Endless thanks to Flatiron Books for kindly inviting me to participate in this blog tour! Caraval has been one of my favorite series for years now, and it really is a dream come true to help promote the release of Stephanie Garber’s next book, Once Upon a Broken Heart, on my blog!
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Title: Once Upon a Broken Heart
Author: Stephanie Garber
Release Date: September 28th, 2021
Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another. Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…
This story was even more magical and whimsical than I thought it would be! It takes place shortly after the events of Finale, the final book in the Caraval trilogy, but this time around, we’re introduced to a completely new cast of lovable characters. Well, “new” with one exception, of course: Jacks, the Prince of Hearts!
In the Caraval trilogy, Jack’s instantly stole my heart with his snarkiness, devastating beauty, and tragic backstory. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a total sucker for morally grey fictional characters, and Jacks is just that! I’m so glad Stephanie Garber decided to gift us readers with a Jacks spin-off story, because not only did it give us the opportunity to dive deeper into his character arc, but it also introduced us to a new protagonist that I loved getting to know: Evangeline Fox.
What I love about Evangeline is that it’s so easy to write her off as a naive, hopeless romantic, but in reality, she’s just a dreamer like the rest of us! Which makes her so relatable! As a reader and fantasy lover, I’ve always had the mindset that happy endings are possible no matter what, and to see that kind of optimism reflected in Evangeline’s character was so wonderful.
Another thing I loved about Once Upon a Broken Heart: how magical it was. Every time I flipped open this book, I felt like I was stepping into a literal fairy tale! The story is steeped with mystical fables and legends, making for a truly breathtaking reading experience. Stephanie Garber’s prose is as stunning as ever– It’s so vivid that the magic practically comes alive on the page!
Overall, Once Upon a Broken Heart is a spectacular addition to the Caraval universe. Full of magic, mystery, romance, and heartbreak, it’s a book you won’t be able to put down!
We know the Prince of Hearts, Jacks, plays a leading role in Once Upon A Broken Heart. Can readers expect any other familiar faces from the Caraval series? ( http://www.TreatYoShelf.blog)
I usually try not to answer this question—I like it when people don’t know what to expect. So, I won’t say if there will be any other familiar faces in Once Upon A Broken Heart. But I will say that readers might meet one or two characters who were mentioned in the Caraval series but didn’t actually get any page time.
This is such a funny question, and I feel as if I shouldn’t confess the answer to this because I actually wrote Once Upon A Broken Heart with the hope that readers would feel as if Evangeline should run far away from Jacks, but at the same time really want them to kiss each other.
I love Jacks because he’s pretty much the worst. He says terrible things and he does terrible things—which is why Evangeline should stay away from him. However, I love Evangeline because she’s such an optimist—I love that she believes in love at first sight and happily ever after, and even though she should probably run away from Jacks, I think she’s just the type of girl he needs in his life.
Your books always read like fairytales (at least for me)! What are your favorite fairytales? (www.alexalovesbooks.com)
Thank you so much! I love fairytales and I have so many favorites. My very favorite is anything that’s Beauty and the Beast inspired. I love stories that involve truly unlikeable beast-like characters changing as they fall in love, and I’m always sucker for the kidnapped/captive girl trope.
If you could be transported into the world of ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART, what kind of character do you think you would be and would you be easily swayed to make a deal with a Fate? (ACourtofCoffeeandBooks.com)
Ooh, this is such a fun question. I want to say that I’d make a deal with a Fate because I think it would be interesting and exciting. But, I probably wouldn’t actually make a deal with a Fate because I know it never ends well. I’d most likely stay away from all things Fate and spend time seeing the wonders of the Magnificent North. I’d eat dragon roasted apples, hunt for enchanted books, look for mermaids in the ocean, and hopefully get in a little magical trouble, but not the kind that involves Fates.
There are always pieces of me in my heroines. I think Evangeline has a lot of my positivity and my optimism. I’m hopefully not like Jacks, but I will admit that I do relate to his character. I tend to hold onto things from the past, especially heartbreak, which is something that I have in common with the Prince of Hearts.
Stephanie Garber is the #1 New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of THE CARAVAL SERIES, which has been translated in over 25 languages. Her newest book, ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART, releases September 28, 2021.
When she’s not writing, she’s usually reading or watching television shows with vampires. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland.
I spent the first week of the month on vacation with my family, which was super relaxing. But then came the post-vacation reading slump, which STILL hasn’t gone away. I know experiencing reading slumps from time to time is inevitable, but it still sucks. Because of my slumpy mood, I didn’t read or blog as much as I would’ve liked to in July, but I still managed to read a few great books!
Defy the Night byBrigid Kemmerer (ARC): Defy the Night was easily the best book I read last month! It had a gripping plot, fascinating characters, amazing romance… What more could I possibly ask for? This book was so addictive, and I’m so sad to be finished with it because the wait for the sequel is going to be HORRIBLE. Brigid Kemmerer… Please write fast! Rating: ★★★★★
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong: It took me awhile to get fully sucked into this book, but one I was, I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely loved the dynamic between the two rival gangs in the story, as well as the complicated relationship between Roma and Juliette, our two main characters. I also loved all of the nods to Romeo and Juliet (the inspiration behind this book), which just so happens to be my favorite classic! Rating: ★★★★☆
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessan: This was a pretty generic YA Contemporary novel, but I liked it nonetheless! It was the perfect summer read, and I loved its themes of found family and self discovery. The characters and romance were charming, and so were the friendships and familial relationships. Overall, this book was nothing special, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Rating: ★★★★☆
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Re-read): I re-read A Curse So Dark and Lonely so I could pick up its sequels with a refreshed memory. I was a little scared to do so, because I thought that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy the book as much as I had the first time I read it. But thankfully, I did! This story is such a spectacular twist on Beauty and the Beast, especially with its complicated characters and amazing romance. Re-reading it made me so excited to start the sequels! Rating: ★★★★½
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer: A Heart So Fierce and Broken wasn’t quite as good as A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but I still really liked it! I loved how politically driven the plot was (something about politics in fantasy novels just fascinates me!), and I also enjoyed getting to know several of the new characters that were introduced in this novel (such as Lia Mara, Tycho, and Nola Verin). However, my biggest complaint about this book is that some of the characters from the first novel were completely villainized. Some of the things a certain person in particular did were so cruel and out of character! It was a big bummer, especially considering how much I was enjoying all of the other aspects of the book. Rating: ★★★★☆
Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout: Ugh, my girl Jennifer L. Armentrout has really been letting me down lately! First with The Crown of Gilded Bones, and now with this book! To be fair, it really wasn’t that bad, but with the promise of an epic YA paranormal novel inspired by Greek Mythology, I was expecting a whole lot more than what I got. A majority of the book felt really boring and cliche to me, and things only got interesting near the end. I’m going to give the sequel a chance, because I’m still intrigued enough to continue on with the series, but I’ll be really disappointed if it’s as dull as book one! Rating: ★★★☆☆
These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan: It’s difficult for me to rate this book, because my feelings about it completely depend on which portion of the story you’re referring to. The thing is, I found the first half to be extremely boring, with very little character development and world building. Then, once I hit the halfway point, things picked up a bit, and the characters and relationships were fleshed out more. Then came the last hundred pages, which were absolutely amazing! My eyes were glued to the pages, and that final plot twist blew my mind. So, long story short, I’d say that this book went from mediocre, to decent, to fantastic, all over the course of 450 pages. Rating: ★★★½☆
I’m trying to be extra cautious with the books I read in August, because the last thing I want to do is pick up a really boring one and worsen my reading slump! A few titles I have a lot of faith in are Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, and Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. These three books are all written by authors whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past, so I have a feeling they’ll help pull me out of my dreadful slump!
I hope July was a great reading month for you all! Please let me know what books you read last month and/or which ones you’re planning on picking up in August!
The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.
King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.
Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.
As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.
Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.
Defy the Night was a wild ride from start to finish, and I absolutely loved every second of it! I didn’t expect to enjoy it even more than Brigid Kemmerer’s beloved Cursebreakers series, but somehow, I did! It seems to me that Kemmerer’s writing gets better and better with every book she publishes.
This story has so many strengths… For starters, the world-building. The dark, dangerous atmosphere of the book pulled me in right away. Immediately, I was thrust into Kandala, a kingdom suffering at the hands of a disastrous plague, with citizens divided by desperation and distrust. Tension practically leaked from the pages of the book, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. I loved how Brigid Kemmerer truly dug deep into the politics of Kandala, giving us a fleshed out political landscape that added so much complexity to the story. As I learned more about the political warfare within Kandala, I got to see every single side of the conflict, making it impossible to decide who to root for. I just love it when an author crafts a world with so many different dimensions and dynamics that we readers can’t help but feel torn!
Another thing I loved about Defy the Night was the incredible cast of characters! The story focuses on our two protagonists, Tessa and Corrick, who happen to be our alternating narrators as well. Coming into this book, I was worried that I would enjoy reading from one character’s perspective more than the other’s, because that problem is all too common when it comes to stories told in dual POV. But thankfully, Tessa and Corrick’s perspectives were equally captivating! Tessa’s compassion, bravery, and selflessness resulted in me instantly falling in love with her character, and Corrick… Don’t even get me started on Corrick! Long story short: He’s now one of my favorite male characters. As the King’s Justice, Corrick is expected to be cruel, cold, and brutal, but his desire to be a truly good leader leaves him torn between duty to his brother, the King, and compassion for his people, who are desperately seeking protection against the vicious plague. Corrick’s conflicting loyalties make him a truly layer character, and I still can’t get over how well developed he is. His thoughts and emotions were expressed so vividly, and he felt so realistic to me that by the end of the book, I completely forgot he was fictional!
I enjoyed reading about many of the supporting characters in this novel as well. King Harristan, for example, was one that immediately stood out to me. Initially, it’s easy to write Harristan off as a selfish, privileged tyrant, but as you learn more about him and why he makes seemingly cruel decisions, you realize that it’s not that simple. All of the characters in this book have motives behind their actions, and getting to see those motives unveiled was definitely the highlight of the book for me.
Overall, I had such a great time reading Defy the Night. It’s one of those rare, magical books that completely removes you from reality and makes you forget you’re just reading words on paper. The world and characters are so very vibrant, and I can’t wait to see more of them in book two!
Speaking of which, I’ll be going into hibernation until the sequel comes out… How am I expected to wait OVER A YEAR to find out what happens next??? WAKE ME UP IN 2022, Y’ALL!!!
Sorry for posting this wrap up so late! I just got back from vacation, and I’d been taking a brief break from blogging. But I’m back now!
June has always been one of my favorite months of the year, because it marks the start of summer, the season full of sunshine, relaxation, beach trips, and all that good stuff. I’ve been on summer break for the past few weeks, and I’ve had such an amazing time catching up on my reading all while enjoying the epic summer vibes surrounding me! I went to the beach multiple times last month, which was so much fun, since it’s one of my favorite places! What reader doesn’t love reading in the warm summer sand with the gentle crash of waves in the background? It’s so peaceful!
With all of the free time summer break has given me, I managed to read a lot in June! And many of the books I read were incredible! Let’s go ahead and take a look at them, shall we?
Total number of books read: 14
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: In all honesty, this book was a bit of a let down. It definitely wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I expected it to be, having read so many glowing reviews for it. The pacing was rather slow (especially for the first half of the book), and I feel as though the characters could have been better developed. The plot twists were well thought out, but some of them, particularly the one at the end, just seemed odd to me. I guess I’ll have to read the sequel in hopes that things will be further explained! Rating: ★★★☆☆
The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He: This book has me so conflicted! On one hand, the concept behind it was insanely interesting, and every single aspect of the world was incredibly detailed. On the other hand, many parts of the book were really slow paced. The first half of it was difficult to get through, and even though it picked up significantly after 200 pages or so, it took too long for things to get exciting. I should also mention that the book is written in dual POV… One of the risks of reading a story written in multiple perspectives is that you might have one POV feel much more compelling than the other. Unfortunately, that was the case in The Ones We’re Meant to Find. I think this is mainly because Joan He decided to write one character in 1st Person POV, and the other in 3rd Person POV… which made no sense to me. I connected with the 1st Person POV way more, and the 3rd Person POV just ended up feeling dull and monotonous. But, despite its flaws, I still think that The Ones We’re Meant to Find was a very well written sci-fi novel, and I’m glad I read it! Rating: ★★★☆☆
House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland: I went into this book with sky-high expectations, and it did not disappoint! It was the perfect mix of fantasy, horror, and mystery, and I swear, my eyes were literally glued to the pages! Krystal Sutherland did an excellent job of building up suspense while still maintaining a fast-paced, entertaining plot. All of the twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat, and I was never once bored. I still can’t get over that shocking, sickening plot twist that was revealed at the very end… I DID NOT SEE IT COMING AT ALL! House of Hollow is easily one of the most original books I’ve ever read and from here on out, I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know! Rating: ★★★★★
Beach Read by Emily Henry: I liked this book a lot! It was more than just the light-hearted rom-com I expected it to be– It had heavy themes of grief, trauma, and depression, all of which I think were portrayed in a very raw, realistic way. The characters were extremely complex, and their emotions were written so vividly. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a heavy, emotional romance novel that contains both happy, joyful moments, and poignant, sad ones. Rating: ★★★★☆
An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi: Tahereh Mafi is one of my all time favorite authors, and every single one of her books that I’ve read has been great! An Emotion of Great Delight was no exception! It’s such an emotional book that will REALLY have you feeling all the feels. All of the characters were so complicated and well developed, even the supporting ones! My only complaint is that sometimes, the flowery, poetic writing could be so packed full of similes, metaphors, and imagery that everything just felt… chaotic. Tahereh Mafi is a truly talented author, but in this book, the writing just felt a little too over-the-top for my personal taste. But, nonetheless, An Emotion of Great Delight is still a fantastic, powerful novel that I’d highly recommend! Rating: ★★★★☆
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: I was scared that this book wouldn’t live up to the hype, but it most definitely did! It was so adorable and entertaining, and I’m 100% in love with both of the main characters. I also have to applaud the fantastic autism rep. I’ve read so many reviews from readers who saw themselves in the autistic MC, Stella, and were inspired to seek out diagnoses! Isn’t that amazing? You can rest assured that I’ll be picking up more of Helen Hoang’s work in the near future, since I can’t get enough of her writing! Rating: ★★★★☆
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: This book is equal parts frightening, disturbing, and compelling. The world of Gilead has quickly become one of my favorite dystopian settings, not just because it’s sickeningly fascinating, but also because it doesn’t feel impossible. It’s a demonstration of our society’s potential future, which is what makes it truly scary. I’ve heard that the show adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is even better than the novel, so I’m off to watch that next. Wish me luck! Rating: ★★★★☆
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord: I absolutely LOVED this adorable gem of a book! The characters were charming, the romance was sweet, the banter was hilarious, and the heavenly descriptions of baked goods had my mouth watering (if you’re a foodie, you NEED to read this book). I would highly recommend Tweet Cute to anyone looking for a cute, romantic, laugh-out-loud YA Contemporary! Rating: ★★★★★
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: This was a quick, entertaining read that I flew through in just a day! It’s nothing wildly unique, but it’s so easy to get sucked into that it’s impossible not to enjoy it! I love summer abroad stories, and this is definitely one of my new favorites. Perfect for fans of Anna and the French Kiss and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! Rating: ★★★★☆
You Have aMatch by Emma Lord: After falling in love with Emma Lord’s debut novel, Tweet Cute, I was hungry for more of her work! So of course I HAD to pick up You Have a Match, a story about self discovery, family, friendship, and love! Did I mention that it’s also loosely inspired by The Parent Trap? What more could you possibly want in a book? Unsurprisingly, You Have a Match was a five star read! Rating: ★★★★★
A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair: I really love the concept behind this book. Greek gods and goddesses living in our modern-day world as fashion designers, night club owners, celebrities, and the like? Ummm, YES PLEASE. But, sadly, A Touch of Darkness is a victim of poor execution. The world building was very vague, and the characters could use a lot of development. Do I think this is a bad book? Definitely not. I had fun reading it! I just wanted… more. But I’m invested in the story enough to want to know what happens next, so I’ll still be continuing on with the series! Rating: ★★★½☆
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston: This is another book that I “liked” but expected more from. It didn’t instantly pull me in like McQuiston’s debut novel Red, White & Royal Blue did, and it took me a good 150-200 pages to get fully engrossed in the story. But thankfully, the second half of the book was really enjoyable, and I loved the themes of found family! Also, the representation/diversity in this book is wonderful, and it’s definitely something that more authors need to take note of! Rating: ★★★½☆
A Strange Hymn by Laura Thalassa: While this book wasn’t quite as good as its predecessor, Rhapsodic, it was still really, really enjoyable! It introduced us to so many new plot elements, and I loved how it was mainly set in the fae world (not the mortal world). Getting to learn more about the fae and their magic system was so exciting! My only other comment is that while I love Des and Callie’s romance, I have to admit that the power imbalance between them is very toxic. I hope this is something that changes in future books in the series! Rating: ★★★★☆
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon: I’ve been wanting to dive back into the world of Outlander ever since I finished book one way back in March! But Diana Gabaldon’s 800+ page long tomes are INTIMIDATING, so it’s taken me a couple of months to muster up the courage to start book two, Dragonfly in Amber. I’m surprised by how fast I flew through it! For the most part, it was incredibly fast paced and intense (there were only a few slow sections), and Gabaldon’s writing was as gorgeous as ever! Claire Fraser is officially one of my all time favorite female characters, and I love how she never puts up with any bullsh*t! I can’t wait to see more of her and Jamie in book three. Rating: ★★★★½
I’m hoping to have another successful month of reading in July! Some of the books I want to pick up are Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (which I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of!), These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, and The Queen Will Betray You by Sarah Henning!
I hope you all had a fantastic June! Let me know what books you read down below in the comment section!
Disclaimer: This review contains my own opinions regarding this book. If you loved this book and disagree with me, that’s perfectly okay! Reading is subjective, and we’re all entitled to our own opinions!
She’s been the victim and the survivor…
Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
The enemy and the warrior…
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
A lover and heartmate…
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.
And now she will become Queen…
Let me preface this review by saying that I really, really wanted to love The Crown of Gilded Bones. After all, it’s the worst feeling in the world when you dislike a book that everyone else seems to adore.
The From Blood and Ash series has gotten so much praise within the past year, and very little criticism. I thought the first book was pretty great, and, for the most part, deserving of the hype. Then I read the second book, which was not nearly as good, but still enjoyable enough to keep me reading. Then came the third book, The Crown of Gilded Bones, which is probably the most disappointing sequel I’ve read in a long time. When I finished it last night, it literally felt like a victory, since the book was so exhausting to get through. I really struggled with it, for a number of reasons.
First of all, the pacing of the story was a total nightmare. The first 100 pages were very eventful, and I thought we were off to a good start, but then BAM! Everything went downhill. The next 400+ pages were completely and utterly pointless when it came to advancing the plot and developing the characters. In fact, I would even say that BACKWARDS character development took place, since most of the characters had me wanting to tear my hair out by the end of the book (Please note that Kieran, the only character in this book with more than half a brain cell, is exempt from that statement).
For starters, Poppy, our protagonist, suddenly became as interesting as stale bread. In the last two books, I admired her wit, daring, and boldness, but in The Crown of Gilded Bones, she just read off as a typical Mary Sue. She had virtually no flaws, and everything about her was painfully perfect. As a result, I couldn’t connect with her AT ALL, which made her inner monologue extremely difficult to read.
Casteel, too, became very bland in this novel. I’ve never been a big fan of him (mainly because he reminds me of a horny teenage boy), but at least in the previous two books, he actually had a personality. In book three, said personality was completely erased! Casteel’s only purpose was to be a hype man for Poppy by constantly praising her and reminding us readers how amazing and special she is. He had no character arc of his own, and, like Poppy, was boring to read about.
And naturally, when you combine two flat characters, you end up with a flat romance as well. In From Blood and Ash and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire Poppy and Casteel had phenomenal chemistry, but in The Crown of Gilded Bones, I felt nothing from them. Maybe it’s because now that they’re together, there’s no romantic tension or slow-burn keeping me invested in the romance. But nevertheless, I’m disappointed.
Another thing that made this book so hard to get through was the endless info-dumping. Over the course of 600+ pages, Poppy asked a LOT of questions, and I get that questions are kind of her thing, but Jennifer L. Armentrout took it wayyyy too far in this book. Every time Poppy asked a question, 15+ pages of info-dumping would follow. I understand that Armentrout is trying to expand her world-building, but we’re three books into this series! By now, shouldn’t most of the world-building be out of the way? Plus, a lot of the new plot elements she introduced in this book completely contradicted the world-building she constructed in books one and two. It was all so confusing and impossible to keep up with.
So, with this series’ plot, characters, romance, AND world-building completely down the drain, it was a challenge for me to find any redeeming qualities in The Crown of Gilded Bones. There was really only one thing that convinced me to rate it two stars instead of one: the ending.
As much as I disliked the majority of this book, I can’t deny that the ending was epic. Probably because Queen Ileana, the villain of the story, swooped in within the last hundred pages and enchanted me with her fascinatingly wicked character arc. I’m a sucker for an interesting villain, and Ileana might just be one of my new favorites. She reminded me a lot of various other fictional villains, such as Queen Levana (The Lunar Chronicles) and Amarantha (A Court of Thorns and Roses), but there was still something so refreshing and new about her character. I owe her a big thank you for making this snooze-fest of a book a whole lot more entertaining. I really, REALLY hope we get to see more of Queen Ileana in book four of this series, especially if Poppy and Casteel continue to be such bland main characters.
However, I will confess, within those last few chapters, Poppy somehow managed to grow a spine after acting embarrassingly naive and whiny for a majority of the book. Just when I was about to give up on her character, she reclaimed the boldness and badassery she possessed in the first two books. I have a theory for why this is, but I wouldn’t be able to explain it without going into spoiler territory. But let me just say that I truly hope this confident, fiery version of Poppy is here to stay, because I can’t take another whole book of her acting like a twit. Sorry-not-sorry!
As much as I loved the ending, it didn’t make up for the 400+ pages of boredom I had to force myself through to finish this book. I think Jennifer L. Armentrout has gotten into the habit of making her books unnecessarily long, for reasons I clearly don’t understand. Does she just do it for bragging rights? I hope not. 😂
Overall, I’m so crushed that The Crown of Gilded Bones wasn’t for me. It had a strong beginning and a strong ending, but the majority of it was painfully boring, which was such a big disappointment.
Am I still going to read the next book in the series? Yes. Will I regret it? If it ends up being as boring as The Crown of Gilded Bones was, then probably. But I’ve already dedicated so much time to this series, so I feel like I owe it at least one more chance. Here’s to hoping future novels set in the From Blood and Ash world are more enjoyable than this book!
Wren knew she was weird, but she also believed she was human. When she learns she’s an heir to a House Banae… she also discovers someone wants her dead.
Ezal is cursed with the Blight, his gray wings making him ineligible to be Wren’s suitor. When he is assigned as Wren’s Protector, he welcomes the responsibility, eager to guard her at any cost.
To become Lady Banae, Wren must marry—and quickly! While white-winged bachelors line up to be Wren’s suitors, it’s Ezal who has captured her heart.
Together, Wren and Ezal navigate mysterious attacks and political maneuvers. As danger and death whirl around them, they must forge their own way forward or accept eternal separation.
Wing Builder is a new-adult romance set in a breathtaking sci-fantasy landscape. Expect aerial world-building and a swoon-worthy romance torn by political agendas and unexpected assassins. Wing Builder is a sweeter romance with steamier moments and includes a “happily ever after.” This stand-alone story features a competition between suitors, beautiful dresses, and a woman stepping into her strength. There is also a cat.
Wing Builder was such a fun read!
It’s a lush blend of science fiction and fantasy, and it also contains elements of romance, mystery, and even dystopia! There’s something in it for everyone, so no matter what genre you usually gravitate towards, I think you’ll definitely enjoy this book.
It follows our main character Wren, who has been swept away to Letharia, a beautiful dimension made up of floating islands and winged, angel-like beings, after she discovers that she is the heir to one of the realm’s governing houses. Ezal, our other main character, is Wren’s protector, responsible for helping her navigate Letharian politics, all while they dodge shocking assassination attempts aimed towards Wren. As Wren and Ezal search for answers, they begin to develop feelings for one another… Feelings that neither of them can ignore, even though they are strictly forbidden.
Reading through Wren and Ezal’s perspectives was so enjoyable, since they’re both such likable characters. Wren, for starters, was an amazing heroine, particularly because she didn’t need to act feisty and sassy to be a badass. She was more of a gentle, kind character, but none of that stopped her from being strong and independent, even in a world where she was put at a disadvantage for not having wings. Moreover, I deeply admired Wren’s intelligence, as well as her thirst for knowledge. It was so refreshing to read about a scholarly female main character!
Ezal was a wonderfully written character, too. He’s very strong an noble on the surface, but as I discovered throughout the book, he actually has so many more complex layers. For example, he constantly struggles with feeling unlovable and unworthy, which was both heartbreaking and realistic to read about. That’s the thing I love about Ezal– He’s so real. In fact, he’s probably one of the most realistic, relatable male characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about!
I really loved Ezal and Wren’s romance, because I found it so beautiful how they constantly lifted each other up and helped each other find their inner strength. Especially near the end of the novel, as things were being wrapped up, I loved how Ezal and Wren continued to support each other, even when their circumstances worked to keep them apart.
In addition to the characters and romance, I also really loved the world-building in this book! The whole idea of magical cordwork was super brilliant, fascinating, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The dimensional science was also another well explained aspect of the setting, and I appreciate that the author took the time to research it instead of simply crediting all of the fantastical aspects of the world to magic.
Overall, Wing Builder was a fantastic stand-alone novel that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a quick yet captivating read. With stunning world-building and intricate characters, it’s definitely a book you do not want to miss out on!
Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.
Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.
Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
Sing Me Forgotten is one of the best books I’ve read in ages.
Having not heard much buzz about it prior to reading it, I was completely taken by surprise when I picked it up and found myself struggling to put it down and not binge it all in one sitting!
The first thing you need to know about this book is that it’s a gender-swapped retelling of “The Phantom of the Opera”. I absolutely loved the nods to the musical Jessica S. Olson scattered throughout the book: the chandelier falling and the “angel of music” scene, to name a few! Our main character, Isda, is the female version of the Phantom, and much like him, she’s a complicated character who isn’t necessarily “good”, but one you root for nonetheless.
I absolutely LOVED Isda, for so many reasons. First of all, she’s super morally grey… in the best way possible. Throughout the book, she tricks, manipulates, and hurts other characters, and while her actions were clearly wrong, I couldn’t help but understand and empathize with her anyways. The world has treated Isda with nothing but hatred, cruelty, and disgust, so how could I blame her for expressing her anger in immoral ways? I can definitely see people having negative reactions towards Isda’s character, but in my opinion, the most interesting characters are always the flawed ones. The ones that aren’t good, and not bad either, but somewhere in between. And that’s exactly the type of character Isda is!
And Isda’s not the only fascinating character in this story. Emeric, her friend-turned-love-interest, was a joy to read about as well. On the surface, he’s charming, playful, and witty, but as we dive deeper into his past, we discover just how complex and layered he really is. Cyril, Isda’s guardian and primary father figure, was extremely interesting to read about too. He was so unpredictable, and it was always a challenge to tell where his true motives lied.
Aside from the phenomenally crafted characters in this book, I was also a huge fan of the magic system. An economy that revolves around the extraction and exchange of memories is such a refreshing concept, and Olson did an absolutely incredible job of executing it. She didn’t bore us with long, tedious info-dumps, and instead delivered the information gradually, oftentimes in the form of captivating flashbacks. Only truly talented authors can develop a complicated magic system while still maintaining a fast-paced and exciting story-line, and I’m so happy to report that Olson is one of those few! Which is definitely worthy of LOTS of applause, considering that this is her debut novel!
The thing that makes Sing Me Forgotten such a special, memorable book is the addictive quality it possesses. So much happened over the course of 300 pages, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. There was literally never a dull moment! I was spellbound from start to finish, and I say that with absolutely no exaggeration.
The ending of this novel hit me especially hard. Looking back on it now, I can see that it was inevitable, but it was still heart-wrenching all the same. It was somewhat open-ended, but surprisingly enough, I didn’t have a problem with that, despite being someone who usually hates vague endings. To me, the ending just worked for the story that was being told. It was satisfying (albeit tragic), and it left me with so many emotions: wonder, grief, sadness, hope…
Overall, Sing Me Forgotten is a magical, compelling, unforgettable book (which is a bit ironic, if you take its title into consideration!). It simply took my breath away, and I would trade every ounce of memory elixir in my body if I could erase the story from my mind and start it all over again for the first time (that joke probably sounded weird if you haven’t read the book… Yet another reason to go pick it up!). From here on out, I will be recommending this book to literally everyone I know, so don’t be surprised if I never shut up about it. It’s such a spectacular debut novel, and it truly deserves all the stars in the world!
I can’t wait to see what Jessica S. Olson writes next; Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be marvelous!
Hello fellow book lovers! I’ve realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve compiled a “Most Anticipated Book Releases” list, and since there are so many great books coming out this year, it’s about time that I post one!
This list will contain all of my most anticipated book releases for the remainder of 2021. There are so many great books coming out this year, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Let’s go ahead and dive right in!
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
A strange darkness grows in Allward.
Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.
She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:
A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.
Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: Ever since reading and falling in love with her Red Queen series, I’ve been hungry for more of Victoria Aveyard’s writing. When I found out that she was publishing a new fantasy series, I literally SCREAMED. I already know that I’m going to LOVE Realm Breaker! Will it be better than Red Queen? I’ll just have to wait and see!
Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America.
But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it.
As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.
Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: I absolutely love anything and anything to do with Titanic. In case you didn’t know, Titanic is my favorite film of all time, so this book will definitely be right up my alley! I’m planning to pick it up next week as one of my reads for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I have a feeling it might end up being a five star read for me!
An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi
It’s 2003, several months since the US officially declared war on Iraq, and the American political world has evolved. Tensions are high, hate crimes are on the rise, FBI agents are infiltrating local mosques, and the Muslim community is harassed and targeted more than ever. Shadi, who wears hijab, keeps her head down.
She’s too busy drowning in her own troubles to find the time to deal with bigots.
Shadi is named for joy, but she’s haunted by sorrow. Her brother is dead, her father is dying, her mother is falling apart, and her best friend has mysteriously dropped out of her life. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of her heart—
Shadi tries to navigate her crumbling world by soldiering through, saying nothing. She devours her own pain, each day retreating farther and farther inside herself until finally, one day, everything changes.
An Emotion of Great Delight is a searing look into the world of a single Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. It’s about a child of immigrants forging a blurry identity, falling in love, and finding hope—in the midst of a modern war.
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: Tahereh Mafi is one of my all time favorite authors. Her Shatter Me series might just be my favorite series EVER, and her stand-alone contemporary novel, A Very Large Expanse of Sea, is incredible as well. I love her writing so much, and I already know that I’m going to love this upcoming book of hers as well! I’m so excited to read it!
The Queen Will Betray You by Sarah Henning
After a thousand years of political stability, the realm of The Sand and Sky is up for grabs. Four kingdoms, four rulers vying for the ultimate prize, sovereignty over the entire continent: A ruthless old king spinning webs, whose schemes encompass generations. A widowed queen whose only credo is all kings must die. A runaway queen whose unexpected return upends everyone’s plans. And a prince-in-waiting determined to wait no more.
Standing against them are a dispossessed princess and her stableboy love with a surprising claim of his own. Their only hope in the face of unspeakable betrayals, enemies hidden in the shadows, and insurmountable odds is the power of true love…
Release Date: July 6th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: I loved The Princess Will Save You, and I’m practically dying to dive into its sequel! I love the characters in this series, and after the massive cliffhanger The Princess Will Save You left us with, I can’t wait to see where their stories take us next. Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous The Queen Will Betray You’s cover is???? I LOVE IT.
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.
Release Date: July 6th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: Like many of the other books on this list, Six Crimson Cranes is one of my most anticipated releases because it’s written by an author I love: Elizabeth Lim! Last year, I fell in love with her Spin the Dawn duology, and ever since finishing it, I’ve been eager to get my hands on more of her work. This upcoming book of hers sounds phenomenal, and I can’t wait to read it! I’ve already got my copy pre-ordered!!
These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan
Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her back—including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.
Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie’s only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.
Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.
Release Date: July 20th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: These Hollow Vows is marketed as a mash-up of The Cruel Prince and A Court of Thorns and Roses, my two all time favorite fantasy novels. Comparing this upcoming book release to two MARVELOUS works of fiction is a pretty bold move, but I really, really hope the marketing is accurate for this one! I’ve been looking for a new fae series to obsess over for the longest time, and I have high hopes that These Hollow Vows will become a new favorite. I’m a little nervous to read it, because I don’t want to end up disappointed, but let’s pray it ends up being as wonderful as the synopsis makes it sound!
Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin
Lou has spent her whole life running. Now, after a crushing blow from Morgane, the time has come to go home—and claim what is rightfully hers.
But this is no longer the Lou her friends knew. No longer the Lou who captured a chasseur’s heart. A darkness has settled over her, and this time it will take more than love to drive it out.
Release Date: July 27th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: I absolutely loved Serpent & Dove, and while I didn’t enjoy its sequel, Blood & Honey, nearly as much, I’m still eager to read the third and final book in this series: Gods & Monsters! I’m really hopeful that it’ll be an action packed, jaw dropping conclusion to this epic trilogy… I can’t wait to see how Lou and Reid’s story ends!
Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.
Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.
But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…
Release Date: September 28th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: The Caraval trilogy is one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Stephanie Garber is writing a spin-off series set in the same world. I can’t wait to reunite with all of my favorite characters, but I’m even more excited to meet some new ones, like the mysterious Evangeline Fox! I have no doubt that Ms. Garber will blow all of my expectations out of the water with this new book of hers… Release Day can’t come soon enough!
Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco
After selling her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, Emilia travels to the Seven Circles with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath, where she’s introduced to a seductive world of vice.
She vows to do whatever it takes to avenge her beloved sister, Vittoria…even if that means accepting the hand of the Prince of Pride, the king of demons.
The first rule in the court of the Wicked? Trust no one. With back-stabbing princes, luxurious palaces, mysterious party invitations, and conflicting clues about who really killed her twin, Emilia finds herself more alone than ever before. Can she even trust Wrath, her one-time ally in the mortal world…or is he keeping dangerous secrets about his true nature?
Emilia will be tested in every way as she seeks a series of magical objects that will unlock the clues of her past and the answers she craves…
Release Date: October 5th, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: Kingdom of the Wicked was one of my favorite reads of 2020, and I can only hope that Kingdom of the Curse ends up being just as good! Kerri Maniscalco is such a fantastic author, so I doubt she’ll let me down!
Gilded by Marissa Meyer
Long ago cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.
Or so everyone believes.
When one of Serilda’s outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price. Love isn’t meant to be part of the bargain.
Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.
Release Date: November 2nd, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: Oh boy. You guys can’t even imagine how hyped I am for this book. A new fairy tale retelling from Queen Marissa Meyer herself? Say no more, and sign me up! Out of all the books on this list, Gilded might just be the one I’m most looking forward to reading. Marissa Meyer has been one of my favorite authors for years, and I’m beyond excited to see her take on the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin!
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line?
Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone.
What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?
Filled with a diverse cast of characters, the heartache of first love and loss, and the kind of friends that can get you through anything, plus a touch of magic, You’ve Reached Sam will make an instant connection with anyone looking for a big emotional romance of a read.
Release Date: November 2nd, 2021
Why I’m excited to read it: Oh gosh… I can already tell that this book is going to break my heart. But nevertheless, I’m still going to read it and put myself through the inevitable pain it’ll inflict upon me.
I can’t wait to read these books!!!
Did you spot any of YOUR most anticipated book releases on this list? If so, let me know down below in the comment section! I’d love to gush about them with you!
I’d like to start by apologizing for publishing this wrap-up post so late! How is it that we’re already almost half-way through April? It’s crazy!
But I can assure you that I have an excuse for the delay: I was extremely busy in March! It was definitely a month that kept me on my toes. I spent the majority of it finishing up schoolwork to prepare for Spring Break, and by the end of March, I was feeling very burnt out after so many weeks of online classes. But thankfully, I was able to escape into books during my spare time, and I actually ended getting a lot of reading done!
Total Number of Books Read: 12
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi: Tahereh Mafi is one of my all time favorite authors. I absolutely adore her Shatter Me series, and ever since finishing it, I’ve desperately wanted to pick up her contemporary novel, A Very Large Expanse of Sea. I finally got around to reading it last month, and as expected, I loved it. It was such a powerful book that I think everyone would benefit from reading. My only complaint is that the romance felt a bit flimsy at times, but despite that, the story was still incredible! Rating: ★★★★☆
A Trial of Sorcerers by Elise Kova: A Trial of Sorcerers was my first Elise Kova novel, and it certainly did not let me down! The story was fast paced and intense, and I loved the characters! The plot was a tad predictable, and the magic system was pretty generic, but I enjoyed this book nonetheless! If you’re looking for a light, entertaining fantasy novel, A Trial of Sorcerers is, without a doubt, the book for you. Rating: ★★★★☆
Hunted by Meagan Spooner: This stunning Beauty and the Beast retelling definitely took me by surprise! It was unique and gorgeously written, and I felt like I was reading an actual fairy tale! Meagan Spooner is an extremely talented author (especially when it comes to retellings), and I’m so excited to read more of her work in the future! Rating: ★★★★☆
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: Yes, that’s right! Last month, I finally picked up Twilight, the book that I once vowed to never EVER read. Oh, the things this pandemic has made me do. I mainly read this book out of curiosity, even though many people warned me that it was cheesy, predictable, and ridiculous. It was indeed all of those things, but I confess, I did sort of enjoy poking fun at all the corniness! Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I was quite intimidated by this book prior to picking it up. For one thing, it’s MASSIVE! The whole novel is well over 800 pages! But even so, I now know that I had no reason to be nervous, for I ended up loving this book! The atmosphere was absolutely breathtaking… I truly felt like I was standing right alongside Claire and Jamie as they ventured through the lush Scottish highlands. I will most certainly be reading the next book in this series, and hopefully the books that come after that as well! I can see the Outlander saga quickly becoming a new favorite of mine! Rating: ★★★★☆
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Re-read): As you might’ve already guessed, I re-read this book in anticipation of the upcoming Netflix adaptation, which I am SO stoked for! Even though I really enjoyed Shadow and Bone the first time I read it, for some reason, I never got around to finishing the series. The Netflix show has definitely given me motivation to finally do so! Rating: ★★★★☆
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo: It’s common knowledge that sequels are typically either hit or miss… Fortunately, Siege and Storm was a hit! I would say that it’s probably just as good as it’s predecessor, Shadow and Bone. The addition of Nikolai’s character really made the book shine, especially when it came to his relationship with Alina. And even though the Darkling and Genya, two of my favorite characters, were annoyingly absent for a majority of the book, I still really enjoyed it. Rating: ★★★★☆
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: It’s official: The Viscount Who Loved Me is now my FAVORITE Bridgerton novel! Well, out of the three that I’ve read… But that’s not the point! The point is that this book is beautiful, wonderful fluff that will have you swooning until the very last page! Kate and Anthony are such lovable, flawed characters, and their romantic journey was such a pleasure to read about. I am now more excited for Bridgerton Season 2 than ever! Rating: ★★★★.5
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo: I’m not going to lie… the final book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy was a bit of a let-down for me. It was decent, but not the grand finale I expected it to be. The book dragged on and on and on, and the majority of it felt extremely slow paced. In all honesty, I wish this series had been a duology instead of a trilogy. Rating: ★★★☆☆
Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout: The Lux series has become a new obsession of mine! The characters are so easy to root for, and the plot is fast paced and exciting! Jennifer L. Armentrout’s writing is so fun and witty, I just can’t get enough of it! Opal ended on a colossal cliffhanger, so I’m dying to know what will happen next in book four, Origin! I can’t wait to read it! Rating: ★★★★☆
An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn: An Offer From a Gentleman was a fun read, but it was not quite as good as its predecessor, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which set the bar very high for future Bridgerton novels! The beginning of the story had me completely hooked (it was the perfect set-up for a Cinderella retelling), but the middle felt a bit dull. Additionally, Benedict, one of the two main characters, could be very entitled and obnoxious at times, even though Sophie, the other main character, was far more likable. But I still really enjoyed this book, and I’m looking forward to seeing it brought to life on screen! Rating:★★★.5☆
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren: Ah, Christina Lauren has done it once again! The Soulmate Equation is everything you could possibly hope for in a romance novel! It’s addictive, swoon-worthy, and charming, full of wonderful characters, shocking plot twists, and endless romantic tension. I’m so lucky to have received an ARC of it! Keep an eye out for my full review, which I’ll be posting in the near future. Rating: ★★★★.5
April is definitely turning out to be a month of re-reads for me! I’m currently knee-deep in my re-read of the Folk of the Air trilogy, which I’m having such a blast diving back into! Jude and Cardan are two of my all time favorite characters, and I’m so excited to be reuniting with them!
I’m not sure what I’ll be reading after that, but I have a feeling that I’ll be tackling a lot of ARCs this month… That will surely keep me busy!
Anyways, that’s my March in a nutshell!
I hope you all had a great month! Be sure to let me know what books you read, and what you’re planning on picking up next.
Thank you so much to the author, Elise Kova, for sending me an ARC of this title!
Ice is in her blood.
Eighteen-year-old Waterrunner Eira Landan lives her life in the shadows — the shadow of her older brother, of her magic’s whispers, and of the person she accidentally killed. She’s the most unwanted apprentice in the Tower of Sorcerers until the day she decides to step out and compete for a spot in the Tournament of Five Kingdoms.
Pitted against the best sorcerers in the Empire, Eira fights to be one of four champions. Excelling in the trials has its rewards. She’s invited to the royal court with the “Prince of the Tower,” discovers her rare talent for forbidden magic, and at midnight, Eira secretly meets with a handsome elfin ambassador.
But, Eira soon learns, no reward is without risk. As she comes into the spotlight, so too do the skeletons of a past she hadn’t even realized was haunting her.
Eira went into the trials ready for a fight. Ready to win. She wasn’t ready for what it would cost her. No one expected the candidates might not make it out with their lives.
A Trial of Sorcerers is the first book in a brand new, young adult, epic fantasy series intended for readers who love stories involving: sorcerer competitions, slow-burn romance, adventures to distant lands, and elemental magic.
A Trial of Sorcerers was my first Elise Kova book, and I really, really enjoyed it!
Eira, our main character, is a Waterrunner, someone who can control (you guessed it!) water, oftentimes in the form of ice. To my delight, Eira reminded me a lot of Elsa from Frozen (did you know that “Eira” means “snow” in Welsh?), and I was SO there for it! In the book, Eira struggles a lot when it comes to controlling her ice powers, largely because she has many emotional triggers linked to a traumatic event from her past that has left her with endless pain and guilt. Which leads me to my next point: Eira is such a layered, well written character who is very easy to root for and connect with. She’s someone who has been belittled and overlooked her entire life because of a mistake she made when she was young, so naturally, I had a lot of empathy for her and wanted to see her prove herself to the world. Overall, I just really loved Eira as a character! She’s stubborn, determined, and thirsty for knowledge, and I enjoyed getting to experience the story from her perspective.
Eira’s relationships with her friends and family were incredibly developed as well! For starters, her relationship with her older brother, Marcus, was so beautiful and heartwrenching… I couldn’t get enough of it. I also loved Eira’s budding romance with Cullen, a snarky, arrogant Windwalker (someone who can control wind). I love a good enemies-to-lovers arc (it’s easily my favorite trope ever), and this one was simply PERFECT! The banter between Eira and Cullen was EVERYTHING, and I loved the serious, emotional moments between them as well. This book ALSO contains the “Characters are about to get caught snooping around somewhere they shouldn’t be, so they start making out passionately as a cover-up” trope. So, if you’re into that (and honestly, why wouldn’t you be???), A Trial of Sorcerers is the book for you!
Now, enough about characters. Let’s talk about this book’s plot, which was fueled by constant mystery, political intrigue, and action! The story centers around a magical competition between sorcerers (hence the title, A Trial of Sorcerers), so, as one would expect, it was full of EPIC magical battles, trials, and obstacles courses! I could see all of the action sequences so vividly in my mind that it felt like I was watching a movie! I’m a firm believer that the best books are the ones that make you forget you’re reading, and that’s what this one did to me!
All in all, A Trial of Sorcerers was a phenomenal book that I had so much fun reading. I can hardly wait for book two, A Hunt of Shadows, to come out, but in the meantime, I’ll be exploring all of the other books set in the Air Awakens universe!
If you like fantasy books packed full of magic, secrets, competitions, and romance, A Trial of Sorcerers is definitely the book for you!