Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Genre: YA, Thriller, Mystery

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

The Swarm is unrecognizable, untraceable, and unpredictable—random attacks on the streets of Chicago by a mob of crazed teens that leaves death in its wake. It’s been two years since the last attack, but Lia Finch has found clues that reveal the Swarm is ready to claim a new victim.

Lia is the only one still pursuing her father’s killers, two years after attorney Steven Finch’s murder by the Swarm. Devastated and desperate for answers, Lia will do anything to uncover the reasons behind his death and to stop someone else from being struck down. But due to debilitating asthma and PTSD that leaves her with a tenuous hold on reality, Lia is the last person to mount a crusade on her own.

After a close encounter with the Swarm puts Lia on their radar, she teams up with a teen hacker, a reporter, and a mysterious stranger who knows firsthand how the mob works. Together, they work to uncover the master puppeteer behind the group. Though if Lia and her network don’t stop the person pulling the strings—and fast—Lia may end up the next target. “

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!*

A book is always creepier if it is based (or even loosely based) on true events. Plus, this is perfect for fall, specifically right around Halloween time. It’s scary because of the fact that you could just be walking amidst strangers that all of the sudden converge and beat you to death. Yep. Terrifying.

Characters. I really liked that Lia had a disease (Asthma) as well as some serious panic attacks. The author did a really good job of replicating how the panic attacks feel, and how you are supposed to overcome them. Lia was hell-bent obsessed with catching these teen murderers. I don’t blame her. I didn’t really like the romance in this book though. It seemed a bit too quick. BUT I can see how being involved in something this tragic can quickly bring two people together, especially two teens trying to figure things out.

Plot. Like I said before, this was actually quite creepy! A death mob made up of hormonal messed up teens is super scary. I have a hard time with the whole cops are useless thing. I do believe that a lot of cops are bought off, and not all cops are good. HOWEVER, it did bother me that the possibility wasn’t even entertained that at least one cop would be willing to listen to Lia. Instead she gets the news anchor. Yeah, right. Pretty much all news stations and news anchors are pathological lairs, so… One thing I did like was the fact that the politicians were messed up. I really believe BOTH sides are so screwed up. They are all paid off and make deals they shouldn’t and they also lie all the time. I’m glad the author put that in there. I wanted a bit more on Cullen. He seemed like a deeper character!

Final Thoughts. It really was the perfect Fall read! I would definitely read more of Gabriel’s books! If you are looking for a quick thriller I highly suggest this! I also think this would be a good book club pick because of the different conversations this could spark!

What are some of your favorite thrillers? I hardly ever read them but like them when I do!

Shadow Frost (Shadow Frost, #1) by Coco Ma – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: October 01, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.


When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

From young author Coco Ma comes a dazzling new tale of adventure, power, and betrayal, weaving together a stunning world of magic with a killer cast in an explosive, unforgettable debut.

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an e-arc through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

I have been a little back and forth on YA Fantasy lately but THIS one, THIS one is what I love about YA Fantasy!

Characters: Told by multiple POV, I think Asterin’s is actually my favorite. Asterin is the princess with a rare powerful ability. She is sassy, sweet, skillful, and a bit naive but in a cute way. I liked the mix of Quinlan’s personality of shy but also knows what he wants. He has a tortured past that is sure to have everyone feeling for him. He is one of the things that Asterin is naive about for a long time! They have really good chemistry and I can’t wait to see more! I also really enjoyed the other characters. They all held their own stories really well. They were also unique enough in the personalities that I didn’t get bored.

Plot/ World. I’ll make my list of plot points again, because, how can you not love this plot?! Princess with a rare ability, powerful friends, a love interest with a tortured past, a shadow demon that is massacring people, an epic quest, and some surprises along the way. I loved the added plot point of her and her mom’s relationship. It was complicated. It is rare for an author to write about a parent/ child relationship that is in a grey area of both love and a bit of abuse. I find it very interesting! I loved the elemental magic system that Ma writes. It still has a price, but it’s very powerful. I like that she has 10 elements that different people can control with a select few being able to control all of them. She does a really good job of writing her own unique world for us to adventure in!

Writing. This is Coco Ma’s first book and she’s in her young 20’s?! She has a GREAT career ahead of her. Absolutely wonderful writing. It was descriptive without being overly so. I never got lost, nor did I ever get bored!

Final Thoughts. I need the second book like, yesterday. I am super invested in this story. I would definitely recommend this to pretty much everyone I know who like YA Fantasy. I see this being a favorite for sure!

I don’t usually do this BUT if you liked Roar, Air Awakens, or Furyborn, I really think you would love this book!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Redhook

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

Amazon

In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own. “

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC and finished copy in exchange for an honest review!*

I am SO excited to be writing this review. Not only is this cover STUNNING, but the book was an absolute JOY to read. This is hands down one of my favorite reads of this year and might be one of my top 10 favorite reads of all time. This has all of the makings of a classic! I am not sure I would quite put this as YA. Even though the heroine is 17, it is not written like a YA.

Characters. January. Oh, sweet January. I absolutely adore her. She starts out as questioning but timid. She soon learns to fight back and fight for her family. She is kind while at the same time standing up for what is right. I think that is really hard for writers to do. Harrow hit it out of the park! January’s sense of adventure is enviable! Plus, literally all of the secondary characters are amazing to read about. I want a book for each one of them!

Plot/ World. I like making a list of plot points so here we go: Adventure, plot twists, a big dog that travels with January, ten thousand other worlds, star-crossed lovers, a really well written villain (the kind you feel for but also start to hate). This is one of the most adventurous books I’ve ever read so you can see why I had to rate it 5 stars. There are literal doors that lead to other worlds. One was a jungle where the residents are were-leopards. One is filled with islands that if you have magic, you can write words that have magic. One is filled with harsh, cold, black ice. One where there are ancient eagle-like people. There are many others visited. Again, I want a book for each world!! With January searching for her family across worlds, it’s no wonder you fall in love with the story!

Writing. I cannot believe this is Harrow’s debut novel. Have I said this should be a classic? I have? Well I can’t stress that point enough. She is the type of author writing was made for. Her writing is pure magic.

Final Thoughts. READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW! It is one of the most unique stories I have ever read. I want MORE. I will now forever buy Harrow’s books.

Tell me what one of your favorite books of this year is!

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The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

” In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world. “

*Thank you so much to the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I had so much fun reading this! It was a short read (for me) and it read like a light meal. Something that isn’t heavy but you keep coming back to because it’s just good. This might be weird, but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s like Angel Food Cake. Am I crazy?

Characters. Etta was FLAWED y’all. No Mary Sue here! We begin her adventure watching her deal with a huge mistake that cost multiple lives. As she struggles with the choices she has made, we see her grow into someone who accepts those choices and does her best to rectify them. Beautiful character growth. I LOVE adventures with forgiveness in them. It’s not written about often!

Plot. This was pretty unique! Memories are this world’s currency. You buy, sell, or steal memories in order to get skills you didn’t have before, or watch a precious memory that belonged to someone else, or have a memory that is torture. It is really interesting to watch play out. For Etta to have a memory power, it comes at a great cost. They can use these powers for great things or terrible things. Plus, add in a crazed ruler that needs to be over thrown, and you’ve got yourself a mind battle. Then you have a little romance, adventure, and some twists. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Writing. This is Mansy’s first book and I thought it was well done! She doesn’t write deeply or to the point where your heart is moved, BUT she keeps you interested and never lost.

Final Thoughts. It was good! I would really recommend this to maybe younger teenagers. This would have been my bread and butter at thirteen! (Side note, I must be hungry while writing this?)

What are some unique aspects in books you like to read about?

*Book Sleeve is from Love You More Studio! Code: STORIED10 for 10% off!

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2) by Julie Kagawa – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amazon

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.


Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos. “

This is going to be a bit short because I don’t want to say any spoilers.

I was actually a bit disappointed in this one. It fell a little flat. It definitely hit the second book slump for me. I LOVED the first book, Shadow of the Fox. Pretty sure I gave that one 5 stars. This one really didn’t pick up until maybe the last 100 pages or so.

Characters. I really liked that you got four POV. That one of the POV was Hakaimono himself! He was very interesting to read about. I enjoyed the changes in him as well as his snark. He was my favorite to read about! Tatsumi was tortured before being trapped and now it’s on a whole other level. Yumeko is always fun to read about. She’s quite funny in a goofy way and I love it. She also has a lot of character growth, which I enjoyed. There is also a mysterious fourth POV in the form of a ghost who watches a VERY ineresting side character.

Plot. This is the area I’m having problems. The first book was all adventure and mysterious. This one had adventure but it wasn’t quite fun. I actually got mad at Yumeko in the end for a second. I had to really think about why she made the decisions she did. I’m trying not to give too much away here. It just wasn’t as fun as the first book.

Final Thoughts. I still love this series. The writing is super well done. The world building is incredible. And I can’t wait for the last book in the series! I’m hoping that one will blow me away!

Have you read any of Kagawa’s books? Which is your favorite?

* Book Sleeve is from my favorite sleeve shop, Love You More Studio! Use my code, Storied10 to save! I can’t stop using them in my review posts. I love it.

*Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, M/M, death, torture, ghosts, demons, blood

OTHER CONTENT: Standing up for what you believe in, sacrificing for your friends/ family, healthy friendships, not giving up

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American Royals (#1) by Katharine McGee – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 03, 2019

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

Amazon

What if America had a royal family? If you can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan or Kate and William, meet American princesses Beatrice and Samantha.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown.
Two girls vying for the prince’s heart.
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American. And their country was born of rebellion.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded–and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history. “

*Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review! AND a big thank you to the publisher for having me on the tour!*

This is probably my favorite contemporary I’ve ever read. It read like a Hallmark movie with added drama. I loved every moment.

Characters: Beatrice seems uptight when you first meet her but quickly learn that she has her emotions under tight control. She is an extreme perfectionist because she is in line to become the next queen of America. I actually found her more interesting than her wild sister, Samantha, and her wild brother Jeff. I felt bad for Samantha though because she seemed like she would actually have been on the right path if she was encouraged (positively) to do so. She just couldn’t compete with her perfect older sister. Jeff seemed sweet but really naive when it comes to women! I guess he’s only 18 but still! He had me shaking my head sometimes! Nina seemed like the only normal teenager, which I suppose she was. Daphne… oh boy. What to say about her. While I admire her cleverness, she is also quite scary and just plain old MEAN! She makes a good “baddie” because you feel bad for her while at the same time hate her.

Plot: I think that McGee did a really good job of making this world feel real! I normally don’t like political insinuations but I have to say that I agreed a bit with some things she said. Especially the part where Beatrice is wondering what a vote would be like. And she came to the conclusion that it would basically be a mess and everyone would be corrupt… Agreed! Anyways, I liked the drama that Beatrice’s position caused. She didn’t really want it but has absolutely no choice. And the choices she has to make! I loved McGee’s look at what America would look like as a monarchy. McGee is actually a bit humorous at times, at one point she says that the Royals only drink coffee because of the Boston Tea Party incident. I almost laughed out loud at that!

Final Thoughts: If you like drama, alternate history, and lots of romantic tension, read this. That ending was so hard to read! I want the second book RIGHT NOW!

Katharine McGee is the New York Times bestselling author of the Thousandth Floor series. She studied English and French literature at Princeton and has an MBA from Stanford. She’s been speculating about American royalty since her undergraduate days, when she wrote a thesis on “castle envy”: the idea that the American psyche is missing out on something, because Americans don’t have a royal family of their own.

Katharine lives with her husband in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

For more information, check out her website (this is one of the COOLEST author sites I’ve ever seen!!).

Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders, #3) by Robin Hobb – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: March, 2000

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Dragons

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

Amazon

“The triumphant conclusion to the magnificent Liveship Traders series.

The dragon, Tintaglia, released from her wizardwood coffin, flies high over the Rain Wild River. Below her, Reyn and Selden have been left to drown, while Malta and the Satrap attempt to navigate the acid flow of the river in a decomposing boat.

Althea and Brashen are sailing the liveship Paragon into pirate waters in a last-ditch attempt to rescue the Vestrit family liveship, Vivacia, who was stolen by the pirate king, Kennit; but there is mutiny brewing amongst their ragtag crew, and in the mind of the mad ship itself.

And all the while the waters around the Vivacia are seething with giant serpents, following the liveship as she sails to her destiny . . . “

I’ll be quick about this one since it’s the third book in the series and I can’t talk about much without giving away a spoiler!

Characters. Malta is my favorite character now. Whoops. Not sure how that happened considering I hated her. Reyn is sooo sweet still and I will forever ship him and Malta. Amber, Paragon, Vivacia, all have super interesting stories that I loved reading about. Wintrow has his heart torn so many times. I feel so bad for him! He grows almost as much as Malta though! I still want to be Ronica when I grow up. Brashen had some major growing to do but he did it well. Now for the “messy” characters. Kennit. Oh boy, he has the most interesting story of all. Etta also has her heart torn a few times. Kefria sort of redeemed herself at the end. Now Althea. Ugh. She was such a BRAT the whole freaking time. She was selfish and cruel sometimes, all while acting she deserved this or that. She ended up being my least favorite. Wow. I think I covered most characters.

Plot. Dragons, serpents, talking magic ships with secret histories, mysterious people, romances, pirates, high seas adventure, sea battles, tragic twists!

World. I never want to leave Robin Hobb’s world and everyone should join me here. She has it all!

Final Thoughts. Probably my favorite of all the books! I seriously tell everyone to read this series. I’m obsessed and I want to binge all of Hobb’s books now!

What is a series you are convinced everyone should read?

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