Review: A Far Wilder Magic

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I have a type. I try to be as fair as possible with all the books and review copies that I read, but at a point you just have to be honest with yourself and know what you like, and for me, it is A FAR WILDER MAGIC’s exact brand of YA Fantasy. Atmospheric, moody, character driven, and set in a indeterminate time period (but definitely gave off early 1900s-steampunk vibes). This stuff is my catnip, and I had a feeling this one would be a personal favorite. I felt like this book channeled the energy of some of my favorite authors and books, like Katherine Arden and Maggie Stiefvater. The atmospheric qualities to this book absolutely solidified this read for me. Admittedly on the slower-pace end of books, the writing allows for readers to have the time to get to know this world and relationships in a very character driven way. I actually liked the slower pace of this book, and felt that I had time to settle in and observe the intricate details that Allison Saft wove into this story, and enjoy the evolving relationships between characters.

Maggie was a character that I admired right off the bat and spent the rest of the book falling for. She was such a driven, fierce, independent character that I couldn’t help but want the best for, and seeing her opposite Wes (my love!!) made for one of my favorite Sunshine x Grump pairings ever. Wes and Maggie carved out little piece of my heart, and I’m fully happy they’ve got a place there.

Beyond the characters and the (gorgeous, gorgeous) writing, this book ran off of aesthetics and vibes like you wouldn’t believe. You know when people say they want their life to feel like a Ghibli movie? This book is like Ghlibli Movie meets The Scorpio Races (idk how else to explain it, you just gotta read it to get it), which effectively made this an instant favorite and addition to my bookshelf. If you’re like me and think this would be something up your alley, definitely grab it from a bookstore or library.

I pinky promise this one won’t disappoint.

Review: Reclaim the Stars

It’s absolutely zero secret that I love anthologies and collections. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins, and Meet Cute by Jennifer L. Armentrout are some of my long-time favorites, and Reclaim the Stars has moved right up there into the ranks.

I sat down a few weeks ago with this RECLAIM THE STARS, and despite my busy work schedule and the hectic rush to get caught up on my TBR, it has taken up so much headspace between then and now. It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly made this a hit for me, but it’s safe to day there’s a lot going for this book. Not only were each of the stories beautifully written and compiled, but they were brought by well-loved authors who each brought something brilliant to the table. Their voices stood out in each story, but together they worked so well in this collection. There was so much love poured into this work, and it was evident in every page and story in this book. I’m beyond excited to see a collection like this published, with stories that take Latin American diaspora and turn them into something magical.

I’m absolutely not done with reading collections of stories like these, so here’s hoping to many, many more like this in the future!

Spotlight: The Counter Clockwise Heart

The Counter Clockwise Heart by Brian Farrey

The Counter Clockwise Heart was a read that absolutely took me by surprise (through no fault of its own), not only because I adored it, but because I’ve struggled to reach much the past few weeks. I’ve been stuck right in the middle of a reading slump, so getting sucked into a book has been harder than ever for me to do. However, this one grabbed me right off the bat. I cannot overstate how hard breaking through the first couple of any chapters has been a feat of its own the past few months, so the fact that I was able to finish this read in a matter of hours meant the world. Sometimes the right books have a way of finding them when we need them most!

Biggest of thank yous to Brian Farrey and Algonquin Books for sending this review copy my way!

ACOTAR: Into the Winter Forest

Leading up to A Court of Silver Flames’ release day I had nothing but ACOTAR on the brain, so I took a LOT of photos as Nesta Archeron. At the time I was having an anxiety induced love-hate battle with Instagram so these photos never really made it on there, but now that it’s two-months post-publication, I feel like it’s a lil too past the mark to post them. Plus, I ended up just not liking the book anyways, so.

I like these photos too much to let them just collect dust in my Lightroom archives, so here’s a photo dump of my Book 1 Nesta cosplay (?).

I’ve always loved Nesta, and while I wanted better for her and wasn’t super satisfied with her arc in ACOSF, she’s still a character that I’ll hold near and dear to my heart.

A GOLDEN FURY: Review

Synopsis:

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

Whew, y’all. I can honestly say A Golden Fury was unlike anything I’ve read before: The premise alone was enough to catch my attention, but the lore surrounding the stone and the dire motivation for Thea to obtain it had me hooked. Set against a historical backdrop and a racing clock, A Golden Fury was a brilliant mix of science and legend that had me tearing through the pages. Cohoe took the idea of a dark academia setting and its characters— those who would do anything  to find the answers they seek, their willingness to push the boundaries of nature and science for their craft— and ran with it. It’s a story of descent into magic and madness, and a girl who will go to the ends of her sanity to save the ones she loves, and I LOVED every moment.

I mean, the concept of a journey into uncharted science to obtain a legendary stone is an enough to make me want to yell about this book from the rooftops, but it’s strengthened tenfold by Thea’s grit and quick-wit and sheer badassery. Thea is a heroine who knows who she is and what she is capable of— which is a powerful kind of magic in and of itself. She’s a self-assured, clever alchemist, but is saturated in an environment that doesn’t want her to be— that is, until she’s the best chance of creating the Philosopher’s Stone. Thea navigates the boundaries of science and myth on a quest to create the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, and it left me utterly obsessed. A story of a clever and quick-witted heroine dabbling with uncharted science to create a legendary artifact is everything I’ve ever wanted, and it was brilliantly delivered.  My final verdict? Cohoe clearly already has some kind of Philosopher’s Stone, because this book was pure gold. This isn’t one you’ll want to miss!

Make sure to check this book out either on Goodreads or on Macmillan’s website!

My Top 5 Anticipated Reads of 2019

Here we are, the first blog post of 2019!
There’s so many things I wanted to discuss that I couldn’t decide what to write about, but with half of my 2019 TBR list releasing in January alone, I thought it’d be fun to pick out the books I’m most excited for this year. I think about half this list is being released this month*, so at least the wait for most of these should be short lived!
I’m so stoked about all of that these that I didn’t have it in me to rank them, so they’re listed in no particular order.
*I’m using the publication dates  found on Amazon so think they’re accurate, but mainly for readers in the US!

So here it goes, my top 5 anticipated reads for 2019:

 

 

Kingdom of Copper 

king of copper

by S. A. Chakraborty

January 22, 2019
Who’s actually shocked? This comes as no surprise, considering City of Brass was one of my favorite reads of 2018. I could talk you ear off about this series all day, but just know that the world building, writing, and characters in this series have been some of my favorite in years. The ending damn near killed me, so needless to say I want this to be here in my hands, like, yesterday.

 

99% Mine

99 percent

by Sally Thorne

January 29, 2019
The Hating Game was one of the first (and to this day, one of the only) adult romance novels I genuinely enjoyed. Lucy’s voice came across so vibrantly, Josh was totally swoon-worthy when he behaved, and I busted a rib or two laughing out loud. I can’t wait to see what else Sally Thorne has in store for us!

 

King of Scars

king of scars

by Leigh Bardugo

January 29, 2019
I, along with presumably the rest of the YA community, have been waiting with bated breath for this book. Leigh Bardugo consistently writes some of my favorite YA novels, and the fact that this one follows Nikolai freakin’ Lantsov practically doubles the buzz. He’s everyone’s precious son, and we’re dying to know what he’s about to go through in this upcoming series (LET HIM BE HAPPY, LEIGH). I’m getting so pumped up by the anticipation from literally everyone I know, because we’re all just as excited and ready.

 

Winter of the Witch

winter witch

by Katherine Arden

January 8, 2019
Katherine Arden is going to take my heart, soul, and wallet with this one, and I can’t even be mad about it. After the ending of Girl in the Tower, I’m in need of some answers. If you’ve read it, you’re in the same boat, I’m sure. If you haven’t, go ahead and read it, then thank your lucky stars your don’t have to wait much longer for the next installment.

 

Bloodwitch

bloodwtich

by Susan Dennard

February 12, 2019
For those who have read the Witchlands, #baeduen. The end.
For those who haven’t: what are you waiting for? This series has been an absolute whirlwind! Incredible world building, characters, and conflict, this series stands apart from others due to the sheer life it has on the pages. Safi and Iseult are both capable and strong characters with an unbreakable friendship, and it so easy to fall in love with these characters. I am so, so excited to see what is coming up for my favorite ass-kicking ladies!

 

And that’s it! But like I said earlier, 2019 is gonna be a great year for releases. I had a hard time narrowing the list down. Because of that, I thought I’d add a couple of honorable mentions:

 

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

by Adrienne Young

September 3, 2019
Truth be told, at the time of publishing this post I don’t know exactly what this book is about, apart from the fact that it is a companion novel to Sky in the Deep. Considering that Sky in the Deep was one of my favorite books of 2018 and Adrienne Young is on top of my list of debut authors to watch, I’m going ahead and giving this a mention. I will undoubtedly be reading it the day it comes out, even if I still have no idea what it’s about.

 

Courting Darkness

courting darkness

 by Robin LaFevers

February 5, 2019
Bad ass sisterhood of female assassins out for blood and answers. That’s all you need to know.
But in all honesty, I actually didn’t know this was happening until I heard about it in November!  This has been one of my longest lasting favorite series (My high school tastes were not great. This is one of the rare, few exceptions.), and truthfully, a pretty unique series in the YA realm. It’s historical fantasy fiction with old gods and female assassins and political debacles galore! I felt content with how the previous 3 books had wrapped up so I wasn’t dying for another installment, but hey, I’ll always take more of this world.

 

That really is it! Of course there’s so many more fantastic books I’ve got my eye on for this year, but as of now these are on the top of my watch list.
I’m curious, what are the reads you’re looking forward to the most this year?

September Wrap-Up

Remember me? It’s almost been a year since I’ve updated, and practically watched the dust scatter as I clicked the Publish button. But I’ve had a lot of free time since I moved back to the US in August, and September was really when I was able to settle down and enjoy being back home. I picked up my hobbies and read a lot in the last month, enough to justify a Wrap-Up and highlight my favorites!
Everything has been hyperlinked to Goodreads, so make sure to check out whatever piques your interest!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden 4.5/5

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{I thought The Bear and the Nightingale had a slow start but the world building was incredible, and the main character was strong-willed, clever, and kinda reminded me of  Luna Lovegood in a way? That could just be because of her relationship with the supernatural, but I was really fond of her. I knocked a star off for the slow beginning, but the rest made up for it!}

 

Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo 5/5

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{I was hooked from the first story and savored all six. The stories were all otherworldly and beautifully written, and I love how Language of Thorns deepens the Grishaverse world building.}

 

Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn 4.5/5

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{An oldie but a goodie, this was a wonderfully written fantasy novel with a strong heroine, positive friendships, and great world-building. There were some steampunk elements mixed in, the romance was subtle but really enjoyable, and though the magic system left me with a few questions, overall I just had fun with this! }
I haven’t gotten around to writing full reviews for any of these yet, but here’s how I rated some of the other books I read this month:
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik 3.5/5
    • {A companion novel to Uprooted, I had a love/hate relationship with this one. There were moments I couldn’t put it down, and others where the multiple story lines annoyed me so much I didn’t want to pick it back up. Personally, I didn’t feel like the multiple POVs were necessary and wished we would just stick to one story, especially since the changes were never labeled (at least on my e-copy) so it was a lot of whiplash. I loved everything about Miryem her whole story which is why I didn’t give up on it, and I’m really glad  I stuck with it til the end (which I loved.)}
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden 4/5
    • {This is the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale. Again, I thought this start was really slow but it picked up momentum and I ended up loving it. I can safely say this series has captured my heart and imagination.}
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware 3.5/5
    • {This was a good ol’ thriller/ mystery. I got a little impatient at parts, but it was an entertaining read as a whole!}
  • Hudson Valley series (Nuts 3.5/5, Cream of the Crop 2/5, Buns 4/5) by Alice Clayton
    • {I don’t usually reach for chick lit but these were fun. Even though there were a few moments the dialogue felt a little dated/awkward, there were a few genuine laughs! The only one I did not like was Cream of the Crop, mainly because Oscar really rubbed me the wrong way.}
  • The Immortals Jordanna Max Brodsky 3.5/5 
    • {I liked the portrayal of the gods and their more mortal attributes, their powers greatly weakened, all in a modern Manhattan setting. 
  • Kill the Farm Boy (DNF)
    • {The writing and humor were just…not my taste.}
  • Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter 2/5
    • {This was a super quick story that was part wilderness survival, part political intrigue. I usually love Ally Carter’s work, but unfortunately I didn’t care for the dialogue, characters, or plot in this one, so this was a miss for me.}
And that’s September summed up in a nutshell! Going from zero books in two months to twelve+ in one felt really, really good, and I can’t tell you how it feels to finally have the words to update this blog. 
Let me know what your most recent read is, and hopefully I’ll see you in my next update! (Which won’t be long, my review of Mirage is going up in just a minute!)

Retribution Rails

 

~A big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an ARC~

How is it already November?! I feel like this year is flying by, and now with less than a week to go before Retribution Rails hits the physical and digital shelves, I figured there’s no better time to share a bit about my first reactions, general thoughts, and overall opinions of the book here on my blog. So without further ado, my non-spoilery review of Retribution Rails:

I’m gonna get this out of the way because we can’t not talk about it: the cover of Retribution Rails is absolutely stunning. First with Vengeance Road, and now with the equally amazing cover that is Retribution Rails? Let’s be honest, Erin Bowman has struck gold in The Mine of Cover Art.

I was so excited to get an eGalley of this book, and as soon as I got my hands on it I took well over a hundred pictures, then decided to make some coffee and dive in. But guys, I made a rookie mistake with this one: I started this book just a few hours before bed and stayed up reading until sometime after 3am? I think? I didn’t have it in me to look at the clock by the time I actually went to sleep. Retribution Rails just kicked off with the action and never really slowed down.

Needless to say, as soon as I started I was hooked. Some of that has to do with the setting: Set 10 years after the events of Vengeance Road, this installation allows us to explore more of this Wild West that we were initially introduced to in Vengeance Road, but one that has expanded and modernized throughout the decade. I thought this book was a breath of fresh air for multiple reasons, the setting being one of them. I’ve personally not found a lot of YA set in the good ol’ Wild West, so I was excited to see where Erin would take this series next.

I wanted to avoid playing the comparison game but I have to be honest; I enjoyed Retribution Rails a lot more so than Vengeance Road. I think the Wild West setting in this series is exciting and intriguing, but what set this book apart for me were the characters. Charlotte is witty and ambitious, fighting to be taken seriously and make her break into the world of investigative journalism like her role model, Nellie Bly (can I just take a second to say how much I love this?). Reece is a Rose Rider who wants nothing more than to be truly free, and is determined to change his future. They’re both likeable, their feelings relatable, and are working through their own problems and are ready to put up a fight for what they want. Following their stories and seeing their frenemy relationship fall into place was so much fun, and I liked that there was more of a focus on each of their own journeys of personal growth throughout the novel.

There were some throwbacks to the events of Vengeance Road that I really enjoyed, mainly because I thought it was neat to see how the aftermath was handled and how the events were seen by the rest of the world. I felt like Erin did a good job of handling the transition between the two books; she was able to keep in touch with elements from Vengeance Road while letting these new characters have their own narrative.

Overall, I was really pleased with this novel. It was just a lot of fun, packed with the tropes you love to see in a western, and with characters you can’t help but root for!

TL;DR: I thought this was a fun companion novel and strong follow-up to Vengeance Road. I love reading a good Western, and I liked seeing Erin’s take on the transcontinental rail road this time around. Along with historical Wild West setting, I thought these new characters were super likeable, and brought this novel to life. If you liked Vengeance Road ( or, honestly, even if you didn’t), I’d recommend giving this one a try!

** I received this book as an eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

Hey hey, I’m back to hit you with a new review on Margaret Rogerson’s  An Enchantment of Ravens. I’ve slowly but surely been gaining momentum and getting back into reading, and this was one of the most recent books I’ve picked up. This book has been so hyped and I’d be lying if I said that cover art didn’t totally do me in, but unfortunately, this one was a no-go for me. It really wasn’t bad, just not my cup of tea. You can read more of my thoughts on why that was below! 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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 among them. 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, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of 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.

My thoughts:

DNF/2.5 Stars

I just want to start off this review by emphasizing this: this book isn’t bad, it’s just not for me. The writing was well done and there were some really clever and funny moments, but at 60% I just didn’t have any drive to finish it.  If you want to know why that is and to hear my thoughts, feel free read ahead!

Granted, I did quit about 65% in, but even up until then I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. There was a lot of journeying around the forests, slipping through other courts, and an introduction of the wild hunt, and a good deal of fighting and running from threats with vague but ominous origins. By the time I finished I still couldn’t really understand why Isobel painting emotion onto Rook’s portrait was a big enough deal to warrant all the trouble they were going through. I gathered that the Fae aren’t big on expressing the feels, and that Rook felt his portrait only cemented his already perceived vulnerability from his own court, but even then it just seemed like Rook was a bit miffed and needed an excuse to whisk Isobel away in typical Fae fashion.

Even with that I was willing to just roll with it, but unfortunately I can’t say the same about the Insta-Love. It was apparent and predicable right at the beginning, but I kept reading in hopes that Isobel would prove me wrong.  Isobel was funny, self-sufficient, and self-aware, which ended up making this so much more disappointing. Even though the portrait painting sessions happened over a period of time, that time lapse was described within a matter of paragraphs, so it really felt like a sudden development.  Isobel knew the Insta-Love was ridiculous, and actively pointed out how quickly she fell for Rook and how they were moving fast, etc. but she still chose to focus and act on these feelings. Which is fine. I’m just not into the whole Insta-Love thing, so it didn’t do itself any favors in my book.

As far as Rook’s character goes,  Isobel had to know something that I didn’t because as quickly and seriously as she became enamored with him, I personally felt there was no real basis for it. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be intrigued by a Fae prince that showed up on my doorstep, and maybe he was super charming off scene, but I never got her attraction to him.  Based off of other reviews I was prepared for a swoon-worthy, somewhat arrogant Fae prince who would get under my skin, but I honestly found Rook’s character to be really flat. I have a tendency to love purposefully arrogant/ obnoxious characters, but Rook never once got me annoyed or itching to punch him or anything, so overall I thought he was just kind of meh. Seeing as I based that expectation off of other reviews, though, I can’t really say Margaret Rogerson takes the blame for that one!

When it comes down to it, I don’t want to crap all over this debut because it honestly wasn’t bad. Margaret Rogerson can write; there were some laugh-out-loud moments that caught me off guard in the best kind of way, and she did bring in some potentially interesting plot points (the whole infected summer court thing seemed intriguing!!). I just found that at a little over halfway through, the characters and romance development just weren’t for me.