Monday, May 14, 2018

Winter Glass by Lexa Hillyer Review

Title: Winter Glass
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Spindle Fire, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Spindle Fire was the first book I’ve ever read by Lexa Hillyer, a dark and beautifully written retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales, Sleeping Beauty. When I found out that there would be a sequel, I was really excited. Winter Glass, as far as sequels go, really delivered; despite some little flaws, I really enjoyed it. Full of magic, beautiful prose, exciting character development, frightening villains, political intrigue, and familiar fairy tale elements with a different spin, Winter Glass was absolutely captivating—what a great way to end this promising duology! I really, really enjoyed it. I don’t want to say much about the plot, in case there are readers out there that haven’t read it yet. Still, this book was absolutely wonderful, especially in the character development area.

Two young sister princesses must navigate two very different, but equally difficult, paths until they make their way back to one another. Aurora has been woken from the sleeping curse that was originally supposed to kill her, only to find herself faced with more temptations than she could have ever imagined. Isabelle, or Isbe, finds herself thrust into a position she has spent the whole of her childhood wanting, only to find that it is not at all what she expected, and she fears that she’s losing herself to the circumstances that surround her. But as it turns out, fate has different plans for these girls, plans that may end up costing them everything…


This book was really enjoyable! Sequels usually make me so anxious, as sometimes they just don’t live up to the hype. But Winter Glass delivered in spades; all of my questions were answered, the loose ends tied up neatly, the pacing was breakneck, and I was frantically turning pages, desperate to find out what would happen. I also liked the way that Hillyer inserted other voices into the story to break up the sisters’ dynamic. Plus: Evil fairies! Political intrigue! Returning characters! New characters! Forbidden romance! Action, darkness, magic, and that ending! It was amazing, I loved it. I was cheering, crying, screaming, biting my nails as I read the book, and I was so happy with it! At times, though, the cast of characters got kind of confusing and muddled; this book might have benefited from a dramatis personae. But nonetheless, Winter Glass was a delightful sequel to Spindle Fire, and I really liked it! The bottom line: The duology closer to last year’s retelling, Spindle Fire, I loved Winter Glass! What a way to end these lovely books! Next on deck: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard!

People Like Us by Dana Mele Review

Title: People Like Us
Author: Dana Mele
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found this book the way I find most of my library books, a recommendation list. It’s been sitting in my stack for a while, and since I couldn’t renew it anymore, as soon as I finished Honor Among Thieves, I began it. A compelling and chilling first novel, People Like Us is an enthralling, nail-biting mystery that had me constantly guessing until the very last moment; it’s still on my mind, two days after I finished it. My jaw dropped throughout the novel, but especially at the ending. This book, a twisting, creepy thriller that held just as many questions as answers, had me breathless throughout, and I simply can’t wait for what Dana Mele has planned next!

Kay Donovan is a girl who is used to reforming herself. After an unspeakable tragedy strikes too close to home, she is sent to Bates Academy and reinvents herself. Now a star soccer player with a gorgeous set of powerful friends, she is sure that things are going to go in her favor. That is, until a girl’s limp, dead body turns up slashed in the lake. Things get even more complicated when the dead girl has left Kay a password protected scavenger hunt, implicating her own classmates, until, at last, it is Kay herself in the hot seat. As she digs deeper into the killing, she risks unearthing her own demons, and the perpetrator, but uncovering the secrets of Bates Academy elites may end up costing her more than she could have ever imagined…


This book; what a surprising little gem it was! I’m so glad that I got to read this mystery before I had to take it back to the library. Honestly, I devoured it in a day and a half, and it’s still lingering in my mind, insidious and more than a little bit terrifying. I loved everything about this book: the pacing was breakneck, and despite Kay’s self-assured and confident voice, I could feel deep in my soul that something was badly wrong. I was absolutely transfixed, and Kay’s voice haunted my mind, even when I wasn’t reading. I was breathless, and I couldn’t put the book down. I was constantly guessing who had killed Jessica Lane, and exactly why, until the final pages, which shocked me to the core; I’m still reeling over it, honestly. I also really liked the boarding school setting; lush, gorgeous, and full of dark, scandalous secrets, and it just added to the mystery of the whole book. I liked a lot of the characters, though, to be honest, throughout the book, I didn’t know who to trust; it felt like everyone had their own secret agenda. I was constantly shocked by the twists and turns of the book; it felt like every time I had something figured out, something else would come to light that sent my theories off into the ether. And that ending! It was such a double whammy; my heart raced and my jaw dropped. If I hadn’t had to return it to the library the same day I finished it, I would’ve started it over, desperate to connect the dots again, since I had all the answers. Easily one of my favorite books of 2018; I’m still in shock over it, and I will never forget it. The bottom line: A dark and twisty thriller that had me constantly guessing until the shocking, breathtaking ending, I loved People Like Us, and the way it offered a glimpse into the secrets of the rich and elite. One of the best books of 2018! Next on deck: Winter Glass by Lexa Hillyer!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Honor Among Thieves by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine Review

Title: Honor Among Thieves
Author(s): Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Honors, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found Honor Among Thieves the way that I usually find my library books, a recommendation list. It’s been sitting in the pile for a while now, and I didn’t want to return it without reading it. (Story of my life, lately!) I pushed it to the top of the pile after asking my husband what I should read, and this book got his vote. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t this, and I mean that in the best kind of way. Chock full of action, excitement, philosophy, questions, and of course, aliens, Honor Among Thieves may not be the most original book out there, but it has become one of my favorite books of 2018. I just finished it last night in the tub, and I’m still reeling; the only thing keeping me halfway sane is that there’s more to come. What a wonderful, searing series debut, with one of the weirdest relationships I’ve ever seen at its heart.

Zara Cole lives a life that is quite unusual. Refusing to live life within the strict confines of what she calls ‘Paradise’, she ekes out a brutal, gory existence among other misfits in the Zone. She’s resigned to her way of life, so when she gets into a particularly sticky situation, she fully expects to die a messy death out in the fringe. But that all changes when she is selected as an Honor out of a pool of random people. Honors get the privilege to live amongst the stars, with a mysterious race of alien life called The Leviathan. Thrust into a prestigious position that she never wanted in the first place, Zara accepts, albeit reluctantly. Forced to adapt all over again, Zara begins to like this new fate she’s been given. That is, until she starts digging and finds opposition on all sides. She must decide if the secrets she uncovers are worth her life, or if some things are just better staying buried…


This book was, in a word, a surprise. Science fiction is a genre that I deeply love, though it’s often hit and miss with me. I was a little worried at first; I’d read some reviews that said the book fell short, due to plot issues, lack of originality, and character development. But despite all of this, it was so much fun that I decided to disregard others’ thoughts on the book. Honor Among Thieves has everything that I love in a science fiction novel: spunky, hilarious heroines, breakneck pacing, aliens, political intrigue and dark secrets, killer character development, and a shocking ending that made my jaw drop. It took a little bit for me to get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. And when I did, it was constantly on my mind. I loved the concepts introduced in this book; I liked the way the authors took a typical topic and gave it a really cool spin. The Leviathan were one of my favorite parts of the book, especially Nadim, and his relationship with Zara and the other Honor, Beatriz. (Diverse books forever for the win! I freaking loved that Zara was biracial and Beatriz was Brazilian, it made me so happy!) Beatriz was another fun standout of a character, and I also really loved Marko, Chao-Xing, and Typhon. This book was one of the best of 2018, and I can’t wait for the sequel! The bottom line: A gorgeous, meaty and deep series opener that takes place in the deep black depths of space, I loved Honor Among Thieves! One of my favorite books of the year! Next on deck: People Like Us by Dana Mele!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth Review

Title: The Fates Divide
Author: Veronica Roth
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Carve the Mark, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Veronica Roth and I—I’m not going to mince words here. We have a love/hate relationship. I read her first novel, Divergent, and loved it, but I’m still really sore about how the series ended. After that, I swore that I wasn’t going to buy another book from her. But borrowing the from the library was and is a different story, and I loved the first book in this duology. Picking up from where Carve the Mark left off, The Fates Divide was a meaty and satisfying sequel to one of my favorite books of the last year. I really, really enjoyed it, though I had sequel anxiety and it took me a little while to remember the events from the previous book. Honestly, this set of books, for me, is the favorite of her work. Shocking, beautifully written, rife with romance and political intrigue, The Fates Divide more than delivered for me. One of the best books of the year!


The Fates Divide picked up where Carve the Mark left off, and I don’t want to say too much about the plot, in case there are any readers out there that haven’t read it yet. Cyra and Akos meet again, and in this installment, things become even more dangerous than before. Roth adds two distinct new voices to the narrative, two of Akos’s siblings, Cisi and Eijeh. As I said, I don’t want to say much about the plot, but I will say that the pacing is breakneck, the romance heartbreaking and gorgeous, the political intrigue deep and dark and pretty much impossible to untangle. I really liked the continuity of it all, and the way the two books tied together. And that ending! It was so beautiful and bittersweet. But what really sold this book for me was the character development of all of the characters, but especially Cyra and Akos. I’m totally here for bomb character development, all day, every day. I loved this sequel, and this set of books is my favorite of Roth’s work so far. Absolutely amazing! The bottom line: A meaty, satisfying duology closer, I loved The Fates Divide, and it’s bittersweet that this deep, thoughtful science fiction romance is over! Next on deck: Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones Review

Title: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Author: Kelly Jones
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore was the book club pick for April for one of the book clubs I go to. As soon as I was finished with The Astonishing Color of After, I began it and devoured it in a day and a half. I loved every bit of it. Rife with humor, intrigue, and magic, this book was like the loveliest Regency-era soiree I could imagine. Imagine Jane Austen with a dash of magic, a spunky heroine, political intrigue, humor, plenty of romance and surprises, and you’ll have something close to Magic, Murder, and What We Wore. It was such fun, and I was laughing, cheering, crying, and scratching my head throughout the book. It’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read recently, and honestly, I’m kind of sad that it’s over.

London, 1818. Annis Whitworth, 16, has just received terrible news: Her beloved father has passed away suspiciously on his way to see her and her aunt Cassia, and all of his funds have disappeared. She decides to become a spy for her country, as her father did before her. However, it turns out that a silly girl isn’t needed in the ranks, much to her infuriation. When she discovers she possesses the power to make glamours, clothes that literally conceal the identity of the wearer, she is even more determined to find out just what happened to her father, desperate to avoid becoming a governess. But in doing so, she finds herself wrapped up in a web of violence, secrets, intrigue, and perhaps a little romance.


I really liked this book! I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but what I got was a hilarious, whip-smart romp through London and beyond in the tumultuous year of 1818, narrated by the headstrong and determined Annis Whitworth, who was a treat unto herself. The pacing was breakneck; as soon as I started the book, I was brought into her world, rife with humor, political intrigue, romance, and more than a little bit of subterfuge. I was laughing, crying, cheering, and screaming all throughout the book. I loved Annis, who was spunky and funny and so unapologetically herself. Her Aunt Cassia, her maid, Millie, were also great standouts in the book; they were great characters. The suspense was also a wonderful element in the book; I was constantly guessing who might be behind Annis’s father’s murder until the final shocking conclusion. I loved this magical, funny twist on Jane Austen’s Regency era, and this book is one of the favorites of all the ones I’ve read recently. And the way the author tied other young adult authors’ characters into it—I just loved it. Honestly, I can’t find fault with this book in any way, a few days later. The bottom line: A lovely and wonderful romp through the Regency era, full of magic, humor, and panache, I loved Murder, Magic, and What We Wore! One of the best books I’ve ever read! One of my favorite book club selections of the year! Next on deck: The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth!

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan Review

Title: The Astonishing Color of After
Author: Emily X.R. Pan
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found this book the way I usually do; a recommendation list. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now and I couldn’t renew it anymore, so as soon as I could, I pushed it to the top of the stack. I didn’t want to return this beautiful, lovely book to the library before I could experience it. I finished Inkmistress and immediately dove into the novel, swept away by the gorgeous, colorful prose and Leigh’s powerful, heartfelt voice, and her journey to self-acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go. This book is easily one of the best of 2018; I will never forget Leigh Chen-Saunders or her beautiful, sad story. Emily X.R. Pan has become of my new favorite authors with this book!
Leigh Chen-Saunders has been having a rough time lately, and that’s putting it lightly. Her mother committed suicide after a lifelong battle with depression. As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, she was kissing her best friend, Axel, when it happened. Wracked with guilt, confusion, and grief, she sees a beautiful red crane in the sky and is convinced that the bird is her mother, trying to send her a message she cannot decipher. Obsessed with finding out what drove her mother to take her own life, she convinces her distant father to take her to Taipei, in desperate need of answers. Once there, she discovers the family she never knew, and things about herself that she never wanted to face. A beautiful and unforgettable story about grief, family, and self-discovery, The Astonishing Color of After was amazing—one of the best books I’ve ever read.



This book; I finished it last weekend and I’ve been stewing over it ever since, unable to get it out of my head. The cover, initially, was what caught my eye; it was so ethereal and beautiful. But the lyrical, gutsy prose just grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go; I was totally spellbound. Leigh herself also felt like a long-lost friend, bereft and set adrift in a deep well of grief and confusion. My heart ached, and later broke, for her. I’ll be honest: I was crying through most of the book. I was so moved; Leigh burrowed into my heart and has been heavy on my mind ever since. Her relationship with her family, especially her late mother, and her childhood best friend, Axel, was in the spotlight, and I loved it. The dreamy, gorgeous writing was amazing; I was bowled over. I loved Leigh and her character development, her transition from an insecure and shy young woman, unsure of her own identity to a girl unafraid to reach out for the future, despite all of its uncertainties; it was such a wonderful journey, and already, I wish I could take it once more. The only thing that I didn’t really like about The Astonishing Color of After was Leigh’s father; despite his grief, I feel like for most of the book, he didn’t really know his own daughter, and barely tried to. But the ending made up for everything, and I was so incredibly touched. I also really liked the way that mental illness was portrayed throughout the book; it was presented in such a tender and understanding way, and I loved the way that excuses weren’t offered up for Leigh’s mother’s depression. It was simply something that was a part of her, something she’d tried her whole life to combat to be a better wife and mother. The bottom line: A gorgeous, beautiful novel about family, grief, and self-discovery, I loved The Astonishing Color of After, one of the best books of 2018, hands down! Next on deck: Magic, Murder, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones! 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst Review

Title: Inkmistress
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Of Fire and Stars, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Audrey Coulthurst caught my eye last year with her lovely, romantic slow burn of a debut, Of Fire and Stars. So when I found out that she was writing a new novel, set in the same world but taking place hundreds of years before, I was so excited. It’s been sitting in the library pile for a while now, and when I realized I couldn’t renew it, I pushed it to the top of the stack, and I’m so happy I did. Honestly, I liked Inkmistress better than I liked Of Fire and Stars; the worldbuilding was much clearer and concise. If you like your fantasies with diverse characters, romance, action, magic, mysterious secrets and political intrigue, go pick up this book, I can promise you won’t regret it. Easily one of my favorite books of 2018 and the best book of the duo, in my opinion. Asra and her journey will stay with me forever, engraved on my heart.

Asra is a lonely and powerful demigod, blessed (or cursed, depending on whom you ask) with the power to change the future by writing the outcome in her own blood. Longing to be part of the valley community below her, she wishes that she knew more: about her god parentage, about the outside world, and what love truly feels like. When her lover, Ina, returns to the mountain for a long-awaited reunion, Asra feels as if the missing parts of her life are gone. But when Ina begs for help, Asra reluctantly uses her power, not realizing that this small favor will change her life forever. Desperate for revenge against a corrupt king, Ina delves into forbidden blood magic to get her way, even if it means sacrificing Asra for the outcome. But what she doesn’t know is that Asra herself is behind the slaughter. Forced to face her mistakes and attempt to make things right, she leaves her solitude behind on the mountain and is thrown into a dangerous web of political intrigue, lies, magic, and secrets. Asra must discover who she really is and what she’s capable of, or risk losing everything she’s gained…

This book was so wonderful! Due to time constraints, I almost shelved it and returned it to the library. I’m so glad that I didn’t. I loved Of Fire and Stars, but Inkmistress was even better. The worldbuilding was more clearly explained, and the pacing was breakneck; I was immediately drawn into Asra’s dangerous, magical world, entranced by her voice. I loved her as a character; she was biracial and bisexual, and it was so exciting to see a main character with those characteristics. I loved how brave, feisty, and relatable she was. My heart broke for her as I followed her on her journey from her lonely mountain out into the big, wide world. I loved her character development, it was so refreshing. She transformed from a meek, uncertain young woman into a heroine in her own right, and it was so cool to see. I also really liked Ina and the foil she provided for Asra’s character, though there were many times when I had to put the book down due to pure rage. The other characters, especially Hal, were standouts, and I liked the series of quests that Asra went through to discover herself. And that ending! It was so satisfying and tied up all of the loose ends that lingered. Inkmistress stole my heart and bewitched my imagination, and as such, became one of my favorite books of 2018! The bottom line: Set in the same world as her debut, Of Fire and Stars, but taking place hundreds of years before, I loved Inkmistress! It contained all of my favorite things about fantasy: forbidden romance, magic, political intrigue, danger, and strong characters, especially Asra! Next on deck: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan!