[ARC] Review: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Review of Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Review copy generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


DESCRIPTION

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.


REVIEW

Shadow of the Fox was a fun ride through a lush Japanese inspired landscape and not at all what I was expecting! I loved so much of this story and found it completely entrancing. If you’re looking for a thoroughly developed fantasy world, enchanting mythology and lore, morally grey characters, and a centuries old mystery to unravel … THIS is the book for you.

Yumi is part human, part kitsune (fox) in a world that both revers and fears her kind. Raised amongst monks, she has little experience with the outside world but dreams of experiencing everything. After a massacre upends her whole world, Yumi is thrust into the world she has so dearly mused over.

Tatsumi is a samurai and demonslayer, tasked with retrieving an ancient artifact for his clan. Raised to be cold and unquestioning of his orders, Tatsumi is the perfect warrior, provided he keeps control over his darkness. Fate brings Yumi and Tatsumi together and with similar goals in mind, they choose to travel together. However, neither has been honest with the other and its only a matter of time before their ruses begin to unravel.

From the very first chapter of this story I was absolutely captivated by the world Kagawa has created! So much happens right from the start, I was totally invested in Suki’s story (and feeling SO upset for her!) and was absolutely shocked when the first chapter took the turn it did! Way to reel your readers in! If you can read it and NOT want to devour the rest of the book, you must be in the worst of all book slumps.

I LOVED Yumi’s true nature and every subtle nod at her wiliness and tricks throughout the story. Her naivety about the outside world and desire to help everyone is so sweet! That said, her curiosity and disregard for danger was a little taxing at times.

Tatsumi is by-far the most complex and fascinating character in this story. He’s my favorite (are we surprised? we are not.) and the moral dilemmas he faces through this story played a huge role on the plot and his character development. Tatsumi harbors some very Shadowsinger-esque abilities and I was like: YAAASSSS. I thoroughly enjoyed how he came to grow fond of Yumi, began to question his own life’s path and tried perilously to keep hold of his humanity.

This book also has a great group of supporting characters – such as Suki, Daisuke and Okami! Every character has an important role to play in this story and not one felt like they didn’t belong. My heart STILL hurts over Suki’s situation. I was totally NOT explecting Daisuke to return to the story the way he did and came to adore his chivalry and “deal” with Tatsumi. Okami’s humor and aloofness was exactly what this story needed and he came at the perfect time. I cannot get over how rag-tag, yet PERFECT Yumi and Tatsumi’s fellowship becomes.

Also, the smattering of romance in this never felt forced or unnatural. This is slow burn and NOT insta-love. There was a natural progression of the primary relationship: from allies, to feeling fond of each other to feeling more. If you are looking for a book with a LOT of romance, this is not the book for you. BUT – if you are looking for a book in which the romance plays a large role on the progression of the story, here you have it!

The only things I really didn’t like about this was Yumi’s character at times and the sometimes confusing name dropping of Japanese mythology and lore. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVED the mythology in this, but there is a LOT of it and I constantly found myself Googling things so I could gain a better understanding of what I was reading about. You will encounter a bunch of Japanese creatures – especially those of the supernatural realm – and it can be a lot to keep up with at first!

Overall, this was a really fantastic novel! Despite having her Iron Fey series on my bookshelves, this was the first time I had read something by Julie Kagawa and she lived up to my expectations! I’ll certainly be reading more by her and will ABSOLUTELY be investing my time into this series as it progresses! I NEED to see where it goes after that ending! (OH MY GAWD)

View Review on Goodreads


Release Date: October 2, 2018

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[ARC] Review: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Review of Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Review copy generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


DESCRIPTION

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.


REVIEW

3.5 … almost 4 stars?

It was different, at times intriguing, it was good and then it became meh. Certain paths were set up in this (Prince Rennar’s character being at the forefront in my mind) and I was so excited for the story to follow that path but then it didn’t and I became so tired with the cat and mouse. The premise is absolutely fantastic, but it fell a bit flat for me. To the point I hoped this was a standalone so everything could wrap up and I could move on. Except it isn’t. I’m not even sure I’m excited about where the story appears to be going.

Anouk herself wasn’t terribly stirring. The attempt to transform her from innocent maid into a powerful leader was okay but not convincing enough. About halfway through the book it was as though Anouk’s character skipped the process of transforming completely and was just suddenly someone different.

The romance in this was sweet but also not terribly compelling. I enjoyed the character Anouk is involved with but really hoped she would take another path that was offered to her. Something more intriguing that I felt would have assisted with the complexity of the story. I really cannot see why the story didn’t go this way as every path was leading to it. Perhaps it’ll come in the sequel?

The most interesting characters in this were Prince Renner, Hunter Black and Viggo. In other words, my love for morally grey characters continues. 😂

I don’t know whether to recommend this or not. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it at times, but the last half or so of the book was so meh and all over the damn place that it ruined how much I had been enjoying it (and I had been!).

I don’t know, everyone has different opinions. Give it a shot! I’ll probably still read the sequel to find out what happens but this definitely should have been a standalone.

View Review on Goodreads


Release Date: October 2, 2018

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


DESCRIPTION

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia – all the things Agnieszka isn’t – and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.


REVIEW

Enchanting, brilliant, a little whimsical and heartwarming. Uprooted is a weird tale of evil forests, missing queens, holding against corruption, finicky magic, haughty princes and finding your place in the world.

Agnieszka is ridiculous in her own laughable way. Never tidy, never quite getting it right until she discovers something hidden within her and finds her own rhythm and way. She loves her village, her people, her valley so much that she would spend ten years locked away with a centuries old wizard, without knowledge of his intentions.

The Dragon is a fair bit Howl and a fair bit Darkling, but more of a curmudgeon and a total ass at times. Still, you’ll come to love him more as his grumpy old heart softens and he comes to understand humanity a little more after all his years locked away.

These two characters are at odds constantly early on until they find a modicum of cooperation toward their common goal: pushing back the corruption of The Wood. As the months go on and The Wood tests its boundaries, Agnieszka and the Dragon meld their strengths together, creating passionate, strong magic unlike anything seen before.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It is one of those books that the description does it no justice. It has a fairy tale vibe to it, stories within stories and discovering one’s refuge in the world after everything they’ve known has been uprooted. There is magic, dire straights, romance, courtly intrigue and action packed battles. I enjoyed jumping outside my YA bubble to read (er, listen to) this! Highly recommended!

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[ARC] Review: The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie

 

Review of The Raging Ones by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Review copy generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


DESCRIPTION

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.


REVIEW

The Raging Ones is addictive, jarring, witty and utterly FANTASTIC. This was my 70th book of the year and it is by far one of the best.

“You’re a hallucination.”
“Will you let your hallucinations carry you out of the cold? Will you let your hallucinations help you?”

First things first, if you read the book description and thought: “Ugh. Another love triangle.” Well, let me just tell you. Jokes on you. The dynamic between the three main characters is so deep, it transcends your typical love triangle trope. Don’t get me wrong, there is romance, there is angst, there is so. much. tension. And it is almost all GAY. Seriously, some of my favorite romances as of late have been 100% gay or even M/M/F and this book absolutely did not disappoint.

“You keep saying that you make my life dismal and bleak. But my world never felt as bright, as worthwhile and full, until I met you.”

On Franny, Court and Mykal’s frozen planet, everyone knows the day they will die. This is just the way life is. Those bound to die as children may be loved by their families but their worth isn’t given a spare glance. Those who live to thirty and beyond are afforded every luxury in the world. And those that will die as young adults tend to bury themselves in drugs, sex and lawlessness. Nobody can quicken their deathday. Nobody can dodge their deathday.

Except Franny, Court and Mykal have lived to see their deathdays come and go. Now they find themselves inexplicably linked – their senses, their emotions, they share a bond that can only be strengthened.

“I go still with him. His hurt is my hurt and my hurt is his hurt. There’s no way around that, and in this silent moment, we both concede.”

The Raging Ones is fast-paced, imaginative and had me floored on numerous occasions. With a mix of everything: fantasy, science fiction and romance – it will please readers of every genre.

The world painted by the authors is a bleak one. Crippled by a freezing environment, the people burn a mineral called casia for warmth, leaving the sky a constant shade of purple. Nobody has seen the sun in years. Nobody has seen the stars in years. But Court has a dream to do just that, but cannot do it without Mykal and Franny by his side.

“I accept that you’re the most complicated, cold boy I’ve ever known.”

This book literally went from giving me Six of Crows vibes to Illuminae vibes and left me reeling with thoughts of “How did the authors do this?” Court is an intricately complicated character, reminiscent of Kaz Brekker. Franny is nothing like your typical YA female lead – she is unabashedly blunt, but thoughtful and caring. Mykal is my cinnamon roll of the bunch, he is unselfish, funny and loves fiercely. Each of the main characters is self deprecating in their own way, but through their shared bond, they lend each other the strength and drive to do the impossible. Having passed their deathdays, their only option is to blend in with the upper echelons of society and Court teaches Franny and Mykal to do just that. However, they come to find that shaking their past isn’t as easy as fancy clothes and smooth talking. Suspicions arise and some will stop at nothing to discover their secrets.

“You’d sooner believe you’re dead that believe I’d help you?”
Yes.

AND THAT ENDING. I DID NOT see that coming. Not from a mile away and it blew me away.

I requested The Raging Ones on a whim, having never read anything by these authors and not knowing what I was getting myself into, past the super intriguing premise in the description. I will absolutely be reading more by these authors. I loved their writing style and cannot wait for the sequel to The Raging Ones! This a must read for fantasy and science fiction lovers alike!

View Review on Goodreads


Release Date: August 14th, 2018

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[ARC] Review: Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Review of Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Review copy generously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.


DESCRIPTION

Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice.

Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.

Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.

Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.


REVIEW

Strange Grace was such a beautiful tale about love and sacrifice, with a wonderfully eerie and unsettling twist to it. This is the PERFECT Fall read and perfect if you’re looking for something to sweep you up and cradle your heart.

Many generations before Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur were born, their village of Three Graces made a bargain with the devil. Every seven years, the village will willingly sacrifice their best boy into the Devil’s Forest. Only the sacrificed saints go into the forest, for it is full of otherworldly creatures, whispers that promise wicked and delightful things and if you look close enough you may see the shadow of the devil himself. It’s been three years since the last boy went in, ten years since Rhun’s cousin went in, seventeen years since Mairwen’s father went in and almost two hundred years since the devil fell in love with a Grace witch. Nothing bad befalls Three Graces, except now. Something is wrong with the bargain and the Slaughter Moon has risen early.

Bound by their love for each other, Mairwen, Rhun and Arthur set out to seek a way to fix the bargain, save their village and each other from the clutches of the devil.

This book is certainly a dark fantasy, but it had so many inspiring moments – it constantly had me smiling and screaming “YASSSS!” for the triumphs of my favorite characters. Mairwen is smart, fierce as a wildcat and loves with no bounds. Rhun is a damn blessing, the perfect saint and you will adore everything he does. Arthur doesn’t fit the mold he has made for himself, he burns brightly despite his longing to stand in the dark and all I wanted to do was force him into a hug (that he would certainly grimace over).

This is absolutely a character driven story and you never know what these three characters will do next, but you’ll support them every time. Also, love triangle? No, not exactly. There is a triangle but it isn’t what you may expect and I LOVED it. There was really only one relationship to “ship” and let me tell you, it WORKED.

I was so lost in the chilling atmosphere of this story, the depth of the characters, the mystery surrounding the bargain, and especially the devil himself. There are SO many amazing twists in this book, it will keep you turning the pages well past your bedtime.

This book also has some lovely LGBT+ rep, including trans rep that never even made me think of it that way. It just fit the story so perfectly.

Overall, after reading Strange Grace, I want to own and read everything Tessa Gratton has written. She has been on my radar for a few months now and this book was EVERYTHING I needed to decide I need to read more by her! Put this on your Fall reading list! This is definitely one of those ARCs I immediately wanted to pre-order as soon as I finished it.

View Review on Goodreads


Release Date: September 18th, 2018

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[ARC] Review: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Review of Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Review copy generously provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and theNOVL.


DESCRIPTION

Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.


REVIEW

Rule is a case of whodunit reminiscent of Agatha Christie, with a dash of the fantastical, that will have you guessing up to the very end. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to obsess over, Rule has all of the key ingredients.

Goodlett was born to write and this is a fantasy debut you need to add to your shelves! With her enchantingly descriptive writing, Goodlett has created a richly colorful fantasy world, with nods toward Oceanic cultures. Within that fantasy world are Zofi, Akeylah and Florencia – three girls who have only just discovered they are half sisters and the only remaining heirs to a dying king.

Thrust into a world of court politics, each girl hides a secret that holds her life in the balance, should it be discovered. Bound by their shared blood but clearly dissimilar from each other and the picturesque heir, their differences to not go unnoticed. As each sister fights to prove herself a worthy heir to the throne, it is a struggle to keep their secrets close amongst the vipers at court and somebody has discovered what they hide.

From there the story keeps the reader guessing at every page turn. Who can be trusted? Who is the blackmailer? What secrets are the other courtiers hiding? Rule has an intriguing cast of supporting characters, including a fine dash of romance and the moment you begin to root for someone is also the moment you begin to question their motives.

In addition to the mystery at hand, Rule’s tithing based magic system was refreshing and meticulously fleshed out – with a fine balance between the positive and negative impacts of using such magic.

Additionally, Rule has a strong representation of cultural diversity with a cast made wholly of POC characters, plus some LGBT romance. There are themes of bigotry and oppression present, something each of the girls has tasted firsthand.

Overall, this is a new fantasy series I am pumped to continue! It has been compared to Three Dark Crowns and Pretty Little Liars, with a dash of King Lear and boy does that hit the nail on the head! If you’re looking for something exciting and twisty for your next read, this is it!

View Review on Goodreads


Release Date: September 11th, 2018

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[Mini] Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Review of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Read Dates: January 20th – 23rd, 2018


DESCRIPTION

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.


REVIEW

This book was so cool and imaginative! It constantly had me asking questions and second guessing everything I thought I knew to be true. It is rare for a book to pull a reader in so completely that they cast doubt upon what is happening, but this book certainly did for me. I was mesmerized by the world of Caraval, it’s beauty, it’s people, it’s magic.

Within just a few chapters I found myself with a list of questions and even theories. Some of them were answered, while some answers appear to be coming in the sequel. Some theories were right while others were dashed away shortly after I was positive I had figured everything out. What a twisty and spellbinding story! Remember, it’s only a game and not everything you experience is true.

I’m looking forward to Legendary!

View Review on Goodreads


Order Caraval with these booksellers

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