[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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[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)

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Release Date: October 2, 2018

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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!

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Release Date: August 14th, 2018

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