Book Review: Allied (Ruined #3)

35068505Title: Allied (Ruined #3)

Author: Amy Tintera

Pub. Date: May 1, 2018

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


In the final book in the New York Times bestselling Ruined series, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores and her sister, Olivia, were determined to bring peace to the people of Ruina. But as the war for liberation raged on, what triumph and freedom meant to Em and Olivia slowly changed. As Olivia’s violence and thirst for vengeance became her only ambition, Em was left to pick up the pieces.

But it’s not only Em who is upset by Olivia’s increased violence. Other members of the Ruined army are beginning to see the cracks, and soon a small group of them defects from Olivia’s army and joins Em instead. The two sisters are soon pitted against each other in an epic battle for the kingdom and the future, and only one will win.


This is going to be a mini spoiler free review.

I have FINALLY finished this book and I’m so excited. The reason it took me so long to finish the last book in this fantasy trilogy is because I was waiting for the audiobook to come out. I really enjoyed the narrator and knew that I wanted to listen to the last book.

This was a really good conclusion for Emelina and Co. I really liked how it ended, and things happened that I didn’t expect. But overall it was a pretty chill ending for a fantasy series. The characters definitely grow on you and feel for them. Emelina goes through so much, but by the end, everyone gets what they deserve. Characters that you don’t expect to become friends do and will ultimately do anything for each other. The romances between characters were explored. I really liked how none of them were even remotely insta-love-y. All these characters mess up, have faults and while the significant other’s may be upset, they communicate and trying to work through everything.

The writing was amazing as always, and this finale definitely solidified that I will read anything she publishes. I do think this book was a tad slower than the others, but I think that’s because it shows the ramifications of the character’s actions. I think this book questions the validity of right and wrong, or more so who is viewed as right and wrong. History is written by the victors, but that doesn’t make actions okay. The characters in this series, especially this final book have to face consequences for their actions, and unfortunately the actions of their parents.

As a finale, it’s probably one of my favorites because it doesn’t end how an epic fantasy normally ends – with the reclamation of a throne. It ends with almost a new world order and the hope for a better tomorrow.

Writing Update #7

I have updates, in the form of two different projects.

Image result for i did it gifYes, I’m still working on my SF WIP and managed to finish revising a chapter and started on the next one, but I also started working on another project.

But I’ll start with the SF WIP first.

I don’t want to say that I’m over whatever mental block that might’ve been blocking me – because I don’t want to jinx myself. Words seem to be flowing and that feels great.

Twoish weeks ago, I got together with Brigid Kemmerer to write (we live fairly close to each other and try to get together to write every now and then when schedules permit) and I was able to crank out almost 1000 words, after deleting about 500. I felt so productive!

And prior to that, I had cranked out like 2200 words over a few days and finally finished a chapter. I did hit a little snag, but that was because I was forcing my MC to act out of character (hence the 500-word deletion). I wanted her to have this vulnerable moment, but where and who she is in this moment in the story, isn’t someone who breaks down and lets her emotions overwhelm her. She’s very “wall around her heart” right now, so an emotional break down felt forced and it was ultimately throwing off her character.

To be completely honest, I just wanted my two MC’s to have a moment and it wasn’t the right time. I got the urge to write that scene off my chest and was able to move forward.

And for the other project.

It’s not a new project, but one I started about a year ago – a beach contemporary romance. I recently got a new idea for it and wanted to get it on paper. I’m maybe 5k into it but will probably stop working on it until November and make it my NaNoWriMo project.

An incident that happened to me last year while on vacation at the beach spurred the idea – I got caught under a large 6-8 ft circular pool float and struggled to get out from under it. I had to try and remain calm and not panic as I tried to get out from under it as wave buffeted against it. I obviously got out, but that swim back to shore was the absolute hardest swim of my life. I was exhausted, panicky and just wanted out of the water. The tide was coming in, and I ultimately just let the strong current carry me back to shore, because I was utterly depleted.

I had family members walking towards me, telling me that they thought they were going to have to come pull me onto shore because they didn’t think I was going to make it.

I am proud that I managed to stay calm until I got out from under the float, and that I could rationalize that freaking out wasn’t going to help me any. I was definitely nervous to get back in the water after that incident, but that float was deflated and gotten rid of after that.

But anyways, it spurred this idea in my brain, and last year I wrote about 10k of this story. Then a few months ago, I did one of those Twitter posts “your birth month and day and whatever else is the title of your YA Contemporary book” and my title was pretty good, and it gave me a new idea for this story.

My Hater Stole My First Kiss.

Like, how perfect?

Now, you know basically nothing about this WIP other than that incident above plays a part, but there is a male character in this book who was never supposed to be the love interest, and when I wrote him in the 10k draft, it was looking like he’d stand a chance. But you might ask, how does the title Twitter gave you come into play? Well, the MC cannot stand this guy, and kind of vice versa. Also, that title isn’t the official one, just what I’m choosing to use for now.

Anyways, once I get back from vacation, it’ll be time to dive back into my SF WIP and then come NaNoWriMo, my plan is to work on this contemporary, but we’ll see!

Book Review: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1)

40024139Title: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1)

Author: Shelby Mahurin

Pub. Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.


This will be a spoiler free review.

This book surprised me in how much I loved it. Based on the synopsis, I figured I’d definitely enjoy the book, but after a slightly slow start, I was absorbed. Set in a romantic seventeenth century France, with a bit of a fantastical element in the form of magic and witches, we’re (the reader) are taken on a journey of enemies to lovers with a slow burn romance and wonderful friendships as Lou and Reid’s story unfolds.

I mean, enemies to lovers, slow burn romance, marriage of convenience…if you liked Rowan and Aelin in Throne of Glass, then undoubtedly, you’ll like Reid and Lou. Their relationship started rough, but as they realize that they are more than the preconceived notions that they have of one another, a true relationship…a friendship blooms between them.

Lou is a witch – not something that she makes know, due to the fact that it would mean her death. She’s also very much a modern woman, not confined to the roles typically expressed by women in seventeenth century France. She dresses like man, curses like a sailor, and flirts shamelessly if it helps her get what she wants. She’s also not opposed to physical relationships if it suits her. She’s very much in charge of her own body and even without magic, is more than capable of defending herself.

Reid is basically her polar opposite. He’s a Chasseur – a Huntsman, sworn to kill any witch he comes across. He’s part of a holy order to eradicate the witches and make the world a better place…He’s a romantic, loyal but close minded. His entire life revolves around doing his job, protecting people and killing witches, and everything else is a distraction. He keeps his heart close, because Chasseurs, while not prohibited from starting a family, falling in love, isn’t something he chooses. But he also gives his heart wholly, when he does.

The two of them together, they clash. She’s brash and vulgar and he’s measured and polite…to an extent. She likes to push his buttons and he counts to ten to not lose his temper. Watching their relationship unfold was the best thing about this book. It made me giddy with anticipation and excitement. I felt all those emotions in my chest and I just wanted to squeal. Give me enemies to loves with a slow burn and a wedding of convenience and I’m trash.

This book kept me up all night, turning page after page, devouring this story, these characters. I’m so excited for book 2, and the wait might kill me. Things are revealed at the end of this book that shatters a few character’s realities and I’m so excited to see how it all plays out.

As for Coco and Ansel.

Let me start with Ansel, because oh my god. Why is it the side characters are always so freaking amazing? And so freaking loyal? He’s training to be a Chasseur, to be like Reid, and yet, he’s not as closeminded as some of his brothers. Despite the fact that Lou always tries to embarrass him, the moment that her world dips, he’s there, defending her, launching plans to help her. He’s got her back one hundred percent when others can’t bring themselves to act. There’s a moment in this book that, Ansel went from being a teen, to pulling on his grown-up pants and going toe to toe with Reid and calling him on his bullshit and oh my god. He was fury and I loved it.

Coco, or Cosette, best friend to Lou and just as much of a trouble maker and flirt, has her own story, her own past. She’s fiercely loyal to Lou, as Lou is to her. We don’t get much about her past, just some, but I have a feeling that Coco is going to have a much bigger role in the second book. She’s always there for Lou, risking her life, and Lou would do the same for her. I loved their friendship, the nature of it. They empower each other and care deeply for each other.

There are a few other characters that I really liked, but to discuss they here would be pretty difficult without some spoilers. So just know that they are key players in the book and are needed to overcome some pretty big obstacles.

One of my favorite aspects about this book is the dialogue. Now, I’m always for a historical fiction book (though I’m not sure I’d classify this as that, even though it technically takes place in seventeenth century France) with era appropriate speech and communication, but oh my god give me more historical fictions in YA where they speak like we do today. I didn’t have to suspend my belief or anything to get lost in this book.

I do understand how it works, and works so well for this book, since it is more of a fantasy, than a true historical fiction, but give me more! Lou has a mouth on her, and she does not act as proper seventeenth century French woman should, and it scandalizes Reid. He’s completely baffled and blushing and shocked like ninety percent of the time Lou is opening her mouth. And I love it.

I think using this method of showing their differences is brilliant and I want more of it in YA!

This book is definitely one you aren’t going to want to miss. Like, at all. Put Serpent & Dove on your TBR, pick it up on September 3, 2019 when it releases and read it! You won’t be disappointed. And even if you weren’t a Rowan & Aelin fan, you should still give it a chance, because the world, the characters, the story is just so freaking amazing, you’ll be dying for the next one as soon as you finish it!

Book Review: The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow #1)

38330596Title: The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow #1)

Author: Kalyn Josephson

Pub. Date: July 9, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.


This will be a short spoiler free review.

Overall, this was a good read, and if book 2 were currently out, I would have picked it up. Idk if I’ll finish the series, but there is definitely some interest.

I want to preface with, this book was comped to Eragon and And I Darken – which I think does it a disservice. I’ve read both of the comped books, Eragon being and absolute favorite and And I Darken falling short for me, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. I went in with as open of a mind I possibly could, but there were moments that I couldn’t help but compare.

This kind of came across as your typical take back the throne YA fantasy, but I was a little disappointed that the prince – portrayed as snarky, rude and arrogant in the beginning, turned out to be ‘misunderstood and actually a nice guy’. Though, I did like the stubbornness that the MC exhibited often, and I do think that the Prince and her created a good dynamic.

I liked the idea of magic (giant) crows, and found the concept unique, but again, I really wish it hadn’t been comped with Eragon because even though I tried desperately to keep an open mind, it was so damn hard.

I get why titles are comped, I get it, but they also mean that the reader (if having read the comped titles) already have preconceived notions about the book, and I found it so hard to not compare it to Eragon.

If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable read, with magic, you might want to check this out!

 

Book Review: The Evil Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil #1)

40242200. sy475 Title: The Evil Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil #1)

Author: Gena Showalter

Pub. Date: June 25, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


WELCOME TO THE FOREST OF GOOD AND EVIL.

A DREAM COME TRUE…AND A LIVING NIGHTMARE.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy-tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control, Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed. As the prophecy unfolds, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

The battle between good and evil is on.


This is going to be a shorter, spoiler free review.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it felt a little chaotic at times. I really liked the unique take on the Snow White and Evil Queen story, and it was something that I hadn’t read before.

I do kind of wish that this had been a New Adult book, rather than Young Adult – in my opinion, it read more like a NA, but it was as if the characters had been aged down to fit a YA market.

I enjoyed the ambiguity of who portrayed which Snow White character, and that the book explores that no one person is just one thing. That humans are capable of both good and evil.

While this wasn’t my favorite book – not typically a huge fan of Snow White retellings, I’m excited to see what’s coming next in this series. I really do love these kinds of books – the fairytale adaptations and retellings. They’re always fresh takes on a classic, and rarely do they leave me disappointed!

If you were on the fence about this book, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It’s a pretty quick read despite its length, and it’s pretty easy to get lost the story.

Currently Reading & Watching #5

Image result for reading gifsI’ve kind of lost count with how many books I’ve read in August – I have a bunch of September ARCs I’m trying to get through as quickly as possible as they pretty much all come out the first and second weeks. I still need to finish my July/August/September TBR – I’m four? Books away from that goal and have until the end of September to do that. I’ve really been enjoying the books I’ve been reading, so many 4/4.5/5 star reads, it’s fantastic. The wait for the next ones…not so much.


BOOKS:

Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin

THIS BOOK. I feel like I’ve been saying that so often lately, but honestly, the majority have been so good. I had a feeling that I was going to love this book, and I stayed up until like 3, maybe to finish it because I couldn’t put it down. I love Reid and Lou and I’m seriously dying for book 2! This comes out really soon, September 3, 2019, and you’re not going to want to miss it!

The Hidden Code – P.J Hoover

Think Indian Jones meets Lara Croft…with teens, and that’s what this book is. I’m really enjoying it, and I’m a little over half way through. Once I’m done writing this post, I’ll go back to reading. I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories and find them so exciting, and this isn’t disappointing me in the least! Out September 10, 2019, you should pick it up and follow Hannah’s journey!

Bloodwitch – Susan Dennard

Technically, I’m still reading this as it’s an audiobook on my phone, but I haven’t listened to it in about two, maybe 3 weeks. Right now, it doesn’t hold priority and I haven’t really been in the mood to listen to a book. I’m on a reading kick – and yes audiobooks count as reading, but I tend to gravitate towards them when I cannot focus on written words in a physical book, or when I’m too busy to read a physical book.


SHOWS:

Once Upon A Time (Netflix)

This is really the only show I’m currently watching with any kind of dedication. I’ve been watching more YouTube videos lately, but I’ve also been reading heavily, and when I’m not in a reading slump, shows kind of fall to the wayside. I have had this urge to rewatch Grey’s Anatomy for the 3rd time, but I’ve not given in. I’m a sucker for the Emma Swan and Captain Hook relationship in OUAT and it makes me happy!

The Last Czars (Netflix)

I’ve seen 2 maybe 3 episodes of this? I started watching it with my mom because why not, and I’m also a sucker for history about the Romanovs. I don’t really mind the reenactment/docu series format they did the show in, and after watching what I have, I kind of want to keep my idealized and romanticized version of the Romanovs in my head. It’s definitely interesting but take it with a grain of salt – no one really knows what really happened and the show is just a researcher(s)/historian(s) take on what they think happened. It’s definitely interesting though. Though the live action/reenactments have further solidified my need for a live action Anastasia or even a show similar to The Crown…but more Anastasia and Dimirti.

Book Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl

37777083. sy475 Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl

Author: Mara Rutherford

Pub. Date: August 27, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


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

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

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

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


This will be a spoiler free review.

I went into this book fairly open minded, only having seen some positive reactions from friends who had read it. I still didn’t know what to expect. I also didn’t actually plan on getting to this book prior to release, but I’m so glad I did.

I absolutely loved this book. I read it in basically one sitting, in one day and there were definitely surprising moments. I loved the cast of characters, except for Zadie and Nor’s Mother. That woman needed to be punch in the face and thrown into the sea. She was absolutely awful. I couldn’t stand her. I feel like it’s very rarely that a character makes me so instantly angry.

She is awful to her daughters, favoring one over the other, making the one feel so inadequate, pitting them against each other. Thankfully it is Zadie and Nor against the world. It’s appalling how she treats Nor as damaged. Her whole attitude towards her is anger inducing. It’s not much better towards towards Zadie, constantly reenforcing this idea that beauty is the only thing that matters, and it must be protected at all costs.

While they both had it rough, there came a point where I wasn’t thrilled with like anyone in Nor’s life, including her sister. All but her father treated her like crap, and I couldn’t wait until the second half of the novel. I really liked Nor as a character and rooted for her the whole book and how her people treated her was outrageous.

Enter Talin and Ceren, both Princes. Talin is the Golden Prince, spends time outside, nice, handsome and wonderful. Then you have Ceren, set to inherit the throne, lives inside the castle in a mountain, cruel, not very nice. I thought upon meeting Ceren we were going to have another Cardan…you know, hard and cruel on the outside, but wholly devoted to the girl on the inside…

This book kind of plays on that characterization that’s going on in YA right now – the cruel prince type character but is actually a softie. Or I thought he was going to be like Aldrik from the Air Awakens series. How it actually plays out is kind of a twist, and it felt almost too good to be true. I guess I’ll just have to wait for book 2, to find out if my sinking feeling is right or wrong. It’s kind of a double edge sword, since I love the prickly princes, but at the same time, it feels like a lot of fantasy YA books are picking up on this kind of characterization of the “dark” prince. So it’s nice that Ceren had a bit of a twist.

This book is definitely a must read. My expectations weren’t high, I didn’t really have any, and I think this might be a new favorite and I really cannot wait for book 2. It definitely didn’t play out how I thought it would based on the synopsis, but I’m not mad. This is a sit down, read in one sitting kind of book, following Nor’s journey to protect her sister and her people and find a way to save them all. If you’re looking for something a bit magical, about standing up for the people you love, and standing against those who wish harm, and not allowing outer beauty to define who you are, then you won’t want to miss this new book!