King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) by Leigh Bardugo – Spoiler Free Review

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Imprint

Publication Date: January 29, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Magic

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

| Amazon


“Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.”

3.5 Stars. I know. Unpopular opinion alert. This was one of my, if not THE most anticipated release of 2019, and I felt let down. It didn’t get my heart racing, or make me feel like if I don’t know what happens I might die. It was just pretty good. So I guess I’ll start with my dislikes. It was boring. It only picked up about HALF WAY through the book. Yikes. Nina was my favorite character from the Six of Crows Duology, so I was very disappointed in her story line. Her’s never picked up. I was boring all the way through. In fact, I gave up hope that it would ever pick up, so after a while, whenever her chapters came up I just wanted to skip them. I honestly think the book would have been better if these chapters weren’t in it. That was my main complaint, but I have a small irritant as well. About 2/3 through the book, there is another random POV. And while, I like that character, I couldn’t help but feel his POV was pointless as well.

Man, that first paragraph was harsh, so let’s talk about the good stuff, because there was A LOT of good stuff! Zoya. I LOVE her. She was refreshing. She used anger and her beauty as a shield to protect herself from the world around her. She has a rough childhood. Her character growth was probably the greatest out of all of them. Nikolai. Loved him. Always will. His was the most interesting story line. Which is good, since the book IS about him… He goes through battles internally and physically. His relationship with Zoya is SO interesting to watch unfold. Their witty, sarcastic, back and forth banter was actually pretty funny at times. All of my stars go to their story. My favorite part of the whole book (don’t worry, no spoilers) is when they leave and go on a bit of an adventure and train.

I really liked the inventions mentioned in this book. I hope there will be more talk of those. It could become a pretty cool magic/ steampunk world.

As usual, the writing style is A+! Descriptive without losing you in the story.

The ending though… WOW! SO GOOD!

So I’m going to try out a new thing in my YA reviews. I am going to add a content section. I have had a few people throughout my years of reviewing book DM me (Instagram) about if a book would be appropriate for such and such age. BUT I want to put a disclaimer, I LIKE YA BOOKS. I read them no matter what the content is, BUT I am a 27 year old adult. I am asking people right now to not get in a hubbub if I put something in the content that they think doesn’t matter. This is just so the parents can decide themselves. So, I will be putting a content warning AND other content. The things in my content warning may also be things that are necessary for certain situations. So I am not saying that they are necessarily bad. That’s why I am saying I am leaving it up to the parents to decide. I am probably over explaining myself but better that than have misunderstandings. So let’s give this a try.

CONTENT WARNING FOR KING OF SCARS: Swearing, sexual innuendos, violence, blood, depression, death, a couple scenes where dead people come out of the ground, drinking, talk of worshiping saints and gods.

OTHER CONTENT: Strong female POV, strong male POV, healthy relationships, friendship, camaraderie, overcoming your fears, using your mind to think through situations, protecting others.

** Beautiful sign is from Bookish Signs and More shop! Rep Code to save on two or more items: Lauren20

Hating to Love You (Houston’s Finest, #1) by Erin Rylie – Spoiler Free Review

Author: Erin Rylie

Publisher: Independently Published

Publication Date: January 4, 2019

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

| Amazon

” Rafe Pierce just wants to keep his head down and earn his next promotion. Becoming Houston’s “Hot Cop” is his worst nightmare, and things only get worse when the sexiest reporter he’s ever met starts digging through his past. Sophie Klein has the power to expose a childhood he’d rather keep hidden, so why can’t he stay away from her? 

He’s everything Sophie Klein hates: brash, arrogant, and hot as hell. When a chance encounter with a bachelorette party makes Rafe a social-media sensation, Sophie is the lucky reporter chosen to tell his story. She can’t deny the chemistry between them, but is determined to keep her distance. Unfortunately for her, a drunken hookup in a bar supply closet ensures she will be spending at least the next nine months with him…”

Fan-freaking-tastic. I know, I never review romance books because it’s not a genre a usually reach for. But in the last 6-ish months or so I needed a break from Fantasy. *gasp*. I know. So when recently, my friend Erin released her first book, I picked it up! It did not dissapoint! I was in a reading slump and this was the perfect gooey, funny, read I needed.

Erin’s writing is really, really good. And I am not just saying that because I know her. She is actually really talented. It doesn’t even seem like this is her first book! Everything flowed really nicely, I was never left hanging.

Let’s talk characters. I really liked Sophie. I thought her friendships were solid. She was believable in her relationship issues. Meaning, it didn’t seem like it was written to make her seem relatable. It was believable. I LOVED her sense of fashion, her love of pie, her shoe closet, and she just seemed like a fun person! I also loved Rafe! He was so sweet and caring, and when he made mistakes, he owned up to them. BUT so did Sophie! They BOTH owned up to their mistakes! I loved their sacrifice, and I loved their ending. Which, speaking of the ending, excuse me, right in the feels.

Bring on Carlos and Kelsey’s story!!!!

The NOPE Book Tag

I came across the NOPE book tag when I was reading Cliste Bella’s Blog! It looked like fun so I thought I’d give it a go! I don’t know who the original creator of this tag is, so if you know, please let me know!

  1. NOPE. Ending: 
    A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was crappy.

Bear with me beause I have not read this book in 10 years but I remember I HATED the ending of Graceling by Kristen Cashore.

2. NOPE. Protagonist:
 A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

I mean I actually don’t know anyone who thinks differently on this one… MARE BARROW! Blech. (I like the series okay but that girl…)

3. NOPE. Series: 
A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE. after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.

Ready for an unpopular opinion? I actually do not like The Mortal Instruments series. I really liked The Infernal Devices though.

4. NOPE. Popular Pairing: 
A “ship” you don’t support

Alina and Mal. I went down with the Alina and Nikolai ship.

5. NOPE. Plot Twist: 
A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.

Unpopular opinion alert again: When Sarah J. Maas made a certain character gay. It felt really random and like she was trying to check off an item on a diversity list. (Again, I LOVE those books and SJM to death, but I didn’t like that particular twist.)

6. NOPE. Protagonist Action/Decision: A character decision that made you shake your head NOPE.

Can I put Mare here again?

7. NOPE. Genre: A genre you will never read.

Horror is a heck no for me.

8. NOPE. Book format: Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.

I actually like all formats.

9. NOPE. Trope: A trope that makes you go NOPE.

INSTA LOVE! It’s just called lust. Ya don’t love each other.

10. NOPE. Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read.

I always try to give recs a chance!

11. NOPE. Cliche/pet peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

When they have weird descriptions of people’s eyes. 😛

12. NOPE. Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

Mal, Cal. I see a trend here.

13. NOPE. Book: A book that shouldn’t have existed that made you say NOPE.

The Shack. YUCK!

14. NOPE. Villain: A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

Gollum. I’ve been scared of him ever since I was a kid!

15. NOPE. Death: A character death that still haunts you.

I can’t say because it would be spoiler-y, but Endsinger by Jay Kristoff hurt my soul.

16. NOPE. Author: An author you had a bad experience reading for and have decided to quit.

John Green. So sorry.

I don’t really know of anyone to tag, so if you do it, let me know! I’d love to see your answers!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

This is my second time participating in Top Ten Tuesday and I’m so excited! Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for more info! Today’s top ten is, Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads. I thought this was going to be harder to find but I realized I’ve read and loved quite a few books that have under 2,000 ratings. (But they definitely should have more!!) In fact, a few of these are some of my all time favorite books!

  1. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
  2. Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
  3. Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney
  4. The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes
  5. Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk
  6. The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick
  7. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
  8. Reigntime Series: Reigntime (#1) and Starlit (#2) by S.K. Levy
  9. The Progeny by Tosca Lee
  10. White Stag by Kara Barbieri

I love reading under-appreciated books. Please recommend me some more!

Cadaver & Queen (#1 & #2) Spoiler Free Review + Giveaway

Author: Alisa Kwitney

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: Cadaver & Queen – February 27, 2018 Corpse & Crown – February 12, 2019

Genre: YA, Retellings, Historical Fiction

Cadaver & Queen

| Amazon | Booksamillion | Barns and Noble

Corpse & Crown

| Amazon | Booksamillion | Barns and Noble

Cadaver & Queen

“When Lizzie Lavenza enrolled at Ingold as its first female medical student, she knew she wouldn’t have an easy time. From class demands to being an outsider among her male cohorts, she’ll have to go above and beyond to prove herself. So when she stumbles across what appears to be a faulty Bio-mechanical–one of the mechanized cadavers created to service the school–she jumps at the chance to fix it and get ahead in the program.

Only this Bio-mechanical isn’t like the others. Where they are usually empty-minded and perfectly obedient, this one seems to have thoughts, feelings… and self-awareness.

Soon Lizzie realizes that it is Victor Frankenstein–a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. Victor, it seems, still has a spark of human intelligence inside him, along with memories of things he discovered before his untimely death.. .and a suspicion that he was murdered to keep that information from getting out. Suddenly Lizzie finds herself intertwined in dark secrets and sabotage that put her life, and the lives of Victor and their friends, in danger. But Lizzie’s determined to succeed–even if that means fighting an enemy who threatens the entire British Empire. “

Corpse & Crown


Oliver Twist gets a fresh take in this reimagining of the Dickensian classic taking the familiar characters and turning them on their heads in a historical thriller packed with weird science, political suspense, and steamy romance, perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.

From Alisa Kwitney comes a connected novel set in the same alternative Victorian England of Cadaver & QueenCorpse & Crownfollows the story of Agatha DeLacey, an Ingold nursing student who travels to London and uncovers a devastating secret about the country’s Bio-Mechanicals. Inspired by the classic story of Oliver Twist and complete with a dashing Artful Dodger-inspired male lead, this retelling is a satisfying follow-up to Kwitney’s clever and critically acclaimed young adult debut.

Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the copies!

Cadaver & Queen

This was the most fun I’ve had reading a retelling in a long while. A retelling of Frankenstein? Come on. It was seriously thoroughly enjoyable.

Victor is our hot frankenstein and boy did he not disappoint. The chemistry he and Lizzie had was A+. Lizzie is a brash American with her own way of doing things. She is extremely smart. Smart enough to be the only female to get into medical school (this is the very early 1900’s). She is tested repeatedly and always comes out stronger. I especially love the moment between her and Grimbald towards the end.

The side characters were really fun to read about as well, and brought a solid story of their own; Byram, with his mysterious limp, Will, trying to measure up to his (supposedly) dead brother, Victor, and Aggie, having the clever things to say but more than meets the eye. And Justine… I’m still not sure what to think of her.

I thought the plot was well executed and unique. There were multiple Frankensteins and crazy doctors/ scientists and that made the story way more interesting.

Corpse & Crown

I liked this one slightly less but only because we see less of Lizzie and Victor as they race to complete an experiment before they run out of time. War is on the horizon, so I get it, they’re busy. But Aggie and Dodger are a good time. Dodger is actually the one that is all lovey-dovey, love-at-first-sight, whereas Aggie is a not in your lifetime type of gal. They make for an interesting couple even if they’re not quite as cute as our original couple.

I did, however, like the plot in this one more. It was more intense with more on the line. War is almost upon them, plus accidents and action left and right. It was more fast paced than the first one.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a fun read, go ahead and pick these up! Especially if you think a Frankenstein retelling sounds awesome.

Alisa Kwitney was an editor at DC Comics/Vertigo and is the Eisner-nominated author of graphic novels, romantic women’s fiction and urban fantasy. She was one of the authors of A Flight of Angels, which made YALSA’s Top Ten List for Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and the YA graphic novel Token, named a highlight of the Minx imprint by PW. Alisa has an MFA from Columbia University. Her thesis, Till the Fat Lady Sings, a comedy of manners about college and eating disorders, made The New York Times’ new and noteworthy in paperback list. The first issue of her latest comic book series, Mystik U, is coming out November ’17 from DC Comics. Her first YA novel, Cadaver & Queen, will be coming out with Harlequin Teen in February ’18.

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Check out my GIVEAWAY on my Instagram for BOTH of these books!

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: October 23, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

My Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon


“Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.” 

This is going to be a hard one not to say any spoilers since it’s the 7th and last book of a series. BUT I figure if you are reading this, you’ve read most if not all of the books. This is going to be a quick, short, review.

The first half of the book, I was really engrossed and could not put it down. The readers anxiety was real, y’all! However, the last half kind of seemed like a cop out. In the first half, I thought the adventure, the characters, and the story all had that quality that makes you think about a book even when you are sleeping. You just had to know what was going to happen, and if you didn’t find out you might spontaneously combust. Rowan’s pain was felt. As was Aelin’s pain. It was really really sad. Then the last half of the book, I was like, huh, wow, that’s convenient.

Final Thoughts. This is a really fun read. There were a lot of feels at different parts of the book. I know a lot of people cried, I teared up, but none fell. I still have questions about the ending. About what happened to some side characters.

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1) Spoiler Free Review

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Inkyard Press (Harlequin Teen)

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Genre: YA, Asian, Fantasy

My Rating: 4 Stars

| AMAZON


“One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.”

I almost rated this 5 stars but the beginning didn’t suck me in like I wanted it to. However, this ended up being freaking awesome. It was surprisingly funny, cute, and bloody. It had adventure, fighting yokai, demons, rescues, and literally everything I want in a book. Romance is a slow burn which is my favorite!

Okame was probably my favorite character. He added some hilarious sarcastic remarks. I want him to live and be happy and maybe end up with Reika? I mean, I know I’m reaching here but they would balance each other so perfectly!

Yumeko is probably my favorite heroine I’ve read about in a long time! She was wonderfully naive in the fact that she didn’t know she was pretty. And not in the annoying, “well I’m ugly, blah blah blah, but really I’m so pretty” way. She just didn’t think about her looks. I loved that. She didn’t understand sarcasm which resulted in some funny moments. And I really liked that she played pranks. She seems like someone I would want to be friends with!

Tatsumi, and I’ve never used this term before, is a cinnamon roll. Yep I said it. I love this character so much. He is brooding but not in a refreshing way. Let me explain, instead of being like, “poor me poor me” he was just like, this is how I was raised, I don’t know any different.

I loved the adventures they all have. There are multiple fights and escapes and I was excited about all of them. I also enjoyed that Yumeko kept picking up “strays” (a little pun there) to add to their party. And Tatsumi was always annoyed when she did this.

I loved this book so much. You should go read it.