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 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!

Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl, #1) by Mara Rutherford – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: August 27, 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amazon

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie. “

I have things I liked and things I didn’t really like, however the things I liked outweighed the things I didn’t like (How’s that for a sentence). The things I didn’t like are more plot points than anything else, so I will talk about it there.

Characters. I actually found all of the characters really enjoyable to read about! Nor was headstrong and loves her sister fiercely. I don’t have sisters, but I know I would do anything for my brothers. Nor also has some awesome healing abilities that I so wish were real! She also stood up to what was wrong in her society and what was wrong in the larger kingdom. Talin was also likable. He has some hard core secrets of his own that shapes how he lives his life. Ceren. Oh boy. It’s very clear that something is wrong in his mind. He honestly doesn’t understand that most of the things he does is extremely creepy. Like baking bats in a pie. Gross. He is a pretty messed up prince/ bad guy.

Writing. Loved the writing. Pretty straight forward. I never got lost or anything.

World Building. Rutherford’s world seems really interesting! I would love to get more details on the other kingdoms! The geography makes sense and of course I love the whole little village world in the ocean.

Plot. Here are the things I loved: The water! I am part Polynesian and my love for water knows no bounds. Where Nor and Zadie live is my dream. In a small house, on stilts, in the ocean. And they swim or take their boat to their neighbors house or the market. I also loved the author’s take on healing properties of water. I don’t personally believe water itself can heal you, but I honestly feel better when I am in water. I also liked the plot line of how their village was being threatened by the kingdom that “owns” them. And Nor sets out to fix things.

Didn’t like: There were no plot twists. What you see is what you get. Also, the romance. While I like those two characters together, it was too insta-lovey for my tastes.

Final Thoughts. Again, the things I liked outweighed the things I didn’t like! My water loving soul loved this take on the ocean! It was a really FUN read. And it looks like there is a sequel so I will definitely be reading that!

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

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, sexual situations, violence, self harm (even if the character does it for “a good reason”), some disturbing situations (one character drinks blood and he siphons blood), death

OTHER CONTENT: Strong sibling bond, strong female POV, dealing with a harsh parent, beauty is not all that matters (and doesn’t have to matter)

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

*Book sleeve is from Love You More Studio! Code: Storied10 to save!*

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: September 03, 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy, Historical

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amazon

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it. “

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

I really had fun reading this book! And let’s be honest here, that’s really why I read, to have a good time. I was caught up in this story right away. Literally from the first page I was like the Kool-Aid Man going, “OH YEAH”! However, towards the end it kind of lacked it’s shine. Books are usually the other way around for me. It takes me awhile to get into them and then the ending has me wow’d.

Characters: Theodora was actually pretty funny. She was cleverly sarcastic, believable in her actions, and fun to read about. I LOVED her sense of adventure. She was a “damn the consequences” type of gal. She was a dreamer. Huck, was the opposite. Poor guy was dragged along to her wild adventurous ways (even though he kind of liked it). He was also very practical which was a good balance. He was also very charming. They had good chemistry also, and I liked that they had a deep history before the story started. You don’t see that too often.

Plot. Like I said, the plot pulled me in from the get-go. I was all about that Vlad life, you know? And not Bram Stoker’s Vlad but historical Vlad. I find him extremely interesting. I also liked the creative direction the author took for his story! The historical part was actually pretty rich and deep considering it was a shorter book! BUT I feel like more could have been done. It felt almost too magical realism rather than fantasy. The fantasy element only came into play maybe the last 50 pages or so? I felt as though more could have been done with the magic and the surprise element at the end.

Writing. I can understand why so many people are Jenn Bennett fans! She’s actually quite funny! She is clever and a bit mysterious in her writing. I will definitely be reading her other works!

Final Thoughts. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes just a taste of magical horror. Vlad is a very interested historical figure to read about and books like these might help teens to get interested in history. As an adult, if you are looking for a short, fun read, check it out!

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

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, talk of sex, mild swearing, death, gore, blood, the general history of Vlad is extremely violent.

OTHER CONTENT: Family is extremely important, helping those that are in need, strong female lead, following your convictions, towards the end, promoting healthy communication

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

Do you like Vlad (pretty sure I’ve said ‘Vlad’ too many times in this review) the Impaler retellings? What are your favorites?

Finale (Caraval, #3) by Stephanie Garber – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

| Amazon

” A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end… “

Oh, buddy was this a ride! I loved it. It was pure magic, a unique tale, and just all around beautiful. Garber seriously uses all five of her senses when she imagines her world and she articulates it perfectly. At any given point I could almost close my eyes and feel like it was real. This book has some of my favorite descriptions ever. From the dresses made of magic butterflies to the color of different emotions. Magic. I will read and buy anything this woman writes.

Characters. I guess this would be spoiler-ish if you haven’t read any of the books. But I really liked Tella’s chapters a little bit better in terms of adventure. But in terms of a good message, I think Scarlett takes the cake. I’m a sucker for true love, love conquers all, love is magic, type of stories. I actually truly believe that even in our world. Julian, Legend, and yes, even Jacks were very swoon worthy to read about. For awhile at least. They all had their faults (Jacks especially, whoops). Julian loves without abandon. I’ve always liked him. Legend fights it. And Jacks… confuses love with lust and obsession.

World. The world builing… I don’t even know how to explain it. This is one of the few worlds where I want this to be real so, SO badly. This world is right up there for me with Narnia and Middle Earth. (Woah, Lauren, slow your roll, do you even know what you are saying?!) Yes, the world, my fine friend, not necessarily the book.

Final Thoughts. The ONLY thing I didn’t really like was that part of the ending felt rushed somehow. It’s hard to explain without spoilers!

I’m just so obsessed with this series!

I want more! And if you’ve read this you know Garber left a certain story line slightly open ended!

Going to be totally honest, I originally wrote out a very long review and realized that it was going to be a TLDR review. I just had a lot to say.

I want to know if you liked it! And if you didn’t, I want to know that too!

Notes: Playing cards are from Owlcrate, Book Sleeve from Love You More Studio Code: StoriedAdventures10 to save some money!

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

CONTENT WARNING: Lots of kissing, sexual talk, sexual situations, violence, death, killing, lying, stealing

OTHER CONTENT: Love is the most powerful force of all, forgiveness, friendship, healthy sibling relationship, sacrifice, healthy relationships, persevering.

Star-Crossed Spoiler Free Review

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Star-Crossed 

by Pintip Dunn

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Publisher: Entangled Teen

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Purchase HERE

I am so excited to be on the Star-Crossed blog tour! And there is a GIVEAWAY!! Let’s dig in, shall we?

Synopsis 2

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” In a world where nutrition can be transferred via a pill, and society is split into Eaters and Non-Eaters, seventeen-year-old Princess Vela has a grave dilemma. Her father, the king, is dying, and only a transplant of organs from a healthy Non-Eater boy will save him.

Vela is tasked with choosing a boy fit to die for the king, which is impossible enough. But then Carr, the boy she’s loved all her life, emerges as the best candidate in the Bittersweet Trials. And he’s determined to win, because by doing so, he can save the life of his Non-Eater sister.

Refusing to accept losing the boy she loves, Vela bends the rules and cheats. But when someone begins to sabotage the Trials, Vela must reevaluate her own integrity—and learn the true sacrifice of becoming a ruler.”

My Review 2

Plot. I loved the plot and premise of this book. I thought it was a unique sci-fi adventure where the colony was stuck/ lost on a planet in the middle of space, hoping earth would rescue them or they could rescue themselves. They came up with a pill that gives nutrients to people. The catch is that they cannot eat and the nutrients come from “nobility” that eat 6 meals a day and then they get sucked dry of all of the nutrients. It’s an interesting conundrum. On one hand, you can taste and eat all the food you want, but on the other, you don’t get to keep any of it.

Characters. I really enjoyed Vela. She thought like a princess who wanted to sacrifice herself for her people. She has misconceptions on how things should be run, but soon finds her place among her people. Her heart is big and that something I can completely relate too. I also liked the side characters. The King made some bad decisions, but he did them with his heart in the right place. Carr, the love interest, was also self sacrificing. A lot of sacrificing people, I tell ya.

World. I think the book could have gone into more detail about the world they lived on. I think it could have been way more interesting to learn and build upon that. There really wasn’t much said about it.

Final Thoughts. This was a cute, sweet book. I enjoyed my time reading it. I felt as though the ending was left open ended enough to have more. I didn’t really feel as though a lot had changed, just that they took a step in the right direction. If you need a dessert type read after a heavy one, I highly suggest this!

About the Author

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Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School. Pintip’s novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, and the upcoming STAR-CROSSED and MALICE.

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