ARC Review: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

JaneUnlimitedJane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Published by Kathy Dawson Books on September 19, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy

Pages: 464 Format: ARC Source: Library

3.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

This ARC was received by my library department for marketing purposes. This does not impact my thoughts and opinions in any way.

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

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ARC Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

MaskofShadowsMask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 29, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+

Pages: 352 Format: eARC Source: NG

3.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

I acquired this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. This does not impact my thoughts and opinions in any way.

I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home. 

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. 

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

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Book Review: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

DaughteroftheBurningCityDaughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Published by Harlequin Teen on July 25, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy

Pages: 384 Format: Hardcover Source: Purchased

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

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Book Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

libraryoffatesThe Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Published by Razorbill on July 18, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology

Pages: 354 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

4.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

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Mini Reviews: The Crown’s Fate & A Torch Against the Night

July has become a catch up month of sorts as I try to get to as many books on my TBR shelf before the fall release frenzy ensues. So I’ve got two mini sequel reviews to share today.

CrownsFateThe Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Published by Balzer + Bray on May 16, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Romance

Pages: 415 Format: Hardcover Source: Purchased

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Last year I fell in love with Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game since I’m a sucker for anything historical Russia as well as magical competitions. Reading the sequel and finale to this duology was certainly a wild ride but I found myself not as connected in this installment. The splendor was definitely still there with Skye’s descriptions being so vivid and realistic and I still love these characters.

I liked the darker turn this one took and it caused my heart to be in serious shambles by the end. Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha all tugged on my emotions as they tried to deal with their own feelings as well as forces beyond their control. Skye does a great job of weaving in history here and yet making it entirely her own. Overall I enjoyed The Crown’s Fate quite a lot. If you’ve read the first definitely pick up this title.

TorchAgainstNightA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Published by Razorbill on August 30, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 452 Format: Hardcover Source: Purchased

4.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

Wow! Sabaa Tahir does it again with A Torch Against the Night! I feel like the stakes were higher than ever and my precious characters were put through so much more suffering. All of this made the story even better despite it being spread out and slower paced. The politics, the conflicting allegiances, the plot twists! You’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next, but rest assured it will ruin you emotionally.

The three POV characters, Elias, Laia, and Helene, all face more struggles and obstacles as well as dealing with some serious inner turmoil. Angst, angst everywhere people. Tahir does a masterful job of portraying the emotional ups and downs as well as expanding on a world that contains such vast lands and cultures. Overall I’m head over heels in love with this series and highly recommend this especially to fantasy lovers!

Have you read either of these books? 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Mini Reviews: Vacation Reads (Farmer’s War & Princess Saves Herself)

Over vacation I had a lot of time to read which was definitely much needed. Now though I’m left with an overabundance of reviews. Cue a couple of mini review editions as I play catch up. This time around I’m reflecting on The Farmer’s War and The Princess Saves Herself In This One.

FarmersWarThe Farmer’s War by Elise Kova

Published by Silver Wing Press on April 23, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy

Pages: 142 Format: Paperback Source: Purchased

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Lieutenant Craig Youngly has only ever wanted one thing in his life — to join the illustrious Golden Guard. In pursuit of his goals, he has found himself protege to Raylynn Westwind, notable Guard member and favorite of Prince Baldair. He has fought for two years in the sweltering North and now prepares to embark on a mission on behalf of the Guard that could secure his long-sought membership. It’s the opportunity Craig has been waiting for, until Raylynn’s attention turns toward another swordsman, Daniel Taffl.

Daniel has always been a man of modest aspirations. As a farmer’s son from the East, he seeks a soldier’s wage to support a future for the woman of his dreams when he returns from the front lines. It isn’t until he’s conscripted into Craig’s mission that he learns his sword-craft has caught the eyes of the powers above him.

Craig sees his mission as an opportunity to impress the guard and exert his authority over Daniel. Daniel sees it merely as the chance to secure a more financially stable future. Their goals seem too simple to go awry. But, in the perilous jungles of the North, luck is something both men find to be in short supply.

It’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge Elise Kova fan and as this is the last Golden Guard novella I kind of want to cry. The world of Air Awakens has been phenomenal to explore and The Farmer’s War continues to expand and enhance the places and characters within this realm. Seeing Craig and Daniel in the spotlight was such a wonderful experience and I really enjoyed their backstory. Overall it was a solid prequel and novella and fingers crossed that this isn’t the last we see of this world.

PrincessSavesHerselfThe Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace

Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on March 23, 2017

Genres: Non Fiction, Poetry, Feminism

Pages: 208 Format: Paperback Source: Purchased

4.5/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

Wow! I really don’t read much poetry but Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself In This One is a must read for all. It’s powerful, personal, honest, and raw. It’s simple yet has such depth. The way this collection is set up works perfectly and really sucks the reader in. The ‘You’ section especially resonates with current issues and people everywhere. I will highly recommend this to every single person. Pick this up!

Are you into poetry? Enjoy reading novellas?

Let me know in the comments below!

Mini Reviews: Vacation Reads (Eliza & Blacksouls)

Over vacation I had a lot of time to read which was definitely much needed. Now though I’m left with an overabundance of reviews. Cue a couple of mini review editions as I play catch up. This time around I’m reflecting on Eliza and Her Monsters and Blacksouls.

ElizaandHerMonstersEliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Published by HarperCollins on May 30, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 385 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

I’m always here for books capturing the wonders and woes of online life and Francesca Zappia nails it with Eliza and Her Monsters. This narrative highlights teenage troubles and mental health with such honesty and the characters latched onto my heart in a matter of minutes. Eliza was such an intense protagonist struggling through high school with parents who don’t understand her online world. And Wallace was so freaking precious. I’ll love him forever! Plus Monstrous Sea needs to be a real online comic immediately. Overall Eliza and Her Monsters is must read for those who love, art, creativity, and online community. Definitely recommend!

BlacksoulsBlacksouls by Nicole Castroman

Published by Simon Pulse on April 11, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Historical, Romance

Pages: 400 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

4/5 Stars

Image and Description Credit: Goodreads

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.

Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.

Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.

My love for pirates will never die and Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman just fed my addiction. Finally I got some of the swashbuckling adventures I had expected in the first book and I love that it was set in Nassau. Anne and Teach have really come into their own and it was so enjoyable to see them reunited even though things don’t get easier. The beginnings of Blackbeard were built up but once again I was left wanting more. Overall Blacksouls was better than its predecessor with more adventure, excitement, and character development. If you liked Blackhearts, definitely pick this up!

Have you read either of these titles? Do you prefer contemporary or historical romances?

Let me know in the comments below!