The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1) by Julie Kagawa – Spoiler Free Review and Excerpt

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: February 09, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy, Faeries, Retellings

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

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You may have heard of me…

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.

With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten.

*I received an e-arc via the publisher from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This is not my first Julie Kagawa book, but it is my first time into The Iron Fey realm! I have wanted to read those books for years but somehow have not gotten to them yet. I have heard a TON of wonderful tings about Puck. He seems to be everyone’s favorite trickster. Here’s the thing, at the beginning, something happens to Puck and he’s, well, mean. BUT there were a lot of things I loved. I think I need to read the Iron Fey series to love him more!

This book is FULL of adventure. My favorite kind. They go through so many fights and crazy things while traveling across the fey realms. I LOVED this.

Nyx. Love her! She is so BA! She has some really cool powers and she’s a fighting machine! I love her chemistry with Puck. I really liked him. I liked his skills, his wit, and his humor. I just didn’t like his attitude most of the book.

I highly recommend this book for any adventurer and anyone who likes cool magic and fight scenes!

Excerpted from THE IRON RAVEN by Julie Kagawa. © 2021 by Julie Kagawa, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

The human world

A long, long time ago

It was almost time

I peeked out of the bushes and grinned.  The stage was nearly set.  In the tiny, sun-dappled clearing beyond the trees, the crystal-clear pool glimmered, attracting all manner of life to its sparkling waters.  A herd of spotted deer bent graceful necks to the surface under the watchful eye of a great stag, standing tall at the edge of the pond.  A few rabbits hopped through the bracken scattered through the clearing, and a family of squirrels scolded each other in the branches of a large gnarled oak.  Birds sang, wildlife meandered, and the wind gently rustled the leaves overhead.  It was a blissful, picturesque woodland scene, a perfectly peaceful day in the human realm.

Boring, boring, boring.

I smiled, reached into my shirt, and pulled the pan flute into the light.  It was my own design; I’d spent several days gathering hollow reeds, cutting them, binding them together and making sure the tone was perfect.  Now, I was going to see what it could do.  

Drawing glamour from the forest around me, I raised the flute to my lips and blew out a single note.

The clear, high sound cut through the stillness of the woods, arcing over the grove, and all the animals clustered around the pond jerked up, eyes wide and nostrils flaring.  The rabbits sat up, ears twitching back and forth.  The deer raised their heads, dark eyes huge as they gazed around, ready to flee.  The squirrels’ tails flicked back and forth as they clung to the branches, their chittering voices silenced.    

In the sudden stillness, I took a deep breath, gathering my magic, and began playing.

The melody rose into the air, cheerful and face paced.  It swirled around the pond, into the ears of every living creature.  For a moment, none of them moved,

Then, one of the rabbits began tapping its foot.  The others followed, thumping their hind legs in tune to the rhythm, and the deer began tossing their heads to the music.  In the branches, the squirrels bobbed, tails flicking back and forth, keeping time, and the birds added their voices to the song.  I bit down a smile and played louder, faster, drawing in more glamour and releasing it into the notes trilling through the forest.  

With a bugle, the ancient stag reared up, tossing his huge antlers, and gave a graceful bound to the center of the clearing.  His sharp hooves pawed the grass, raking gouges in the earth, as he began stepping and leaping with the music.  As one, his herd joined him, bouncing and cavorting to his side, and the rabbits began flinging themselves in wild arcs around the stomping deer.  My glee soared; this was working better than I had hoped. It was all I could do to keep playing and not let the song drop because of the enormous grin wanting to stretch my face.  

Rising from the bushes, I walked toward the grove, the pan flute moving rapidly under my lips, the song rising and the magic soaring in response.  My feet itched, and I started to move them, stepping and dancing to the center of the clearing.  Filling my lungs, I played as loudly as I could, my body moving almost on its own, leaping and twirling and spinning through the air.  And all around me, the forest creatures danced as well, hooves and horns and furry bodies barely missing me as they bounced and cavorted in a frantic circle, hurling themselves around the grove with wild abandon. I lost myself in the music, in the excitement and ecstasy, as I danced with the forest.

I didn’t know how long the melody went on; half the time my eyes were closed and I was moving on pure instinct.  But at last, as the song reached a crescendo, I sensed it was time to bring it to a close.  With one final, soaring note, the melody died away, the wild emotions faded, and the whirlwind of magic swirling through the grove fluttered out, returning to the earth.   

Panting, I lowered my arms.  Around me, my fellow dancers also came to shuddering stops, breathing hard.  The great stag stood a few feet away, antlered head bowed, legs and flanks trembling.  As I watched, he quivered and collapsed, white foam bubbling from his mouth and nostrils as his head struck the ground.  One by one, the rest of the herd crumpled as well, some gasping wide-eyed for breath, some lying motionless in the dirt.  Scattered around them, furry lumps of rabbits lay in the churned mud.  I looked at the trees and saw the squirrels and birds lying at the bases of the trunks, having fallen from their perches once the music ceased.  

I blinked.  Well, that was unexpected.  How long had I been playing anyway?  I looked at the sky through the branches and saw clouds streaked with orange, the sun hovering low on the horizon.  I’d come to this grove and played the very first note early this morning.  It seemed our wild revel had lasted the entire day.

Huh.  I scratched the back of my head.  Well, that’s disappointing.  I guess I can’t push these mortal beasts too aggressively, or they just collapse.  Hmm.  Tapping the fingers of one hand against my arm, I gazed at the pan flute in the other.  I wonder if humans would do any better? 

“Boy.” 

The deep, lyrical voice came from behind me, and a ripple of magic shivered through the air. I felt a stab of annoyance that someone had been watching my revel; that was why I’d chosen to do this in the human world, after all—so I could worry less about curious eavesdroppers.   I turned and saw a procession of horses at the edge of the clearing, watching me from the trees.  The mounts were fey creatures, lighter and much more graceful than their mortal counterparts, their hooves barely touching the ground.  The riders atop them were sidhe knights, clad in armor of leaves, vines and branches woven together.  Part of the Summer Court, I realized.  I’d seen them before, as well as the knights of the Winter Court.  I’d even played with a few of them in the wyldwood, though they never realized the cause of all their small, annoying mishaps was a forest boy too insignificant to notice. 

But the rider at the front of the procession had definitely noticed me, and he was impossible to miss, too.  His mount was bright gold, brighter than any mortal steed, but the noble atop it outshone even his mount.  He was dressed in armor of green and gold, with a cloak made of blooming vines that left flowers where he passed.  Long silver hair flowed from under the huge antlered crown that rested on his brow, and the piercing green eyes beneath it were fixed solely on me. 

Why was he here?  Had he heard my music and been drawn to the sound? That was unfortunate. I tried to avoid catching the eye of the Summer Court, particularly this faery.  I hadn’t been doing anything wrong; the fey cared little to what happened in the mortal world. The deaths of a few forest creatures meant nothing to them. But attracting the attention of one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever was a dangerous game. Depending on his mood, he might demand that I “gift” him the thing I’d worked so hard on, play the pipes for him and his knights by for as long as he was amused, or entertain them all by becoming the next hunt. The fey lords were notoriously unpredictable, and I treated them as I would a sleeping dragon: it was okay to tiptoe around and steal their gold, as long as they didn’t see you.

But now, the dragon had spotted me.

The sidhe gentry nudged his mount, and the horse stepped into the clearing, striding across the grass until beast and rider loomed before me.  I stood my ground and gazed up defiantly at the noble, who was watching me with appraising eyes.

“So young,” he mused.  “And such an impressive use of glamour.  What is your name, boy?”

“Robin.”

“And where are your parents, Robin?”

I shrugged.  “I live by myself.  In the wyldwood.”  I couldn’t remember my parents, if I’d even had them.  My earliest memory was the tangle of the wyldwood, foraging for food and shelter, learning the skills I needed to survive.  But, even though I was alone, I’d never felt like I didn’t belong.  The forest, the wyldwood, was my home.  That was how it always had been. 

“Hm.”  The tall noble didn’t press the question.  He observed me in silence for another moment, his face giving nothing away.  “Do you know who I am, boy?” he asked instead. 

This time, I nodded.  “You’re King Oberon.” It was obvious; everyone knew who the Summer King was, though I’d never seen him in person.  It didn’t matter.  I had never seen Queen Mab, ruler of the Winter Court, either, but I was certain I would know her if I did.

“Yes,” the Seelie King agreed.  “I am indeed.  And I could use someone of your talents in Seelie territory.” He raised a hand, indicating me with long, elegant fingers.  “You have power; raw, unfettered Summer magic rivaling some of my strongest allies in the court. Such a gift should not go to waste in the wyldwood.  You should not be living in the forest like a beast, singing to birds and squirrels.  You should be part of the greatest court in the Nevernever. What say you, Robin?”  The king regarded me with eyes like pale green frost.  “Would you like to become part of the Seelie Court?”

Part of the Seelie Court?  

Curiosity battled defiance.  I was intrigued, of course.  Living by myself in the wyldwood meant I could come and go as I pleased, but it was getting a bit lonely.  I wanted to talk to people, others of my kind, not just forest creatures and the occasional scatterbrained piskie.  And of the two courts, Summer territory sounded much more pleasant than the frozen, hostile land of Winter.

       Still, it was never a good idea to take the first offer.  Even I, with my limited knowledge of bargains and deals, knew that much.

“I like it in the forest.”  I crossed my arms and smiled at the king.  “Why should I go live at the Summer Court?”

The Seelie King smiled, as if he’d expected that answer.  “Because, Robin, I am king.”  He spoke the phrase like it was the most important fact in the world.  “And as king of the Seelie, I can give you whatever your heart desires. I can grant you power, wealth, the love of as many hearts as you wish.” He paused, as I wrinkled my nose. “But I can see you are not interested in these things. Perhaps, then, this would be of note.  I have many enemies, Robin.  Both within the court and without. From time to time, these enemies need to realize that they cannot underestimate the sovereignty of Summer.  If you join me…well, let us say you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your magic on things other than common forest beasts.”

Now that sounded interesting. I glanced back at the pond, at the motionless bodies surrounding it.  Poor dumb animals. I hadn’t meant to harm them, but it seemed normal creatures were very fragile.  I would love to try some of my ideas on sturdier creatures, maybe even a few fey, and Oberon was dangling that big, bright carrot in front of me.  He seemed to know exactly what I wanted.  The only question was, did I care?  

“So, Robin of the Wyldwood,” King Oberon went on, peering down at me from his horse.  “What is your decision?  Will you join my court?  I will name you court jester, and you can play your tricks and practice your magic without boundaries.  All I ask is that you do me a small service from time to time.  Do we have a deal?”

Something nagged at me, a feeling that this agreement wasn’t quite what I thought it was. I’d made deals before, but they were with piskies and sprites and a couple local dryads. Never with someone as important as the ruler of the Seelie Court. Was I missing something? This did seem a little too good to be true. 

I hesitated a moment more, then shrugged.  Then again, why not join the Summer Court?  What was the worst that could happen? I was aching for something new, and if I was under the protection of King Oberon himself, think of all the pranks and tricks I could play without fear of retribution.  

This was going to be fun.

“All right,” I agreed, grinning up at Oberon, who raised a thin silver brow in return.  “You have a deal, king.  I’ll join the Summer Court, as long as I get to practice my magic and play as many tricks as I want.”  

“Excellent.”  Oberon nodded and raised both hands.  “Then I name you Robin Goodfellow, jester of the Summer Court,” he announced in sudden, booming tones, and the branches of the trees shook, as if acknowledging his declaration.  Lowering his arms, the Summer lord gazed down at me with a sudden, almost proud smile.  “Welcome to the Seelie Court, Robin Goodfellow.  Wear your name proudly.  Perhaps someday the world will come to know it, as well.”

JULIE KAGAWA is the New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Court of Miracles (The Court of Miracles, #1) by Kester Grant – Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

Publisher: Knopf Children’s

Publication Date: June 02, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retellings

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Buy Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Books

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds,or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

*Thank you to the publisher and Fantastic Flying Book Club for the e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review!*

This book actually got me out of a reading slump, so doubly thank you!

I was really excited to read a Les Mis / Jungle Book retelling and this did not dissapoint! Like, what a freaking cool mash up!! I have always loved Eponine. She is my favorite character, so when I heard this book was also about her, I jumped at the chance to review it!

Eponine is a spit fire. She is on a mission to save her sister (then sisters), from an evil man. I loved her personality. She is fiercely protective but she also knows her own limits. I really liked that she wasn’t a can-do-it-all girl. She was humble enough to ask for help. BUT she also knew she was the best tactician. I loved her story and am nervous it still might end up like in the real Les Mis! Dear Grant, please don’t! Please give Eponine the ending she deserves!

I really enjoyed the world building as well. I loved there were 9 different guilds all with their own purpose. There are definitely some gray areas morally and I loved it. I did however want to see a bit more of the thieves guild where Nina (Eponine) is from. She was mostly on the streets or staying with another guild.

I liked the side characters. Montparnasse of the Guild of Assassins was my favorite. He was soooo mysterious and I totally ship him and Nina. In fact, I would love more on his story! And Ettie was so sweet! I loved how her and Nina interacted together.

What I didn’t like: this would have been a 5 star read for me, HOWEVER, I struggled with the flow of the book. It was choppy. It would be something like this: I did this. Then I did this. *Time Skip*. I am doing this now. Let me put it this way, the actual writing was quite good, descriptive, I could imagine everything, it was the execution that was choppy. And I couldn’t figure out the love quad going on. Nina had 3 boys after her? And she seemed like she couldn’t make up her mind. Like I said, I am hoping for Montparnasse!

This book was still very entertaining, y’all know I love to be entertained, and I can’t wait for book 2!

“Do not cry for me, I am already dead.”
“No, not dead, the dead at least are free.”

———–

“Our mother the City is not a merciful mother,’ she says as she gathers my hair in one hand.”

————

“Let us go,” says Monteparnasse. “The Dead are calling.”

———–

She takes my hand, and the gesture is a powerful declaration of sorrow, of forgiveness, of love, threads of silver and gold wrapping around us…

———-

Something inside her draws people to her. Innocence, a kindness that could swallow the city whole if she let it.

Kester Grant is a British-Mauritian writer of color. She was born in London, grew up between the UK, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the tropical island paradise of Mauritius. As a wanton nomad she and her husband are unsure which country they currently reside in but they can generally be found surrounded by their fiendish pack of cats and dogs.

Author Links:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest

Click the photo to go to Random House for the excerpt!

Check out the other tour hosts/ tour schedule HERE for more chances to win!

Prize: Win a copy of THE COURT OF MIRACLES by Kester Grant (US Only)

Starts: June 2nd, 2020

Ends: June 16th, 2020

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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!*

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger. “

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

This was an incredible lush retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” ! It had everything a retelling should, drama, action, and romance! I quite enjoyed my time reading this.

Characters. I actually really liked Kateri, even starting out. She was absolutely ruthless while still yearning for her father’s approval. She had revenge on her mind and she lived like it. Her character growth was not only believable, but it was done REALLY well. Especially for only a 334 page book! And Cion! He was fantastic. I loved his character and how he helped Kateri see truth in a sometimes gentle, sometimes tough love manner. A good mix of both helps! And Rodric is a good classic baddie!

Plot. The plot line was seriously so much fun. With water running extremely low and people having to ration it to half a bucket a day? And the royalty getting to use as much as they want? That’s bound to cause some problems. It was interesting to see how the author solved that problem. I really liked her solution to not only the water but also how people survived and escaped.

World. Minus the water problem and royalty, Achra sounds like somewhere I’d want to visit! It sounds like a blot of color in the desert, an oasis that weary travelers seek. It sounds amazing after a long journey, right? Sullivan did a really good job of making up creatures that would live there too; one’s that are poisonous, ones you can eat, ones that are poisonous and you can eat, and ones that don’t belong.

Final Thoughts. I wish there was more! Also, I am officially a big fan of Sullivan’s work now. I will definitely be buying A Touch of Gold now! I love that she takes lesser known myths and writes re-tellings. I have never read re-tellings like these before!

Thoughts on re-tellings? What is your favorite?

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

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, animal cruelty, child abuse, death

OTHER CONTENT: Strong character growth, overcoming your weaknesses, stand up for your values and morals, strong male and female characters, caring for others

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – Spoiler Free ARC Review

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: July 09, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

| Amazon | Pre-Order Swag

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*Thank you so much to Net Galley and Knopf the the e-arc in exchange for an honest review!*

Project Runway meets Mulan is a perfect tag for this book! Y’all, I was extremely invested in this world. Lim paints a picture of fashion so alluring I wanted to see them in real life more than anything. I loved the competition in the first half and the adventure in the last! Both were very different and very interesting!

Characters. Maia was very likable and relatable. Her character progression was done very well. She was shy at first but then owned her skills. She was just a nice person to read about, without being boring. Edan was intriguing and mysterious. He was a good mix of cocky and sweet. The person I wanted to know more about was Lady Sarnai! She was straight up FIRE! I hope to get more of her in the next book! And the Emperor can go away. He’s so annoying.

World. There’s not really a magic system. It’s extremely rare in people and in enchanted items. It was interesting to learn about how the Enchanters were made though. I really enjoyed the China-like world. Lim did a fantastic job of giving detailed descriptions.

Plot. Very unique. I have not read something like this. Have I said I loved the descriptions of the fashion yet?! Lim writes like a dream! The first half of the book is very different than the last half. The first half was more Project Runway and the last half was Mulan. The journey Maia goes on to collect the magic she needs for her dresses is amazing! It’s the type of adventure I love! Magic, romance, danger, and an ending that leaves you wanting more.

Final Thoughts. The ONLY things I didn’t like were very minor. There was a time where Maia stabbed a creature with her scissors and ran but then they were with her later. Then another time where she left her cane at the Summer Palace but then randomly had it at the Fall Palace. Small details like that happened a few times. I loved this book. I didn’t really get the Sarah J. Maas vibe but I do agree that it’s like Renee Ahdieh! I highly recommend! I cannot wait for the next book! Also, officially obsessed with Lim’s writing!

Is this on your radar for this year?

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Page Street Publishing Co.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, YA, Romance

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

| Amazon

” Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.”

As you can see, I rated it 5 stars, so I obviously loved it. I literally have nothing bad to say.

Writing. Absolutely beautiful. Meyer paints a richly colorful story that I very desperately want to be in. I never once got lost or confused, and let me tell you there were some things in this book you really had to imagine. She writes like how you dream. The rooms in the house were so fantastical that I loved how different it was from anything I’ve read! One of the rooms had glass bobbles that had different things in them, like lightening, but when you touched them they cut you like knives. Not to mention the wonderful library! Who wouldn’t want to hop inside of a book?!

Plot. I LOVED how she did a retelling of the original East of the Sun and West of the Moon. That’s the story that beauty and the beast was based off of so naturally it’s one of my favorites. Also, I saw a movie as a kid that was based off of this and I loved it! So this read was actually kind of nostalgic for me! (Side note: I need to find that movie. :P) I really enjoyed the super sweet romance. It was perhaps a bit slow burn? Or maybe somewhere in between slow burn and insta love. The message of the book was love, but with a strong dose of forgiveness. I love when authors write about forgiveness. Not a lot of people forgive these days. It made the characters relationship quite relatable actually.

Characters. Another element that was done really well. Echo was strong and brave, but also sweet and nice. She had a nice balance. She has severe scarring on her face and even though she fights low self-esteem because of it, she knows it’s not a measure of what she’s worth. The Wolf was so sweet as well! He always tried to protect her. Hal was very interesting. He was always so mysterious and his story is extremely compelling, and how it ties in with the other characters. Mokosh… sigh. I feel so bad for her! That’s all I will say!

Final Thoughts. Um, read this. Everyone. Well, if you like fairytales and retellings. It’s such a beautiful book!

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

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, the characters share a bed but it’s more for safety reasons.

OTHER CONTENT: Learning how to be in a relationship, making friendships, forgiveness, love is the most powerful thing in the world.

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!

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke – Spoiler Free Review

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: October 02, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retellings

My Rating: 3 Stars

| AMAZON


“A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. 

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.”

So, the hook that got me the most was the fact that it is a retelling of Beowulf. Let me tell you, even being a reader my whole life, I did NOT like reading the original (translated) version. Hated it. But I liked the movie. And the fact that this book was a female retelling. But it didn’t wow me. It didn’t follow Beowulf that closely either. In fact, if no one had said it was a retelling, I would never know. So, I just liked it. That’s it.

I can’t even do likes and dislikes because I feel like each thing I liked, there was something I disliked. Here’s what I mean, I loved that there were fantastic representations of female friendship. They were close but not in love with each other. However, it was kind of weird how much they would touch each other. I know they had to sleep tightly together for warmth, but aside from that they would just randomly start running their hands through each others hair or lay down in their laps. Even if my best friend did that to me, I’d be extremely uncomfortable (unless she was crying and I was comforting her maybe). Another thing I liked was Frey and Trigve but again, the no romance but very touchy thing was weird. Maybe it’s my age (27) but I just don’t do that with guy or girl friends.

The thing I liked most was the battle scenes! They were pretty awesome! Four women and a guy ripping into things and fighting monsters was so fun to read! I also really enjoyed the parts about the Sea Witches. I wanted more from their parts!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I liked it. Enough to read a second book if one comes out! It was a really chill read. One of those books you just read casually. They are always good for fillers in between the tear-out-your-soul reads.

Let’s chat! Have you read this? What did you think?

Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1) Review [Spoiler Free]

Author: Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: May 26, 2019

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Retellings

My Rating: 2 Stars



Amazon

“A thief. An officer. A guardian. 

Three strangers, one shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.”

*Thank you to Edelweiss+ for the review copy!*

Story/Plot. The premise of the story and plot were A+. I mean, a retelling of Les Miserables?! I LOVE that play (I know it’s based off of the book, I’ve just never read it.)! Plus it’s a retelling in space!  That’s right up my alley! And that’s about all I liked of the book. Oops. 

Writing. Okay, I did like the writing. It wasn’t anything fancy or my favorite writing ever, but it was good. It was easy to follow along and I never got lost in the story. 

Characters. Here we go. Here’s the big one. I literally didn’t like anyone. Chantine was the only one that I liked SOMETIMES. Marcellou and Allouette were SO BORING! I didn’t care if they lived or died. Marcellou was all over the place. One minute he wanted to follow his Grandfather, the next he hated him. Even at the end of the book, I was like where are we at here, Marcellou? I also just saw him as a weak character and didn’t understand his charm. Allouette was just kind of a wuss most of the time. I guess she picked up at the end but she was so boring to read about. Chantine whined a lot but she had reason to. She literally had no one. And she was poor and starving. She has a really tough life. Hers was the only story line I was mildly interested in. She was feisty and she did literally whatever she had to to survive. My suggestion to her, forget about Marcellou. You don’t need him. Although,  if you know the Les Miserables story, she’s supposed to be Eponine, so it doesn’t really end well for her anyway. I could have done without the romance in this story, and usually I’m all about those ships!

Final Thoughts. A 2 star rating for me means I finished the book but it was hard to get through. I won’t be picking up the second in the series. I will say that this might be someone’s cup of tea, just not mine. 

The Forest Queen Review (Spoiler Free)

DSC_0606

Author: Betsy Cornwell

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

My Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads

Amazon (Contains my affiliate link)

*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The Forest Queen gives me all the nostalgic feels of my childhood favorite fairy tales. It is a Robin Hood retelling with a girl named Sylvie, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. I loved the adventure to be had here!

The Story. For being a shorter book than what I usually read, the story was actually pretty well rounded. There were a few questions I had, and when I re-read through some paragraphs to see if I missed something, I didn’t find what I was looking for. But they weren’t any major plot holes, more like how did this character get from A to B.

The Writing. I liked Cornwell’s writing but it wasn’t my favorite. She is a good storyteller, but I feel as though the story could have gone to higher places if she had added more descriptions. Sometimes I was confused when Sylvie dreamed but then it turned out to be real life. Or if she was imagining something or not. I had to re-read paragraphs a few times.

The Characters: I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I thought that Sylvie’s character progression was actually quite good! The romance was cute but not an essential part of the story. The side characters were really likable and had personality. Especially Little Jane! And Bird is just the cutest! I also have to say that I felt as though Cornwell threw in LGBT characters at the last moment to try and give it some diversity. It just seemed random, like she was like, “Whoops, forgot to add diversity. Let’s just quickly add in some new side characters at the end here.”

Final Thoughts. I almost gave this book 3 stars but the nostalgic feel of it along with the ending bumped it up to 4 stars. I had a good time reading this retelling, and would love to read more of her work! Also, that cover is completely drool worthy.