Category Archives: Fantasy

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid KemmererTitle: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 27, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

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A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was so enjoyable from start to finish! I’ve been struggling with some YA reads lately so I was afraid that like many others I’ve read recently that this would fall into a pit of tropes, but this book soared beyond my expectations! Right off the bat, I loved the tone of the book and I think the crossover/connection between the modern world in Washington DC and the fantasy world of Emberfall really made a difference. The readers are able to get a unique twist on this fantasy concept with a modern voice from Harper and that old-world, medieval-type feel from Rhen.

You may have heard that A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY is a Beauty and the Beast adaptation and I thought that was done brilliantly! Concepts are taking from the classic fairy tale but still given their own twist. Not every piece of Beauty and the Beast was made to fit this novel and A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY also goes along its own paths, not needing to stick to the concept 100%. What I loved even more was seeing the book’s originality lead back to the fairy tale adaptation without realizing we were on that road and I was so impressed seeing things circle back around to the adaption in their own way. I’ve read a lot of retellings over the years and some stories stick too religiously to the original work so I was really happy to see how expertly the author’s original concepts were woven in with the inspiration from Beauty and the Beast.

The characters here were just wonderful and they really made this story what it is in so many ways. Harper is strong and fierce but the way that Brigid Kemmerer chose to craft this character was really special. There are so many badass YA heroines out there that get too cocky or are just magically perfect, but Harper felt more like a real person to me than most of those other leading ladies. I loved that Brigid Kemmerer included Harper’s cerebral palsy and how it was portrayed as the way that Harper was born and not as a disadvantage or weakness. It was also great to see Harper grow into her boldness, from being a little sheltered by her brother to being thrown into this fantasy world and having to make a name for herself, quite literally. She didn’t change in personality but merely let that side of her grow in the proper atmosphere and situation. The reader was able to see that potential in Harper and with her situation in Emberfall and the other people by which she was surrounded, Harper was able to really grow into her confidence and it really felt so natural.

Rhen was another fantastic character in so many ways. Harper originally felt that he was a cocky prince but really he had so many levels that unfolded as the book progressed. Readers learn of his remorse for everything that’s happened to the kingdom and how much he really took it all to heart. Rhen’s challenge in the book seemed to be with his emotions and feelings, having to trust in his heart and let go of some of his overthinking. Being forced to repeat so many scenarios due to his curse, he essentially has ages to plan without growing older and somewhat replaying the opportunity to fall in love to break the curse, he employs different strategies, none of which work, of course, because love can’t be won by strategy. Harper and Grey, Rhen’s commander, help Rhen learn how to trust his heart and not feel so forced to fall in love. He has to let go before he can really latch on.

One of my favorite things about the book was the romance, which doesn’t happen often these days. So many people get excited over big love scenes, passionate kisses, and fiery romances. I was all about this gorgeous slow burn romance that took its time and really established those deep emotions! It’s not quite a hate-to-love situation but since neither Harper nor Rhen trust each other (naturally), there’s quite a spark of mistrust and Harper’s brashness also leads to a few spats that have these two at odds in the beginning. I really loved that as well because it’s so much more rewarding seeing the two soften towards each other and really piques that curiosity if the two can manage to fall in love. That’s the whole point of the book so you assume it’s coming and yet there’s still the question if that really is what will happen and how they’ll both come to believe it. It’s so expertly crafted and those quiet, stolen moments were absolutely everything in this book! I love those moments more than anything in books and I think they’re some of the most special scenes to read.

Finally, there’s the fact that this book delivers something of its own with a few unique twists that I did not see coming! I loved the set up for the next book and reading something like this actually made me glad that it’s a series whereas usually I’m wishing for more stand-alones. I do think that this book could have been made into a stand-alone if that’s what the author had wanted and it would have been beautiful, but I’m also glad that I get to keep reading about these characters, this world, and this beautiful writing for a little bit longer!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Retellings. I’ve been hesitating with some retellings as of late because they’ve been taking the adaptation a little too literally or leaning on it to tell the story, but this was such an excellent blend!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. I think this could have gone juuuuuust a bit deeper and it would have been an absolute slam dunk! It was already wonderful but there was just a touch of something that could have been that one smidge better!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I enjoyed this adaptation so much. I’ve been a little hit-or-miss on fairy tale retellings lately because some are just not very well done but this was the absolute perfect blend of original and adaptation!

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BOOKS LIKE A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY

             

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick RiordanTitle: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan
Publishing Info: June 28, 2005 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: August 7, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles #1)

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse - Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena - Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

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Yes, this was my first time reading Percy Jackson! It was a fun read! I know it’s middle grade but it’s still a little younger than I expected. It was definitely cute and fun but a little too goofy at times for me reading for the first time as an adult. When this and Harry Potter are compared as the two big middle grade to YA series, crossing over to adult readers, this one definitely felt a lot younger than Harry Potter and actually reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s Evil Librarian series, which also feels young and silly to me. I’m not sure if I would have appreciated it more at a different age and I also don’t know how in-depth the rest of the series gets, so I guess we’ll see!

I did enjoy the book and it was a solid read but some of the action felt a little jumpy, adding in sequence after sequence which seemed like a little too much for one book when there could have been more time developing the story and character relationships. I mean, I know it’s only book one so there’s lots of time to develop things.

I don’t feel a huuuuuge desire to continue the series right away. I think I still want to because I did actually read the first book in the Egyptian mythology-based series and I can see similarities in tone but it also seemed to flow a little bit better. I mean that was a few years ago by now and it was after this series so that allows writing growth too.

There were lots of laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of comic relief! I did also see the Percy Jackson movie ages ago and I don’t really remember what it was about but it seems like it combined a few books, maybe? Or didn’t follow the books? I just know it definitely wasn’t focused on this one. I think it would be fun to finish the series and then watch the movie again too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Middle Grade/younger reads. I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. I do love YA but I’ve been having a harder time lately with books geared toward younger audiences. Usually middle grade doesn’t really do it for me with exceptions like Neil Gaiman or Harry Potter. This one was fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Intensity. Okay, okay, I know. It’s middle grade, and it was fairly intense for middle grade! I don’t know, there’s something about Harry Potter that starts at about the same age that has that tone that lends to more maturity. I think I just wanted that!

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you haven’t read this series yet, it’s worth trying if you’re interested! This was my first time reading it and it was fun! I’m not sure if I’ll continue any time soon but it was still worth the read.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LIGHTNING THIEF

             

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie WestTitle: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: February 6, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

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I’m a huge Kasie West fan and all of her books are auto-buys, regardless of my reviews for them. Usually I pre-order and I somehow missed this one so I picked it up on audio so I didn’t have to wait!

FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS fell a little flat for me. When it came down to it, I felt like none of the characters were really all that likable. I didn’t really like Lacey that much and I didn’t find her character relatable either. I thought she seemed a little unreasonable at times and maybe she was a bit too much of a dreamer for me. While I don’t think an acting career is unrealistic, I had a hard time with how much she wanted to push off the end of high school to continue on her acting career when she could have easily managed both from the way that the book sounded. There were times when I liked her lack of filter and it felt genuine to hear some things pour out of her mouth but other times I felt she was rash and quick to assumptions.

I also just find that I don’t really enjoy books about acting or the movie/TV business. I think the only book that I did enjoy like that was GEEKERELLA and only half of the main characters were actually involved in the biz so it brought something a little different to the book rather than it being the only main narrator. I’m not sure what it is… just not being able to relate? I don’t enjoy the business or behind-the-scenes? But for some reason it just doesn’t hold me.

I also wanted just a bit more chemistry between Lacey and Donovan. I really started feeling it towards the end when they finally had some quiet moments together, allowing themselves to be relaxed and cute. I didn’t enjoy all of the tutoring scenes where it was so frantic on-set and Lacey’s co-stars and friends kept popping in and out.

I also thought the sabotage angle was a little cheesy and made it almost a mystery towards the end. I thought it took away from some of the reality of the book and I would have just loved to see more from the characters and a more character-driven novel. I could have dropped that part of the plot and just enjoyed the romance and character relationships.

Not my favorite Kasie West book by far. I think it’s my least favorite and I’m a little bummed about that. The character cameos were fun but they were from LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST which was also another not-favorite so it wasn’t as exciting.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cute contemporaries. I always love a light, cute contemporary. This one wasn’t my favorite but it was just the kind of tone I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just feel like everyone was so surface-level. I didn’t really like much about any of them and that was really disappointing.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

If this wasn’t Kasie West, I don’t know if I’d recommend it. I didn’t really enjoy it that much and sadly, it may be my least favorite Kasie West book yet. I do love her books so much and would recommend her no matter what, but this one was a miss for me.

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BOOKS LIKE FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS

             

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) – Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) – Leigh BardugoTitle: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 31, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

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My dearest Leigh Bardugo, congratulations on a phenomenal book. I’ve been trying to rate every book I read 100% sincerely, no matter if it’s a favorite author/series and I feel like I should love it, so know that this rating does not need any fluffing up of any kind.

I’ve loved Leigh Bardugo’s writing since her debut with SHADOW AND BONE and my connection with her and her books will always hold a special place in my heart since she was one of the first authors I ever met. With every book of hers I read, I’m so happy to continue to enjoy the stories she tells and I’m continuously impressed with each subsequent book. I’ve loved all of them but it’s amazing how I still feel like her writing continues to grow with every book or series. Shadow and Bone was the introduction to this universe and had a lot to set up, teach, and resolve within three books. Six of Crows took us to a new part of the Grishaverse with a stunning cast of characters who carried a brilliant heist-type plot but delved even further into character relationships and histories. KING OF SCARS continued to amaze me by diving into a layer of this universe that I didn’t even know existed and I was simply mind-blown with all of the hidden mysteries that I didn’t even realize I was missing.

While the writing style is different, the amount of world-building in KING OF SCARS reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s books. With each book comes a delicious amount of creation, history, and plot to leave the readers curious and satisfied but then BAM! another layer is introduced and much like I felt when reading Sanderson fantasies, it was a brilliant addition that I hadn’t even considered but fit quite perfectly into the universe. All of the pieces fall so perfectly into place that you wonder how you ever did without knowing these pieces of information, and I love how Leigh Bardugo delivers those reveals to readers. Every reveal is so intentional and carefully crafted, and I really felt like Leigh Bardugo made the Grishaverse a real place for me. It’s like it’s always existed and only Leigh knows every in and out of the universe and she always has — it’s just that we as readers slowly get to discover what’s been there the entire time. So many fantasy works are carefully built but still just feel like stories that the author is inventing as they go along. KING OF SCARS unfolds the next layer of this world with expert connections back to Shadow and Bone as well as Six of Crows, showing how brilliantly all of these books have been masterminded. They all connect back to one another in the most perfect ways, from adding on to the existing world to referring back to favorite quotes to sneaking in pieces of other books as special Easter eggs. Whether or not Leigh had these entire books and plot lines in the back of her mind from the very beginning, she certainly knows her way around this complex world that she’s created and always finds a new way to continue creating new adventures while still building upon the stories that we’ve already read and loved.

There was a point in the book where things got REALLY next-level and it was both cool and also a little confusing. It wasn’t in a bad way but it was just a whole brand-new piece of world-building that I kind of had to wrap my brain around and it took me a little while to get into that big fantasy element. It was amazing to witness this concept that I really never saw coming and it was also so series-changing that it took me a while for my brain to adjust. Once the plot continued and the characters sort of wrangled that piece of the story line into the book, it all came back together and I was able to keep all of those pieces together. It also really did add some stupendous fantasy creations and made this series and universe even bigger than they already were. I felt like Shadow and Bone felt more on the YA side (not in a diminutive way, of course), Six of Crows felt like a crossover series to span from YA into adult audience, and KING OF SCARS really broke any boundaries and had some intensely sweeping concepts that really launched it to the next level.

I also want to applaud Leigh Bardugo for how she handled each narrating character (Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina) and how she handled each of their character relationships. I’ve been tiring of a lot of forced romances in other books, jumping into a romance plot, or pairing characters off so each one might have their own romance. I appreciated the subtlety of Six of Crows and how it established those intense relationship feelings without every character having to instantly fall in love and pair off. While each main character really did have their own pair in the book, it never felt like the romances took over and they all felt natural, falling into place at their own time. KING OF SCARS was exactly what I wanted in the romance department which is to say that it didn’t have much at all. Some characters certainly have romantic inklings or feelings and I’m interested in the direction that it’s heading, but there’s much more to focus on and each character shows the proper restraint and focus on their tasks at hand. So much has happened to each of these POV characters that they’re a little reluctant to open their hearts to someone while attempting to keep Ravka from falling to pieces. Instead, each one slowly starts to let emotion come through, guarded and carefully, and there’s just a snail’s pace towards a romantic involvement. I love the hints, the tension, and the slow burn and I’m glad to see that things may lead somewhere but there’s no rush for that to take over everyone’s priorities. All three of these characters also sort of need to learn to love themselves or let go of a past hardship — or both — before they can move on to a romantic relationship with someone else and I truly appreciate that character development. It’s great to see characters working through their own limitations or hardships instead of allowing a romantic plot to “fix” it all. Leigh Bardugo truly knows what she’s doing here and I’m loving the pace of the story all the way through!

I’m just so impressed with everything on these pages and I’m so happy to have a new piece of the Grishaverse. I had no idea where this series was even going to go when it started and I’m not sure how it’ll finish, but I’m loving this new direction and interesting take on the existing world!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Digging deeper. I really got to know this world so much better in this book and it was SO interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. There were a couple moments where things got a little intense in the fantasy aspect but I did really enjoy it overall!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I absolutely loved this book. It did get a couple mixed reviews because of some things that happened, which I understand, but I thought it was stunning.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE KING OF SCARS

             

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) – Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

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I was surprised by and interested in EVERY HEART A DOORWAY but wasn’t quite sure how the rest of the books would tie in so I was excited to continue on! I was glad to see that DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES was about Jack and Jill because I really loved Jack in EVERY HEART A DOORWAY and she was my favorite character in the book.

DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES takes us to the door/portal world that Jack and Jill discovered and then left. I really loved getting into their story and it was interesting to see those pieces of their life before they discovered the door, their time in the world where they belonged, and really how everything went wrong from there. It was interesting to see two characters in a world and how Jack and Jill interacted with the world, each other, and the other residents there. It added another dimension to this particular story with two new residents instead of just the one, and it was also interesting how each girl really found their place as well as started to discover who they were and what they wanted… or thought they wanted.

I love how short these books are buuuuut I’ve also felt like both of these could have used just a bit more somewhere. I don’t think the story needed to be longer in DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES but it is interesting to think about how this series is structured. The first book kind of had the whole plot all in one book and this book was more of a prequel, really. It told Jack and Jill’s story in their world — their first trip and discovery, how their lives changed while they were there, and how they ended up leaving. It’s a really interesting series construction and I’m even more curious to see what comes next. Since it’s a unique concept, it’s a little hard to grasp but I’m impressed and intrigued!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Darker worlds. This was sort of a vampire world but had many other aspects that made it so much more. It was interesting to see the sort of dark concepts that were normal here, as well as other gender norms.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot Development. I love the short length of these books but I wish there was just a bit more time spent here, learning more about the world and the people in it.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed the concept, execution, and emotion involved in this book. I think this one doesn’t read as well as the next two do but I really enjoyed this a lot.

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BOOKS LIKE DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES

              

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) – Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 29, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

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I had seen things about EVERY HEART A DOORWAY pretty much everywhere, seeing lots of praise and even receiving a free digital copy in a sweepstakes from Tor. I was definitely interested and also drawn in by the length, or lack there of, of this quick but pleasing book. I wasn’t sure what to expect except for a parallel universe concept and this was really interesting and pleasantly peculiar!

Essentially, the book is about a school for wayward children, those of which have been through doors to portals that transport them to magical parallel worlds and who have been kicked out, left, or were sent back and aren’t able to return to the world nor to their former lives. I haven’t read Miss Peregrine’s but I picture this book would be Miss Peregrine meets Narnia meets The Magicians. We spend most of the time in this book reading about the children back in the normal world after they’ve returned from their doors, hearing about the children’s experiences in the worlds that they can no longer access. It was really interesting to hear how the worlds differ and how they were so appropriate for each person. I loved the concept of all of these different portal worlds and each child finding the world meant exactly for them.

What I really wasn’t expecting was a murder mystery, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I think I would have loved to just enjoy the world-building and have the conflict of the book focus more on the fact that these children weren’t able to get back to the worlds they so longed for, or how they got along with each other in the school/home. There were a lot of things going on with the mystery and it was interesting and I didn’t see some things coming, but it wasn’t where I thought the book was going to go. I loved the emotion and world-building side of this concept so much more, but having already read the other books in the series, I see how it connects to future books. I do think I would have enjoyed less of a mystery but I still appreciated it all!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Portal worlds. I’ve been reading a lot of books involving portal worlds this year and last year and I’ve been absolutely loving them. I love the concept of alternate worlds and I loved this new take on a fantasy portal world.
Left Me Wanting More: World-Building. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty! But I also wanted to spend soooo much more time in these worlds, exploring them, and less time with the mystery.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed the concept, execution, and emotion involved in this book. I think this one doesn’t read as well as the next two do but I really enjoyed this a lot.

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BOOKS LIKE EVERY HEART A DOORWAY

              

Exclusive Interview with Marissa Meyer on the Archenemies Tour!

ARCHENEMIES TOUR

Marissa Meyer at North Central College/Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

I always go see Marissa Meyer when she’s in town and I was so excited to be able to see her again in Naperville, this time for the ARCHENEMIES book tour! The amazing folks at Macmilan/Fierce Reads asked me if I wanted to interview Marissa before the event and of course I said yes! I sat down with Marissa to ask her a few questions about the Renegades series, super powers, and of course, Harry Potter sorting.

(Portions edited for time and flow, only affecting ease of reading and not the actual interview or answers.)

Brittany: We’re celebrating the release of ARCHENEMIES, which is the second book in the Renegades trilogy. The series was initially planned to be a two-book series. Did you always feel like it should have been a trilogy, or did that develop as you were writing the series?
Marissa Meyer: Originally, it did sell as a trilogy so for many, many drafts of RENEGADES. I wrote it attempting to make it a trilogy, but I had thought that the central idea of this hero and villain character falling in love wasn’t itself enough to carry it through three whole books. My plan had been to focus on other characters for the first two books and then Adrian and Nova were going to be the central characters of the third and final book… and it just didn’t work and it wasn’t working and it wasn’t working and after years and years of kind of pulling my hair out, we decided, you know what? Let’s just focus on Nova’s and Adrian’s story and make it a standalone! So RENEGADES became a standalone. I started writing it and finally it started to come together. Finally, I was able to focus on this story between Nova and Adrian, which is what I really wanted to be writing the whole time! So I’m writing it and it kept getting longer and longer and longer, and at some point I realized, hey! I think this could actually be two books. I told my editor and she was thrilled. So we made it two books and I finished RENEGADES. That was done and I started working on ARCHENEMIES, and it kept getting longer and longer and longer… And, at some point it became clear that it was actually three books! And so now it’s a trilogy and working on book three, and I’m preeetty sure we’re done at three. I’m pretty sure.
Brittany: That’s interesting! I like that, though! It’s like you never know where it’s going to take you.
Marissa: Yeah, this book has had a lot of surprises!

Brittany: That was actually one of my other questions! Was there any character scene that really surprised you as you were writing these books and brought you to places you didn’t expect? So I guess we kind of already answer that in part!
Marissa: Yeah. There are tons of things that surprised me! Hmm, what are some specific examples…
Brittany: Were there any characters that ended up getting more page time that you didn’t think were going to be such a big part of the book?
Marissa: No, if anything, there are characters that ended up getting less face time than I expected that they would initially, but it kind of fluctuates. There are characters who you didn’t see a whole lot of in book one, but then they come up more in book two. There’s a character who was supposed to play a huge role in book two and then it ended up not working at all. So now we’re going to see them in book three and that kind of whole [concept] got moved to book three. Then there’s, you know, ideas for scenes that you think will work and end up not working, or you’re writing along and suddenly character says something that completely surprises you and you have to go with it. I mean, there’s always things in writing that come up and change.

Brittany: I really love a well-rounded villain, and I love how often we get to see the inner-workings behind the villains in your books! We got to see Levana’s sort of origin story in FAIREST, the Queen of Hearts and her beginning in HEARTLESS, and now we have so much insight to the Anarchists with Nova being a main character in the Renegades trilogy! Are these types of characters more difficult to write because of their many layers? Or does that actually help you with so much to build off of?
Marissa: It depends! I mean, some of my hero characters are more difficult to write than others, and some of the villain characters difficult are more difficult to write than others, so it doesn’t seem to necessarily be one or the other. But certainly in writing the villains, I’m always trying to make sure that I really understand where they’re coming from. Whether it’s something in their past that has driven them to be a certain way, or something that they’re trying to accomplish that’s motivating them, I want readers to may say, “You know, well, I don’t agree with what they’re doing — they’re really making bad choices — but I can kind of understand why, or I can empathize with them on some level.” So as the writer, of course, I’m always trying to find ways to empathize with them and connect with them in the hopes that we’ll come across to the the readers.
Brittany: I think that’s really interesting with all of the Anarchists who kind of have different levels — there are some people who are so far gone and then Nova, especially being a main character —  you get to see how she interacts with the heroes. And I just think that’s really neat how you get to see all of that, all in one book.
Marissa: Well, thank you! I love writing the villains.

Brittany: Were there any specific sources of inspiration for some of these unique superpowers? Like Ruby’s? Or Honey & Danna with their insect connection?
Marissa: For the most part, [I go with it] if i get an idea that I think seems really cool. Most of the superpowers, I got the idea for them and thought they would just be cool ideas to write about, or were a very visual superpower. I like to write my books to have a very kind of cinematographic quality to them and so something that[, the visual superpowers,] I just thought it would be really neat to play with in different battle sequences and whatnot, so I’m always drawn to powers like that. Alternatively, if there’s something that I think I would really like to have, like that’s a superpower that I would love, then those tend to take top billing too.
Brittany: Were there any of the book that you were ones that you really wanted to have?
Marissa: Nova’s… I would love to never have to sleep! I do also like Adrian’s, too. I do not have any really artistic skill and I’ve always envied people who could drive and paint. You know, it’s sort of symbolic that there are people who could draw something, and it feels like it comes to life on the page. Adrian can actually make things come to life and I just think that’s so cool!

Brittany: The Renegades trilogy is your first release that didn’t have fairy tale inspiration. Was the writing process a lot different without having to go back to a specific source like that? Or did it have any different inspirations?
Marissa: So different, it was so different! I mean, when you’re doing a fairy tale retelling or origin story, like with HEARTLESS, you have a built-in framework already. You know, if I’m doing Cinderella — we know there’s going to be a stepmother. We know there’s going to be a ball. We know there’s to be some sort of shoe that gets lost — like there are things that you know are going to happen, and then you can kind of build the story off of that. But with Renegades being completely original, I had influences — plenty of influences — but nevertheless, I had complete freedom to do anything that I wanted with the story. At first I thought that was going to be great and so easy and fun! And it turned out to be the opposite… I had so many ideas and so many different directions that I thought about taking the story. I tried so many things and really got very lost many, many times and saying, “What could I do with this story? There’s so many options!” and lost focus with it again and again until I finally was able to figure out okay, what is this story that i’m trying to tell?
Brittany: Do you think there would be any like spin-offs or little novellas for the things that did have to get pushed aside?
Marissa: I don’t know! There are a couple of characters that ended up getting cut that I thought had potential for their own works… probably not in the Renegades world — probably a completely different universe’s story world — but I just like some of the ideas that came along with them and I think I could definitely recycle them into something new at some point. As far as, spin-off stories… I have felt like there’s definitely potential to do something from the Age of Anarchy. There’s certainly lots of cool stories that could be pulled from that time period! I don’t know that I will, but it’s something that I have thought about, so we’ll see.

Brittany: There are so many excellent character connections in this series, from family to friendship to romance to teammate. Do you have a favorite character relationship in the Renegades trilogy?
Marissa: Well, I always love the romance story lives obviously! Adrian and Nova, but I also Adrian’s dads, Simon and Hugh — I love every scene where we see them! I think they’re so charming. So in all of my books, everything I’ve ever written before, none of my characters ever have good families! Like, they’re always neglected, and abused — these poor characters of mine! And Adrian was really the first protagonist that I have where he comes from a healthy, loving family, and that is so refreshing to be able to write! I always enjoy those scenes.

Brittany: If you could get yourself a tattoo like Adrian does, which power would you give to yourself first?
Marissa: That’s really good question! I haven’t been asked that before…  I’m trying to think if there’s a tattoo that would let me fly…
Brittany: Wings on your feet?
Marissa: I’m going to have to think about that one!
Brittany: It’s a tough question! I couldn’t think of one for myself…
Marissa: Yeah, because all of his are very centric on like fighting! Even like the jumping thing — having tattoos on the soles of your feet sounds painful… so I’m not sure!

Brittany: If characters from your other books had superhero names and powers, what do you think they would be?
Marissa: So, the first that comes to mind for Cinder would be The Mechanic! She somehow be able to magically fix things… which she sort of already has that superpower! I could totally see Scarlet having fire power and being… the Scarlet Witch,  but that that already exists — there’s Scarlet Witch in Marvel! Hmm, like the Scarlet Flame or something! Wolf would probably [something like a shapeshifter]… There’s another word I was going for, but that works, so he can turn into a wolf!

Brittany: If we were to sort the Renegades characters into Hogwarts Houses, would all of the Anarchist be Slytherins, or will there be a good mix or balance in there?
Marissa: Good question! I almost feel like Nova might be more Ravenclaw than Slytherin…  She might even pass for Gryffindor. Honey would definitely be Slytherin. The Puppeteer, he would be Slytherin. Leroy… He could be Ravenclaw too. But maybe Slytherin. Who am I forgetting ? Phobia! We forgot Phobia!
Brittany: That’s a good question! Are we going to get to know more about Phobia? I’m very excited for that! I just feel like we’re being led up to that.
Marissa: He’s an example of someone who I thought was going to play a much bigger role in the first two books and then ended up not really coming to fruition, but he just become more central in book three.
Brittany: I’m loving the lead up, though. Like, you know that you’re going to get more information and that’s really exciting!

Brittany: I know you love writing romances and I love how naturally they develop. It’s not quick into romance, like you can feel that tension and everything leading up with Nova and Adrian. Is it hard not to just jump right into the kissing scenes?
Marissa: So hard!! All I ever want is for my characters to start kissing! In my very first draft that I ever wrote of CINDER, her and Kai were kissing on like, page 30. Like, let’s do this!! But yeah, I mean, i’m always looking forward to that part. But also as a reader, if the romance develops too fast and they’re kissing too soon, then I lose interest. Like no, no, no, I want the struggle and the tension and suspense, and I really like it to last as long as possible!

I had SUCH a great time interviewing Marissa and another big thank you to her for giving us this scoop and insight on the Renegades trilogy!

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) – Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) – Holly BlackTitle: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: January 2, 2018 by Hachette, Little Brown
Source: ALAAC18, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 4 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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This was probably one of this biggest reads of 2018 and the hype was REAL. I definitely enjoyed it and there was a lot to appreciate here BUT I think the hype also got me a little bit.

I really loved getting to know Jude but I also felt like I wanted to get to know her a little bit more outside of the current events. There were several places in this book where I knew I felt like I was missing something and I just didn’t know what it was. I don’t know why I felt a slight disconnect from Jude but I did. We did get her backstory but… I don’t know. I think I just wanted more of a personal connection that I just didn’t get somewhere. I did love her personality and her ambition. She had a great balance of ferocity and loyalty.

This book was broken up into two parts and I really did wish that there was something more in the first half to really bring me into the story more. There was a lot of really great set-up but the pacing was just a bit off for a trilogy, I think. It felt like we were setting up a much longer series with so much more backstory and character development in the beginning. It wasn’t a bad thing but it was definitely a different pace. Gah, it’s so hard to explain because this was just such a different sort of book all together. It was a slightly slower pace but not in a bad way — it was in a way that allowed the characters to show us who they were and allowed the world to really get set up before the action set in. I think I just expected more action, or rather, an important piece of the action, to happen earlier on.

I also really, really wanted to get to know more of Cardan and his story in the first half. I really liked that Holly Black didn’t rush the romance and had plenty of action and development in the end, but it almost felt like Cardan wasn’t really important until the end of the book. He was a significant part of Jude’s life in the beginning as well, but I wanted to see more of him and more of the reasons why he was so important much earlier on.

I really did love all of the events in the end of the book! There were soooo many things and I loved how everything unfolded in so many ways. I don’t know if that was an intentional nod to The Princess Bride but I 100% was there for that. I think the set-up for THE WICKED KING was absolutely excellent and I think book two will be stellar! I’m really excited to see where things go from here.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Holly Black. I haven’t read ALL of Holly Black’s books but I’ve read a few and it’s so interesting seeing how different they all are! No matter the subject matter, I can see the same sort of tone throughout all of them but they’re all so unique! I also love how clever each book is.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons. I don’t ACTUALLY need more swoons, but I was expecting more the way everyone talks about Cardan. He was an interesting character but once again, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was (as happens a lot with reviews/Instagram).

Addiction Rating
Read it!

THE CRUEL PRINCE was really enjoyable and quite the interesting read. I really liked the politics behind everything and it had a really great, mature tone.

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BOOKS LIKE THE CRUEL PRINCE

              

The Everything Box (Another Coop Heist #1) – Richard Kadrey

The Everything Box (Another Coop Heist #1) – Richard KadreyTitle: The Everything Box (Another Coop Heist #1) by Richard Kadrey
Publishing Info: April 19, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 18, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

2000 B.C.
A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll be get a big promotion.
And now it’s time . . .
The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.
“Crap.”

2015
A thief named Coop-a specialist in purloining magic objects-steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him-and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think. . .
And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

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Well, I went out on a limb and selected a book that literally none of my friends have read and this was it. I was looking for a clever book with humor, interesting characters, and a well-crafted novel. THE EVERYTHING BOX definitely had its humor and gave off some serious Dogma (movie) vibes, but I didn’t really connect with the plot or the characters like I had hoped.

The book started out a little too silly, then started softening out to a more well-balanced flow. Then around the second half of the book, I just felt like I lost it. I couldn’t focus and there were a lot of different POVs/perspectives but I felt like they sort of bumped around a little too much. Each perspective added something to the story, yes, but it felt like a few of them didn’t really need to be separate perspectives. There just ended up being a lot of characters and they didn’t stick around long enough for me to feel like there was any development. Even with the main characters, new people kept coming onto the scene and it was just a large cast that I didn’t make a good connection with.

The plot itself was also not the greatest. There was a lot of moving around, lots of plotting and even a heist or two… but it seemed like it was all kind of pointless. There just wasn’t a whole lot going on to push the plot forward and it just all felt a little jumbled. Ultimately, that was probably what took me out of the book the most. There were a few different story lines involved here and they would just bounce around, featuring new characters we hadn’t met before, and that took a while to adjust to.

I doubt I’ll continue the series because I just didn’t feel any strong feelings for this book. There were a couple decent points throughout the book but it really didn’t come together for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Reads that not a lot of people have reviewed. I really wanted to get into something to form an opinion for myself without seeing any reviews at all, maybe “discover” a new great book. This wasn’t it, but I really did enjoy trying something new!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I didn’t love how things really jumped around a lot from concept to concept.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series and it wasn’t something I was keen on recommending.

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BOOKS LIKE THE EVERYTHING BOX

              

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) – Jay Kristoff

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) – Jay KristoffTitle: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: August 9, 2016 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Source: Book Depository
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 3, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

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NEVERNIGHT was easily one of my favorite books of the year! I had put off reading it because I started an egalley when it was first being released and it didn’t have any of the footnotes (although someone else said they were all at the end) and I didn’t want to miss out! Then I sampled the audiobook and really did not like the narrator so I had to wait for a good time for me to read the physical copy!

This book was so cinematic and it had everything that I love. I could just picture the entire book happening as things were unfolding. The beginning of the book started out just a tad slow but it didn’t feel like it was slow in a bad way. Things took time to set up and provide a little world-building and setting, so it was a little while to get into the main action, but it was still interesting and I liked getting to know some of the characters during that time.

I absolutely loved the rest of the book. Mia is a fantastic character with a complicated history, a determined mission, and even though she’s a precious murder baby, she still has so many different layers to explore. I love a good antihero and Mia is an amazing protagonist. Each side character really has a full range of emotions, stories, and motives that make for a truly well-rounded book. Basically every element of the book from the characters to the fantasy concept to the darkness to the setting was exactly my taste!

I do have to yell at Jay, though, for one particular thing that happened at the end… I really did NOT see it coming which is surprising because it could have been a really big spoiler and I hadn’t read the book even close to when it came out so I’m surprised that I was able to avoid it for so long! It was quite surprising and unique.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Antiheroes. Ugh, I loved Mia so much. This whole book was full of great antiheroes and morally grey characters.
Left Me Wanting More: Quick beginnings. I didn’t want it to be TOO quick to get into everything but it did take just a little while to get into things. I enjoyed the backstory but then there were a few journey scenes that were a little slow.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I cannot WAIT to read the rest of this series! This book was absolutely fantastic and I loved every bit of it.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERNIGHT