Review: Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellison

 

Review of Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellison

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.

Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…

To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.

Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.

She just isn’t sure that she won’t.


REVIEW

Lady pirates! Secrets! Quests for treasure! Betrayal! Sea creatures!

When I first heard about Over Raging Tides, my first thought was: I need to read this and I immediately added it to my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads.

So, imagine my surprise when I was offered an opportunity by the author to read the book in exchange for an honest review. I could not pass it up and have been left with no regrets.

“Life at sea is not butterflies and daisies.
Her gift is freedom, but it’s not something she gives for free.”

Stories about pirates, mermaids, sirens, etc. have been all the rage lately and this book sated my desire for another sea-faring story wonderfully. It is a fast-paced adventure with Pirates of the Caribbean vibes, a mysterious backstory and it becomes a delectably interesting tale overall.

The main character – Grace – has spent most of her life aboard the pirate ship, Lady Luck and currently serves as her quartermaster. Unlike other ships sailing the Eleven Seas, the Luck is comprised of an entirely female crew and men are not allowed to step foot onboard. However, after a bending of the rules, a young man named Leo has found himself aboard the Luck and may be the key to finding a map most have believed to be a legend. For this map is enchanted with the ability to show the location of whatever you seek of it. The pirates aboard the Luck wish to use the map to find treasure. Gracie wishes to use the map to find the Mordgris, sea creatures who took her mother years before. To locate the map, the women aboard the Luck must set aside their rules and work beside Leo. However, not everyone on the crew is pleased with this arrangement.

“You have found yourself aboard a pirate ship. Female pirates, yes, but pirates nonetheless. There are many things in our code, but honor is not one of them.”

I was not expecting Gracie to be as ruthless and morally grey of a character as she was, but she is a pirate after all and she fit her profession well. Grace and Leo are both cunning in their ways and good counterparts for each other. I only wish their character development was deeper. We do not learn much about Leo, his family or even his story and are not given a strong grasp on Grace’s nature outside her interactions with other characters. To say the least, their depth of character is lacking in some ways. They are unique characters, without a doubt, but I’m not sure if they are memorable.

That said – the story overall is strong with a good air of mystery to it. I found myself fascinated by the Mordgris and constantly trying to picture what they look like and what they are. What is the story behind Gracie’s mother? What does the captain know? Why do the Mordgris constantly plague Gracie? This book has some fairly good plot twists I did not anticipate, keeping me caught up with the story and always wanting a little more. There are several plotlines running throughout the story and it closes with a cliffhanger ending that is enticing but not shocking or heartbreaking. You’ll be left wanting more, but you won’t be left in tears or frustration. Over Raging Tides is not a standalone and I am looking forward to seeing where the story takes us in the next installment.

If you want a fast-paced, fun, uncomplicated adventure, this is the book for you!

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Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Review of Emergency Contactby Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Description

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Review

This book was sweet and endearing, I did enjoy it but I’m bumping it from four stars to three stars. 🤷🏻‍♀️ After some thought – it just didn’t blow me away. NOTHING HAPPENED.

Penny seems to be overcome with infatuation the moment she sees Sam. Her reactions to him were so excessive that I couldn’t help but to wonder: is it even possible to have this sort of reaction in real life? calm down girl.

One of these stars is dedicated to Sam’s character. I loved him and felt deeply for him – but really felt like he wasn’t the right character for this book.

If you’re going into this hoping it will have a slow burn romance that builds via texting, you aren’t going to get it. I was disappointed to find that the texting aspect of this story is pretty minimal and only used to push the narrative between the main characters because it’s their only form of interaction for much of the story.

All of that said, this book represented current social issues decently and the importance of having someone to offload your troubles to.

I very rarely read contemporary, but the beautiful cover and summary caught my eye. Unfortunately it’s pretty bland on the inside.

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[ARC] Review: Crown of Embers by Meg Anne

 

Review of Crown of Embers (The Chosen #3) by Meg Anne

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Mother of Shadows (The Chosen #1) | Reign of Ash (The Chosen #2)

This copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“There had been happiness here, but now all she could feel was the joy someone had taken in destroying it.”

If you’ve been following my reviews for awhile, you’ll know that this series is like my guilty pleasure. I adore Helena, Von, Ronan and the rest of the Circle and other supporting characters and am always looking to read more of their story. This installment did not disappoint!

Crown of Embers follows Kiri Helena and her Circle as they rally to find allies in the battle against Rowena and her Shadows. What I loved the most about this book was the chance to see more of Elysia as the characters travelled. We meet enemies and allies alike, both willing and reluctant and Helena must decide who is worthy of her trust. I especially enjoyed the Night Stalkers and am looking forward to learning more about the new character Reyna in the next book.

All of that said, if you’ve read the first two books in the series, you’ll know that each ended with pretty hefty cliffhangers (this one – not so much … *whew*). Well, let me assure you – within just the first few paragraphs, WE FIND OUT WHAT IS IN THE BOX (*glory glory hallelujah*). Thank goodness for that because I was so distraught at the end of the last book! I just needed to know!

“Let their blood bring new life. One for every one lost … “

One of the biggest plot points to Crown of Embers is Helena learning to handle unsurmountable loss, control her staggering power and strengthen the bond between her and Von now that they are reunited. With all of their plotting and planning, Helena is constantly on the go, without much time for herself, her Mate or the Circle and she must find ways to manage her duty and still live her life. Because there is so must strategizing in this book, the story did slow down in pace at times but never once did my interest wane.

Also – Ronan. SO MUCH YES. He has come to be my favorite in this series (I’m certain I do not stand alone) and I just want him to find the happiness he deserves.

As the ending neared, the atmosphere of the story grew more ominous and I just KNEW something was brewing on the horizon and oh boy did it! My lips are sealed other than to warn you to keep your pearls and Kleenex close. You may need them! (I AM STILL NOT OVER IT)

Overall, another fun installment of The Chosen by Meg Anne. I truly love this series, its characters and world. The next book cannot come soon enough!

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Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Review of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Rating: 5.0/5 Stars

“Let’s have a toast. To the incompetence of our enemies.”

Oh Jude, you cruel, wicked thing. Will you pledge yourself as my spirit animal?

The Cruel Prince has been one of the most explosive and hyped releases of 2018 and I felt it was a masterful work of twists and turns. Many recent YA fantasy releases have blended together in my mind, reusing many of the same plot devices and tropes. That doesn’t make them any less enjoyable but it is SO refreshing to read something that takes everything you’re used to and flips it on its head.

That is how The Cruel Prince felt to me. Jude’s plotting and scheming makes her one of the fiercest female characters in recent years and Cardan’s indifference and cruelty makes him a formidable opponent … or perhaps ally? I COULD NOT get enough of their complicated relationship and I swear I may have died from asphyxiation every time they shared a scene.

“He looks like a faerie lover stepped out of a ballad, the kind where no good comes to the girl who runs away with him.”

Going into this, I expected your typical enemies-to-lovers trope (which is my favorite, don’t get me wrong), evil royal that must be dethroned and courtly intrigue would ensue to make things happen. THAT IS NOT WHAT I GOT. I got so much more. Every. Single. TIME I thought I had Holly Black figured out when reading this, she pulled a fast one on me. I could barely keep up with every crazy thing that was happening and I LOVED it.

THAT TWIST AT THE END, plus Jude and Cardan’s conversation!? I don’t even know what to do with myself, other than read this again. and again. and again. The Wicked King cannot come any sooner.

Thanks for reading my crazy, fangirling and mostly incoherent “review.” 

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Don’t forget to check out the sequel, The Wicked King!

Release date: January 8th, 2019

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Look at how beautiful this cover is!

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Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Review of Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Rating: 4.25/5 Stars

I received this copy from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“The blue of the day’s sky and the black of the night’s are different, but one is not better than the other. We need both.”

I was pleasantly surprised by this one, I found the story to be so satisfying. It ended up being exactly what I needed to read! If you’re looking for a fantasy novel that pushes the boundaries of young adult into new adult without being overly explicit, this is the book for you. And that cover!? Look at how beautiful that cover is!

This story follows two main characters, Jasminda and Jack. Jasminda, half Elsiran and half Lagrimari is an Earthsinger. All she desires is to live a life of peace, away from others on her homestead in the wilderness. Jack is an Elsiran soldier, disguised as the enemy, desperate and in seek of a way to end the centuries old war between Elsira and Lagrimar. Chance will bring them together, but it seems as though destiny keeps them there.

The first third of this book was somewhat slow. I was a little unsure of what I was getting into and had a lot of questions. I liked the story and found it interesting, but it really didn’t reach out and grab me. However, after that first third, the ball really gets rolling. The setting, pace and feel of the story changes tremendously and I read nonstop until I finished it, I couldn’t put it down!

The world created in this story is rich and vast, I hope we get the opportunity to learn more about the lands beyond Elsira and Lagrimar in future installments. Additionally, one of my favorite parts was the “Collected Folktales” included at the beginning of each chapter. They were very reminiscent of Aesop’s Fables and were so unique, clever and even charming. I looked forward to reading them as each chapter ended and another began.

The story itself includes many elements I absolutely adore and I was very proud of the characters regarding most of the choices they made. Each of them stuck to their convictions and never followed paths that I felt were out of character. Jasminda and Jack are both very admirable in their actions, despite a few moments I was irritated with them for avoiding what was staring them straight in the face, but hey – that’s what makes books interesting! I *really* wish I could give you more about the story and my thoughts on it but I would be spoiling a major reveal by voicing half of what I want to say and it’s just not fair to do that!

So I’ll just include a few elements I loved: traveling, courtly intrigue, mysterious histories, forbidden romance, and more!

Also, WE NEED MORE POC fantasy and sci-fi main characters written by POC authors!

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Release date: May 1st, 2018

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Review: The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Review of The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Rating: 4/5 Stars

“I came up feared and hated for a thing I had no control over in a world divided.”

I thoroughly enjoyed The Diminished and found it to be a solid debut novel that had me on the edge of my seat by the final chapters!

The Diminished follows two main characters, Vi Abernathy and Bo Trousillion. Vi is one of the diminished, having lost her twin at a young age and raised in the temple amongst other diminished and orphans. Bo, on the other hand, is single-born, destined to be named heir to the crown of the Alskad Empire. The Diminished is truly a tale of two cities – despite growing up within miles of each other – Vi and Bo have been dealt very different hands. However, their lives will come to twine around each other in ways neither would have expected.

I did feel that the pacing was a bit slow at first, as the story’s premise was gradually set and the world was built. I was a little weary as I felt as though there wasn’t a whole lot happening during the initial chapters, but the story makes up for it later on. Stick with it!

There are several societal and historical elements touched upon in this book and I enjoyed the way the author related each one, even if only subtly. First, was the LGBT representation. One of the main characters is gay, but it’s never made into a big deal, it doesn’t overtake the storyline. It’s totally acceptable in this culture and I loved the way it was handled. Second, women in traditionally male roles. Again, no big deal. If anything, it was mentioned as odd when a man held a traditionally female role in this world. That’s just how things are (right on!). Third, the racism connection. In this world, people are not mistreated for the color of their skin, but instead the status of their twin (or lack thereof). Those who have lost a twin are treated as dangerous scum, followed by the superstition that they could succumb to the grief of their loss at any moment and essentially go postal on those around them. I felt like this representation connected well with the racism seen in the world today. Fourth, the connection to the slave trade. There is an island colony in the Alskad Empire where the impoverished travel to find work. While they are not necessarily forced to travel there – their contracts (typically sold via a “broker”) last years at a time and many are sent to work on the plantations across the island. Many never live to see the end of their contract. In general, the author has done a fine job taking very real elements and weaving them seamlessly into this fantasy world.

Lastly, this is a novel driven by its characters. While Vi and Bo’s stories are thoroughly interesting, they meet some fantastic secondary characters along their journeys that help to fine tune this story into the gem it is. I loved the banter and relationships built between Mal, Quill and Swinton – plus there are other characters I just need to learn more about and discover the status of! There is a healthy dose of mystery to this story that is very central to the characters and I cannot wait to see where things go!

I received this copy from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Release date: April 10th, 2018

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Review: Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

Review of Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Hello. Let me introduce you to my newest OTP.

“And so it was, and so it shall be, for the Age of Man is over, and the Age of the Horseman has begun. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.”

Sweet baby Jesus this was everything I needed, hoped it would be and more. Laura Thalassa sprung this one on us last minute and she has done it again. Nobody quite does enemies-to-lovers stories (best trope ever) quite the way Laura does and boy did she hit the mark this time. I think this may be tied for my favorite 2018 read now.

First of all, I love the originality of this story. Four Horseman of the Apocalypse? Yes, please and thank you, take my money. The plan is for there to be four books in this series, each one focusing on one of the horseman in a world caught under the wrath of God. This first book focuses on the first horseman of the apocalypse, Pestilence and his duty to spread plague across the world.

Enter Sara Burns, a firefighter living in British Columbia with a penchant for cussing too much and the will to save the world. It’s in her selfless act to stop the horseman that she instead finds herself an unwilling passenger with a front row seat to his apocalyptic quest. As they ride across the land, Sara finds that she may be the only one who can save humanity, even if she must suffer for it.

“His eyes find mine, the flames dancing in them. Even lit by fire, he looks like an angel. The devil was also an angel.”

Did someone say slowwwww burn? I thought I may die of anticipation. Let’s face it, that’s what we are here for, right? Boy, does it pay off. You will not be disappointed. However, there is so much more to this story than the romantic aspect of it.

It’s rare for me to feel such a range of emotions for a character like I did for Pestilence. There were many times I felt nothing but contempt for him, but I also felt sympathy and he found ways to make me laugh, cry and feel giddy. There were times I was right there with Sara and wanted that “infernal fucker” to burn for everything he had done. On the other hand, there were times I just wanted to stare at the fire and share my pie with him. It says something when an author can make you feel so much for a character. His transformation through this story is both a beautiful and tragic thing to witness. Eventually, I found the fondness he expressed endearing and came to love his gallantry, no matter how troubled he was.

Sara herself was funny, somewhat crass and totally relatable. I mean, I get it girl. He sucks big time, but damn … we can still enjoy looking at him. I loved how she slowly corrupted Pestilence (as he would claim), introducing him to human pleasures such as alcohol, poetry and … more. I also found it interesting how Sara herself changed throughout the story, finding humanity where it shouldn’t belong and inhumanity where it should. There were times I felt as though Laura must have been living inside my mind because I’m pretty certain Sara had the same reaction I would have had to every situation she found herself in. Sara isn’t perfect, she’s normal. And I loved that about her.

This book has few secondary characters, with the story focusing primarily on Sara and Pestilence’s travels together. However, each of the secondary characters left a deep impression and each helped to transform the two main characters. I’m certain the words unicorn pajamas and the names Ruth and Rob will forever cause a tear to well up in the my eye when I hear them. This story does not hold back and it will tug on your heartstrings until they are frayed.

The atmosphere was also befittingly apocalyptic, right from the first chapter. Laura set this book and series up perfectly and I still feel the ominous and chilling nature of it. There were times my emotions were running on high and I had to set the book aside to collect myself. After all, while Pestilence and Sara are learning more about each other, he is also killing humanity off by the thousands. There is no sugarcoating the brutality of what is happening and how wrong it feels. Nobody is safe from the suffering Pestilence has to offer up.

All of that said, this story depicts a love of epic proportions. One I will endure for!

AND THAT EPILOGUE! My heart is frozen in anticipation for what is to come. Holy cheeseballs, this is one of those books that you need the sequel to immediately. Please?

I received this copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Release date: March 20th, 2018

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