[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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[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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[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!

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Release Date: November 13, 2018

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[ARC] Review: The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Review of The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


DESCRIPTION

When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…


REVIEW

OH MY GOSH, FOLKS. This book! I stayed up until 3am to finish this book (on a worknight!), it had me THAT hooked.

“Our stares connected, and the effect was instantaneous. Everything around us faded, and there was just us, and this … this sensation of falling. I couldn’t look away as the feeling surfaced, rushing to the top.”

I was totally new to Jennifer L. Armentrout when I received this book to review, so I promptly jumped into listening to her Lux series on audio so I could prepare myself for this read. For those that don’t know, that series is a sort of prequel to this new series. Do you need to read them first? No. But reading them will give you a much better understanding of the world in The Darkest Star, particularly things that have happened in the past – plus it will introduce you to Daemon Black and there is no going wrong with that.

The Darkest Star was full of angst, secrets and action. It was so swoony and I absolutely could not put it down. It follows much of the same path as Obsidian – in that, girl meets beautiful, broody boy with a secret, and stuff happens. BUT this was so much more than that too. I really mean it! There are some really explosive secrets in this that I did not see coming in the least bit. I cannot say much there because it will absolutely spoil it, but you’ll likely feel the foreshadowing and have an inkling about what is coming before it hits you.

This book follows Evie Dasher (*cough*), a high school student who encounters Luc one evening at a club. To Evie, it is clear that Luc is one of the Luxen, due to his unnatural beauty and the energy that seems to radiate off him. Except Luc insists that he is not Luxen. After a startling first encounter, Evie knows Luc is bad news but as fate (or just Luc) would have it they keep crossing paths. With every meeting, Evie begins to suspect that perhaps Luc knows more about her than he lets on – something about him is strangely familiar, though she has no recollection of ever meeting him before.

“We were all dark stars, but Luc … he was the darkest.”

Luc, oh Luc. Yes, this is the same Luc we meet in the later Luxen series books. I have a terrible weakness for characters like him and he really drove this story for me. I could not get enough of his character and just drank in everything he did and every single secret he held. And those secrets drilled a hole straight into my heart. How I feel for everything he has been through and the torment his actions have caused him over the years. I want him to finally be happy!

Finally, I just LOVED Evie and Luc in this. *fans self* Their chemistry was through the roof and dare I say it, I think I love them more than even Katy and Daemon. Speaking of – we DO get a glimpse of Lux series characters Daemon and Archer, plus mention of characters such as Katy, Dee and Paris. It was great to see them again!

This was a fantastic continuation of the Luxen universe and I am DYING to get my hands on the next book. After reading these books, I am so ready to dive headfirst into everything Jennifer L. Armentrout has written. I can understand why she has such a huge following!

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