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Review – FrostBlood (FrostBlood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

 

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)

By Elly Blake

SummarySeventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating – yet irresistible – Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her – and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Source: I won a giveaway from That’s Normal and this was one of the books, but I also purchased a Kindle copy awhile ago.

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Review:

Frostblood had an intriguing premise that sounded adventurous, romantic, and thrilling. Ruby was hunted and imprisoned for her ability to control heat and flame in a world where only those who commanded ice and cold were permitted to exist. Legends said that frost and fire were intertwined once, but not in Ruby’s lifetime.

I think Frostblood was fun, especially because it was a fairly quick read, but it wasn’t a jaw dropping spectacular YA fantasy and that’s ultimately what I seem to be looking for nowadays. I go through phases where I want something fun and lighthearted, but when it comes to fantasy, unless it tugs at my heartstrings with the romantic feels, it has to make up for it somewhere else by being epic. While the romance in Frostblood was one I was rooting for, it wasn’t a large enough focus or deep enough for me to make up for the rest of the book. 

Frostblood had a good plot and executed it well, but there wasn’t really anything all that unique about it. In a sea of YA fantasy, it just kind of floats along. The character building and world building were decent, but not great. The romance was good, but not epic. The conflicts were quick and, despite the high stakes, I didn’t feel truly connected to the characters enough to feel those consequences and be invested in the fate of everyone. It was somewhat predictable, which I could’ve forgiven had I felt a little more invested in the characters.

I recommend Frostblood if you’re looking for something quick and fun, perhaps to get you out of a book slump or when you’ve spent so much time reading other books that you want to be able to fly through one and have a good time. But it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, so I’m only giving it three stars.

Star 3

 

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Review – Never Tear Us Apart by Monica Murphy

 

Never Tear Us Apart

By Monica Murphy

SummaryPerfect for readers of Colleen Hoover, Jay Crownover, and K. A. Tucker, the first novel in this darkly sexy contemporary series from bestselling author Monica Murphy kicks off an emotionally powerful two-part tale of forbidden love.

 A long time ago, when I was fifteen and a completely different person, I saved a girl’s life. I spent only a handful of hours with her, but somehow, we connected—and I’ve never been the same. No one understands what we went through. No one knows what it’s like to be us. We survived, yet I don’t feel like I’m really living—until now. Eight years later, I find her. I want to make her mine. I need to make her mine.  But she’ll hate me forever when she finds out who I really am.

Source: I won a lot of books from a giveaway and this was one of them.

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Review:

Never Tear Us Apart seemed like a contemporary romance steeped in just enough suspense and darkness to be right up my alley. I love Colleen Hoover and K.A. Tucker, so the synopsis really drew me in.

The book had a great premise that I wanted to see unfold, but it just didn’t capture me the way I’d hoped. The reader already knew Ethan’s identity, but the main character did not. It took basically the entire book for Ethan to come clean and I felt frustrated. I wish that either the reader didn’t know and was on the same page as the heroine OR that Ethan just fessed up sooner so there could be more pages about that whole drama and maybe a dramatic rekindling once all was forgiven. 

As the pages kept turning and she was none the wiser, I wondered if we’d ever get the secret out and then it finally happened and then the book ended. (Spoiler alert, sorry not sorry. It’s better if you just know there’s no resolution before going into it.)

The emotional connections, the push and pull, the dark secret neither character was willing to share with a stranger.. all of it just kind of fell flat for me and felt like it was lacking something.

Star 2

 

Blog Tour and Review – Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1) by Amanda Hocking

 

Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1)

By Amanda Hocking

Summary: When the fate of the world is at stake

Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Source: I received a digital copy from NetGalley for review as part of a blog tour.

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Review:

Between the Blade and the Heart was a fun read. I loved the setting! It was sort of like an urban fantasy set in an alternate world where immortals roamed and gods existed. The valkyries were human women that were chosen to dispose of immortals, as choosing other immortals would provide a conflict of interest. The main character, Malin, was a valkyrie in training and a student when she wasn’t out trying to take down the next immortals on the list. 

I wouldn’t consider Between the Blade and the Heart anything like Game of Thrones or Blade Runner, so the synopsis is a bit misleading in that regard. I’d categorize it with other urban fantasies blended with a bit of Norse mythology. I think the comparison in the synopsis is trying to allude to the fact that there are gods and it’s futuristic in a way. It was more in the same vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, both fun and adventurous.

Malin was a character I couldn’t help but want to root for. She went against the grain, cared about her friends, felt sort of unloved, and pushed people away who cared too much about her. She was interesting and I wanted to sort of figure her out, while also following her on this epic adventure where things went drastically wrong. Everything she thought she believed was basically wrong and her world was upside down. She had to form some alliances that weren’t comfortable, like teaming up with a guy who tried to kill her and teaming up with her ex girlfriend. Awkward, right?

The personalities of the characters were what made this book shine. None of your typical tropes were present (aside from girl suddenly possesses the qualities to save the world).The main character was sarcastic, a bit rough around the edges, and yet soft and vulnerable in different ways. 

I definitely recommend the book if you’re looking for a fast paced, fun, and entertaining urban fantasy. I loved the attitude and sass of the characters, the relationship drama, and the serious fate-of-the-world drama. It was enjoyable to read!

Star 4

 

About the Author: Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

 

Snag a copy:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

IndieBound

Powells

 

Social Media:

Author Website: http://www.worldofamandahocking.com/

Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking

Facebook: @AmandaHockingFans

Author Blog

ACOTAR Limited Edition One Time Box from The Bookish Box

I am a huge fan of Sarah J Maas, so I was so excited that this one time Box was a thing! I ordered back in October and have been (im)patiently waiting ever since.

So what was in the box?

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The Goods:

The details:

Some goods up close:

Review – 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1Q84

By Haruki Murakami

SummaryThe year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. 

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers. 

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I enjoyed 1Q84 to some degree. It was written beautifully and held my interest, despite its size, for quite some time. I liked the characters and the way their fates aligned. I enjoyed the alternating points of view and not really knowing what was happening.

1Q84 was definitely weird, but I was on board with the strange plot for the majority of the novel. However, I began to get frustrated towards the third book because, while the author was giving me some answers as to what was happening, overall, I wasn’t getting answers to most of my questions while simultaneously having a ton of useless information shoved at me, like the most mundane tasks and random passing thoughts of the protagonists. I’m not opposed to excessive detail, but when it came in place of things I actually wanted to know, so much so that the book ended without me truly getting any answers to any of the questions I had, I realized just how frustrated I was by it all.

The thing I dislike the most about literary fiction is that when you criticize it, hoards of fans come at you just to tell you that you must not have interpreted it correctly. And maybe that’s sometimes true to some degree, but I still feel like this book lacked direction overall and could have been chopped down and been just as good, if not better. I also, having never read any Murakami’s novels, perhaps don’t necessarily get the appeal. I also don’t have the best knowledge of Japanese culture to help me fill in the blanks as to why some things happened the way they did. The book was a bit over the top with the strange sexual aspects, which didn’t bother me, but I wished there weren’t so many scenes and references that just had zero purpose. I have burning questions about so much, but yet I know way too much about how Tengo felt about Fuka-Eri’s breasts and how Aomame thought her own were lacking and how each encounter made them feel or what deeper connection was happening at the time.

1Q84 can be best described by using the word vague. I can’t really describe it, but everything was a puzzle, mystery, or concept, from the way the characters interacted to the strange sex scenes. Some of it was brilliant, some of it was useless, and I’m just not quite convinced I read a good book.

Star 3

Review – Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

 

Roar (Stormheart #1)

By Cora Carmack

SummaryIn a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy. 

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Review:

Roar was actually a pretty awesome YA fantasy, but I feel like I had to wade through a pretty mediocre beginning and a pile of YA tropes to get there. I have seen a lot of reviews from people who DNFed the book after like 15-20% and I feel like I was right there with them, but I also feel like if they kept going, they’d have changed their tune a bit. Roar did not go in the direction I thought it would, as the beginning sort of set me up for a YA romance with a naive heroine and an overbearing love interest in an arranged marriage. 

Let me be clear, Rora/Roar was awful. She was sheltered and fell into goo at the sight of any nice looking man who gave her any attention. She also acted on emotions and just created this dumb plan based on the fact that she had been lied to my her family so it must be a good idea to run away with a bunch of storm-hunters. I actually would’ve been on board had she failed miserably and the rest of the book involved the kingdoms, but unfortunately, Roar was a special snowflake who just needed to run away and directly into a storm before realizing she was actually the most powerful Stormling ever. 

Aside from Roar’s special snowflake status, the cast of characters was pretty interesting. I loved Cassius, despite the fact that he’s clearly set up to be the bad guy, I understand his motives and I’m intrigued by his character. I did not care much for Locke, the storm-hunter with a charming smile who never takes anyone under his wing but there was just something about Roar he couldn’t ignore. *rolls eyes* The book sets up the romance between Locke and Roar, which is kind of insta-love -ish, but I appreciated the fact that he actually trained her well. The other storm-hunters were what made the adventure interesting. I wanted to know more about their histories and I loved the way they joked with each other. I liked the mythology of the world and the twists involving Roar’s abilities. I also loved the storm chasing aspect, as the band of storm-hunters felt very much like storm chasers in today’s world without the tornado vehicles and radar. The passion was there. 

There has been mention of unhealthy/abuse romance, but I think if you’ve read adult paranormal/fantasy romance, then it isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. Perhaps it’s not the healthiest to have it in YA, but I tend to think teens are fully capable of making up their own minds about what is healthy and not want nor expect a boyfriend to be a fantasy alpha male who wants to dominate. I think it’s more tolerated in adult romance because most of us are perfectly happy in healthy relationships and people think teens are more impressionable. If growling alpha males bother you, then it’s best to skip Roar

I recommend Roar, but I’m also fully aware that the beginning is tough to get through and the story could’ve been told in a better way without the awful YA tropes all over the place. It’s all about what you can deal with. 

Star 3

Review – An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

 

An Enchantment of Ravens

By Margaret Rogerson

SummaryIsobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Source: I received a signed hardcover in my Uppercase subscription

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Review:

An Enchantment of Ravens was fantastic and exactly what I was in the mood for. It was enchanting and fun at the same time. I loved that there was some humor peppered in, too. 

I’m actually quite shocked by the number of negative reviews and DNFs I’ve seen on Goodreads for this book. I guess it has to do with expectations and I didn’t really have any about the book. It’s not the only book set in a world of Faeries and their courts, but I feel like it went in different directions than similar books and wasn’t trying to be the next ACOTAR or anything. I suppose I wasn’t looking for similarities and I’m familiar with many stories that deal with the Fae and they all sort of bring something new to the table. In An Enchantment of Ravens, the unique aspect was Crafts. I’m used to seeing the Fae wrap themselves up in all things beautiful, but in the book, they were actually unable to create anything themselves and participate in a craft. They relied on humans to create. 

Isobel and Rook were likable characters. Isobel enjoyed her craft and had a lot of passion for art. She was smart and always looked for loopholes when dealing with the Fae to ensure any payment for her art wouldn’t have any catches. She was polite and treated her patrons well, but Rook was the first Fae to intrigue her by not acting like what she expected. 

A lot of people also didn’t like the insta-love aspect, but I thought it was pretty enjoyable. Isobel hadn’t really dealt with the idea of romance before, so it felt natural that she would confuse intrigue and curiosity with love when she met the autumn prince and painted his portrait. I think she even realized it throughout the book that the autumn prince intrigued her, but she wasn’t really in love with him when she thought she was. It wasn’t until they ventured off into the forest together that they both started to understand each other. I don’t necessarily thing that meeting Rook turned her brain into mush.. if that was the case, I don’t think she would’ve wanted to hold on to mortality the way she did. 

Truly, I enjoyed the book and had a lot of fun. There were tons of jokes throughout the book, especially since Rook didn’t fully understand sarcasm or jokes. He tried to show off a lot and she made fun of him and he didn’t even catch on most of the time. I loved the twists and the way it ended. I felt like I connected with the characters and enjoyed watching the adventure unfold. I definitely recommend An Enchantment of Ravens. It wasn’t an epic fantasy like other Fae novels, but it was a nice standalone romantic adventure that was set in a world of Fae that was fun to read.

Star 4