolutely adore how these characters work together, how each has their own specialty and their backstories – particularly what brought them into Séverin’s life.

Anything could fall. Towers that scraped the heavens, Houses with pockets deeper than empires, shining seraphs who had once been in the confidence of God. Even families who were supposed to love you. Nothing was invincible but change.

Séverin is the heir to a fallen House. Disgraced and forgotten, Séverin is a highly complex character whose main goal is the gain back everything he’s been denied. You will find yourself regularly charmed by and frustrated with him. He is my next favorite character of 2019 and I was constantly LIVING for his POV chapters in this book.

Enrique hit close to home for me, as my grandfather emigrated to the United States from the Philippines in the 1920s. I adore his character immensely, his dry humor and constant exasperation with his compatriots, and support him 110%.

If you get in the way of a woman’s battle, you’ll get in the way of her sword.

Laila is her own mystery and a tantalizing one at that. Battling with her identity and feelings, she is probably the strongest personality of this book and the glue that holds everyone together. Serious #momfriend over here. Just don’t tell her I said that.

Zofia is too damn smart for her own good. No really, her character represents several groups rarely featured in fantasy literature. As the mother of an autistic child, I loved Zofia’s narrative and analytical mind. Roshani did a great job of portraying Zofia and I cannot wait to see her discover more of herself in the sequel.

Tristan is so lovely and sweet, I loved everything he brought to the page and how everyone seeks to protect him while all he wants is to feel useful. His relationship with Séverin is so important for the story and a driving force for much of the future plot.

It seemed the world couldn’t help but want to be near her . . . every beam of light, pair of eyes, atom of air. Maybe that’s why sometimes he couldn’t breathe around her.

While I certainly loved the plot of this and the world Roshani has created – I was absolutely ravenous for one of the romance subplots. It was so angsty, with history and wanting and I swear I was absolutely riveted every time these characters interacted with each other. I cannot wait to see where their relationship goes in the sequel – which has a fantastic set up in that regard as well.

Additionally, there are other romantic subplots hinted at in this including possible gay and bisexual feelings and I am just HERE FOR IT. These characters are still discovering their sexual identity and I am readily holding their hand through it all. I SUPPORT YOU.

My only complaint is that some of the historical and scientific descriptions can be a little lengthy and hard to follow. However, I loved the almost “treasure hunt” life vibe to this and easily looked past these instances.

Overall, this book opens a rich and vibrant world with a dark underbelly, unexpected twists and suffering, and is truly a statement piece for those under the heel of colonialism, racism and prejudice. The book ends with a captivating set up for the second book that will have you screaming from the rafters and dying for more!

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[ARC] Review: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

Review of Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

Series: Glass Alliance #1

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Thank you to Tor Teen for sending me a review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.


REVIEW

I LOVED this book and am now obsessed with this world. A fantasy world at war inspired by World War II-era Europe? It is just as beautiful and bittersweet as it sounds.

Some books move so slowly you feel as though your soul is being sucked away. Other books move at a steady progression, building and building, while you know a sudden crescendo will bring it all crashing down. This is the latter and it’s still building.

The MOMENT I finished I went back to read the Prologue straight away and it just hit me SO. DAMN. HARD. Seriously, read the book and then read the prologue again. Good luck keeping those tears at bay. I knew it likely took place later in Aurelia and Athan’s story, but it doesn’t take place at the end of this book and we are still learning about these two, their relationship and what will bring them to that point in the prologue. There is still so much to come.

And let me just say, this book is written and plotted fantastically. Ingeniously. The characters have a well of depth, much of it still to be discovered. Hathaway paints these characters well. They are young. They are impressionable. They want to be heard and want to please. They are teenagers. They are realistic.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of movies like Atonement – and I just have this sickening feeling we are headed down a very similar path, but I also can’t look away. I know this story is gritty and the world Hathaway has written is sweeping and golden in its detail. I know there are dark things to come and things are only just beginning but I have to know. I have to know these two will eventually get their mountain.

This is a story about the desperation of war and love and finding your voice. THIS is the type of story that will stick with you. THIS is the type of story that should be written and I’m so very grateful it was.

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On Sale Date: February 5th 2019

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[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!

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On Sale Date: January 22nd 2019

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[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!

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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.

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[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!

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Release Date: January 15th, 2019

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[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.

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Release Date: December 31st, 2018

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