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ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Review: Of Wicked Blood by Olivia Wildenstein & Katie Hayoz

Thank you to Twig Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Of Wicked Blood goes on sale February 2, 2021.

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy
Series: The Quatrefoil Chronicles #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
Recommend to Others?: Maybe

ABOUT: SLATE

I didn’t mean to steal the Bloodstone from the De Morel’s crypt.

Scratch that, I did mean to steal it.

Until I realized it was a curse-magnet that only comes off if I, along with a jolly trio, successfully defeat four curses.

If any of us fail, I’m dead.

I’ve never been a glass half-empty sort of person, but my glass looks in dire need of a refill right about now.

The only highlight of this wicked treasure hunt: feisty, entitled Cadence de Morel.

CADENCE

I was raised on tales of magic, in a small town reputed to be the birthplace of French witchcraft.

Did I believe all the stories I heard? Absolutely not. I mean, if magic existed, Maman wouldn’t have died, and Papa wouldn’t be stuck in a wheelchair, right?

Wrong.

The night Slate Ardoin waltzes into my life, wearing a ring he stole from my mother’s grave, I call him a monster.

But then I meet real ones, and Slate, well . . . he becomes something else to me.

Something frustrating to live with but impossible to live without.

Something I will fight for, no matter the cost.

 

My ReviewOf Wicked Blood was not the story for me. It was a depressing read but I do think others will like this book and series.

I love any magic system that involves elements and Of Wicked Blood was no exception. I liked how each element – Quatrefoil – was a dangerous course that each character had to defeat their respective element. I didn’t have any trouble understanding how magic worked or the background to this whole hunt.

The four “main” characters – Slate, Cadence, Adrien and Gaëlle – were so-so but I was still rooting for them because of how deadly the curses were. I wasn’t much of a fan of Slate and Cadence’s relationship because of what happened in the beginning. They do have nice chemistry. I just couldn’t personally get behind it. Yet the character I despised most was Cadence’s dad.  He is a despicable man who can’t be trusted.

The hardest part of reading Of Wicked Blood was that I had trouble immersing myself into the setting. The story takes place in a small, fogged-over town in France that has managed to maintain much of its original architecture over hundreds of years with only adding some contemporary technology. I couldn’t quite mesh it together for the entire story, which made enjoying it almost impossible. I also didn’t care for the brief mention of covid (even if it was in the past tense). Too soon.

Of Wicked Blood is the kind of dark fantasy I didn’t particularly care for. However, I really wanted to know if the characters would succeed and if Slate and Cadence would become a couple. Overall, the book was okay but I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Damned by Renée Ahdieh

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Series: The Beautiful #2
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: *see end of post*

ABOUTFollowing the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

 

My Review: Once I started reading I could not put it down. The Damned has all the edgy and wondrous darkness as the first book, but ups the stakes and high levels of enjoyment. One of my top anticipated reads of 2020, this book did not disappoint!

Whereas The Beautiful felt like Celine’s story, The Damned especially felt like Sébastian’s. There are multiple POVs but only Bastian’s is in 1st person, the others 3rd. I’d go even further to say that this entire book is his transformation into something completely different. He has lost Celine and his humanity, the last two things in life he held dear. He’s left trying to make sense of his new reality, why things happened the way they did, and carve out a place and sense of self in eternity without Celine by his side.

It’s not surprising that even without her memories Celine is still the bold character we fell in love with in book 1. She too tries to move on but vague sensations and dreams toy with her ability to do so. As characters try to protect Celine from her trauma and the dark other world, they underestimate her once again.

I wasn’t addled by the various POVs used. There are about 9 that I can remember. Usually, I’m not a fan of such a high number of POVs – I prefer 1-3. In The Damned, each served a specific purpose and moved the story forward. The impact of each POVs I didn’t fully realize until I’d finished reading. I really enjoyed the story more because of these other perspectives that weren’t just Celine and Bastian.

We’re introduced to a few more characters and magical beings adding their own fuel to the fire. The story was well paced despite the unbreakable tension. I had no idea where the story was going or how things would end, the great kind of mystery and wonder I love in a good book.

There were some surprising revelations throughout that made me see things in a new light and explained a lot. The ending was oh my goodness explosive and literally changed everything! Book 3 is sure to be as action-packed as this book. The Damned was really good. I can’t wait to read more!


My Review of Book 1:
The Beautiful


Favorite Quotes

“What you are has no bearing on who you become…It is never too late to chase the better version of yourself.”

“Love and loyalty are not always the same thing. Loyalty is easy. Love is doing what is right, even when it is difficult.”

“And the infinite captivates us because it allows us to believe all things are possible. That true love can last beyond time.”

“…every setting sun brought the promise of a rising dawn. A tomorrow that could change the course of today.”

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About Books

A New Favorite Book Has Emerged: “The Beautiful” by Renée Ahdieh

Happy Sunday, Bookworms!

Yes, it’s Sunday and Day 12 of self-isolation. Thank you @hungryandhappy for the reminder 😊

I just woke up from a nap after binge reading The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh until I finished it. This book was sooooo good I can’t even! I wish I could read book 2, The Damned, now instead of waiting until June! (Review TBA)

I do and I don’t know what to read next! I’m just so hyped to read all the books on my nightstand. The struggles of a bookworm are way too real! But I’ll probably stick to my original plan double read The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross and Anglebound by Christina Bauer.

Also, pictured is a black and read book stack (my favorite color combo to wear) most prudent in color for the book I just finished. Why is it so tall? I have no idea. But it’s a lovely sight to behold.

As always, I wish you all good health and happy reading!

 

Stay safe. Stay home. Was your hands.

Stronger Together.

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: “Ace of Shades” by Amanda Foody

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Series: The Shadow Game #1
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Not sure
Favorite Quotes: “But she’s spent her entire life fighting for next to last. So if she had to play, she would not lose. She would not break. She had other business in this city.”

“Sometimes we’re not who we want to be because we’re supposed to be something else.”

 

ABOUT: Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
I sorely underestimated this book. Whatever I thought this book might be about or allude to I was completely wrong. The City of Sin grabs the reader from the start and, even after reading, still hasn’t let go. This dark, edgy, dazzling book is one you won’t soon forget.

I do have mixed feelings about this book and was hesitant to give Ace of Shades the rating that I did.

My interest dwindle after a few chapters, which is probably why it took me so long to read this book. But sheer stubbornness to finish is what kept me reading. I didn’t want to read a story like this anymore but eventually I was hopelessly enthralled.

Ace of Shades, I have to say, is a well-structured book. It couldn’t have been easy to write it during all those long years. The world Foody has developed is rich in visuals, painful in emotions, and sinfully humans in its rough and rugged characters. Breathtaking in its pacing and unapologetic in its tone, Ace of Shades is by far one of the most idiosyncratic young adult novels I’ve ever read. But that’s what makes it such a good novel.

However, that’s where the mixed feelings come in. I don’t know if I liked this book. I certainly don’t dislike it. Amanda Foody is a writer to be reckoned with and one an aspiring novelist like me can learn from. I just don’t know what to think after reading this.

I didn’t like was being led a seemingly wild goose-chase with frustrating dead ends that offered very little satisfaction in the end. Too much letdown with very little payout. And maybe that’s the point. Readers are left unsettled by their journey through the corruption-soaked city of New Reynes.

I don’t know if I’ll read King of Fools – not eager to start nor ready for more of this series – but I will keep book 2 in mind.

Categories
About Books Bookish Lists Spotlight

Favorite Books In Purple

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce (Beka Cooper, book 2)
Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely, book 5)
Fade to Us by Julia Day
Forest Born by Shannon Hale (The Books of Bayern, book 4)
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin
The Last Battle of the Icemark by Stuart Hill (The Icemark Chronicles, book 3)
Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder (Healer, book 3)
Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder (Glass, book 1)
Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguié (A Retelling of The Princess and the Pea)
Wings by Aprilynne Pike (Wings, book 1)
With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland

Categories
About Books Anticipated Book Releases Bookish Lists

Anticipated 2019 Book Releases

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay

Black Butler (Volume 27) by Yana Toboso – January 22

SUMMARY Three years prior, on his tenth birthday, Earl Ciel Phantomhive lost everything…but he was not alone. From the attack on the Phantomhive manor to the moment the contract with a certain devil was made, Ciel starkly recounts all that has come to pass…leaving all who bear witness breathless!

 

The Royal Tutor (Volume 11) by Higasa Akai – April 23

SUMMARY Some unexpected guests to the royal palace have the princes on their toes! Between acting as gracious hosts and testing their language skills, what additional lessons will the prospective heirs to the throne learn from their visitors?

 

Image via Goodreads

Spark by Sarah Beth Durst – May 14

SUMMARY When a shy girl and her dragon-like companion discover their country’s idyllic weather comes at a steep—and secret—cost, they recruit fellow students to defy authority and attempt to spread the truth.

Storm beasts and their guardians create perfect weather every day, and Mina longs for a storm beast of her own. But when the gentle girl bonds with a lightning beast—a creature of fire and chaos—everyone’s certain it’s a mistake. Everyone but Mina and the beast himself, Pixit. Quickly enrolled in lightning school, Mina struggles to master a guardian’s skills, and she discovers that her country’s weather comes at a devastating cost—a cost powerful people wish to hide. Mina’s never been the type to speak out, but someone has to tell the truth, and, with Pixit’s help, she resolves to find a way to be heard.

 

Image via Goodreads

Your Lion Eyes (Alphaville, book 2) by Christine Warren – June 25

SUMMARY Molly Buchanan is a lioness on the prowl. Unfortunately, since she’s been prowling through the same town for her entire life, she’s down to some pretty slim pickings in the dating department. But the minute she sets eyes on the new bachelor in town, her lioness starts to purr and plans to do some serious rubbing up against Grady Emerson.

Newly arrived in Alpha, Washington, Grady just wants to settle in and do his job as the town’s newest deputy. But even this rogue-bear sheriff knew Molly Buchanan was trouble the minute he laid eyes on her. She might be smoking hot, sharp as a tack, and funny as hell, but she is also his friend’s younger sister, and there are some things a good man just doesn’t do-no matter how much his bear might want to devour her.


What books are you most looking forward to being published this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Perhaps I’ll find a new book to read among your top picks.

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About Books About Manga Bookish Lists Spotlight

Reading 2018: Best of Manga

Today’s the final day spotlighting my favorite books of 2018.

A large portion of the books I read this year were of this genre. But the titles below have had a big impact on me and my reading experience. I feel like the world of books just got ten times bigger.

It behooved me to pick just one as the best. I loved them all so I picked them all as the best.


 

BLACK BUTLER (Volumes 1-26) by Yana Toboso
Series Review (so far)

FRUITS BASKET (Volumes 1-23) by Natsuki Takaya
Series Review

S●A – SPECIAL A (Volumes 1-17) by Maki Minami
Series Review

THE BETRAYAL KNOWS MY NAME (Volumes 1-8) by Hotaru Odagiri
Series Review

 


See Which Books Took Home The Gold Last Year In 2017

Reading 2017: Best of Picture Books
Reading 2017: Best of Young Adult & Young Adult Fantasy
Reading 2017: Best of Fantasy
Reading 2017: Best of Romance
Reading 2017: Best of Middle Grade & My Favorite Book of the Year
Categories
About Books About Manga Book Reviews

Overall Impressions of Black Butler Manga Series by Yana Toboso (Volumes 1-26 English Translations So Far)

Image by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner

***Note: This is a spoiler-free review***

I just finished that last available volume of Black Butler that’s in English and it was amazing. But like any reader, I was left on an emotional high right at the very end. As of now, I don’t know the publication date for Volume 27 but I hope it soon – the anticipation!!!

Black Butler Volume 1 | Image via Goodreads

I have been on one wild adventure with this manga series.

I would categorize this series under dark fantasy, historical drama, Gothic, and mystery. The story is intense, chilling, captivating, and humorous. Simply stunning.

Black Butler centers around Ciel, the young Earl of Phantomhive, and his “one hell of a butler,” Sebastian Michaels. The Phantomhive family acts as the Queen of England’s watchdog, meaning Ciel takes care of cases that appear to be “supernatural” in nature.

There’s also Finnian, Baldo, and Mey-Rin – Ciel’s hilarious but quite deadly trio of house servants. And of course, there’s Mr. Tanaka – the house steward who you often see sipping tea but he’s much more than that.

Black Butler is not just a story but an experience. You are thrust into an engaging narrative and you get to know all the characters very well. You’re introduced to so many characters that it’s easy to forget who’s who, but you do remember what role they’ve played and the impact they’ve had on the story so far.

The series also uses a unique approach to grim reapers and death itself. Grim Reapers all use gardening-like tools to collect the souls of the dead. Sometimes you get to see a flash back of a person’s life on a string of movie reel, aptly called their “cinematic record.” Sometimes you glimpse when the person was born, died, what they died of, and their last remarks. It’s an interesting idea to include in the series.

Black Butler Volume 26 | Image via Goodreads

I love the historical allusions that are woven into the story. The author does an amazing job of fictionalizing history to suit the dark, gothic fantasy that colors the story.

The cover and art in between chapters are utterly gorgeous. I’m always blown away by these pictures. Just stunning.

I’m usually not one for fiction on the darker, grimmer side but I just can’t help but devour volume after volume of Black Butler. It’s everything I want from a story. I am eagerly looking forward to more amazing-ness in the next volume. I highly recommend this series for older teens and up. It’s phenomenal.