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The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) – Marie Rutkoski

The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) – Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Publishing Info: March 3, 2020 by Macmillan
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 4, 2020

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1), The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2), The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

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Okay, I’m going to be a little harsh on this because The Winner’s Trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series, full of cleverness, intrigue, and romantic tension that is a killer. While THE MIDNIGHT LIE is a very different feel than the original Winner’s Trilogy, that’s not what I had a problem with.

I’m pretty tired of naive, in-the-dark main characters and that’s what Nirrim is to me. She was “rescued” from an orphanage and taken in by a woman who pretends she’s nice to her but is actually awful. She tells a boy she loves him and sleeps with him because it makes HIM feel good so it makes her feel good (barf). She’s told what to do and she does it. It was just super cringe-worthy on a lot of levels and yes, it happens. A lot. But I’m just tired of seeing characters who are kept in the dark (by the author) on what’s going on in the book and end up being so submissive to everyone around them because of it. Part of the reason I loved The Winner’s Trilogy is because both Arin and Kestrel are so clever and determined that it was fun reading about their story. I didn’t really know why this was Nirrim’s story until the end of the book.

Speaking of which, almost nothing happens throughout the beginning of the book. We get little hints to the actual plot, but it’s basically Nirrim meeting Sid (which their whole meeting scene was pointless as far as location and how it happens) and then some character development until the plot finally kicks in. I love character-driven books. Heck, The Winner’s Trilogy was incredibly character driven with some awesome underlying political plot, but I didn’t like Nirrim and therefore, I had a hard time finding her chemistry with Sid or really with any character at all. I would be happy to experience that awesome character-driven side of the book but the whole first half was basically Nirrim being a lower class and Sid being the higher class. Sid had the WAY more interesting story in this book and even with what happens in the end, I would have much rather seen the story from Sid’s POV. We could have even kept the secrets about who she is throughout that book somehow. I just really couldn’t care less about Nirrim because SHE made me not want to care about her LOL.

I loved the connections to the original trilogy and honestly, that’s what kept me interested throughout the book. Without it, I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the book as much as I did (which was just okay anyway). There were a couple of “shocking” moments that I felt were for shock value and weren’t really necessary (one specific reveal in mind regarding Nirrim’s family history). The ending was actually really interesting and very cool, but I wish we had gotten to see more of that sprinkled throughout the book instead of it being shoved into the end for a huge blow-out. Things changed too quickly and I didn’t even get to spend time with some cool magical reveals, moments, and characters. I also get that it was supposed to be different than The Winner’s Trilogy but the inclusion of the magic and the showiness of some of it made it almost feel like the Capitol in the Hunger Games –way over the top — going from a trilogy that only had the slightest nod to god-magic with Arin and his god to a huge inclusion of magic here. I just wish for a little more consistency throughout the whole book, I guess.

I’m probably curious enough to continue on in the series but I wish I had been able to be more invested from the very beginning. I was expected to be but man, I really didn’t like Nirrim and she was boring. Sid was awesome and I loved her. I’m kind of hoping the second book is from her POV or at least includes it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Winner’s Trilogy universe! Wait — what even is this universe called? Do we know? Regardless, I looooved that this book took place in the same world AND that it was even connected to the original series too!
Left Me Wanting More: World-building and development along the way. There was a LOT that happened in literally the last chapter of the book. I would have loved to see a little bit more of that along the way.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people loved this but it fell a bit flat for me. I’m not sure if you’d love it right off the bat without knowing the original trilogy but I would still recommend reading them first, mostly because it kind of spoils some things if you don’t. It’s not really critical to understanding THE MIDNIGHT LIE but it would affect your read of The Winner’s Trilogy.

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BOOKS LIKE THE MIDNIGHT LIE

             

The Kingdom of Back – Marie Lu

The Kingdom of Back – Marie LuTitle: The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Publishing Info: March 3, 2020 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: February 18, 2020

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Legend (Legend #1), Warcross (Warcross #1), Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she'll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl's hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

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I was really excited to try THE KINGDOM OF BACK, something totally different from Marie Lu’s previous books! I’ve read the Legend trilogy and the Warcross duet, so I was interested to see what THE KINGDOM OF BACK would have in store, knowing how a good portal-world book can capture my curiosity. This one ended up being just a bit too different in too many ways for me and it just ended up not being a “me” book.

This was definitely a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” The writing in this book was just lovely and and it was a lot more prosaic and lyrical (which is fitting since the book is about music — ha!) but I usually don’t get along with these types of writing styles with very few exceptions. If that’s a writing style that you enjoy, I think this could be an instant hit for you, but I just know it’s something that I don’t particularly care for and I feel like things end up being too drawn out.

I also just had a complicated relationship with the book overall. I really, really did not like the fantasy aspect of the book. There is a portal world/alternate universe type-thing happening here but it really wasn’t what I was expecting. It largely revolved around faeries which I have zero interest in and some of the faerie magic was just a bit too fanciful for me. My magical preferences are more about systems and structures than whimsy so I just really didn’t care for it at all and I hated the parts that glanced back over at the faerie world. It wasn’t that it was bad, but again, tooootally not my thing.

The children are young for most of the book and it takes a very long time for them to even been teenagers, so I would barely even call this YA. It’s more so a book that maybe doesn’t need an age categorization since it’s not a specifically teen coming-of-age story but really just a story about these two children and their lives. I also didn’t understand for the beginning of the book why it was important for this story to be about the Mozart children and it was kind of annoying that it could have been anyone. This does make a little more sense and ties into the story more as the book goes on, so I eventually did end up liking how it tied in (even if I didn’t like the fantasy world still). By the time the book was ending, I actually found that I would have liked the Mozart story by itself all together and a fun YA historical fiction book about the Mozart children that didn’t have fantastical elements would have been cool too.

I think fans of The Hazel Wood and Uprooted will enjoy this. 

There is an author’s note at the end of the book where Marie Lu explains the origins of the book. She had discovered that Mozart had a sister that was barely ever heard of so she investigated her story, and The Kingdom of Back was a real (well, “real”) place that the Mozart children invented and they used it to pass the time in their carriage rides (which does happen in the book, as well as further development of the world). If I had known that beforehand, it would have been much more interesting knowing that The Kingdom of Back actually had historical origins and that was why/how the book came about. I still wouldn’t have cared about the fairy world but it would have made me a little more interested to understand actual historical significance of the fantasy world and that’s why it was included. That author’s note to allow me the hindsight to make this connection is the only reason I felt in the middle about this book instead of disappointed.

It’s actually weird looking back because I really enjoyed the end of the book and it left on a good note. The book wasn’t bad at all but between the writing and the faerie world, it really just wasn’t my style and if I had known that, I might have not read the book or at least waited to hear from someone else if I might like it. I’m actually still kind of glad I read it because I did enjoy the historical aspect of the book but I wish I could have enjoyed it more!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction. I really don’t usually enjoy historical fiction, but I really enjoyed knowing that this stemmed from something real in history. That’s really what held my interest!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. I just really didn’t care for the fantasy aspect in this book, weirdly enough. It was too whimsical for me and I just don’t love fairy type fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Check the reviews

I think you’ll either love it or end up feeling like I do. If this is your style, you’ll probably love it! If you think we share some opinions, I would say check out some more reviews.

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BOOKS LIKE THE KINGDOM OF BACK

             

All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) – Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) – Adalyn GraceTitle: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace
Publishing Info: February 4, 2020 by Macmillan, Imprint
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: February 8, 2020

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice, Adalyn Grace’s All the Stars and Teeth is a thrilling fantasy for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

bookreview1

I went into ALL THE STARS AND TEETH with an open mind because I haven’t been getting along with a lot of new YA fantasy lately. Catch me at the beginning of this book and I was raving about how happy I was that I was excited, interested, and swooning over bantery pirates! The more I read, the less interested I became and by the end, I felt like I just wanted to know what happened and how the book would end.

I didn’t totally love Amora throughout the whole book, but it was easier to understand her in the beginning of the book because she didn’t know what was going on and it was interesting to follow her while she was figuring everything out. There was a lot for her to discover throughout the whole book but for some reason it was easier for me to connect with her in the beginning. I loved Bastian, our sassy pirate, and I really liked the attitude and tone he brought to this story! Obviously being a main character, he has a big role in the overall plot as well, but he certainly did keep things interesting. He and Amora had some great chemistry and of course, I loved the cleverness. I also really liked Ferrick who added something really nice to the group dynamic. I don’t want to go too far into it because there’s a lot that happens in the beginning and I don’t want to spoil anything, but I liked that he became a part of the book and that he was the kind of “nice guy”. It was easy to be sympathetic to him and I felt like he brought a nice balance to the group.

I think Adalyn Grace packed a lot of punches in the beginning of the book that I wasn’t expecting, including Bastian, who he was, and why he was there, so it was really exciting! She didn’t save every twist until the very end and I was really happy to see some things to help kick off the book. The pacing was pretty consistent throughout the book but there was a point in the middle where I had to put the book down (just because of reading time) and I wasn’t able to come back for a week and then…. I just a hit a stall in interest. Things didn’t quite pick up again like I had hoped and there were moments when I found Amora more irritating while she was discovering some of the politics of her world. It just started to hit a point where everything felt a little more tropey and I was sad that it lost that magical spark for me.

The magic system and world building were pretty cool but I also felt like they could have been developed a liiiiittle bit more for me to really latch onto them. It still felt like a lot about the magic was thrown in at the beginning, which I guess you kind of need in order to understand some parts of the world, but I almost wanted to discover it a little more slowly because some parts of the magic and world-building felt like a bit of an info dump. There’s a bit of a journey in the middle and there are some pieces of some of the magics that are explored but there’s not really a reason why or how or how much. Magic doesn’t always need a why because sometimes that’s just a part of what the world is, but I felt like I needed just a bit more than “everyone has magic and here’s what they can do”. I felt like if we went one layer deeper, I would have really appreciated the world more.

I’m a little bummed because I really did love the beginning so much and I was talking it up, but I just really lost interest towards the end and just wanted to be done reading it. It wasn’t bad at all but I felt like it started off as something special and different and then it just fell into the pattern of the average YA fantasy novel. I’m sure others will really enjoy it but it just fell a little flat to me towards the end.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Pirates. So I don’t always care about pirate books but I WANT to care. The pirate part was kind of major, kind of minor, but it worked SO WELL.
Left Me Wanting More: World/magic depth. There are secrets about the magic, we know, but I just wanted a little bit more world-building and magic depth. I would have rather spent a few more pages working on those elements to really secure a world instead of some of the fluffy descriptions of towns or appearances.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I bet a lot of people will really love this one. I enjoyed it so much in the beginning but I’m left a little sad that it kind of turned for me towards the end. I just felt like the beginning was so different and towards the middle, it fell into typical YA plotting.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

             

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) – Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) – Holly JacksonTitle: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1) by Holly Jackson
Publishing Info: February 4, 2020 by Random House Publishing Group, Delacourte Press
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: January 30, 2020

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

For readers of Kara Thomas and Karen McManus, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn't add up, and a girl who's determined to find the real killer--but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can't shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn't want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you'll never expect.

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This was such an interesting read and great fun with added interview portions! The audiobook had a full cast that jumped in to be characters that were being interviewed, so that was a neat addition for the audiobook versus reading the print copy. I’m always big into audiobooks but that was also something that really set the reading experience apart and made the audiobook a unique experience!

I’m always nervous when I read YA mystery/thrillers because there has to be a valid reason why the teens wouldn’t work with adults or cops. In this book, it’s Pip’s capstone project to solve a murder. Well, really it’s supposed to be social media’s influence on investigations, but she uses that as a reason to investigate the murder of a teenager five years ago, wanting to prove that the accused murderer was actually innocent. Things went really smoothly (well, they went horribly wrong but the plotting was smooth) as far as this being a conceivable story. There were only a couple moments where I got annoyed with Pip for one of those dumb reasons that she felt like she couldn’t talk to someone else, but that was about it!

I was also really impressed that this book constantly kept me guessing. Pip gets a great deal of answers throughout the book so the reader still feels like they’re constantly solving the mystery. One question leads to another, but then we get an answer and a different question. Holly Jackson did a great job at keeping the pacing consistent and moving forward. Lots of doors are opened to the things that were hidden years ago and Pip slowly uncovers mystery after mystery. We finally get the answer in the end and THEN we get even more answers. I just felt like the book was really well-written and very carefully executed!

In checking out more details on the book, it looks like it got picked up to be a pretty big series (Goodreads it showing four books so far) and I am totally here for it! I wonder if they’re going to be related, companions, or totally unrelated. No matter what it is, I’m looking forward to more mystery investigations from Holly Jackson!

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA mystery/thrillers. I love when I get a good thriller and it’s even better when I’m pleasantly surprised! I always hope to enjoy what I read and I really just loved the pacing of this.
Left Me Wanting More: Laughs? I don’t know why but I thought this was going to be campy, probably from the title. I’m almost glad that it turned out not to be what I was expecting because I’m glad that it wasn’t silly but I am always craving some dark comedy like that.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really, really enjoyed this one. Sometimes I have a hard time with YA mystery/thrillers and everyone having valid reasons why they need to take investigations in their own hands. Holly Jackson made me throw those questions out the window and just enjoy reading without thinking about any of that stuff!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER

             

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) – Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) – Brigid KemmererTitle: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer
Publishing Info: January 7, 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 21, 2020

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen--until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

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I seem to be in the minority having not really enjoyed this one as much as I had hoped. A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was one of my favorite books of 2019 and I didn’t feel the excitement and the pull as much as I did reading the first book.

So A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN is split up into two POVs like ACSDAL, except this time it’s two total different characters. We see Grey and new face, Lia Mara, daughter of the queen of Syhl Shallow. I think part of the reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much was because I really enjoyed the different voices of Rhen and Harper with Harper having modern speech and Rhen being more antiquated to simulate the more regal tone often adopted with high fantasy locations. I really enjoyed the contrasting narratives and the difference between the two also brought some levity to the book since Harper had to learn about Rhen’s world and Rhen had to understand things that Harper said that made no sense away from the “real world”. I really wanted more of that contrasting narrative from someone from Earth/the US and someone from Emberfall and I think that had really added a lot of character to the story that I was missing here.

I seemed to love Grey more as a side character than from his actual POV. He’s easy to empathize with but I liked the mystery of him more, I think, and I really liked seeing him through Harper’s eyes. His own POV just didn’t appeal to me as much and I was more bored than intrigued. Lia Mara was a nice new addition but I really would have liked to see her (did we see her in the first book?) or at least remember her so she was already an established character. Really what I would have liked to see would have been a handful of Rhen/Harper chapters to keep their story moving forward. I really, really missed them in this book and it didn’t feel the same without them. I felt like Harper’s voice was weaker seeing it from someone else’s POV and Rhen was essentially villainized and I don’t want another ACOTAR situation here, because that’s exactly what it felt like.

There is a twist at the end, but to be honest, I didn’t care for it. It’s tired and it’s been done and I would have much rather seen Rhen and Grey duke it out with other factors holding them back instead of …. this. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s not where I was hoping this would go at all and I’m really not thrilled about it. I am hoping we get to see all four POVs, maybe, in the last book. (Is it the last?)

I really think this could have been a two-book series (which is what I thought it would be), cutting out a lot of traveling (you know how much I hate and get bored by journeys in books) and cutting down a lot of the random stops along the way from Emberfall to Syhl Shallow and back again. I just didn’t love the structure, I didn’t love the POVs, and I didn’t love the ending, so this was more of a disappointment to me. I really wasn’t engaged while reading and it was fine but I won’t be raving about it any time soon.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Grey. I loved Grey in the first book and I did still enjoy his character here, but I also felt like it wasn’t quite as interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. There was just too much that was disconnected from the first book. I missed Rhen and Harper. I missed the connection to DC and the modern world.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’d say it’s still worth the read but book three has a lot of work to do, in my opinion. I’m curious to see what will happen next!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN

             

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Date Completed: November 6, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

bookreview1

I was super excited but also super nervous to read CALL DOWN THE HAWK! I knew I’d love it but I was also scared to read about new characters and have some focus away from the Gangsey. Thankfully I was able to jump in and start listening to the audiobook right away, super excited that Will Patton was back for the CALL DOWN THE HAWK audiobook too!

I’ll admit that it was a little different and maybe slightly difficult to adjust to the new character POVs in CALL DOWN THE HAWK. It wasn’t a bad thing but I’ve re-read The Raven Cycle so many times now that I got used to the different voices there, including those that weren’t the main characters. I had to re-learn how to adjust to a new character AND how to adapt to the new story line that she brought to this new series which again, wasn’t bad but different. I definitely enjoyed Hennessy and the concept of a new Dreamer with a different story very much!

What I really loved above all else was how this series continues in the same world but it’s its own series. It’s one thing I love about Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. Now Maggie has… the Dreamerverse? The Raven Cycle established this world, these characters, and this magical ability and CALL DOWN THE HAWK just expands upon this idea even more. Like many other great fantasy authors, Maggie Stiefvater continues to reveal history and backstory like it truly is history and was always there. The new things we find out about existing characters continue to astound me and fold in seamlessly to her existing canon. We get to know side characters like Declan Lynch, who become main characters and expand depths upon depths that we never knew existed. Who knew that curmudgeonly, blah, controlling Declan had so many reasons to be so and there was so much more to him than we realized? I adored getting to know more about him in this book which was quite the surprise!

Of course I loooooooved reading more about Ronan and it was even interesting to see more about Adam peripherally through his POV. I actually liked that this focused more on Ronan and the Dreamer side of the story over Adam’s POV and how he was involved in the Gangsey side of The Raven Cycle. The separation made this more of its own series too, allowing new characters to become the focus and take us into the story. Adam’s story wrapped up in THE RAVEN KING and we do see a new character arc come into play, but now that’s more to do with Adam discovering who he wants to be and what he wants to do with his life for the first time and doesn’t really have to do with the magical elements of Ronan’s life. He’s able to be there for Ronan as someone who knows and understands what he goes through but he also needs to lead his own life and write his own story. It makes it interesting to see all of that from Ronan’s perspective too.

There’s so much that happens in this book that I feel like I already forgot so much but it was so interesting. Like The Rave Cycle, I immediately just wanted to stop and re-read… but I forced myself not to. I will definitely do a re-read again next year (starting with THE RAVEN BOYS and finishing with CALL DOWN THE HAWK) and I can’t wait to read this book again knowing what I know. I feel like it’s been so long since I read a new book in this world (three years since THE RAVEN KING?!) and it’s so special to be able to read something new with super fresh eyes and I’m equally excited to read it again and pick up everything new that I missed the first time around. You know it’s a fantastic book when you already can’t wait for the subsequent re-reads.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Dreamerverse. Yeah, I made it up, but that’s what I’m gonna call it! I looooved being able to read a new book in this same world but also have it be something that felt like its very own.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection in the beginning. The thing about these books is that they’re perfectly laid out. It took me a while to adjust and connect in the beginning BUT when I re-read, I won’t have that problem. These books and series are just so perfect but for me at least, I have to be so fully immersed in the world that things are even better on the re-read than the first read. I wished I had been able to instantly connect more but I know I’ll be in so deep with the next book and the next read.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

You MUST read the original series first, in my opinion. If you want to read the series independently of one another…… I guess you COULD read CALL DOWN THE HAWK first but I really, really wouldn’t recommend that. But if you did love The Raven Cycle, you should absolutely read CALL DOWN THE HAWK and get sucked into this new series!

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BOOKS LIKE CALL DOWN THE HAWK

             

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) – Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) – Sara RaaschTitle: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch
Publishing Info: October 14, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: December 9, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

bookreview1

I’ve had SNOW LIKE ASHES on my TBR for forever (I think quite literally four years) but I had tried the audio and didn’t like the narrator so I decided to wait until I was ready to read the print copy. I finally got around to picking this one up and it both went as I expected and I was surprised I enjoyed it!

Reading so many YA novels, some of the themes and writing styles can really kind of blend together to feel like one large book. While SNOW LIKE ASHES still did have that similar feel, I also feel like it branched out a bit in ways I didn’t expect regarding the magic system and a couple of interesting twists. I did see some of that coming but it was also still done in a way that was pleasing and somehow still surprising. In some small ways, it reminded me of the overall concept of the Mistborn trilogy (thought not quite to the crazy world-building extent that Brandon Sanderson takes things), but that really made me want to keep reading the series.

I also really liked the relationships in this book! I thought once things started shifting, it would start feeling like a love triangle, but it really didn’t. It felt like a natural shift in Meira’s life and a shift in her emotions as she starts to figure out who she really is and how she might help out in this world and it didn’t feel like she was trapped in a triangle at all. I started to really love Theron so I hope we see a lot more of him in future novels!

There were a couple patches that felt a little off as I was reading but things ended up coming around in the end to fit nicely together. I didn’t love some of the places the book went but it all ended up being necessary which made me feel better about it in the finale. This is definitely a series I’d like to continue soon!

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Kept Me Hooked On: A fun, original fantasy world. I really liked this fantasy concept revolving around seasons! There were a few more aspects to it but I thought it was really neat and I enjoyed the different ways the kingdoms were formed.
Left Me Wanting More: Continuity. There were a couple places where I felt things could have flowed better bu it was still fun overall!

 

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Addiction Rating
Try it

I really had fun reading this one! I still didn’t LOVE it where it was like “this is amazing” but it was an enjoyable first book in a series and I’d like to continue reading!

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BOOKS LIKE SNOW LIKE ASHES

             

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) – Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) – Melissa AlbertTitle: The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) by Melissa Albert
Publishing Info: January 30, 2018 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: October 16, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

bookreview1

I wasn’t sure what to expect from THE HAZEL WOOD! For some reason from the cover and the synopsis, I was expecting this to be more lyrical and flowery as well as set more in a high fantasy-type world. I mean, re-reading the synopsis, it seems pretty clear that it’s not, so I don’t know if the synopsis changed from its initial posting back before the book was released… Who knows. But for some reason I had that thought in my head before I started the book, so it was an interesting start!

I actually really did enjoy the beginning despite my weird preconceived notions! I was in the mood for something a little lighter and this hit that desire. The beginning pulled me in and set up some interesting concepts! I liked the intrigue of Alice’s grandmother Althea and it was really interesting that Alice had become intrigued but yet had never read Tales of the Hinterland (Althea’s book). Clearly there’s a connection and an important reason why and I was certainly sucked in to find out what that reason was!!

I enjoyed the connection between Alice and Finch and I really liked their chemistry! It wasn’t a forced romance (it kind of wasn’t even a romance at all) and they were able to connect in a few different ways. I also though the relationship between Alice and her mother was also interesting! They had a great connection and it was a great draw and connection throughout the story.

THE HAZEL WOOD was delightfully creative and it was an interesting fantasy concept! The beginning felt a little bit more like magical realism and then we learn more about the world and we find out exactly how fantastical this world really is. Things kind of fell apart for me a bit once Alice gets a bit more into the fantasy part of the story. Without spoiling things, the shift further into the fantasy world kind of lost me. I think it was because we spent so much time in the present-day world with only getting clues in to the fantasy side that I just wasn’t in the mindset for a full-on switch. I was preparing more for a magical realism-type concept from what I read in the beginning and I am not good with things that are too whimsical or fantastical. It felt like there was a kind of free-for-all in the fantasy section of the book and it was a bit too much all at once. I enjoy high fantasy worlds with great world-budiling because the rules behind them fascinate me and I love seeing the inner workings of a magic system and political fantasy world. When things are introduced quickly and a character experiences so many things for the first time all at once as Alice did here, I tend to get lost in all of the new, non-sensical things. I almost wish that section had been split off into a second book and we got to focus more on that development so the reader could spend time exploring this new world and everything it had to offer, as well as how it affected Alice and her family.

THE HAZEL WOOD was interesting and kept me entertained, but I think it really lost me in the end when things felt a bit rushed and I didn’t get to enjoy the details when things got really colorful! I wanted to give more attention to the things that set this whole book into motion and I feel like I didn’t get to experience that like I wanted to because everything unfolded so quickly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Separate fantasy worlds. This wasn’t quite a portal world but it was a similar-type feel! There was a significant separation between reality and fantasy (with a little bit of overlap) and it was interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Separation. I wish the fantasy part had been saved for a second book, or on the contrary, I wish it had been introduced more gradually. It was just a bit too abrupt for me to go from mostly reality to full-on fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a really fun concept and I actually liked the character chemistry and relationships! I would say after spending time away from the book, I’m still not sure I really feel drawn to read the sequel, though.

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BOOKS LIKE THE HAZEL WOOD

             

The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) – Kate Williams

The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) – Kate WilliamsTitle: The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) by Kate Williams
Publishing Info: September 17, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Date Completed: Septemner 9, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it's kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she's good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let's just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She's Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme's babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra's mother left her: "Find the babysitters. Love, Mom."

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they're about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

bookreview1

When I first saw the title of THE BABYSITTERS COVEN, I knew I had to read it. It sounded quirky, witchy, and like it would be so full of that dark comedy that I love. It ended up being significantly different than what I expected, which isn’t always a bad thing but this one really didn’t work too well for me.

THE BABYSITTERS COVEN mostly just wasn’t what I was expecting in a few ways. The first was that it was less witchy and more generally paranormal/urban fantasy, reaching into the depths of demons and monsters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s not something I really enjoy as much as I do general witchy themes and exploring more magic and magic systems instead of getting into supernatural creatures. The spells that we do get to see the girls cast were a little silly. The spells are “adapted” for modern purposes so there are some silly items that can be incorporated in place of some more arcane ones. Again, not a bad thing but I like the humor in these types of books to be more snarky or focused on the “oh this insane thing that’s happening is totally normal” feeling.

The other issue I had with the book is that it just read really young. Yes, it is a young adult book and yes, it is written so that it’s enjoyable for teens… But I’ve also read hundreds of YA books in my lifetime that I’ve been able to enjoy without feeling like it’s young or immature. I just didn’t enjoy the tone and the immaturity of some of the themes like the friendships, the romance, and just some of the ways the book was written in general. The overall voice and tone was just not for me.

I didn’t know that this was the first in a series when I started it but I was able to notice that it was on Goodreads. I think it would have been much better as a stand alone and I can’t imagine I’ll pick up the next book in the series, unfortunately.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark comedies. This book definitely had its funny moments! There was some nice comedy amongst some of the other darker moments.
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. I just felt like this was a little too young for me. Maybe I’m not the age group its meant for but I’ve also ready plenty of YA that was quite enjoyable. It just didn’t click with me.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people loved it while others really didn’t click with it. It was cute in some ways and not so pleasing in others.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BABYSITTERS COVEN

             

The Light Between Worlds – Laura E. Weymouth

The Light Between Worlds – Laura E. WeymouthTitle: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Publishing Info: October 23, 2018 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Parallel Universe
Date Completed: August 19, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

bookreview1

What a beautiful book this was! THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it turned out to be even better. The focus was much more on the time after the fantasy world and how the three siblings had to deal with being back in the real world and it made for such an emotional story. I loved the characters and how real everything felt. The emotions really struck me and I connected with these characters so much.

The writing was positively gorgeous. It was a tad flowery at times which sort of took away from some of the beauty because it was so well-written that it didn’t need to be over the top. Those quiet moments and emotional connections did the work so the overly flowery passages weren’t necessary, but they still evoked emotion as well, even if they did become a bit distracting. I was easily swept away with this story and I had a hard time tearing myself out of this world.

I actually really appreciated that this book wasn’t so much about the fantasy world that these children found but about how it changed them and the people they became. It wasn’t about all of them needing the world and everyone took away something different from the experience. I loved the sibling connection and the other relationships in the book were positively perfect as well. Tom was easily the best character in the book and I loved him so much, and Philippa’s Jack made for a wonderful addition as well. It’s wonderful to see supporting characters doing just that — supporting the leads for exactly who they are, despite heartbreak, secrets, stubbornness, and all the other things.

I actually didn’t quite love the ending. It was quite fitting and I knew it was one of two possibilities but I still didn’t love it. It also leaves a lot of questions left unanswered (like what will happen after the closing chapter), but it’s also not necessary to address those questions because that would be another story entirely. I’m so glad I read this book and although it wasn’t what my heart told me I was in the mood for when I picked it up, it founds its place quite fittingly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique books about portal worlds. I really liked that this focused on what happened to the kids after they returned from their alternate world. As much as I love seeing those unique worlds, it was really interesting to see the story about what happens after, pulling on all of those raw emotions.
Left Me Wanting More: Ease of reading. One of the only things that took away from my reading experience here was some of the more flowery passages. They were beautiful but I don’t think the book needed it and at times they became a bit distracting. I was more than happy with the rest of the narration!

Addiction Rating
Read it/Try it

I highly recommend this book BUT I know a few people didn’t love it as much because of their experience with reading the Narnia books, causing a comparison between the two. I never read the Narnia books so my experience with them is much more surface level. I didn’t have a comparison here and I was able to enjoy this book without a bias.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS