ARC Review: The Brilliant Death

To say that I was super excited when I first snagged an ARC of Amy Rose Capetta’s, The Brilliant Deathat BookCon last year would be a bit of an understatement. I mean a medieval Italy and mafia-inspired fantasy story? SOLD.

For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.

First off, I would like to point out that if you’re expecting a lot of mafia-type political intrigue and ruthless behavior…. look elsewhere. This was an epic marketing fail and I’d like to kick whoever was pushing the idea that this story was inspired by the Godfather. Because other than a little emphasis on family loyalty and that Teo’s family runs their mountain region, there wasn’t even a hint of mafia in this story. However, if you focus on the medieval Italy-inspired setting then I think you’ll be able to enjoy this story like I did. I really liked that part because it made me think of 1500’s Florence when it was being run by the Medici family and was at odds with the Catholic Church due to its extravagant lifestyle. I feel like that’s a time period that never makes enough appearances in YA literature.

As for the characters, it did take me a while before I started enjoying Teo as a character. She was always at odds with everyone, thinking that she was the only one capable of getting anything done just because she had magic and was going behind everyone’s backs in secret as her family’s personal hitman. I understand that she hated the limitations put on women by society, but I also felt like she was going about it the wrong way. Then there was my sweet little cupcake, Cielo. I loved how he balanced out Teo’s impulsiveness and perfectly black and white viewpoint of the world. He was able to help guide her and open her eyes up to other possibilities.

once upon a time, there was a man as great as the gods…but even the great can tremble with fear.

It was interesting to see the subject of gender-fluidity being tackled in this novel. I liked Cielo was able to introduce Teo to the possibilities with her ability, rather than focus on only not being a woman because she didn’t like that she couldn’t be her father’s heir. I thought the whole idea was handled very well, flowing really well without feeling shoehorned in or just relegated to a single scene. Instead, it was weaved throughout the entire story and was an integral part to the overall plot and development to Teo’s character, as well as her relationship with Cielo.

I do think pacing was a little bit of an issue, as it took me a while to feel really invested in the story. I think that also had a little bit to do with my feelings towards Teo in the beginning as well. Luckily, things started getting really interesting once they arrived in the capital and began interacting with the Capo. The ending was a little too rushed and open-ended for my taste as well, considering this was originally going to only be a standalone. However, with it now being turned into a duology, it doesn’t bother me quite as bad. It will be interesting to see how the author will be able to fully finish the story in the sequel. I think there was a little too much left unanswered to get a completely satisfied finale, unless it turns out to be a lot longer than this book was.

Overall this was a fun book. I loved the setting and I thought the plot was really enjoyable as well. I did have a little trouble in beginning connecting with the main character but she grew on me as the story moved along. I also thought the writing got better with time as well. I do plan on finishing this series to see how the story will end.

Final Verdict: 3/5 Stars


Have you read The Brilliant Death? If so, what did you think of it? Were you a fan of Teo’s from the beginning? What did you think of the ending?

WWW Wednesday – January 23rd, 2019

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam!

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

  • Heart of Mist (The Oremere Chronicles, #1) by Helen Scheuerer – audiobook
  • Archenemies (Renegades, #2) by Marissa Meyer – physical book

Well I’m only about a third of the way through Heart of Mist, but I am LOVING it. The world is so interesting and I love how engrossing each of the POVs are. I’m also really enjoying Bleak as a main character. I cannot wait to continue on with this story to find out what will happen next. If you like a complex fantasy story with a lot of POVs, I definitely recommend picking this one up.

I’m not very far into Archenemies but I’m enjoying getting back into this world. I’m really interested in seeing where Meyer plans on going with this story, as I have a feeling it’s going to get dark pretty fast… And. I. Here. For. It.

What did you recently finish reading?

  • The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta – physical ARC, review to come
  • Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1) by Tasha Suri – physical ARC, REVIEW
  • The Disasters by M.K. England – audiobook
  • Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns, #3) by Kendare Blake – physical book

The Brilliant Death started off a little rocky for me. The writing wasn’t all that good starting off. However, it did seem to get a lot better as the story moved along. I will say that this is more of an Italy-inspired fantasy story, with little in the way of true mafia inspiration (just your usual marketing ploy failure!!!). But I enjoyed the political plot and exploration of gender-fluidity.

My feelings on Empire of Sand was that it was really hit or miss in areas. The world-building was amazing and overall plot was interesting, but the characters were a bit flat and lacked any personality. I also felt like the pacing was very off, especially in the middle part where the action was REALLY lacking.

While The Disasters plot was engaging and fast-paced, I felt all of the character relationships were pretty surface level and lacked any real depth. I would’ve liked to see more personal interactions between them. The ending also felt a bit rushed, but I think that’s because the author was trying to cram too much into a standalone novel. Had she added another 100 pages or so, the rushed ending and lack of character depth could have been addressed.

I’m obviously trash for the Three Dark Crowns series, so all I can say is that I loved this latest release. It was engaging, dramatic, and just as dark as the previous books. I NEED THE NEXT BOOK NOW!

What do you think you’ll read next?

  • The Kingdon of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy, #2) by S.A. Chakraborty – physical book
  • Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – physical ARC
  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi – physical ARC

My copy of The Kingdom of Copper arrived yesterday and I know I can’t put off picking up this amazing novel for too long. I also plan to continue on completing my collection of BookCon ARCs that I still haven’t picked up yet. I really need to not put off BookCon 2019’s pick ups this year. I swear to read them all before their due dates! Definitely adding that to my 2019 reading goals, ha!


What are you currently reading? What books did you finish this week? What are you planning on reading next? Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think of them? Leave a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments below!

ARC Review: Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)

Ever since I first snagged Tasha Suri’s debut novel, Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1) at BookCon, I was immediately intrigued by the premise. I loved the concept of a Mughal India-inspired fantasy series. Unfortunately, I know I’m a little late to the review party on this ARC. But hey, better late than never, right?

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

I was really impressed with Suri’s writing style. For a debut novel, she does a good job of creating a world that is fleshed out and immersive. It didn’t feel like there was too much info-dumping, just enough information to provide some context for why the Amrithi are persecuted by the rest of the Empire. I also liked how the magic system was fairly straightforward without being overly complicated. I feel like can be a problem with a lot of debut fantasies but luckily it wasn’t this time.

Mehr is your typical outcast-type of heroine. She’s independent with a bit of a rebellious streak but she’s also pretty fragile inside. I would also say she definitely suffers from abandonment issues with her mother which affects her overall confidence. She wasn’t my favorite character ever, more average than anything else. And then there’s Amun.. He’s stoic and closed-off, having spent his entire life being singled out by the mystics for his Amrithi gifts. It took me a long time to really care about him as a character, as he didn’t have much of a personality. Usually the stoic types are harsh and blunt, but he was more silent than anything else. However, he did grow on me some as he started showing his loyalty to Mehr. I liked how he was willing to do anything to try and protect her.

To talk about arson is to talk about buildings burning down. To talk about the term 'pyromania' is really to talk about the unfathomable mysteries of the human brain and the human heart_ Why do we do things_ W.png

I would say the biggest weakness with this book was the inconsistency in the pacing. It started off really strong and then I felt myself growing bored through most of the middle, before ramping back up at the end. The majority of the book is just Mehr and Amun practicing their dancing, which I felt lacked any real tension even with the lingering presence of the Maha. Honestly, I was just hoping for more appearances from the daiva. They were my favorite part about the book but made too few appearances. I’m really hoping they play a bigger part in the next book. I also wouldn’t mind the next book to have a POV from Amun’s perspective as well, so we can connect more with him as a character.

Overall, this was a solid debut novel with a few issues that I think can be fixed in future sequels. I loved the world that Suri has created and am looking forward to seeing where she goes next with this story. I feel like there’s so many different things she can explore, which makes me excited for the next book.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars


Have you read Empire of Sand? If so, what did you think of it? Did you have a hard time connecting Amun’s character? What was your opinion on the novel’s pacing?

2019 Release Covers That I Love

I will always admit that I’m a sucker for a gorgeous book cove. I have definitely bought many a book based mostly on its cover… and I am not ashamed. I love pretty covers and I think it’s been pretty rare where I ended up not enjoying that book, too. So you can probably guess that all of the amazing covers being unveiled lately for 2019 releases has got me really excited. I can’t wait to add these beauties to my bookshelves!


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Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1) by Elizabeth Lim

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

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

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

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Finale (Caraval, #3) by Stephanie Garber

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything. . .

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Lovely War by Julie Berry

It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep—and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

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The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1) by Renee Ahdieh

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

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The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1) by Margaret Owen

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

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The Devouring Gray (The Devouring Gray, #1) by Christine Lynn Herman

Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction–but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

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Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.

But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.

Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.

As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.

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Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1) by Emily A. Duncan

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.

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Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant and alluring investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.


What are some of your favorite covers for 2019 releases? Are you excited about any of the books that I shared?

 

 

Books I’ve Removed From My TBR

I went through a previous Goodreads TBR purge a couple of years ago. However, I know I have added A LOT more books to the list since then and I just feel like I know that I’ll never get to the over 400 count of novels on there at this point. I think it’s always a good idea to go through and remove some of those books that you have lost interest in actually reading. For me, seeing such a high number of books to read is a little daunting and I don’t want to feel so much pressure from that. With that being said, I decided to go and remove some books from that list. Maybe one day I’ll get to them…


We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott

I think that YA thrillers just don’t really shock or surprise me anymore. They’re usually pretty cliche and I figure out the “twist” or ending before I’m even halfway through the book. Except for Sadie, that book is a total gem.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

I was originally really excited about this book, but I think over time I’ve realized how many novels I’ve already read about the Trojan War. I don’t know that this book will be able shed any new light on the myth than has already been written about, that’s including the war from the women’s point of view.

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

There is a strong push right now in YA Asian-inspired fantasies and I am totally here for it! However, this book just doesn’t grab my attention as much as some of the other recent releases and its kind of just fallen to the wayside. I haven’t seen a whole lot of reviews on it either and so I’m going to push this one to the side for now. Maybe I’ll come back to it at some point?

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen

I was super excited about this book when I first heard about it. However, most of the reviews that I’ve read since its release has definitely lowered my expectations on it. It seems like Chicago’s Great Fire (which is supposed to be where the plot is based around) barely makes an appearance and instead it’s just one big love triangle. I don’t mind love triangles, but I was really hoping for a lot of tension due to the fire…. Guess not, huh?

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

I usually really enjoy a good retelling, especially if it’s turned into a science fiction story. But now that I think about it, I’m not super interested in Jane Eyre retellings. Give me something else and then maybe I’ll bite!

Isle of Blood and Stone (Tower of Winds, #1) by Makiia Lucier

I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what this book is supposed to be about. Probably a good enough reason to remove it from my TBR then.

Cracked (Soul Eaters, #1) by Eliza Crewe

Yet another book that I have no idea what it’s about. I also don’t ever remember adding this one to my TBR in the first place, so there’s that as well.

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1) by Brittany Cavallaro

Apparently this is a pretty popular series that’s basically a contemporary gender-bent retelling of Sherlock Holmes. I think at this point that I’m just not interested in this series anymore. It seems like a story that I probably would feel very meh about.

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

I originally only got this book because PeruseProject bought it and really liked it. But I should’ve know that wouldn’t be a good enough reason as the synopsis isn’t really something that I’d usually be interested in.

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

After reading The Female of the Species, I’ve realized that McGinnis just isn’t an author that I mesh with. Her writing style is a tad annoying and I find it hard to really be drawn into her stories.


 Do you regularly clean out your TBR? Do you notice a pattern in the books that your remove? Have you read any of the books that I listed? If so, what did you think of them?

 

WWW Wednesday – January 16th, 2019

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam!

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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  • Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns, #3) by Kendare Blake – physical book

I’m about 100 pages into this book right now and am really enjoying it. I had kind of forgotten what had happened in the previous book, but I’m slowly starting to remember it all as I get more into this book. I just love how dark this series is and I can’t wait to find out what twisted situation happens in this book!

What did you recently finish reading?

  • The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) by Holly Black – physical book, REVIEW
  • Thirteen Rising (Zodiac, #4) by Romina Russell – physical book
  • Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1) by Ken Follett – physical book

I actually had a really good reading week completing three full books. I don’t want to toot my own horn but that’s unheard of for me, so I’m pretty happy about it. I think my favorite of the three is going to be Fall of Giants. Follett just writes historical fiction like no one else and I learned soooo much more about WWI and the political sphere leading up to it then I ever did in school. I also really enjoyed The Wicked King. It was much more engaging from the very first page than the first book was. And that ending?! Such a great cliffhanger. Thirteen Rising was good but it didn’t quite live up to the previous books for me, which stinks since this was the finale. I still recommend everyone to read this series though!

What do you think you’ll read next?

  • Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – physical ARC
  • Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1) by Tasha Suri – physical ARC
  • We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix – physical ARC

It’s finally time to complete all of my BookCon 2018 ARCS that I picked up. I’ve read a couple of them but I grabbed so many and am such a mood reader, that I haven’t gotten to the rest of them. Well fear not, as that is my current reading goal – read them all over the next month! So just be ready to get a bunch of Fall/Winter 2018 release reviews.


What are you currently reading? What books did you finish this week? What are you planning on reading next? Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think of them? Leave a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments below!

Book Review: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)

Sometimes you get a sequel that just doesn’t quite live up to the first book. However, I think we should all be very excited to know that this was not the case in Holly Black’s, The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2).

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Once again Black is able to transport you into this fantasy world as though you are actually living it alongside Jude. You can vividly picture all of the Fair Folk that she’s describing, as well as the setting. I also enjoyed that we get to experience some of the Undersea as well, instead of only Elfhame. Now if we can only get to visit some of the Under Courts in the next book… Keep your fingers crossed, people!

In this sequel, we find Jude to have even a harder exterior and heart than before. She’s basically been in charge for five months at the start of the novel and you can really tell how rough it has been for her. At this point, the only things that bring out any emotions in her are Oak and (to no one’s surprise), Cardan. While you still want to root for Jude, she almost gives off antihero vibes because she is so closed off, even from the reader. My feelings towards her were basically all over the place throughout this book. As for Cardan… my baby boy can do no wrong. He even opens up his soul at one point in the book! I love how twisted he is and that he has his own agenda, even while actually under Jude’s command. You do you, Cardan!

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I think the biggest difference between this book and the first is that it had a faster pace to it. The Cruel Prince took a while for me to really dive into the story, whereas with The Wicked King, I was immediately caught up in the action and plot. I can always appreciate a book that immediately grabs me and doesn’t let go. I also loved that this sequel ended on another big twist, mirroring the first book. If you know me, you know I can never get enough plot twists. I know some people hate books that end on twisted cliffhangers, but I absolutely love them. It takes a lot to surprise me and so when an author can do that, I will forever applause them.

If you enjoyed the first book, I think you’ll love this sequel even more. It ups the ante even more, with plot twists scattered all over the place. Our characters also go through some development in this novel as way, in both good and bad ways. I cannot wait to see what they’ll do next!

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars


Have you read The Wicked King yet? If so, what did you think about it? Did you enjoy it more than the previous book? What do you think about the development of Jude and Cardan’s relationship?

2018 End of the Year Survey

2018 wasn’t my best reading year, as I had a few reading slumps here and there. Luckily, I still did read some great books and it’s always nice to look back and really take in everything that I read.

If you wish to do this survey, please be sure and link back to the original creator, Jamie @ PerpetualPageTurner.


2018 Reading stats

Number Of Books You Read: 65
Total Pages Read: 27,977
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

Best in Books

Best Book You Read In 2018?

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The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

I think after all of my praises for this book, it’s going to be no surprise that this was my favorite read last year. I cannot wait for the release of the sequel!

 

 

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Everyone raves about this book but it just didn’t work for me. I’m not sure if it was McGinnis’ writing style or just the story in general, but I felt very disconnected from the story. And let’s be real, that’s the exact opposite you should feel about this subject.

 

 

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

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Furyborn (Empirium, #1) by Claire Legrand

This book was getting so many mixed reviews, that I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. I. WAS. SO. WRONG. I loved this book so much. I liked how the story was told in different POVs in different timelines, which seems to be what most people didn’t enjoy.

 

 

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I’m not really sure that I pushed one specific book on multiple people. I pushed multiple books on different people depending on what I think they might enjoy. I gave my boyfriend Red Rising and I’ve let my dad borrow tons of books like The Queen of the Tearling trilogy and Skyward.

Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

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Best Series – The Diviners Series by Libba Bray

I first read this back on its first release but could not remember anything that happened and so I did a reread and fell in love. Historical fiction mixed with the paranormal and a dash of romance? Count me in!

 

 

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Best Sequel – Black Moon (Zodiac, #3) by Romina Russell

I will die for this series, seriously. I still haven’t picked up the finale yet because I’m just not ready for the story to be over, but I plan to pick it up soon as its probably time for me to say goodbye. READ THIS SERIES, Y’ALL!

 

 

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Best Series Ender – The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #3) by Erika Johansen

This entire series blew me away, but I have to say that the finale was something amazing especially. Johansen did a really interesting job on twisting your typical YA ending around and I loved that it wasn’t your typical fairy-tale happy ever after ending.

 

Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

I wouldn’t say that I’ve newly discovered her, but Rachel Caine has really solidified herself as a new auto-buy author for me. I’ve been such a big fan of her The Great Library series, but her newest scifi series written with Ann Aguirre, The Honors, just proves how awesome she is.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

Y’all know that I’m not the biggest contemporary reader, but I cannot praise this book enough. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful and a story that I know I will never forget. I also recommend listening to the audiobook version of this as well!

 

 

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

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Defy the Worlds (Constellation, #2) by Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray can do no wrong. Seriously. Her science fiction novels are always so exciting, with stories that you don’t want to end. After this latest book, I can’t wait to see where this series is going to next!

 

 

Book You Read In 2018 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Ehhhh, I’m not usually one for re-reading books, but I may have to do a quick brush up on the previous books in The Witchland series by Susan Dennard before the release of Bloodwitch. I am crazy excited for this next installment!!! I can’t believe it’s been two years already since Windwitch.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

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Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

This book was a bit of a letdown for me, but you can’t deny that that’s a flashy book cover. If you’ve seen it in person, you’ll notice that it has a sparkly holographic cover and it definitely matches what the book is about. It’s so pretty!

 

 

Most memorable character of 2018?

Hmmm… I think I might have to go with Kelsea from The Queen of the Tearling trilogy. She’s extremely smart and cunning. It was nice to see a YA heroine who doesn’t fit the typical tropey mold that you usually find.

Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

This wasn’t as engrossing of a read as her previous work, but you can’t deny that Novik has such a lovely way with writing.

 

 

 

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2018?

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

I really didn’t want to repeat any books on this survey, but no other book affected me quite like this one did last year.

 

 

 

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read?

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These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Historical fiction? Check. Mystery? Check… Yup, I’m still kicking myself for putting off this book for so long because I really enjoyed it. I need more books just like it, so if you have any recommendations then please send them my way!

 

 

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

“These people are so damned proud of their hatred! Hatred is easy, and lazy to boot. It’s love that demands effort, love that exacts a price from each of us. Love costs; this is its value.”


– Erika Johansen, The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #3)

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

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Shortest Book – Brunette Ambition by Lea Michelle

This is really just a book about Michelle’s childhood and growing up on Broadway, as well as health and beauty tips from herself and her team. I loved that she even includes recipes! Though there isn’t any behind-the-scenes info from her time on Glee.

 

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Longest Book – Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7) by Sarah J. Maas

I don’t think anyone is surprised by this, because this book is MASSIVE. I thought it was a really good finale for the overall series as well.

 

 

Book That Shocked You The Most

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Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms, #3) by Morgan Rhodes

Honestly, this entire series is just full of twists and turns. I never know what to expect will happen because it never ends that way! I plan to pick up the finale soon and I’m not ready!

 

 

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

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The Dark Days Deceit (Lady Helen, #3) by Alison Goodman

I will forever ship Lady Helen and Lord Carlston. They compliment each other so well – she’s feisty and independent, while he’s brooding and intelligent. I love their interactions so much.

 

 

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1) by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Zara and Nadim (a living ship) are just the perfect little team. I loved how antagonistic their relationship began and then how they grew to work together. They’re such little rebels!

 

 

Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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Give the Dark My Love (Give the Dark My Love, #1) by Beth Revis

So this book took me a while to get into, but once the plot really got going I was hooked. This is really a dark story focusing around the development of the antiheroine. It wasn’t really what I was expecting but I am really excited to see what will happen in the next book!

 

Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure

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Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) by William Ritter

My friend Brittnee has been pushing me to pick this book up and I finally did last year. It was a fun read and I plan to continue on with the series at some point soon. I especially enjoyed Jackaby’s character.

 

 

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

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Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Rowan… Let’s just say that I’m a sucker for a sexy Irishman. That accent. *insert heart eyes*

 

 

 

Best 2018 debut you read?

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Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

This was such a lovely atmospheric book. It was heartwarming and definitely brought up feelings of nostalgia of childhood fairy-tales. If you haven’t read this book, then trust that the hype is all true!

 

 

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

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The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2) by Erika Johansen

While this entire series is amazing, this book in particular expanded on the world-building so much! It brought in a historial POV that really rounded out the story. I loved it.

 

 

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

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Legendary (Caraval, #2) by Stephanie Garber

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. It was so engrossing and I didn’t know that it was possible to love more than the first book, but I did! I am so excited for the finale to come out this year. It’s going to a wild ride… (I hope!)

 

 

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3) at Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

I think we all know that I cried just because this series was over.

 

 

 

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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Sightwitch (The Witchlands, #0.5) by Susan Dennard

This one probably fell by the wayside because it’s only a novella. However, it really does feel like a complete story and I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into a different part of the world. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

 

 

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I don’t think I really read a book this past year that crushed my soul. However, I’m sure 2019 will be an entirely different story.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

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Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

I’m going to have to pick this one because it centers around a post-apocalyptic Indian reservation in the American Southwest. I feel like American Indian culture doesn’t have much of a presence in novels and so I loved that the entire story revolved around Indian myths brought to life.

 

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)

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Iron Gold (Red Rising, #4) by Pierce Brown

I loved this book. I’m just pissed that now I have to wait until July for Dark Age to be released because Brown has pushed the release date back twice already… Pierce, you are such a TEASE!!!!!!

 

 

Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018

I don’t know if I really discovered a new favorite this past year. I don’t follow bookstagram anymore and I tend to stick with my usual booktubers.

Favorite post you wrote in 2018

I’m probably going to have to go with my Talk Me Into/Out Of… Books on My TBR post. I really liked doing that and plan to do another round sometime this year.

Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018

Not a bookstagrammer anymore so this doesn’t really apply to me.

Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)

BookCon 2018, baby! I mean, what could top that?!

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018

Meeting author Grady Hendrix and him telling me to stop dating musicians… Yes, that really happened. Haha!

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)

I don’t really keep up my stats like this, though I probably should. I might be a better blogger if I did..

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love

Probably just any of my reviews in general. Book reviews don’t typically get as much views as tags do. But I promise none of my reviews ever have spoilers!

Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)

I finally got to experience The Strand Bookstore in NYC while I was there for BookCon and I can attest to the amazingness of that place. I think left with like six books because I have no self-control.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

No… and I’m so disappointed in myself for it, too.

Looking Ahead

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019

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Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1) by Ken Follett

HAHA. The joke is on you because I’ve actually already completed this one. Lemme just pat my own back for a second here…

 

 

 

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)

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Bloodwitch (The Witchlands, #3) by Susan Dennard

I’ve been waiting two years for this book. Now it’s time to GET. IN. MY. HANDS.

 

 

 

2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

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Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

I wish I could explain to y’all just how excited I am about this debut novel. It sounds beautiful and amazing. And can you think of a more beautiful cover? I’m really excited to dive more into this Chinese-inspire fantasy.

 

 

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019

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Defy the Fates (Constellation, #1) by Claudia Gray

Like I mentioned, Claudia Gray can do no wrong and I just know she is going to destroy me with this finale.

 

 

 

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019

I really want to continue reading more diverse novels, as well as getting back into more adult novels. I used to read a lot less YA than I have been since I’ve started blogging and I’d like to get back to that. I also really want to focus on reading a lot of backlisted books that have been on my shelves for a long time… the problems of a mood reader.

A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone

I haven’t read any 2019 releases yet, but I am currently reading The Wicked King!

 

WWW Wednesday – January 9th, 2019

Welcome to WWW Wednesday which is currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s really just a place to do little update on what all you’ve been reading lately. Anyone is welcome to join, just leave a link to your post in the comments and be sure to give the appropriate credit to Sam!

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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  • Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1) by Ken Follett – physical book

I have less than 100 pages left in this book and I am OBSESSED. I love all of the characters and I love how detailed Follett is when delving into the political landscape during WWI. I honestly feel like I’ve learned more about WWI and the Russian Revolution from this book than I ever did in school. I really cannot recommend it enough!

What did you recently finish reading?

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  • Skyward (Skyward, #1) by Brandon Sanderson – physical book

This was my first Sanderson book and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was well-written and I loved the humor that was sprinkled throughout. I loved the unique storyline as well, and cannot wait to see what’s going to happen next in the series!

What do you think you’ll read next?

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  • The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) by Holly Black – physical book

I totally forgot I had pre-ordered this book until Amazon told me it was out for delivery and so I don’t think I can hold off picking it up any longer. I am super excited to see what Black has planned for us in this next installment!


What are you currently reading? What books did you finish this week? What are you planning on reading next? Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think of them? Leave a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments below!

My 2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge TBR

For the past couple of years I have participated in the annual POPSUGAR reading challenge… and with abysmal results. However, it’s a new year (unfortunately, same me) and I’m really going to try and actually complete it this year. It’s always a long shot for me as some of the prompts don’t really excite me for one reason or another (like I really don’t appreciate poetry.. oops?). But I’m going to do my best to finish this really intense reading challenge this year. It’s going to be a uphill battle, but I’m willing to make the trek! And for me, the best way to do so is to plan ahead with a TBR. I’ve actually come up with a couple of options for some of the prompts to help with my indecisive reading habits.

If you would like to learn more about this reading challenge, please visit the official Goodreads reading group. They have tons of participants and also discussions on books that would work for each prompt. It’s quite possibly the best group on Goodreads that I’ve ever come across. NO LIE.


A Book Becoming A Movie In 2019

A Book That Makes You Nostalgic

A Book Written By A Musician (Fiction Or Nonfiction)

A Book You Think Should Be Turned Into A Movie

A Book With At Least One Million Ratings On Goodreads

A Book With A Plant In The Title Or On The Cover

A Reread Of A Favorite Book

A Book About A Hobby

A Book You Meant To Read In 2018

A Book With “Pop”, “Sugar”, “Challenge” In The Title

A Book With An Item Of Clothing Or Accessory On The Cover

A Book Inspired By Myth/Legend/Folklore

A Book Published Posthumously

A Book You See Someone Reading On TV Or In A Movie

A Retelling Of A Classic

A Book With A Question In The Title

A Book Set On A College Or University Campus

A Book About Someone With A Superpower

A Book Told From Multiple POVs

A Book Set In Space

A Book By Two Female Authors

A Book With “Salty”, “Sweet”, “Bitter”, or “Spicy” In The Title

A Book Set In Scandinavia

A Book That Takes Place In A Single Day

A Debut Novel

A Book Featuring An Extinct Or Imaginary Creature

A Book Recommended By A Celebrity You Admire

A Book With “Love” In The Title

A Book Featuring An Amateur Detective

A Book About A Family

A Book Written By An Author From Asia, Africa, or South America

A Book With A Zodiac Sign or Astrology Term In The Title

A Book That Includes A Wedding

A Book By An Author Whose First And Last Names Start With The Same Letter

A Ghost Story

A Book With A Two Word Title

A Novel Based On A True Story

A Book Around A Puzzle Or Game

Your Favorite Prompt From A Past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge


Are you participating in the POPSUGAR reading challenge this year? If so, have you figured out your TBR already? Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think about them?