ARC Review: Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by Various Authors

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

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ARC Review: Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

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ARC Review: The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg

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New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.

Like her mother’s, Avery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power—or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on “patients”…and no one knows why.

review

**** Huge thank you to HarperTeen for approving me for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! ****

I have to say I’m a little confused about my feelings for this book, because it started out excellent and then for some reason dragged at the end and the story got really jumbled up. I think it had a lot of potential but that ending just made everything fall really flat for me.


(I’m going to do this review a bit differently, I recently ran a poll on my Twitter asking if you guys prefer my normal method of reviewing or if you’d like a list. It was close but the list style ended up winning so I want to give it a try! Please, please let me know what you think and if you’d like more reviews in this style!)


What I Liked:

  • Avery Kohl, our main character, is a fantastic protagonist. She’s very loyal, kind, and doesn’t like to stick to the 1880’s views on women and race. Avery is a welder and honestly it’s pretty badass because the work is hard, she’s looked down on for being female and in this position but toughs it out, and she does it all to help provide for herself and her father. She also watches over the other boys in her crew and is very protective of them, it’s adorable!
  • The setting of this book is extremely unique as it’s set during the Second Industrial Revolution in 1880’s New York. I don’t know about you guys but that’s not exactly a setting I see very often especially in YA! From what little I know about this time period I still thought Schaumberg did an excellent job with this setting.
  • I also really enjoyed the paranormal/psychic bits of the story, the powers that Avery has are interesting and some other characters possessed powers as well. However, I felt like the powers could have been explored a lot more and it would have made things a lot more interesting.
  • The side characters were really great and had their own unique personalities, sometimes they just don’t get enough development but these characters had it! There were a few characters that really endeared themselves to me.
  • Avery also has a pet falcon named Seraphine, it’s awesome.
  • The pacing at the beginning of the book is very fast and I was pulled in right from the start, the story was intriguing and I wanted to know what was going on with Avery’s powers!
  • There is some romance present in this book and I love that it didn’t take over the plot. I did like the love interests overall as well and could easily see why Avery liked them both. It was nice that no one ever had a big spat over who was going to end up with who though.
  • Diversity! We have African-American characters, Romany characters, and an Italian character. Of course there were others as well and I liked that we were shown what a “melting pot” New York City is.
  • I also really liked that the racism shown towards characters is challenged especially considering the time period the book is set in. Avery and her father both actively disregard the public’s views of other races and are close friends with different people of color.
  • The cover is gorgeous!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Half way through the story the pacing slows down significantly and really starts to drag. I ended up skimming a bit right at the ending because I just wanted it to be over.
  • The overall plot made sense from the start but as with the pacing, it just got really messy and confusing towards the end. I can’t even really tell you what the heck was happening by the end! The beginning was strong but the end not so much.
  • The main antagonist was incredibly cheesy, we are talking classic mustache twirling villain. I had a hard time taking him seriously at all let alone as a threat. And his “grand scheme” was laughably terrible.
  • There’s a love triangle and while I liked both love interests, what was the point? Especially the second love interest! He came out of nowhere I felt like!
  • As I already kind of mentioned, I wish everyone’s “powers” were explained and explored a lot more. For such an important part of the story I felt it was barely present.

Normally I’d say if the “liked” bits outweigh the “not liked” bits then I enjoyed the book but here it’s just not the case. I enjoyed myself at the beginning of the book but by the end I was so bored and confused that I just can’t give this book a better rating. It was too much of a mess by the end.

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

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Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

review

Where do I even begin to explain how great this book was? It’s one of those books that I insist you drop what you’re doing right now and go read it! Usually I am not one for historical fiction or more romance heavy plots but oh man was I glad I picked this one up!

Trigger Warnings: Parental abuse both physical, verbal, and emotional, racism, and homophobia (I understand that the last two coincide with the time period but it could have been challenged a bit more in the story)

PLOT

“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” overall is just such a fun, light-hearted, and hilarious story that is all very reminiscent of “My Lady Jane” so if you enjoyed that book I definitely recommend checking this one out as well! It’s very fast paced, full of plenty adventures and shenanigans in which Monty gets everyone tangled up in one problem after the other. They even have run ins with highwaymen and pirates both! So yes this book is very much entertaining and never has a dull moment!

I also really enjoyed Monty’s narrative and inner monologues because of how sassy and sarcastic he was. I found that this is a majority of why I thought this story was so hilarious!

The overall setting is on the characters’ Grand Tour of the Continent so we get to have places such as Paris, Spain, and Venice as our backdrop to all of the trouble Monty seems to get himself and his friends into. We don’t see too terribly much of the cities or countries but there are a few landmarks mentioned and I just found it all to be very exciting. Venice was definitely my favorite place they visited…just saying.

Mackenzi Lee’s writing is also simply amazing, it had me hooked right from the beginning and had me turning pages all the way up until the end! I loved how she made it additive, hilarious, and touching all at once. There was also never a dull moment and we were never bogged down with pointless or boring details, we got the journey without all of the fussing!

I also really loved the ending even if it was a bit unrealistic.

There was also diversity! We got to have a bisexual narrator along with a M/M romance and Percy was also of a diverse ethnicity (I’m pretty sure he was English/African but I’m not 100% positive).

While I’d love to rate this 5 stars it just didn’t feel quite like a 5 star read for me so 4.5 it is!

characters

The characters were definitely my favorite part of this book, easily! All three of the main characters (Monty, Percy, and Felicity) were straight up amazing and adorable, they were all just so likable! I also felt that they were very realistic, had their flaws, and learned to deal with them or overcome them. So I guess you could say they developed very well over the course of the story.

Henry “Monty” Montague is our narrator and as I said earlier he is FULL of sass and sarcasm which ultimately gets him into quite a bit of trouble, well that and the fact that he loves to drink, gamble, smoke, and fool around with both men and women all the time. People that know him often refer to him as a scoundrel and it’s quite fitting. I find that most often his personality was hilarious in this way but he could be quite an ass sometimes, but his friends would call him out on it immediately and he would actually listen and learn from it. That’s right a character who actually learns from his mistakes and friends that aren’t afraid to call him out!

I also really loved Percy and Felicity since both were adorable but Felicity is a bookish badass! I’m actually really in love with Felicity’s character because she didn’t take shit from anyone and with the way the story ended with her I’m super pumped to read her spin off “The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats and Piracy”.

romance

I’m usually not the biggest fan of YA romances since they’re usually so filled with tropes but this was perfect! I shipped Monty + Percy so freaking much! Honestly they were both the most adorable and you could have cut the tension with a knife, seriously. I also found it very cute that they both were head over heels for each other but were both so completely clueless they thought their love was unrequited! I also really liked how their romance had a bit of a “forbidden love” feel to it since that’s one trope I can’t get enough of!

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • Fun, light-hearted, and hilarious story
  • Great, adorable, and likable characters
  • Diversity!
  • Tons of adventure and shenanigans!
  • Pirates!
  • The amazing and fun writing
  • The settings (France, Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.)
  • The completely adorable and ship worthy romance

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Honestly nothing I loved everything! (it just didn’t feel like a complete 5 star for me personally though)

RECOMMEND

I highly, highly recommend checking out “The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue” because there’s definitely something for everyone in here! It’s overall just such a fun and entertaining book and I want everyone to read and enjoy it as well!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

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 Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.

review

**** Thank you to Amulet Books and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review****

Overall this is a decent read but not anything that really impressed me. I don’t normally read a lot of historical fiction but I still enjoyed “The Lie Tree” enough to give it 3 stars. I also enjoyed Hardinge’s style and will probably read more of her work.

PLOT

My biggest problem with the story was how slow it was and how long it took to set itself up. It has a very, very slow start and we spend a lot of time learning about Faith (our MC), her family, and the mystery surrounding their sudden move to the island of Vane. I found my attention and interest floundering a few times but I pushed on simply for the answers to the murder mystery and the appearance of The Lie Tree itself. Which I will let you know now doesn’t show up until about halfway through the book and let’s be honest the tree’s a big lure.

Hardinge does a fantastic job setting the atmosphere for this book, it’s eerie and intriguing which couples well with the mystery theme. Her writing style also flows very well and was easy to read through.

Overall the book is one giant mystery because it’s a few mysteries all tangled into one, we have the mystery of the family’s move, the mystery of Faith’s father’s death, and the general mystery of the “lie tree”.  All of these things definitely pique interest and Hardinge does a great job of keeping you guessing. However, the mysteries are slow and subtle; this is not a thriller.

Really though my craving for answers was one of the only things that kept me reading since a lot of the time the story dragged.

characters

They’re all very complex and…gray; no black and white, good and bad characters here. I liked Faith and her brother Howard but every other person on the island including Faith’s family? Not so much. I don’t think there was a single kind-hearted person there, everyone is kind of out for themselves which I liked because it made things interesting and realistic but at the same time they made me very mad. Which was probably the point.

Faith is very headstrong and clever she wants to be a natural scientist and since it’s set in the 1800’s, it isn’t exactly a woman’s profession. She’s faced with ridicule by men through out the duration of the book and she isn’t taken seriously. I loved how she didn’t take any of that shit from anyone and was determined to go out and prove them all wrong. Girl power. Although at times being inside her head-space could get tedious just because she spent a lot of time…monologuing.

None of the other characters were particularity memorable and while I appreciated some of their complexity (and moral gray areas) I didn’t enjoy the characters much themselves. Faith’s parents are pretty selfish and wrapped up in protecting themselves versus their children and that’s something I couldn’t really look past.

in conclusion

As I said earlier it’s a decent read, I liked the mysteries that are all tangled up in the story and the “lie tree” is quite interesting. Faith’s character was enjoyable and the other characters are very developed. However, I thought the story dragged a lot at times and got slow to the point of boredom. So mixed feelings overall and I’m in the minority on this book since a lot of other people loved it and gave it 4-5 star reviews. I just don’t think this book was for me in the end.

RECOMMEND

Not really, unfortunately. However if you’re a big fan of historical fiction and the old fashioned sort of murder mystery you may enjoy this book. Plenty of other people loved this book a lot more than I did so you may be one of them!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy