Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Genre: YA, Thriller, Mystery

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: October 01, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

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

Not one has ever returned.


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

To kill it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amazon

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

Now he has broken free.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

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

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 03, 2019

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!*

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?