[ARC] Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Review of Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Series: The Aurora Cycle #1

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers for sending me a review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


DESCRIPTION

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.


REVIEW

And though this pack of losers and discipline cases and sociopaths might’ve been the last picks on anyone’s mind during the Draft, turns out none of them are bad at their jobs.

FLOORED. I am floored.

Zila would say it’s statistically impossible for Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff to continue putting out these amazing stories (both together and individually) – one after the other. But in truth, they’re just THAT good. Kaufman and Kristoff (sounds like the name of a law firm) are back to scatter our minds across the ‘Way with more unthinkable twists and to wrench our hearts out of our chests with more romance, tragedy and soul-stopping moments.

Its hard not to compare this to the Illuminae Files but besides an amazing cast of characters and space setting we’re going to stop the comparisons there (other than to say both are great, read both!). I recently attended a panel in which Jay Kristoff was present and one of the questions was, could you change the genre of your book from sci fi to fantasy or vice versa? He answered yes and it couldn’t be more true. Aurora Rising has a sci fi setting but will absolutely appeal to fantasy fans as well – due to many strong fantasy elements (magic kinda stuff, mythology AND QUESTS). A friend recently called it “scifantasy” and I’m going to do the same because IT FITS.

We the Legion
We the light
Burning bright against the night

Aurora Rising made me so nostalgic for stories I love: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Serenity/Firefly, Starship Troopers, Defiance, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy … elements from each are there and waiting for us to indulge in them.

And Squad 312 … this squad is so disjointed and an utter disaster in its infancy. Hold onto your butts though, folks. This is a squad we can all stan. There is witty banter, established and budding friendships, romance (insert googly eyes) and a genuine kinship between Tyler and Scarlett. I loved witnessing Squad 312 go from reluctant allies to working together as if they already know each other’s next move. I wont say much about the individual characters as I feel you just need to read the book and meet them, but the authors have done such a fantastic job of creating a team that is well balanced in knowledge, personality and background. As well as representation of sexuality, disability and ethnicity. ALSO. SPACE ELVES ARE A THING.

Do moons choose the planets they orbit? Do planets choose their stars? Who am I to deny gravity, Aurora? When you shine brighter than any constellation in the sky?

The story itself will keep you on the edge of your seat with it’s constant motion. The world is vibrant and well developed in ways I haven’t experienced lately. This book is one hell of a ride and you won’t be able to set it aside once you start. I was captivated!

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Blog Tour (Q&A + Review): Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

wickedsaints.jpgWhat is your most anticipated 2019 debut?

Well, I’m here to introduce you to mine. Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan is a seductively dark and entrancing new fantasy novel, kicking off a series that will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about for years to come. I devoured this book in less than a day and you WILL NOT see the plot twists coming until they’ve knocked you off your feet and are standing over you. Make sure your sitting for the last chapters of this one!

That said, I am so thrilled to be apart of the Wicked Saints blog tour and had the chance to ask Emily A. Duncan herself some questions. Continue reading for our exchange, my review and more information on this enticing new story.

I love how Wicked Saints combines Slavic folklore, morally grey characters and even a nod of Joan of Arc. How was Wicked Saints born?

Procrastination, Skyrim, and a lot of metal music. There was actually never any Joan of Arc — that came later, as a marketing comp — I had more in mind Dungeons and Dragons clerics when I was forming the magic system and the world.

Which character surprised you the most during the writing process?

Malachiasz. I didn’t plan for him. He was never in early drafts. He was supposed to be in the book for a grand total of three chapters before he went off to do his own thing but then he refused to leave. Not only did he refuse to leave, he pulled the whole story out of my hands and decided to put himself at the heart of it. I adore him, he’s the worst.

(We all adore Malachiasz.)

What book would you recommend to each of your three main characters?emilyaduncan

Oh, man. Malachiasz needs a self help book… Actually… they all need self help books. Oh, god, someone help them.

EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.


DESCRIPTION

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.


REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

HOT DAMN THIS WAS INSANE.

Launching myself into the sun would be less stressful than reading the final chapters of this book. Emily A. Duncan is the maestro of dark boys and probably evil gods. Emily is a bloodmage and this is her spellbook, I am entranced.

Wicked Saints is a bold and creative novel that takes some of our best loved themes and flips them on their head. This remarkable dark fantasy debut is rooted in a Slavic inspired world that will hold you hostage. Once you get started, you won’t be able to look away.

This is the type of story that will seek deep into your bones and consume you. I’ve seen it compared to Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and while there are similarities and certainly appeal to fans of the aforementioned, Wicked Saints is wholly and uniquely its own story. There is nothing quite like it that I’ve read.

The story follows three characters – a young cleric and conduit of the Gods, a runaway heretic magic and a sassy alcoholic prince. These are the characters I didn’t know I needed. These are the characters you didn’t know you needed.

Full of witty banter and a chilling atmosphere, Wicked Saints soars to the top of my favorite debuts list. The hype is well deserved, you need this stunning book (inside and out!) on your shelf.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review and inviting me to be a host on the blog tour.

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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: 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: 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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