Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan
Genre:
 Young Adult Fantasy
36118682Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: 
April 2nd, 2019
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Synopsis: A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy..


**REVIEW**
Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Emily A. Duncan, Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.

I was obsessed with this book from the very first chapter!

This dark, and entrancing story revolves around three central characters, Nadya, Malachaisz, and Serefin, all with different motivations for stopping the centuries long war.

It took me a little longer to read than usual because I wasn’t really able to speed read! Each word held my interested and I was so captivated by the central characters and the plot that I just wanted it to last forever! When I was reading, each chapter packed a punch. I love writing that grips you and leaves you wanting more. I absolutely loved the world building, the religious aspects were handled with care, and the star crossed lovers theme had my heart pounding!

I have heard conflicting reviews about the names and how difficult they were to pronounce but this didn’t bother me because I read difficult names more like a picture. Even if I can’t pronounce it well, I see the name as a snapshot and knew who was talking/what was going on. You can find a handy pronunciation guide here!

With all of that being said, the last few chapters of the book were exciting but fell flat/confused me a little bit. I felt like the first 3/4 of the book the questions I had would slowly reveal themselves and then the last 1/4 left me desperately needing answers. Character backgrounds and certain locations were constantly hinted at but never explored. The ending had many twists that happened at all once. I have so many questions!

Things that worked for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • I felt as though this read like more of an Adult Fantasy vs YA but that could be just my feelings! It did not affect my rating at all, especially since I am loving adult fantasy right now. I would recommend this to YA readers older than 16!
  • I am obsessed with Ostyia and want more. She is a strong, queer, amazing character and Emily can go to amazing places with this character!
  • About halfway through the book I started getting so many feelings for both POV. At first I was so invested in Nadya’s storyline and was irritated with Serefin but by halfway I was loving Serefin and wanted him to succeed just as much!
  • The excerpts told at the beginning of each chapter, oh my gosh! I usually skim stuff like this but I was so intrigued, especially the writing about who people prayed to and what magic they provided!
  • The star crossed lovers! Wahhhh!

Things that didn’t work for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • Some of the magic system is still needing to be thoroughly explored. I  had a lot of questions as to how Nadya’s powers worked but I think as we go along more will be anwered!
  • Why was Serefin such a feared and powerful blood mage but didn’t do much to prevent himself from almost being killed multiple times? I never really saw his badassery.
  • What happened to Kostya? He isn’t really mentioned at all unless maybe he is the Konstantin mentioned in the excerpt of chapter 30! What was the purpose for Kacper, Parijahan, and Rashid? Where did her beads go?
  • Malachaisz total 180. He was a character that was unsure of himself, sweet, questioning his life and wondering if he could be loved by his enemy, to the plot twist of being cruel, selfish, power hungry. It just didn’t feel organic. It was almost TOO much.

Overall, I LOVED this book! I think that the world building and the character development are going in such unique places. It was deliciously dark and I am invested in these characters and what is going to happen. I will most definitely be reading any sequels as I HAVE TO KNOW what happens! I think anyone who loves dark magical worlds will adore this book and it’s characters!

You can pre-order pre-order this book at Amazon, or search any retailer online or book store closest to you! Available April 2nd, 2019!

~Rachael
IG: @rqdavis_

 

Tell Me How You Really Feel -Aminah Mae Safi

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
Genre:
YA Contemporary/LGBT+
41150474Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Publication Date: 
June 11th, 2019
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win. Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana. There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since. 

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.


**REVIEW**
Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Aminah Mae Safi and Feiwel Friends for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.

THIS. BOOK. OMG.

I would like to start this review by stating that I do not read contemporary. Like, ever. It just isn’t my thing. What is my thing you ask? Queer, diverse woman as main characters! When my friend asked me if I wanted to join this book tour, I absolutely had to. I started the book and finished the book the next day because I could not put it down. The story is endearing, it’s funny, it’s everything I love in a ROMCOM. When I was reading this book, I felt like I was watching it inside my head!

Sana is this perfect cheerleader who never seems to do wrong and Rachel is this outcast who just wants to be successful… and they HATE each other, or so they think! Neither of them realize the other’s motivations when they are suddenly forced to work together on Rachel’s last film project in order to secure funding towards college. I had ideas about what the characters were like inside my head when I started but was so surprised to see their true personalities shine!

This book is YA and you can tell firstly by the setting and secondly in the way the characters handle conflict. However, It didn’t bother me when Sana would argue with her mom, or when Rachel lashed out because that’s what teens do! It felt realistic and similar to things I went through in high school!

Things that worked for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • Queer, diverse women as the MCs. It did not feel like the author was just trying to tick boxes. It felt organic and natural!
  • The usage of appropriate language for each household.
  • The descriptions of food. Oh my gosh. There were times where I was googling what some of the food was because I wanted to make it!
  • The banter! It’s not often where I actually laugh out loud during a book!
  • This book playing out in my head like a movie!

Things that didn’t work for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • The ending! Only because I WANTED MORE! I never wanted it to end! I truly hope we get some sort of second book or novella! I want to know what Sana does with her internship and I want to know how successful Rachel is at directing! GIVE ME MORE AMINAH! Hah!

Overall, I LOVED this book! If you like contemporary, pick this up, if you don’t like contemporary but you want to read about queer romance with diversity, pick this up, if you want to read something light after a heavy read, pick this up!!

You can pre-order your copy from her favorite local retailer The Ripped Bodice and get it personalized and signed by her! You can also pre-order this book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or search for it online closest to you! Available June 11th!

~Rachael
IG: @rqdavis_

 

A Darker Shade of Magic – Victoria Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab
Genre:
 Adult Fantasy
22055262Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: 
February 24th, 2015
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Shades of Magic series
1. A Darker Shade of Magic
2. A Gathering of Shadows
3. A Conjuring of Light


**REVIEW**
It took me two years to finally buckle down and read this book. I had tried on several occasions to read it – I think I started it close to 7 times and could never make it past the first chapter. I was well versed in Kell’s peculiar coat! Hah! I listened to the first 1/3 via audio, switched to reading, then back to audio and I really enjoyed it! I heard the narrator changes in book 2 so we will see! I hope they don’t change Lila’s cockney accent! I could do without Rhy’s whining, though!

Things that worked for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • The world building is EXCEPTIONAL! It is fantastic! I love the ideas of the different London’s and how they are vastly different from one another.
  • Lila Bard is a mu’fuckin’ hero! She is honestly the best thing about this book. I love her attitude, her determination, her grit. She is my new fave heroine!
  • Morally grey is where it’s at. Schwab is the master at creating characters that you question their every intention. I am so excited to see the development in the next installments!
  • It wrapped up in a way that if I never read the other books I would be satisfied with the story. I feel like most of Schwab’s stories are like this. I felt this way about This Savage Song and Vicious. There’s the feeling of, maybe there’s another book, but also being satiated with what was given.

Things that didn’t work for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • Not much actually! I really enjoyed this book. I’m not sure what happened when I was reading it, maybe I was hung over from previous books, but there wasn’t much I even thought “meh” about!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I am so glad that I finally took the time to get to know this story and appreciate it! I am excited to read A Gathering of Shadows!

You can pick up this book at a local or online retailer. It is available now!

The Fever King – Victoria Lee

The Fever King by Victoria Lee
Genre:
YA Dystopian/SCIFI
imagesPublisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: 
March 1st, 2019
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.


**REVIEW**
Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Skyscape Publishing and NetGalley for providing me the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shapes my opinion, all thoughts are my own.

I had heard conflicting opinions about The Fever King since the ARCs were floating around. I decided to give it a shot, knowing that I am slowly growing out of YA dystopian novels (as some surprise me!). I really wanted to like this. The world building was unique, a fever of magic spreading throughout a divided country and an impending war between said country and his heart. There are tropes that many books of this nature have such as child loses parents, gets whisked away to train, becomes powerful, overthrowing government, etc… but that didn’t sway me into not reading it.

Things that worked for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • The representation for people who identify as bisexual. Noam and Dara having a relationship that is not based on tropes was refreshing. I liked the complexity and I didn’t feel like the nature of their relationship was fetishized at all.
  • Dealing with undocumented immigration, genocide, refugees, etc… and how it affects people who are just trying to better their own lives. This is a reflection of current issues in our lives.
  • Other representations of diversity (Noam’s mother being Jewish and his father being hispanic) It never felt like this book was being diverse just to tick boxes.
  • Interesting way for a boy to gain his powers and learn to utilize them, as well as it being rooted in science.
  • The last half of the book picks up the pace and it was enjoyable! I loved the powers that the characters possessed.

Things that didn’t work for me (could be considered slightly spoilery):

  • I was confused for the first 30% of the book. There wasn’t much explanation as to what a witching was, what war was happening, who characters were, etc. It did come together in the end though!
  • Per Lee’s blog, every single character is queer. While I do appreciate the representation, I don’t find that is really plausible, however we are talking about a future dystopian fantasy world where people obtain magic after a fever that potentially can kill you, so who am I to judge?
  • I didn’t really connect with any other character besides Noam and Dara, and Lehrer gave me serious Darkling vibes and that’s all I could think about.
  • The language structure did not mesh well with me. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I didn’t feel like it was a bit disjointed. This could be because I am outgrowing YA language structure. Noam utilized cusswords as did other characters but then it would be third person narrative and the narration would cuss and it seemed strange. For example:
    • Maybe he’d be the first. A medical mystery. A witching without the witch. Fuck witchings, anyway. Noam’d rather have his dad back. For me, it makes more sense for the cuss word to be an inner thought rather than a narrative voice.

Overall, I didn’t LOVE IT, but I didn’t hate it. I think that after this debut novel, the second book in the series will be have kinks worked out and will deliver! I am interested to see what happens with Noam and Dara. There are adult themes that are explored so I would suggest “older” young adults explore this book!

You can pick up this book at a local or online retailer. It is available now!

The Severed Moon – Day 5

“How do you choose to ornament yourself? Does it change from day to day?”

When I think about this prompt, I think about my wedding rings. It’s the only thing I wear daily to ornament myself and set myself apart and it never changes. Getting married to my best friend is one of the best decisions I ever made. The rings hold such a special meaning. Not because they are gold with diamonds, but because of what they represent. The represent being bonded with another soul, being a part of a family, showing the world that I have another half. Being married is hard, as are many things in life, but I wouldn’t want to go  through the motions with anyone other than Chuck. He is truly my soulmate, if those exist. He is always there for me, I have never once doubted his love for me even on my worst days. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with him.

Speaking of family, I took a few days off from the blog and most of the social media to focus more on my family over the weekend and during my eldest’s spring break. I also wanted to focus on reading a few books I’ve needed to read and review. You can check out my micro update of Mistborn here. I am going to start Wicked Saints and The Fever King soon!

~Rachael
Instagram: @rqdavis_

Mistborn Updates

I finished Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson in December and then took a month break because the writing is so rich. The world building is so heavy and the emotional toll on my body was hangover worthy! I started The Well of Ascension in February and finished it last night. You guys – that book broke me in such a epic way. I was literally so shocked at some of the revelations that I had to continue straight into Hero of Ages! I thought I would take another break but I can’t. Mistborn is all I can think about. I am going to order the UK copies, I also got a Mistborn sign from Bookish Signs and More through Etsy that I will be showcasing soon!

I will do an official series review when I get done with the Hero of Ages! You can see a micro review on my Goodreads. This epic adult fantasy was more than I could have ever imagined. If you are looking for something fresh, a new world to dive into, some new characters to love and to possibly mourn, pick up this series. You won’t regret it! I’m sure I’ll dive right into Era 2!

~ Rachael
Instagram: @rqdavis_

The Severed Moon – Day 4

“Around the thick fur of his ruff he wore a lariat of gold and rubies, and the twisting horns that rose from his head were marked with ridges that glowed as if lit from within by a secret fire.”

The Language of Thorns is one of my favorite companion books. There are a lot of mixed reviews on whether or not people enjoyed the story but I did! I loved getting little glimpses into the Grishaverse even if it’s through the guise of folklore. I loved the rich stories that weave into the other books and the beautiful illustrations. I think I appreciated it more for what it was rather than judging purely on the contents.

This prompt makes me feel like it’s Nikolai Lantsov turned beast, like a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Fancy clothes, golds and jewels, and that secret fire set in his eyes.I don’t read many retellings knowingly, but I am excited to read A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I might knock that out this weekend!

Do you like retellings?

~Rachael

#squad312 forever – Aurora Rising Review

Title: Aurora Rising (the Aurora Cycle #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA SCIFI/Space Opera
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Knopf  Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover 480 pages
Available: May 7th, 2019

81DOo37t7UL

First and foremost, I would like to thank Penguin Random House, Jay Kristoff, and Amie Kaufman for providing me with an e-ARC via NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review; this in no way affects my rating.

With that being said, let’s begin this NON-SPOILERY review! Any specific facts mentioned were pulled from the official synopsis available on Goodreads.

Aurora rising starts off with a BANG. There is action from the very first page until the last. We first meet Aurora, a girl out of time who has just awoken from two centuries in cryo-sleep after being rescued by the Aurora Academy’s star pupil, Tyler. Due to this rescue, Tyler misses a draft and gets stuck with a group of misfits that no one wanted.

*from the synopsis*
“A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates 
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering”

This space adventure is a YA SCIFI lovers dream! You can tell that the science behind the writing was well researched. The diversity within the book is natural, I love the interaction between the characters – the banter is HILARIOUS. Each character has their own personality and style and you can tell who is talking without reading chapter headers. I was unsure about how I would feel after being set up with the genius that is the Illuminae Files and the Starbound trilogy, but this was perfection. It’s 100% unique, the galaxy is completely new, and I found myself so invested in this story that during the last few chapters, I don’t think I took a single breath! I am ready for the Aurora Cycle #2!

Pre-order your copy from Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, or other retail sites!

#squad312 forever!

 

The Severed Moon – Day 3

Tell the story of the most magical day or experience of your life so far.

We woke up early. Mufasa was downstairs sleeping with the other dogs because he couldn’t make it up the stairs anymore; his disease had progressed to the point where he could barely stand without assistance. He was only 7, I thought we’d have more time.

Chuck went outside to load the kayaks in the truck. He strapped them down tight, made sure we had our paddles, our cooler, and questioned whether or not to bring Tuna. We decided to leave her behind and take Tyson so we could focus on Mufasa. Tyson had already proved to be an excellent kayak companion but we were unsure if Mufasa would be able to handle being on a small water craft.

“Are you sure about this?” I said, looking over at Chuck.
“Look at them,” he said, “they are just so happy! Even if Mufasa can’t get into the kayak, he always loved lakes and rivers. Maybe the water will help ease his muscles.”

The wind whipped at their faces,  nostrils flaring as we wound down the back country roads. Tyson and Muf were a pair, never separated and I knew this was our last chance at a trip for the two together. The end of the summer was quicklyimg_5295 approaching and Chuck wasn’t sure there would be another opportunity. We had a sitter for the kids, we had the morning free… this was it.

We got to the lake and the dogs eyes were full of anticipation, their tongues out, tails wagging hard. And then Mufasa fell out of the truck trying to get down. Chuck looked over to me and I felt a stabbing ache in my chest. Muf was the kind of dog who had dignity, needing help was embarrassing for him. He was our protector, he didn’t want to rely on us. I went around the side of the truck and grabbed onto Mufasa’s harness and held Tyson’s leash  as Chuck got the kayaks out and drove the truck to the parking spot away from the put in.

When Chuck returned we tried to get Mufasa into Chuck’s boat, he was clearly the stronger of us and he could easily haul Muf’s 110lb body to safety if he fell out. He wasn’t comfortable in Chuck’s boat because of the way it was set up, so he switched for my kayak with a smooth surface. The boat rocked as he wobbled trying to adjust to the sudden lack of stability the ground gives. Tyson was already perched on the bow of my boat, staring out into the water, ready to launch.

We paddled our way out, not going too far in case Muf decided to bail. I kept checking on Chuck, scanning his face for worry but he held it together. He

img_5299

wanted this as badly as the dogs did. These dogs were his life, before me, it’s all he had. Then I saw it. I saw the look on Mufasa’s face. Tyson let out a little whimper as I fell back away from Chuck’s boat. He wanted to be closer to Muf but I just had to get a picture. He was genuinely happy. I know that people think that pet owners are crazy but you could truly see what Mufasa was thinking. His emotions showed all over his face and he was loving his life out on the lake.

img_5296Tyson is kind of the grandpa of our dog crew. He’s old, a little grouchy, but a really great travel companion. He didn’t like being this far away from Chuck and Muf so I had made sure to paddle back towards their side when I snagged a picture. I was having an internal struggle between enjoying the moment and taking every picture I could. I was so upset that I didn’t bring my GoPro. I wanted to record the entire thing and not worry but I forgot it in our rush to get out of the door.

We spent about 15 minutes paddling around the lake. We took a break to let the dogs get off the boat, go to the bathroom, get their footing. Mufasa didn’t do as well swimming as we had planned, which made Chuck sad. I think the degeneration of the muscles in his hips just wouldn’t allow him to kick hard enough to stay afloat. We kept his harness on that had a back handle and that helped Chuck support his weight. The little dogs have life jackets because we never thought we’d be brave enough to take Mufasa. I’m so glad we took the chance.

We got back in our kayaks and paddled around some more until the weather started getting warm. You could tell Muf was tired, his eyes were drooping a little and he was slower on his reaction time. We knew it was time to go. Chuck packed up the kayaks and we stood there staring out at the lake together, wishing we had more time… wishing we had thought of doing this sooner, wishing we would not have made excuses. We didn’t want to let our regrets take away from the magic of the day so we smiled, we held each other and we got back in the truck.

Muf and Tyson fell asleep almost immediately. The dogs having this one last experience before it was soon time to say goodbye to our beloved baby Mufasa is something we will hold in our hearts forever. I Love You

img_5297
Mufasa – RIP 9/13/18 ❤

~Rachael

My First Big Time ARC!

I received an e-mail yesterday from Penguin Random House stating that I had been approved for an ARC I had requested. I have never requested an ARC from a publisher, especially not one this big – I typically use NetGalley and read those “insta-approve” books because I am just a wee-account on all platforms. To my surprise, I was approved for an e-ARC of AURORA RISING by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff!

81DOo37t7UL

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I looked at my phone, I looked around the room, I looked back at my phone, and I just sat silently… I was in shock! Never in a million years did I think that I could get an ARC of something of this magnitude! I am forever thankful for the people at Penguin Random House for selecting me and trusting me with this new space adventure! I will have this read and reviewed soon!! I’m already at 20%!

**Synopsis**

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of the Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic . . .

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

——————————————

Pre-order your copy from Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, or other retail sites!