Dorothy in the Land of Monsters (Oz Revamped, #1) by Garten Gevedon – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Garten Gevedon

Publication Date: October 11, 2019

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Fantasy, (Maybe Horror?), Retellings

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

” Shifters, Zombies, and Vampires? Oh my!

My name is Dorothy Gale, and I think I might be dead.

When my dog Toto and I got swept up in a twister, we landed in hell. A very colorful hell. Like a rainbow dripping in blood. Now it looks as though this dreadful underworld plagued with vampires, zombies, and shifters will be the site of my eternal damnation.

They say this terrifying land called Oz isn’t hell or purgatory, that escape is possible, but first I must survive the journey down the blood-soaked yellow brick road to the only place in Oz where vampires dare not tread—The City of Emeralds.

With enchanted footwear and the help of my three new friends—a friendly zombie, a massive shifter lion, and a heartless axe murderer of evil night creatures who also happens to be the hottest guy I’ve ever seen—Toto and I have a fighting chance to make it to the Vampire Free Zone. When we get there, I must convince the most powerful wizard in this magical land of monsters to send us out of this radiant nightmare and return us to the world of the living. They say he’s just as frightening as this monstrous land, that he detests visitors, and even the most horrifying creatures cower in his presence, but I must seek him out. And when I find him, I’ll do whatever it takes to make him send me home.”

*Thank you so much to the author and MTMC Book Tours for sending me this book!*

I was actually really surprised how fast this colorful, macabre story pulled me in. I was also surprised by how cute I thought the romance was. It is a bit insta-lovey BUT it was more insta-lust than love. Then it turned into more.

I thought Dorothy was kind of funny. She had some really funny come-backs when she was fighting. I enjoyed reading about her! Ardie might be my favorite though! He is just too sweet! Werelion was cute too but more in an animal sort of way. And of course Nick. He ended up being kind of goofy I think. At first I couldn’t figure him out. He was a play boy but also naive in some senses.

I LOVED the story. It was really interesting to see what Oz would be like if Vampires, Werebeasts, Zombies, and Witches were running amok. Each time Dorothy visited a place familiar from the original story, it was overrun with some kind of monster she and her friends needed to fight. Also, I totally want her boots that turn into armor!

It really was a fun read! I would really recommend for Halloween! I want to read book two! The ending of book one makes me nervous but hopeful!

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Image Comics

Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Graphic Novel

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

Amazon

” Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.”

I guess this could kind of be a mini review? This is my first time ever reading a graphic novel and I loved it! I am so glad a friend picked this for our book club!

The art is GORGEOUS. I stared at the art for a good long while on each page. It was gore and blood but really interesting and fun to read. I like the lore the author came up with. I am very interested to see where it takes Maika, Kippa (a little fox girl), and Ren (a talking cat)! I can’t wait to see more of what exactly Maika is and what she can do. You figure things out as Maika figures them out. I like that mystery aspect.

I really love the mix of science, magic, and machinery. The items those things combined make are really interesting. But scary in the witch women’s hands! This really would make such a cool show or movie!

What are your favorite Graphic Novels?

*Book sleeve, as always, is from Love You More Studio! Use my code to save 10%! Code: Storied10

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

Below (North, #1) by Alexandria Warwick – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Wolf Publishing

Publication Date: February 04, 2020

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins. “

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

I am a huge fan of Warwick’s. I am going to try an explain this, her writing makes me feel nostalgia. Below made me feel like watching The Never Ending Story and Labyrinth (It was not in any way based on those, just how it made me feel!). It just felt like my childhood. If that makes any sense.

Apaay has to battle sever weather, wild animals, survive Yuki’s nightmares come to life, survive being a prisoner, and survive Yuki’s punishments. There is a lot Apaay survives. It was very intense at some parts. I loved her never-give-up personality. She fought for those shes loves no matter the cost to herself. And there were high prices for her fight. I actually cried at one point. I NEVER cry reading. It hurt.

One thing I REALLY loved was the healthy and loving friendship she has with Ila! You don’t really see that a lot in books without it turning into a love story or something. I loved them!

Warwick also has an underlying message in her books. In Demon Race, it was forgiveness, and in Below, it was you are enough. Beautiful.

I wish there was a little more explaination of what Yuki and The Face Stealer were and where they came from. It was a bit confusing at times, BUT it left a ton of mystery to be solved for the next book! Which I need and can’t wait for!

What are some mythologies you love?

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

*Book Sleeve is from Love You More Studio. Code: STORIED10 to save 10%*

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: November 12, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Adult

Adventure Rating: 2 Stars

Amazon

An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people—and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world—perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab, Kiersten White, and Marlon James.

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

I really went back and forth between weather or not to post this because it is a two star review. BUT I want to be honest about the books I am reading, the only time I won’t post is when I DNF. So, I am going to do this review a bit different than usual.

Likes: I really liked the world building, the cover, and most of the story. I loved reading about the struggling islanders turned slaves and their conquerors, the Fjern. I am all about those powerful uprising stories and couldn’t wait to dig into this, especially because it takes place in a fantasy world where there they have certain krafts (AKA: powers/ abilities). The magic was really cool to read about too. I loved the added mystery/ plot twist that happens midway through the book.

Dislikes: Here’s the kicker… I HATED the MC. And the whole book is from her POV. She is in a position of power but she is a native islander. She thinks she is “helping” her people and she thinks she is a good person because she feels guilt for mistreating her SLAVES. That’s right. In her solo selfish life goal of vengeance against the Fjern for killing her family, she uses her own people to HER agenda. Killing them, betraying them, enslaving them, ordering them to have sex with her. It’s disgusting. She literally is no better than the Fjern. She’s a really awful person. At one point there was an innocent Fjern and she was hated just as much. She didn’t even do anything or think anything horrible (MC can read minds) and yet the MC was like, well you’re Fjern so you’re bad. Stupid. Another thing I disliked was the word ‘hate’ was literally used almost every. Single. Page. I get it. Sigourney hates them they hate her and her people hate her. You can still get your point across without using the same word over and over and over again.

Final Thoughts: I went into this book thinking it was going to be about a young woman who leads her people to an epic uprising. No. Not it. So, while I liked the ending quite a lot, I couldn’t rate it more than 2 stars purely for the word ‘hate’ every page and for the awful MC.

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

*Sign is from Bookish Signs. Code: Lauren10 I loved the way it matched the book cover!*

Shadowscent (Shadowscent, #1) by P. M. Freestone – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: November 05, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amazon

” Across the Aramtesh Empire, scent is everything. Prayers only reach heaven on sacred incense, and perfumes are prized status symbols. 17-year-old Rakel has an uncanny ability with fragrances, but her skills aren’t enough to buy her dying father more time.

Ash bears the tattoos of an imperial bodyguard. When his prince, Nisai, insists on a diplomatic mission to an outer province, Ash is duty-bound to join the caravan. It’s a nightmare protecting Nisai on the road. But it’s even harder for Ash to conceal a secret that could see him exiled or executed.

Rakel and Ash have nothing in common until smoke draws them to a plantation of the Empire’s rarest flower. Nisai’s been poisoned, flames devour the priceless blooms, and the pair have “suspect” clinging to them like a bad stench. Their futures depend on them working together to decipher clues, defy dangers and defeat their own demons in a race to source an antidote . . . before the imperial army hunts them down. “

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

I honestly struggled between 3 and 4 stars for this one. I thought 3 because it was kind of easy to put it down. It wasn’t one where I was like, “I need to know what happens or I’ll die!” type of book. BUT when I was reading it, it was really unique and I really enjoyed it so I thought maybe 4 stars. So guess what, it ended up in the middle.

Characters. I really liked the characters. Rakel was a likable mix of wanting to save her family and being really stubborn. She was also kind of goofy which I liked. Ash was our brooding, tortured, love interest with a secret. It was a bit typical BUT I still liked it. They matched well together I think. And it was a slow burn so that was nice too. But then again it didn’t have a lot of tension or fire. It could have just as easily ended up being they were just good friends.

Plot/ World. I actually loved that the plot revolved around scents. This book was a candle makers dream. I loved that the author was so descriptive in what things smelled like. It made the book come more alive because of it. And the fact that your station could be higher because of your finer sense of smell and if you could make scents was so interesting! I also liked Ash’s secret. You could kind of see it coming but it was a bit bigger than I realized it was going to be. And I didn’t see a certain minor plot twist coming. I was looking in another direction, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed the adventure! Ash and Rakel go all up and down their lands looking for ingredients for a cure for the Prince! I liked the different trials they had to face to get each cure. There were also quite a few fantasy creatures in this book that I am all for!! Adventure at it’s finest!

Final Thoughts. Major cliff-hanger ending!! I definitely want to read book two and can’t wait to find out what happens to all of the characters! Also, if you are a cover-buyer, go ahead and add this to your list of must buys!

*Once Upon A Time sign is from Bookish Signs and More! Code: Lauren10 to save! I couldn’t resist putting this in my photo!*

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

*Usual warning of content: This is something I put on my blog for parents specifically. Just putting the different themes or topics represented in the book.*

CONTENT: Mention of child abuse, abuse of the sick, their religion, drug abuse, mention of a couple characters being LGBTQ, forming strong relationships, sacrificing for what is right, strong mental health representation, death, disease, blood and gore.

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!

*Can’t help it again! Book Sleeve is from Love You More Studio! Code: Storied10 to save 10%!

*Amazon link is my affiliate link