ARC Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

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A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

review

**** Big thank you to Entangled Publishing for sending me an copy in exchange for an honest review!****

This was definitely a very unique and dark story and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, I won’t be forgetting this one any time soon! Remember when paranormal romances were big? This is how a majority of them SHOULD have been, engaging and well written! However, there were just a couple things that didn’t work enough for me to full rate this at 4 stars.

PLOT

I loved how the story opens up with some interesting happenings right away, there are some mysterious new neighbors next door in the house where a family was brutally murdered. Pretty good attention grabber, right? From here the plot takes off with Angie being drawn to the new boy next door, Reece, and she starts to notice odd things happening around town such as a significant increase in the local crow and bee populations and she thinks Reece has the answers.

The plot is very fast paced and stays that way for the duration of the book, which was nice, and there definitely isn’t a lack of action at all! You’ll be able to zip right through this book! I loved how Kassel kept things interesting and kept you reading for answers and when you finally got them she’d leave you with more questions too! Her writing was spectacular and I’ll be interested to see what she’ll write next.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the world building and mythology, it was extremely creative and I wanted to know everything about it! The curses of the Harbingers and Beekeepers were really interesting but I would have liked to have known a bit more about their origins as well as the history of the magic and other magical entities that are mentioned, such as Strawmen. I would have loved a lot more depth into the world building for sure, it would have made the story even better but I did love what I got!

I also really liked how the general atmosphere of the story was kind of creepy as well since we are dealing with Harbingers of Death after all, it’s a perfect book to read for Halloween coming up here if you don’t like horror but like something a little spooky!

I also have to say that the second half of the book is where things got pretty dark and dangerous but it was also really thrilling to read through. Best part of the book, in my opinion! However, the ending to the book felt a little too…..convenient for me? I didn’t like how they are dealing with a problem for the majority of the story and then at the end it is magically solved for them, just a little too cheesy for me.

characters

The characters were a little tricky for me in this book, while they were decent I just didn’t feel connected to any of them and felt they lacked depth.

Angie was an alright narrator and main character, she had a pretty tough break as a child but has learned to deal with it. I think one of my favorite parts about her character was her love for making and mixing music and the parts where she would DJ were a lot of fun! When she DJs she uses an alter ego she likes to keep separate from herself which she has completely understandable reasons for. However, there is a moment where she has to choose between learning more about why her life might be in danger or to reveal her DJ persona to Reece and I thought it was a bit ridiculous because come on girl your life could be in danger!

Other than Angie there are a few other characters who get “screen time” such as her friends Deno and Lacey, her father, Roger (her dog), and of course Reece. I did really like all of these characters and they did have a little background and personality but overall they just didn’t have a whole lot of depth. Like I said though I really like them, they were very supportive of Angie the entire story. (I adored the dog though, seriously)

Reece is the other central character and love interest and he does get quite a bit of background as well but he doesn’t ever really develop. He doesn’t change or grow, the only character that did that was Angie. Overall I thought Reece was just sort of okay, I didn’t love or hate him he was just kind of…there.

One character I did not care for AT ALL though was Kiera Shaw who is basically the “high school mean girl” trope and she lives to make Angie’s life miserable. I did not see the point to her character at all and even towards the end where Angie and Kiera’s pointless “rivalry” is resolved it still felt really flat and not genuine. Even Rafette who was technically the story’s main antagonist was way more sympathetic than her!

romance

I actually did enjoy the romance between Angie and Reece and while there is an instant attraction the romance is not insta-love at all. I liked how it was slow at the start but it did feel a little rushed towards the middle of the book but it is explained so I forgive it. I actually really liked the tension that was between them at the beginning where they felt that attraction initially and it just had me rooting for them from the get go!

There was a sort of side romance between Angie’s two friends and honestly I felt it wasn’t needed at all. I liked the two characters but did we really need a side romance?

in conclusion

Overall I loved how unique the concept of this book was and the world building and mythology were fantastic, although I didn’t care a lot ton for most of the characters. So I’d like to give this a full 4 stars but the issues I had with the book it just doesn’t feel right to rate it anything more than 3.5.

What I Loved:

  • Concept and general plot
  • The writing was engaging
  • World building and mythology were creative
  • Very fast paced and full of action
  • Loved the musical side of Angie, the main character
  • The romance was slow burn and adorable
  • Roger, the dog, was just the best

What I Didn’t Love:

  • The ending felt WAY too convenient
  • Could have used a little more expansion with the world building
  • Characters were just kind of alright, didn’t really connect
  • Pointless girl on girl rivalry with school mean girl

RECOMMEND

I highly, highly recommend checking this book out though especially if you’re looking for a very unique story concept or a creepy (but not terrifying) book to read this fall!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

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ARC Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale.

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

review

****Big thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!****

This was a very unique and creative take on Snow White and one that I really did enjoy especially with the minor F/F romance and feminist themes! However, there was just something not there for me to rate this any higher than 3.5 unfortunately.

PLOT

My biggest complaint about this book is the extremely uneven pacing because it would have me turning pages eager to know more or I’d set the book down and not pick it up for days it was so slow. This is a problem for me since it’s harder for me to want to finish a book when it gets super slow after being so good! I have to say the end  and the middle is where it slowed down significantly for me and thought the first 40%-50% was much better.

The story is told in two different POVs one is Mina, the Queen and stepmother, and Lynet, the princess. In this way Mina is the “evil Queen” and Lynet is “Snow White”. The story revolves around Mina wanting to keep her power as Queen so she can be loved even though her heart is made of glass and Lynet is supposed to take her place but would rather spend her time climbing the castle walls and spending time with the new surgeon. Personally I found Mina’s chapters to be much more interesting.

As I already mentioned this book is a little slower with the pacing since it’s a very character driven story and doesn’t have an action packed plot by any means. I really loved the overall themes of feminism, family not being only blood, and being accepted for you who are and not who you “should” be. I also thought the general retelling of the Snow White fairy tale was done very well here, very creative and unique, and I loved seeing the twists on certain elements such as the enchanted mirror, huntsman, and poison apple!

The writing was also very well done and compelling…just saying. It really was wonderfully written and helped set the atmosphere for a fairy tale retelling.

I kind of stated already that I loved the themes in this book and I really appreciated that this is a book that focuses on female empowerment and women helping and supporting other women. Instead of Mina and Lynet fighting each other for the sake of power and the whims of oppressive men they stood against that and helped and supported each other. And that’s awesome.

characters

Now to the characters which were the best part and what drove the story forward!

Mina was by far my favorite character, I really thought her chapters and flashbacks were the most interesting parts of this story. Her character had so much depth and development throughout the book and we really see so many layers to her. She was raised motherless and by a father who constantly tells her that with her glass heart she cannot love or be loved. In her desperation for love she makes some bad choices but ultimately she is a very sympathetic character.

Lynet is the main character overall but she wasn’t as interesting to me as Mina, probably since she’s younger and there isn’t as much complexity to her character. She is constantly being compared to her late mother and instead of allowing herself to be groomed for the throne she would rather spend her time climbing and getting into mischief. I found myself really sympathizing with her though since she just wants to be her own person and not be a version of her mother like everyone wants. Lynet does grow over the course of the story significantly though as she learns she can use her power as queen to help people and help her kingdom.

The only other characters of any importance in the story would be King Nicholas, Mina’s father Gregory, Nadia the surgeon, and Felix the huntsman. King Nicholas and Gregory the magician were probably my least favorite characters since they’re both men trying to rule over and pressure our female characters Lynet and Mina (their daughters respectively). Sure King Nicholas doesn’t go about ruling over his daughter Lynet in an abusive way like Gregory rules over Mina, but he still tries to force her mother’s image on her. As for Gregory….he is straight up an asshole….just saying.

Nadia’s character was very interesting and she does play the love interest for Lynet which was a very slow-burn and sweet romance. Nadia actually develops quite a bit over the story even though she doesn’t play a huge role in it.

Felix plays the role of the huntsman and he is….adorable. I thought the take on his character was very, very creative and he actually grew a lot considering he’s more of a minor character.

romance

The romance does not play a central role in this book at all but it is there! It’s an F/F romance between Lynet, our Snow White character, and Nadia. I really loved the romance here since it didn’t overtake the main plot line and it was a nice slow burn romance, it was also very adorable!

in conclusion

I did really enjoy this book and think it’s a very creative take on the Snow White fairy tale but the pacing was something I had a hard time looking past while reading. There wasn’t much action which I understand but it would have been nice to have a little more and a few more complex side characters as well! Minor complaints those last two though.

What I Loved:

  • F/F, slow burn romance
  • Great feminist themes
  • Fantastic characters that were well developed
  • The writing was done well
  • Creative take on Snow White

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Not a whole lot of action
  • Very uneven pacing (most of the time a little on the slow side)
  • Would have liked a few more complex characters

RECOMMEND

I do recommend checking this book out especially if you’re looking for a good Snow White retelling or even just a book that has some great feminist themes!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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*Spoiler Free* Series Review: The Wicked + The Divine Volumes 1-4 by Kieron Gillen

I don’t think I can praise this graphic novel series enough, seriously! This is hands down the BEST ones I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and I loved every part of it.

I’m going to be giving little mini reviews of each volume (1-4) here and each with their own rating etc.

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description

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5

reviewWith volume 1 here I was absolutely hooked from the get go! The premise is so unique and interesting, I mean everyone’s pop star idols are literal GODS reincarnated every 90 years and only live for 2 before they die. The only problem is that we don’t get much explanation for anything in this volume and I was left with a lot more questions than answers. I’m actually still not 100% sure of what’s going on….at all. But that’s okay because it’s still SO GOOD!

The overall mythology/world building is pretty vague but already extremely fascinating. Of course there’s loads of room for more development, which I’d love, such as exactly why the gods are reincarnated and why it’s only every 90 years etc. Anyways probably one of my favorite parts about this graphic novel is how diverse the gods are, not only with thier human bodies but with the actual gods themselves. We see gods from all different kinds of mythology and religions : Irish, Egyptian, the religion of Christianity, Norse, Shinto (a Japanese religion), Greek, Sumerian, and probably a ton more as well! I think it’s AWESOME to see some other mythologies other than the traditional Greek and Roman being represented in stories, it’s fun to learn about all of these other gods, goddesses, and deities.

The characters, if you couldn’t already tell, were a-ma-zing! As I already stated they were all very diverse characters with different races and sexualities as well as the gods themselves being from many different mythologies and religions. Laura, the main character, was really relatable one of the main reasons being that she’s a huge fangirl of the gods. She’s pretty down to Earth and feisty! I also absolutely fell in love with Luci aka Lucifer, I mean seriously her character is so badass and all around amazing. One of the greatest characters I’ve ever come across! The Morrigan is a close favorite as well since I think her character is gorgeous and also one of the more interesting gods since she’s an Irish war goddess but is a sort of 3 goddesses in 1 type of thing! Overall though each god was very different with their own unique styles and personalities so they’re pretty easy to keep track of.

The art style……..how do I even begin to gush about the stunning artwork in “The Wicked + The Divine”? It’s one of the best art styles I’ve come across in a graphic novel it’s realistic, detailed, and the color palette is absolutely beautiful! I adored how vibrant all of the colors were! I was forcing the pages in everyone’s faces so they could behold how gorgeous the art is!

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*gush, gush, gush, gush*

Also that ending is pretty brutal so I recommend having the next volume on hand!


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I think I have to say that this was my favorite volume so far (out of the 4 I’ve read) because it was very action-packed with many crazy plot twists!

Basically in this volume Laura is trying to figure out who was behind the events that occurred at the end of volume 1 and some of the gods are willing to help her out as well.

We finally get a little more insight on the gods, which I liked but I still really had no clue what all was going on and what the “bigger picture” is. I’m starting to think there isn’t really any larger plot line here at all though, which is a little disappointing.

There’s also new characters! Yay! More badass and visually pleasing gods and goddesses! I have to say I absolutely loved the addition of Inanna because he’s gorgeous and also reminds me very much of Prince which I think was the point but still! He’s perfection!

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Of course the artwork is STILL gorgeous too!

And also this is probably the most cliffhanger-y ending I’ve ever read! Definitely have volume 4 at the ready! (volume 3 is filler)


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My least favorite volume seeing as how it’s mostly just filler and doesn’t really continue the story from volume 2 at all. Also apparently James McKelvie was on a break during this volume so a bunch of guest artists were brought in to illustrate each issue so the beautiful artwork we all know and love was not present in volume 3. I honestly really hated some of the artwork too…….

I really, really, really didn’t like the art for the issue about Sakhmet’s backstory……

Basically all we get to see here is the backstories on a lot of the gods and see how they went from human to deity. My favorite origin story would definitely have to be The Morrigan and Baphomet which was also thankfully accompanied with a decent art style.

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I just felt that I couldn’t really focus that well on appreciating the backstories when that ending from volume 2 had me still screaming in agony!

My overall thoughts were that this was okay but definitely not as impressive.


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Finally answers to what the hell happened at the end of volume 2! A ton of shit goes down in this volume, there’s a lot of action and fight scenes and they are amazing! It was a lot of fun to get to see all of the gods’ powers and abilities since we haven’t seen too much of them up until this point.

Really loved getting to see Laura again and especially in this volume, no spoilers though! The characters were of course all as wonderful as they’ve been so far but we don’t really see any new characters in this volume either.

As much as the story picked up on this volume it was also very, very confusing. Once again I’m left wondering if there’s really anything else going on behind the scenes or if the only story we get to see is the “whims of the gods” type of thing. I am still hoping there’s something “bigger” going on. I’m also just very confused in general especially with that ending. The ending this time around was a little underwhelming and left me feeling curious but also not dying to know what’s going to happen next either.

I’m also glad we are back to the original art style, thank goodness!

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Overall I HIGHLY recommend checking this series out!

Links for The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act

Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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ARC Review: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

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What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

review

**** Big thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review****

I’m not normally a big fan of historical fiction or magical realism but with this book I found myself really enjoying both genres. Overall the word that comes to mind with “The Disappearances” would be delightful (the finishing word, if you will *book inside joke*)!

PLOT

First of all one of the downsides to this story is that it’s a little on the slower side with not a whole lot going on or a whole lot of action. However, the mystery of the Disappearances is definitely interesting enough to keep reading until the end. There are also quite a few little twists that I definitely didn’t figure out and while they weren’t mind blowing they were still exciting and tied things together.

The overall plot, as I said already, was very intriguing and well developed. I really enjoyed all of the Shakespeare themed tie ins and they get even better right at the end! Although speaking of the ending while I did like it I also felt it was pretty rushed, I mean here we were taking our sweet time for 400 pages and then all of a sudden it’s all resolved? It all made perfect sense fortunately but it just felt a little too soon.

The premise and the execution were well done and I really liked how unique the whole story was. A town being plagued by things such as colors, smells, and reflections disappearing is a really interesting concept! The way the townspeople deal with these things are also neat and this is where the “magical realism” aspect of the stories come into play but that’s all I will say!

I liked the writing style as well it was simple, easy to follow, and flowed nicely. It’s hard to believe that this is only Emily Bain Murphy’s debut novel, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her future books!

characters

I liked the characters they were all so…..adorable and sweet. Although everyone was pretty plain but definitely not in a bad way they just felt a little tedious at times.

Aila was a decent protagonist and I liked how she was pretty feisty at times. It was nice to see a YA heroine who had her head on straight!

As for all of the secondary characters: I really liked them. Dr. and Mrs. Cliffton were amazing and so were Will, Beas, George, and even Eliza. Everyone was developed well enough but not so much that they felt very complex.

romance

I actually really enjoyed the romance in “The Disappearances” which is really saying something! It was very much a slow-burn romance and I adore the friends to lovers trope. It also helps that I loved both Aila and Will separately and I thought they were really cute together.

Seriously though the key words here are: slow burn.

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • The premise and overall execution
  • The “world building” or magic aspects
  • The writing
  • Shakespeare tie-ins
  • The characters were all great
  • The romance was fantastic and slow burn

What I Didn’t Love:

  • The slow pacing
  • The ending felt kind of rushed

RECOMMEND

I really recommend checking this book out if you’re a fan of historical fiction, magical realism, and books that have very unique plots!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

ARC Review: The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

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Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

review

**** Big thank you to Duet Books for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

**** Potential Trigger Warning: Abuse/Violence in a Relationship****

This was a very unique and enjoyable book that is a retelling of The Little Mermaid with an F/F romance as well as some Norse mythology! How does that NOT grab your attention immediately?

PLOT

So as I already mentioned I thought the plot for this story is extremely creative because not only do we see a lot of unique twists on The Little Mermaid tale but we also see a world based off of Norse mythology. I loved how this was it’s own story but we still got to see some plot points similar to the original tale!

I also really loved the setting with the various sea creatures and the mermaids themselves. It was fun to have the story told from the perspective of someone that lives underwater, just something different!

Overall though I found the story to be very engaging and fast paced, it’s also a very short book so it’s definitely a quick read! My favorite part was easily when Ersel makes a deal with Loki, the God of Lies, and must be very clever in order to outwit the trickster god. Something about characters outwitting powerful gods is always fun to read about!

The world building was also very interesting, while it wasn’t expanded upon a whole lot we do know it’s based off of Norse mythology since the Norse gods are present. I also really enjoyed the bits where we learned about the mermaids’ world and Ragna’s very viking-esque world too. I wish there would have been a little more depth with the last two but I’m content enough.

Overall the reason I rated this 3.5 stars instead of 4 or 5 is because I felt that the story was a little rushed and could have used a little more complexity in my opinion.

characters

The characters were fun enough and I really loved both Ersel and Ragna on their own and together. Ersel is very brave, clever, and learns to overcome her flaws and Ragna is straight up fierce but I’d expect nothing less from a shield maiden.

I’d also just like to add that I loved Loki too but then again when do I ever not love Loki’s characters?

However, I do wish there was more development with the characters. Yes, we get to see some of them overcome their flaws and that always adds some complexity but I would have liked to have gotten some more insight into the characters somehow.

romance

I REALLY loved the romance in this story, plain and simple! As I mentioned above this is an F/F romance mainly but Ersel, the main character, is bisexual. I personally thought it was portrayed well but I can’t say truthfully since I am neither. Still I thought the author did a good job! I shipped Ersel and Ragna a lot I thought they were both great characters on their own and together they were even better.

The only real problem I had with the relationship is that at one point they both hit each other, which IS abuse I don’t care if it’s heat of the moment it’s never okay. So I’d say there’s a trigger warning for abuse in this story. I also didn’t really like how it was glossed over as being alright and they’re 100% fine afterward.

in conclusion

I really enjoyed this story and found it to be a wonderfully imaginative retelling. It was a fun, quick read! I also think the cover is gorgeous, FYI!

What I Loved:

  • Fast pacing
  • Creative world building and story
  • Great F/F romance
  • Diversity with F/F romance and bisexual character
  • Inclusion of Norse mythology
  • Good characters

What I Didn’t Love:

  • I thought the story could have been a little more complex
  • Plot felt rushed at times
  • One instance of abuse with the main relationship

RECOMMEND

I do recommend reading this book since I thought it was fun and something very unique! Really my only real big complaint is that one instance of abuse/violence in the main relationship.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: The Women In The Walls by Amy Lukavics

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description

Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

review

So of course I was really pumped for this book since I LOVED the author’s debut novel “Daughters Unto Devils” (full review here), but while I enjoyed this book it just wasn’t as good as the debut book. Still a very solid read though especially if you’re a YA horror lover!

PLOT

My biggest problem with this book (and why it didn’t get a 4 or 5 star rating) was that the beginning of the story was extremely slow paced and kind of boring. There really wasn’t any real creepiness, horror, or gore at all in the beginning of the book but it had ALL of that within the last 50 pages or so. Honestly, the ending was what made reading the whole book worth it! It was fucked up and weird in the best and creepiest way possible, I wish I could say more but I can’t without spoiling it! There’s also a bit of mystery towards the end as well that made the atmosphere a little more eerie.

Speaking of the ending it is open-ended and I thought it was the perfect way to end it. I feel in horror books open endings really work, the add that much more to the creep-factor because you don’t know what REALLY happened or what will happen afterwards…… I personally loved that it was open-ended because of that reason and it was just like “Daughters Unto Devils” in this manner.

Women (as the title hints at) play a very important and big part in this book as well, basically any and all men are useless side characters and the women hold all the power and sway. Of course I’m going to say this is a plus!

There also is some representation of mental illness in the form of cutting, Lucy (the MC) does cut herself. However, even though I have zero personal experience with people who do cut themselves I felt that the matter was kind of brushed over in this book. It plays a pretty big part in Lucy’s life and yet it never really gets an attention. I just felt it should have been a little bit bigger of an issue with the characters….

The writing was sort of just “meh”, nothing too spectacular. I felt it was better in her other book “Daughters Unto Devils”.

 A HUGE plus for this book is the fact that there is no absolutely zero romance. That’s right there is no romance in this YA book, and isn’t that refreshing?

characters

There was not a whole lot of character development but that’s to be expected with a book that’s only 278 pages long. I didn’t really connect with Lucy or any of the other characters, I felt really distant from what was happening to them. Lucy did have her moments where she stuck up for herself and her family and yelled at some of those arrogant country club people but for the most part she was just okay.

Not to mention I LOATHED Lucy’s dad with a fiery burning passion, talk about worst dad ever! He basically shows zero emotion towards his own daughter and ignores her when she comes to him about things. It really ticked me off so I thought it was worth mentioning.

in conclusion

Overall I did enjoy reading this book although it was a little painful to get through the beginning but ultimately that ending is worth it! I don’t think this one was as good as “Daughters Unto Devils” though but I will still read anything Lukavics comes out with.

What I Liked:

  • THAT ENDING!!!!
  • Women play a big part in the plot and men are useless side characters
  • ZERO romance

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not a lot of character development (hated Lucy’s dad!)
  • Up until the last 50 or so pages is slow and a bit boring
  • The writing is “meh”

RECOMMEND

Even though I didn’t like this one as much as “Daughters Unto Devils” (which I highly recommend checking out) it is still a pretty good book and the ending is insane! If you’re looking for a short YA horror book with zero romance to distract from the creepiness this one is for you! I definitely do recommend at least checking this book out.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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ARC Review: Exo by Fonda Lee

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review

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .

description

**** Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review****

I was on and off with “Exo” a lot because there were many things I enjoyed and a few that I didn’t so I was debating between a 3 star and 3.5 star rating which in the end I decided 3.5 was a good rating since I did actually enjoy myself.

PLOT

“Exo” gets into the action immediately at the start of the book with Donovan and his partner going to capture some rebel humans and Donovan getting kidnapped instead. It really grabs your attention and makes you want to read more, however, that fast pacing does NOT last. The pacing (and my interest) slowed down considerably after Donovan is captured and it all seems really boring and pointless, it took a lot of effort to make it past this point in the plot for me. This actually happened a few times so the pacing overall was very uneven.

I was also left kind of wondering what exactly the main conflict was in this book because as stated in the description Donovan is kidnapped by human revolutionaries but this is actually resolved pretty early in the story. So after that I didn’t really understand what was happening and why. Is there going to be some war between humans and aliens? Aliens versus other aliens? Who knows? I didn’t really like this free floating feeling I had through the plot….

However, I did really like that what conflicts there were in the plot weren’t black or white they were all very much in a grey area. No side is strictly good or evil, they both have their reasons for doing what they do. So I thought that was very interesting and added a lot of complexity to the story.

Also the main reason I rated this book higher than I probably would have is because of the world building, which was absolutely excellent. Fonda Lee does an amazing job of building a very complex world in which humans have been “conquered” by an alien race and now co-exist with them. There’s a caste system, different technologies, and everything from the language to the biology of the aliens is provided. There’s a lot of imaginations and detail put into this world and I very much appreciated it, even though I wanted to learn so much more! Plus there’s no info-dumping!

characters

So we actually get a male POV in this book which I thought was a big plus since it isn’t something we normally see, especially in YA. Just a fun tidbit!

To start off I will say that all of the characters, including, Donovan were pretty flat and reading I felt very distant from them. I didn’t relate and I didn’t really care what happened to any of them because I felt I didn’t actually get to know any of them. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything about the characters, I did learn quite a bit, I just felt that no one was really developed at all.

Donovan, however, I came to have a certain degree of respect for because he is put through absolute hell in this book but some of the actions he took were stupid and therefore annoying. That’s really all I can say for our main character.

I also found that all of the characters that received any degree of development all had a significant relationship with Donovan, any other secondary characters lacked any development or even “screen time” so to speak. Even the relationships weren’t depicted as being really strong either, they all felt really bland to me such as Donovan and his father and Jet (his BFF).

I especially felt that Donovan’s romantic interest Anya was completely unnecessary because of how underwhelming and underdeveloped it felt. I felt that this was only added for the sake of having some form of romance and I felt like asking “But why?” a lot.

in conclusion

Overall I did like this book even though there were times that I felt very bored and wondered if I would even finish. I think the world building is very unique and I liked the fact that this was alien-scifi because who doesn’t love aliens? I am excited to continue the series and see what happens next even though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that this is a series, with that ending there better be more though!

What I Liked:

  • The world building was amazing, detailed, and imaginative
  • No info-dumping
  • The action parts that were fast paced were awesome
  • No side in the conflict was black or white, everything’s a shade of gray
  • Male POV
  • Aliens!

What I Disliked:

  • Uneven pacing
  • Not much character development
  • Main conflict was confusing and obscure
  • Romance was very underwhelming and unnecessary

RECOMMEND

This is kind of “meh” as far as recommending goes I would say if your a fan of YA science fiction or want to try out a sci-fi book that involves aliens then give this a go! It’s overall a pretty decent read.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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Book Review: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

 

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description

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

review

I really wish I could rate this higher, and don’t mistake a 3.5 for bad by any means, but my expectations were so high  for this book and I felt more than a little disappointed with it. I was expecting to absolutely LOVE this book after loving her other two books “A Darker Shade of Magic” and “Vicious” but I really don’t think this book is anywhere near that level (regardless of the fact this is YA and the others are not). So I enjoyed it but not nearly as much as I was supposed to.

PLOT

I absolutely loved the concept for this story I think it’s unbelievably interesting as well as unique but I think it was still a little lacking. First of all I thought the entire world was extremely underdeveloped, which I may forgive depending on how the next book goes, but still! We are essentially thrown right into the story with absolutely no clue as to what’s going on or why or anything really and then out of nowhere we are hardcore info-dumped which only confused me more. All in all I think we had a lack of information and when we received it, it didn’t really do a whole lot to help.

Even though I felt this way I still thought the world building was fantastic! We have some terrifying monsters who feed off of humans and humans who not only fight the monsters but also each other in a territory war for V-City. So the monsters are probably the most interesting part because they all have different classes, weaknesses, and strengths etc but there’s also a very Romeo & Juliette feel to the story as well with Kate and August on opposite sides of the territory war.I thought overall this made the story super unique and interesting, this is what kept me reading!

I also really loved how good and evil are blurred in the story it’s all one big grey area which is actually what I kind of expect from Schwab’s stories. We are meant to question who the real monsters are in this book (which come on who doesn’t love that right?).

The plot is also slow to start and takes a little time to unravel and for me it felt like I read half the book before things got really good. So I wouldn’t expect fast pacing and action around every corner because “This Savage Song” doesn’t have that, what it does have is some pretty great thrilling and intense scenes. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was unputdownable for me.

No romance! That’s right guys there is no typical, cliched YA romance in this book! No insta-love, no love triangles, no romance period! What we did get was a very nice friendship between the two main characters, will it develop into something more? Maybe, only time will tell. I thought this overall was a breath of fresh air for a YA book.

Also the ending! I both loved and hated it because on one hand it was absolutely amazing and unexpected but also because it was such a cliffhanger, I’m torn between hating cliffhangers (because I lack patience) and loving how they make me crave more!

characters

I did really like Kate and August both but at the same time I felt like they were a little flat and underdeveloped, like everything else.

Kate was strong, determined, and definitely not a damsel. All she wants is to prove herself to her father who runs the North half of V-City. Although I will say she got a little annoying at times because her stubbornness lead her to make the not-so-greatest of decisions.

August is quiet, shy, and clever I actually liked his character more than Kate’s. I felt more sympathetic towards him and his problems versus Kate’s because of his nature.

I also really enjoyed how the friendship developed between Kate and August I loved that they grew so close throughout the story and yet remained out of the romance zone.

The secondary characters could have all done with a development overhaul since as important as they were to the story they didn’t seem like it, they were pretty boring and lacked the complexity I thought they deserved.

in conclusion

Overall I did enjoy this book but I didn’t find it particularly game-changing or mind blowing, I definitely expected to love a book by Schwab much, much more. It’s a good book and I can see how everyone enjoyed it a little more than me but I was a little disappointed.

What I Liked:

  • The overall premise/concept of the book
  • Morally ambiguous plot/characters
  • World building (even if it lacked a little)
  • No romance
  • That hellish but wonderful ending
  • The writing because it’s Schwab of course

What I Didn’t Liked:

  • The extreme lack of information especially at the beginning of the book
  • Info-dumps (when we actually got information)
  • Underdeveloped world building and characters
  • Slow pacing throughout

RECOMMEND

I actually would recommend reading this since it is an interesting concept and it wasn’t terrible but I’d say if you’ve read Schwab’s other books (such as “A Darker Shade of Magic” or “Vicious”) than I’d maybe lower your expectations for “This Savage Song” or just give it a skip all around because this doesn’t even compare to them.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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ARC Review: Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1) by Tara Sim

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Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

review

**** Big thank you to Sky Pony Press for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review****

This is one cute and intriguing book although it took me a while to get into it which is why I feel like I can’t give it a full 4 stars, but I do think “Timekeeper” is very much worth your time. (See what I did there?)

PLOT

“Timekeeper” is essentially a story all about how a young clock mechanic falls in love with a tower’s clock spirit and it is adorable. While the romance does play a big part in the book it is not the main focus of the story, and thank goodness for that! There’s an added mystery involving bombs, clock towers, and towns whose time has stopped, that adds a lot to propel the story forward and damn was it good as well as unpredictable.

The setting is also something we don’t see too often in YA and that would be steampunk. Of course this is an alternate reality England mixed in with steampunk and while I liked the setting I also didn’t at the same time. This is a steampunk book but I thought it definitely could have used MORE, all we get in the story that even makes this feel like steampunk is the clock towers (which are essentially JUST clock towers) and the occasional mention of automatons. That’s it. I just felt like we could have used more mention of the gadgets and machines that make steampunk what it is.

As you can obviously tell this book is about clocks and time and since Danny, the MC, is a clock mechanic we do get quite a bit of information on how the clocks function and such. While this could potentially bore some people I thought it was actually quite interesting and it’s definitely not info-dumping, we don’t get overloaded with so many mechanics that you’ll get insanely bored.

While the mechanics of the clock towers themselves are interesting there is nothing in this book more intriguing than the clock spirits. The minute clock spirits are mentioned I wanted to know more about them, which of course I did slowly throughout the book and was not disappointed. I think they are the most creative part of this story and add so much magic to it.

There’s also a bit of added Greek mythology with Chronos and Aetas the god of time who gave people the ability to weave time into the clock towers. While it didn’t necessarily add a lot to the central story I thought it was a nice touch and helped build on the universe Tara Sim created.

While I really loved the story overall I will say that it really dragged in some parts, especially in the beginning. The story didn’t grab my attention until about 30-35% of the way in where we got introduced to the mystery.

characters

The characters were just kind of okay, I didn’t absolutely adore them but I didn’t hate them either. They weren’t as developed as I would have liked and overall they felt a little too young…..they’re supposed to be teenagers and they seemed like middle school age which is probably because of the writing.

I liked Danny as a main character and Colton is the sweetest thing ever. I also liked a lot of the secondary characters although I wish they would have been a little more fleshed out.

As I said they’re just okay, nothing too special.

romance

Usually it takes quite a bit of convincing to make me enjoy any YA romances but let me tell you Danny and Colton are the cutest couple ever, seriously they’re downright adorable. I really enjoyed their romance, it’s so sweet and heart-warming. There is a degree of insta-love between them but it isn’t extreme and it was easy to look past.

As I mentioned earlier their romance plays a big part in the book but it isn’t the sole focus at all. I love having a wonderfully written romance that doesn’t take up the entire story.

Also if you couldn’t tell it’s a LGTB romance which adds to the diversity!

in conclusion

Overall I was really impressed and happy with this book but I had a few “meh” issues with it which is why it didn’t receive a full 4 stars. I will definitely be looking forward to the sequel though.

What I Liked:

  • The story was unique and interesting
  • The romance didn’t take over the entire plot
  • World-building was pretty spot-on
  • The added mythology was intriguing
  • The romance was SO FREAKING ADORABLE

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The characters were just sort of “meh” and not developed enough
  • The steampunk setting didn’t seem steampunk-y enough
  • The pacing dragged throughout the book

RECOMMEND

Yes I recommend reading “Timekeeper” it’s a very original, charming story. If you’re looking for diverse books this also fits the bill!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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ARC Review: Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

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description

Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

review

**** Big thank you to Random House Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review****

I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book but I just couldn’t bring myself to give it a full 4 star review. However, don’t let the 3.5 stars fool you! This is not only a very good book but also one that is extremely unique.

Also I’d like to just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous that cover is, am I right?

PLOT

I don’t even know where to start with this story, it is so unique and wonderfully strange that it was almost a bit confusing at times because of its strangeness. There were a lot of different things going on all at once and it was also pretty fast-paced so there was rarely a boring moment with all of the betrayals, secrets, and blackmail. I have to say I am a sucker for these kinds of stories where there’s a lot of lies and manipulation.

Dani is essentially living a nightmare when the story starts out she is living in a court she cares nothing for, with a conniving mother, and engaged to a sadistic king. So one can only imagine how desperately she wants to get away and escape, unfortunately, she doesn’t have the money or resources to. This results ultimately in Dani selling the drug Glitter in order to raise the money she needs to escape. You can also imagine all the things that can go wrong with this as well, right? That sets the stage for a very dramatic plot and that’s exactly what we get.

I also loved the clash of genres we have here it was like a mix of historical fiction, dystopia, and fantasy. Everyone in the palace acts and dresses as if they actually do live in 18th century France but in reality they live in the not so distant future with many different technologies. Basically it had a bit of everything and it worked, the setting was just so interesting and unique. There was also no info-dumping I really liked how Aprilynne Pike gave information about the world at just the right pace to keep me satisfied without feeling overwhelmed.

The the writing was very simple and easy to follow but also highly addictive, once I got into the story it was hard to put down. I thought it used just the right amount of description throughout the story and really let you get a feel for the atmosphere Pyke created.

However, the ending is quite the cliffhanger which I don’t really mind so much because it made me want more and had me yelling: “WHAT?! THAT’S IT?!”. Fortunately there is going to be a sequel to help put my questioning mind at ease.

characters

The characters were probably the most disappointing part for me with the exception of Danica, the main character. I wish they all would have been a little more fleshed out and developed because it would have made more of the betrayals and lies a bit more interesting if we knew the characters a bit better and fully understood their motives.

However, I thought Dani was a bit of a grey character because she knows what she’s doing is wrong but does it anyways for her own benefit in other words she’s very selfish and that shows a lot throughout the book. While selfish characters can get annoying I thought Dani had good reasons to act and think the way she does and I thought she made a very good flawed heroine.

romance

As usual I wasn’t too impressed with this romance, however, it was far from cringe-worthy it was just….okay. There was an instant attraction but no insta-love (Thank God!) and I liked that the romance was a bit of a slow burn. I just didn’t really like the two of them together all that much and the chemistry just wasn’t really there. I think we could have gone without the romance in this story at all though.

in conclusion

Overall I did really like this book but it wasn’t something I felt deserved a 4-5 star rating from me.

What I Liked:

  • The unique premise and world-building
  • The setting
  • Danica, the main character
  • Fast pacing
  • Rarely a dull moment

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Lack of other character development
  • Non-exciting romance

RECOMMEND

Yes, I do recommend giving “Glitter” a try especially if you like books that are fast-paced and maybe a little on the ridiculous side! It’s definitely a very unique, fun book.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

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