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Review – The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

The Beast Is An Animal

By Peternelle van Arsdale

Summary: A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Source: I purchased a hardcover 

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Review:

The Beast Is An Animal was a dark fairy tale set in a small village. It was a story that demonstrating the power of fear and the way religion/ignorance/small minds can stifle those who are different. I felt scared for Alys in that she was always under scrutiny and her village could cry witch if she didn’t watch her behavior. 

The tales and legends about the woods surrounding the villages led the elders to take precautions against such evils, from forcing the children of the tainted village to guard the gates to isolating the village by walls and inspecting any and all travelers, forcing them to depart after their affairs were complete. The first half of the book was strong, though it was difficult to read at times as it was stifling and I felt frustrated on Alys’ behalf.

I’m not really sure what happened in the second half… the weird insta-love, the alcoholic travelers, and the issues Alys had with herself became a sort of whirlwind of issues, but I did like where the story went in terms of the soul eaters and the monster inside of Alys. 

I enjoyed the book as a whole, but wished it was put together a little better after Alys left her village. Because most of the book deals with people and their own evils, I feel that it would be a hit for fans of Cat Winters.

Star 3

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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

 

Review – Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross #1)

By Marie Lu

SummaryFor the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Source: I received a signed hardcover from an Uppercase subscription

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Review:

Warcross was great!

Side note: If you’re expecting Ready Player One, it’s not the same thing, though similar, and it’s probably not as good because it doesn’t drawn on the nostalgia of the 80’s. I liked Ready Player One for different reasons than I like Warcross. 

Warcross was set in the future with a large virtual game for millions of people. There are glasses that connect people to Warcross and combine the real world with the virtual. Emika was a struggling poor bounty hunter who also knew a good bit of code and frequently hacked into various aspects of Warcross. As her situation became more serious, she made a judgement call that brought her to the attention of millions of people watching the Warcross Opening Ceremony.. and the game’s creator.

She had a new target straight from the game’s creator: find Zero, the hacker messing with security measures.

Warcross was fun and adventurous. I loved Emika’s personality and her desire to do the right thing despite all consequences. She seemed like a truly loyal person. She was a bright and unique person who defied stereotypes and it made her a strong character. I liked Hideo, the tortured and private billionaire and creator. I felt like I wanted to know more about him and was intrigued by the mystery of him. 

My only real issue was with the other characters. I felt like the world building was great along with Emika and her feelings, motivations, surroundings, purpose, job, abilities, etc. Even Hideo, as mysterious as he was, seemed to be fleshed out rather well. The rest of the cast was not nearly as well developed and I wished the book focused more on the members of Emika’s team in the game and their banter. Some of the training was highlighted, but I felt like it was just a small slice and I would’ve preferred a longer book that featured the side characters a bit more. Because of this, when Emika really needed to trust them and needed their help, the fact that they jumped in and helped her seemed kind of weird, as their relationship was a bit strained due to her skipping out after trainings completed. 

Warcross was a diverse book, which added to the world-building because I’d hope a futuristic society would be a bit more open minded. There was a bit of a romance in Warcross, which was surprising and welcome. I did not expect it for some reason. I loved the adventure and Emika’s ability to bounce back, figure things out, and maintain a positive attitude.

I definitely recommend Warcross. I didn’t read a lot of reviews and had no real expectations, so I think that helped. It’s hard to top Ready Player One in the cyberpunk genre, but I didn’t expect Warcross to do that for me, so I’m not upset that it didn’t. I think many negative reviews are simply from those who were super hyped up and expected something else.

Another Side Note: The author does use the “I let out a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding” a few times. If this is a deal breaker, don’t read it. Other than that, the writing was pretty engaging. 

Star 4

 

Review – Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

By Leigh Bardugo

SummaryWhen you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

Crooked Kingdom was a great sequel/finale to the Six of Crows duology. I was emotionally invested in the fate of the characters and everything seemed to go wrong at the end of Six of Crows. I had no idea what the characters would have to do to fix their fate and change the game to go in their favor. My favorite part of the sequel was watching the characters admit their own feelings to themselves, whatever those feelings might have been. I felt like book 1 was them showing off with this extravagant heist and because things went so badly for them, some of their internal reflections were more personal in this installment.

Crooked Kingdom was well written and fairly well executed. The fates of everyone hung in the balance and they weren’t the top dogs on the streets of Ketterdam anymore. There were political issues, merchants gunning for them, and street gangs to contend with. Each person was personally tested as their weaknesses were made apparent.

My only real issue was the length, but more-so the amount of various plans/heists/jobs the book went through. I knew so much had to happen and that not all of their schemes would go well. I knew that Kaz made some backup plans and some of them rested upon the first plan failing, but also some plans just failed. It was exhausting as the reader in some situations trying to figure out if the plan failed, if what just happened actually happened, or if I should just wait to see what happens next. Book 1 did a great job of showing just how great Kaz was at contingency plans and not communicating plans to his crew so that when his crew thinks a plan failed, it all actually went according to Kaz’s plan. I didn’t need more of it in book 2 when I’m also watching Kaz lick his wounds and admit he can’t be the best at everything and also trying to place more trust in his crew. I feel like almost every heist/plan was like “BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE” to the point where I didn’t get emotionally invested in a plan, didn’t believe that someone cracked or fell or failed, so the big reveals were actually just sort of mild. Basically, I just got tired of the push and pull and didn’t think it was always necessary. It made me sort of disconnect a bit because it was always a false alarm that someone was in real trouble, so when someone actually was, I didn’t know how to feel about it or whether I believed it was true. 

Aside from the constant surprises, Crooked Kingdom was an adventure that I was happy to be on. I also enjoyed that book two connected a bit more with the events of The Grisha Trilogy and can now see why/how the books are connected other than the setting. In the end, I was emotionally invested and I grew to love each and every one of the characters. I definitely recommend the duology.

Star 4

Review – ReRead – Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

By Leigh Bardugo

SummaryKetterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
  

Source: I purchased a hardcover (and it is such a gorgeous book!)

Original Review posted July 2016.

The book itself is gorgeous and I think it’s relevant to mention that because it truly adds to the experience. The book has black edges and red end paper and a gorgeous cover. The chapter illustrations are well done and the sections of the book that are broken into parts are completely black with white lettering. I don’t know that owning the physical book is necessary, but I will say that it added to it and I appreciated the book more as a result.

The story was gripping. The cast of characters were flawed and dangerous, each with their own particular set of skills and motivations, making them quite the crew of criminals. A very important heist came along and Kaz put together his crew to do what was typically considered impossible.

The story was dark and mature. It wasn’t a dark setting with naïve characters hoping to find their calling, as was the Grisha trilogy. Instead, these characters were already dark and had some pretty unlikeable flaws. None of them were innocent or longed for a more innocent life. Maybe Kaz was the worst of them, but at least he wasn’t pretending to save them or do the heist for anything other than the millions promised. The book was almost like an Ocean’s Eleven set in a dark world with magic and danger. The twists kept coming and plans changed, but the crew was well versed in the motivations of others and attempted to stay a step ahead.

The book was definitely entertaining and full of twists. The characters were all rough around the edges, and not entirely decent people, but they grew on me quickly and I was interested in all of their backgrounds and motivations and even hoped for things I knew better than to hope for.

I’m not going to try to compare it to the Grisha trilogy because it’s so different. It’s about something else entirely and, while I do miss characters like The Darkling, it was less about Grisha in general and more about gangs and shifts of power and greed. It did what it was supposed to do well. It’s great if you want more of the world without the same kind of story that was in the Grisha trilogy. If you’re expecting a romance or coming of age YA fantasy, this is not the book for you.

I highly recommend Six of Crows. It was well done and interesting. I loved the plot and the cast of misfits and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Star 4

 

2017 Thoughts:

I am actually glad that I reread Six of Crows because, though still rated it 4 stars, it was not at all what I imagined and I didn’t really think on it as fondly as I do the Grisha Trilogy and had little desire to read the sequel because I wasn’t invested in the fates of the characters.. it’s been over a year and I bought the sequel, but wasn’t really as stoked to read it. I enjoyed reading it at the time, but I think part of me wanted something more in the same vein as Bardugo’s other series. The reread was better because I knew what to expect and truly enjoyed myself and appreciated the characters a lot more. I think during the first read, I felt maybe there were too many POVs and too many shifts because it wasn’t something I expected. During the reread, I felt like I enjoyed the POV changes a lot more. I wouldn’t have called Six of Crows romantic back in 2016, but I realized rereading it that it did have moments and I was so invested in the interpersonal dynamics of everyone in the group. I couldn’t wait to pick up Crooked Kingdom and find out the fate of all my favorite characters and the relationships that were starting to bloom.

 

 

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.

 

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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: