ARC Review: Royals (Royals #1) by Rachel Hawkins

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Blog Tour Review: From the Earth to the Shadows (Valkyrie #2) by Amanda Hocking

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ARC Review: Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1) by Justina Ireland

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Book Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

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Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

review

Trigger Warnings: Racism, Sexism/Misogyny, Violence, & Police Brutality

Honestly, how do I even begin to write a review for an excellent book such as this?

A brilliantly written book that is not only incredibly powerful and packs a lot of punch in just 210 pages. I can already tell that “Dear Martin” and “The Hate U Give” are going to be compared and let me just tell you: read them both. They are both excellent and both deserve to be read as they handle important issues like police brutality and racism.

Of course I’d just like to say that I, being a white woman, can’t even begin to fully understand the issues described in this book nor can I fully give my opinion on them because of that. However, I do think this book is very important and I urge you all to give it a read. That being said you should definitely check out some #OwnVoices reviews of this book and if you know of any please feel free to link them below!

PLOT

Right off the bat I’d like to say that it was great to be reading from Justyce’s POV,  he’s just a great character but it was also nice to read from not only a male POV but also a POC POV in YA. I also really enjoyed the sections of the story in which Justyce wrote his letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. they added so much insight into not only his character but the issues that African Americans endure every day.

While this book focuses a lot on police brutality it also focuses a lot on racism micro-agressions as well. For example throughout the course of the story Justyce is faced with white male peers constantly making racist jokes and telling him to “quit being so sensitive” about them at the same time. Many of the side characters act atrociously in this perspective throughout the story too. I will say that one of the characters makes a bit of a turn around by the end of the story, which was nice to see.

One other thing that I mentioned in the trigger warnings was sexism and misogyny which we do see a bit of in this story and while it’s challenged I don’t think it was challenged enough. At one point during the story Justyce’s best friend, Manny, states that he isn’t interested in black girls because they’re “ghetto and full of attitude” and Justyce doesn’t want to date the girl he’s interested in because she’s white and his mother would not approve.

Aside from the plot the pacing is very fast and the writing is excellent, it’s easy to breeze through this one! I’ll also be looking forward to anything Nic Stone will be writing in the future as well!

Also my only real complaint is that it wasn’t longer!

characters

I really enjoyed Justyce’s character as well as his friend Manny, his love interest SJ, and their debate teacher whom they refer to as Doc. I thought they were all great characters and good people on top of that. I have to say though SJ, honestly, was my favorite I loved how fiesty and intelligent she was every time she would speak up about the racist and unintelligent remarks made by some of their classmates. I wish there would have been more development for a lot of the characters but with such a short novel that can’t really be helped.

As for some of the other characters such as Justyce’s peers, whom I don’t remember all of their names because they were horrible people, I loathed them. They were so blatantly ignorant and racist it was ridiculous and got to the point where I thought to myself “Do people actually talk this way?!” to which the answer is yes there are horrible people out there that do talk, think, and act like the people in this story.

romance

There was a bit of romance in “Dear Martin” and sometimes I felt it became too much of a focus in the plot and a little….overly dramatic. There’s a love triangle between Justyce, his on again, off again girlfriend Melo, and his friend SJ. Melo is clearly not a great girlfriend and manipulates Justyce whereas SJ is clearly perfect for him, so of course I spent the entire book rooting for Justyce x SJ! I really loved their relationship. So overall I did like the romance but like I said it got to be a little “too much” at times.

in conclusion

Overall thoughts: a fantastic book that my review simply cannot do justice (pun, unintentional!).

What I Loved:

  • Fast-pacing
  • Excellent writing
  • Fantastic characters
  • Important plot
  • Justyce’s romance with SJ

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Romantic sub plot got a little overwhelming and trope-y at times
  • Would have loved to have seen some of the sexism challenged more

RECOMMEND

I cannot recommend “Dear Martin” enough, it is an extremely important and powerful novel. I also recommend checking out “The Hate U Give” as well if you have already read this one and loved it!

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

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The Sassy

ARC Review: Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1) by Amanda Hocking

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description

Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos. 

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

review

*** Big thank you to St. Martin’s Press for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review***

This ended up being such a quick and entertaining read! Everything just flowed so well and I absolutely devoured this!

PLOT

The story is an urban fantasy that mixes together many different mythologies but the main one mostly being Norse since the story revolves around Valkyries who were created to kill immortals. However, there are so many different supernatural creatures portrayed including your basic vampires, demons, and angels but we also get to see some more unique ones such as gorgons, aswangs, and jorogumos! I thought the world building, in this case, was fantastic it was fun seeing such a blend of supernatural beings! I did want a little more information and details on the world but I’m sure I’ll get more in the sequel.

Apart from the world building, another aspect I really enjoyed was the pacing. This was an incredibly fast paced book, I was hooked right off the bat and all the way up until the end. The writing and dialogue flowed well and kept my interest, I’ll definitely be checking out more of Hocking’s books!

There also wasn’t any lack of action and twists, and be forewarned the book ends off with a pretty brutal cliffhanger!

characters

I also really enjoyed all of the characters and while I think they could have used a bit more development and complexity I still thought they were all a lot of fun.

Malin, our MC, is a badass Valkyrie who is also smart and stubborn at times. I liked how feisty she is, however, at times I felt she could be a little….fickle since she seems to not really know what it is that she wants.

Then there’s Quinn, the ex-lover, and Asher the new guy and both are love interests. I liked both characters and I could easily see how Malin fell for both of them. Basically Quinn and Asher are both badasses as well.

Speaking of badass….Malin’s mother, Marlow, was also really badass. She’s a fellow Valkyrie and is incredibly focused on her job and doesn’t really open up ever, even with her own daughter. I kind of had a love/hate relationship with Marlow.

There was also a strew of many other side characters that I loved as well such as Malin’s best friend who is also a witch and her pet Wolpertinger (which is the most adorable thing ever).

romance

I wouldn’t say I loved the romance in this book but I also didn’t hate it either but there is a bisexual love triangle so there is that. There is a bit of insta love and there definitely is a love triangle, but as I mentioned I didn’t mind it too much. Malin’s attraction to both Quinn and Asher was believable as both characters could offer her something different, however, I don’t think Quinn treated Malin the best though. I’m here for Malin x Asher!

in conclusionWhat I Loved: 

  • World building
  • Fast paced, action packed plot
  • Unique supernatural/mythological creatures

What I Didn’t Love: 

  • Characters could have used a bit more development
  • Romance was “meh”

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend checking this book out! Especially if you love urban fantasy, mythology, or just a fun, action-packed read!

• Add on Goodreads!
• Purchase: Amazon – B&N – Book Depository

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.

 

WEBSITE • GOODREADS • FACEBOOK • TWITTER

The Sassy

Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

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

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

review

Wow, color me surprised. I was not expecting to end up loving this as much as I did! I’m kind of regretting that I didn’t buy myself a copy of my own, the cover is insanely gorgeous and so is the story! I’m usually not one for more romance driven books but this was just really great.

This review is going to be a bit shorter than usual as this book was short and I don’t want to spoil anything!

PLOT

I loved the overall story so much, just everything about it! I thought, for as short of a book that it was, the world building was also great! I really liked how the Fair Ones in this story followed a lot of the same traditional rules of Fairies in folk lore such as not being able to touch iron, using glamours, and not being able to lie. It made the story all the more interesting! I also liked the idea of the Craft, such as cooking and painting, that the Fair Ones cannot do and therefore rely on humans to do for them. I thought the world building was enjoyable, creative, and well explored.

The pacing could get off track every now and then but I thought overall it was well done and quick. This is a journey book so it could get slower in spots, keep that in mind!

Overall I did enjoy the plot as well, Isobel being swept away by Rook, they got themselves into many different situations and I definitely was never bored. There were also quite a few twists and turns, were any completely jaw-dropping and shocking? Not really but I was entertained! However, towards the end I felt the story ended a little abruptly and a lot of things were too convenient but since the story is a standalone and is very short, it’s forgivable. Plus I’m just always a fan of the star-crossed lovers trope!

Plus the writing was absolutely wonderful, it was just gorgeous and really brought each image vividly to my mind. I am definitely excited to see what else Rogerson will write up in the future!

characters

I think, while the plot was well done, it’s a bit more character driven. I loved the characters too!

Isobel, is a very talented painter and she’s very quick-witted as well especially when it comes to dealing with the Fair Ones. She was also very mature, she had to grow up fast, she takes care of her family and is always looking out for them. Therefore when she meets Rook she has trouble choosing between what’s “right and logical” over doing what she desires. Isobel, really develops a lot through the story and I thought she was a great narrator and an enjoyable character overall, I was definitely rooting for her!

As for Rook, I liked him a lot as well. He was charming, arrogant, but he could also be very sweet too. I also loved the moments where he was completely bewildered by human acts such as cooking meat before you eat it, it was hilarious and cute. He grows a lot throughout the story as well and learns to let certain things go and not bother him, he’s precious.

There were also a few side characters that were interesting such as some of the Fair Ones like Gadfly who was…interesting, and Isobel’s twin sisters were adorable!

romance

I LIKED THE ROMANCE! Normally under the circumstances I probably would have hated it but I didn’t. It is a little insta-lovey but honestly I thought there was chemistry between Isobel and Rook and I’m a sucker for forbidden romance! I was rooting for them the whole time! As I said this is a little more romance-driven but I was completely all for it.

in conclusion

I really enjoyed this book, sure there were a few problems I had with it but overall it was fantastic!

What I Loved:

  • Forbidden romance!
  • Great, lovable characters
  • Interesting, well done world building

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Ending felt abrupt
  • Too many convenient things happened to further the plot
  • Pacing could be a little uneven at times

RECOMMEND

I recommend checking this book out especially if you’re a fan of books with Fae!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

 

Book Review: Mary: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1) by Hillary Monahan

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There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her. Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go. A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: ‘Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.’ A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror. Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered. A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–befo…

review

I honestly had to really sit and debate over what I wanted to rate this because while there were some things I didn’t like I really did enjoy this book. So instead of a 3 or 3.5 rating I’m just going to round it all the way up to a solid 4 because this book was FUN and definitely entertaining!

Just a word of warning though: Don’t read this in the dark or alone!

PLOT

This is actually very fast-paced and there is no messing around setting up the story for Bloody Mary in the beginning, Hillary Monahan wasted no time throwing us right into the nitty gritty! I thought the pacing kept up throughout the entire book as well with barely a moment’s rest, the characters were pretty much under constant attack by Mary. Plenty of excitement and scares, that’s for sure!

The plot mostly focuses on the summoning of Bloody Mary, the haunting of the girls, and the girls trying to defeat her for good. There’s plenty of action and scares that will keep you on the edge of your seat too! Plus there’s a pretty good twist towards the end of the book as well that just adds to the overall thrill factor. However, the plot doesn’t have as much “oomph” as I would have liked but that could be being saved for the sequel maybe.

Let me just say that I thought the book had some VERY creepy and scary scenes as well, I was pleasantly surprised! This book really passed my expectations on all fronts but especially on that one, I’m glad it was scarier than I anticipated! Although I will say in order to scare me all you have to do is have something scuttling and doing that creepy disjointed crawling and I’m done for (which ended up happening)! I think Monahan did such an amazing job writing and describing Mary and each creepy scene in great detail, and to make a book scary it really is in the details.

The only thing I had a slight problem with was the characters making some dumb decisions, such as investigating an abandoned building at night alone. Dumb. However, I will say that for the most part the characters were actually pretty smart especially considering the fact that they’re a group of teenage girls in a horror book! Plus this quote pretty much explains away any irrational decisions because it makes perfect sense:

“In the past, when I watched horror movies because I thought being scared was fun, I always got angry at the characters whose hands shook so badly they dropped the car keys when the monster was chasing them. If someone wanted to survive, she would keep it together long enough to get away. Now, standing in the locker room like a frightened lamb, I understood. Fear shut my body down…”

Also that ending was such a cliffhanger, it’s not fair! I need the next book immediately!

characters

I actually really liked the characters in this book and as I said while they did make some questionable decisions they were all pretty smart about their ghost situation for the most part.

Shauna and Kitty both came full circle throughout reading and I thought their characters developed well. Anna was okay as well but she didn’t really come into focus all that much and Jess didn’t change at all. I also just despised Jess’s character in general since it was her who insisted on summoning Mary in the first place! She was a great character for furthering the plot though, I will give her that.

Then I suppose there’s Bloody Mary herself and she was fearsome to behold let me tell you! As I mentioned earlier Monahan did a fantastic job describing Mary in great detail and she was terrifying! I also really enjoyed digging into Mary’s past as well, the background on her character was interesting.

romance

There is a bit of a side romance between Kitty and another character but it’s not a main focus at all in the story. Other than that there is zero romance which is nice not only for a YA book but also a horror in general!

in conclusion

Overall this book definitely isn’t perfect by any means but it’s fun, scary, entertaining, and great for reading this time of year!

What I Loved:

  • Plenty of creepy and scary scenes
  • Fast pacing
  • Great writing with lots of detail
  • No romance

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Plot needed a little more attention
  • Characters made questionable decisions

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend checking this book out if you’re a fan of horror or looking for a fun, scary book to read for Halloween! Otherwise if you don’t like being scared maybe skip this one!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository / Book Outlet (Best Deal)

The Sassy