Category Archives: Fantasy

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) – Jay Kristoff

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) – Jay KristoffTitle: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: June 27, 2017 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 7, 2019
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), Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

Clara Solberg's world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick's death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara's investigation and Nick's last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

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I knew I was in for a while ride when starting GODSGRAVE but Jay Kristoff sure did not skimp on the cliffhanger here! There was definitely a lot that happened towards the end of the book, full of action, surprises, and twists. While NEVERNIGHT was easily one of my favorite books of last year, I didn’t love GODSGRAVE quiiiite as much but it was still one of my favorite reads of 2019!

The gladiator aspect was fine and enjoyable, but it was just such a different setting from the first book. I liked the school setting more in NEVERNIGHT and it was such an easy way to introduce all of the elements of this world, magical and political. GODSGRAVE became a lot more plot-driven instead of world-driven, I think, and there was a heavy action focus with the gladiator concept taking over a big part of this book. It was still enjoyable but I felt like some of the things we could learn about the world was a bit limited due to setting. 

I also felt like we got a lot more character development in NEVERNIGHT. There were a lot of interesting things that happened here, although I do still wish we had gotten a few more answers here too. There was a lot to discover and I feel like we could have had a few more teases! GODSGRAVE was still a fantastic middle book but I almost felt like a couple things took a bit too long to transition. Then again NEVERNIGHT also really took its time setting a few things up. Also, I’m definitely not complaining because I really did still enjoy it! It’s just interesting to look back after finishing to see how things shook out over the course of the book. I think it would be fascinating to reread this whole series after reading the last book. 

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Roman influence in fantasy. I feel like most of the high fantasy influence is largely English. This was a very unique Italian/Roman influence and it was a neat change of pace!
Left Me Wanting More: World-building? It really wasn’t missing world-building but I did miss how much we got in NEVERNIGHT through what we learned through the school. It was just a different way of introducing things to the audience, I guess.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

A solid second book for this series and a great anticipation for the finale!

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BOOKS LIKE GODSGRAVE

             

Shorefall (Foundryside #2) – Robert Jackson Bennett

Shorefall (Foundryside #2) – Robert Jackson BennettTitle: Shorefall (Foundryside #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett
Publishing Info: April 21, 2020 by Penguin Random House, Del Rey Books
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: April 15, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it's not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won't tolerate competition, and they're willing to do anything to crush Foundryside.

But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that's not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees - especially Sancia.

Now Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself - before the hierophant burns Tevanne to the ground.

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I picked up FOUNDRYSIDE on a whim in 2018 when I saw it as an ARC at ALA and it was sort of like a new discovery for me. No one I knew had read it and thieves! cons! banter! magic! It sounded like such a me book, and a me book it ended up being after I read it too. SHOREFALL was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 because of that and whew. This was awkward and painful for me.

I listened to the audiobook for this one instead of reading since I received a copy from the publisher and that’s how I get most of my reads in these days. The narrator was fine but I didn’t love her and I would have preferred maybe two narrators to get a male voice in there too even though a lot of this book is from Sancia’s persperctive, despite being in the third person. Maybe I’m not remembering well, but I feel like we got a LOT more from other POVs in FOUNDRYSIDE and I felt like Gregor had a much stronger presence in that book… I really would have loved to see more character development in this book but it really just fell flat and I feel like we learned almost nothing new about any of the characters except for Gregor in moments of plot reveal. There just really wasn’t much of anything new, and if anything, Sancia just became mushier with a romance involved. It’s not a bad thing but she lost some zip and the character banter was one of the things that made FOUNDRYSIDE so enjoyable. There was pretty much nothing humorous in SHOREFALL and I was pretty bummed to see that missing here.

Speaking of tone, the whole feel of this book seems so different. FOUNDRYSIDE was basically all heist/theiving/scheming and SHOREFALL really didn’t feel engaging like that at all. There are some big villain presences in here and gods/godlike characters getting involved which I guess makes sense after the end of book one but it really did change the feel of just about everything. The book was working on a grander scale which seems to have worked for a lot of people but I just didn’t love it. The concept was a very Brandon Sanderson-esque type of concept for the book but I didn’t like the pacing and plotting here like I do with Sanderson’s books (sorry to make the comparison but it’s part of the reason I loved FOUNDRYSIDE so much) and it really lacked those fun twists or brilliant moments that I’ve loved so much before. There were some big twists here but the scale was just so big that I just wasn’t really into it. It was like it was pushed too quickly and maybe things like this should have been spread out into more than just three books, giving the second book time to set up another task for the team while slowly introducing these higher powers, giving more of a team bonding, time to care about the characters more and become really invested in them, and get the ball rolling on these bigger things coming into play. It seemed like it JUMPED from book one to book two and it was all a bit much for me, coming across as forced and trying too hard to be epic.

The pacing was just not for me at all. There were so many BIG BIG action sequences that I constantly felt like the book was ending with all of these climax-like moments. But then it just kept going and going and going. Everyone sort of seemed like a shell of who they once were with just the big points sticking and I missed all of those pieces that made them human, so the dialogue was boring and sort of eye-roll worthy at points. It felt basic and more like what I expect from some newer or younger authors. There were WAY too many villains speeches with the big bag guy just telling you what he was going to do and there was actually a point where the team was like “What do we do now” and Sancia says “Let’s talk to him. He seems like he likes to talk” (not a direct quote) and I laughed out loud. Yep, he sure does.

I read a couple reviews before I finished the book because there was seriously a point where I considered not finishing but I decided I could make it another five and a half hours. One review pointed out how characters constantly get cut off mid-sentence and wow, that was a mistake to read because it was all I noticed for the rest of the book and really annoying…. And then others raved about the ending of the book and even those who didn’t love it felt the ending redeemed the rest of it. I didn’t really feel that way but there is a big reveal moment that’s supposed to shock you and others that are supposed to tug on your heart-strings. I just didn’t care at that point and wanted the book to end so I was not moved at all but my feelings shut off by that point. As for the plotting…. Eh. I don’t really know if I care to read the last book, even if there are only three and I’d only have to read one more. I don’t really care for where this book took the series and I’m just so disappointed with the pacing, lack of banter, and lack of character development that I really just don’t care what happens, plot-wise or character-wise. I can’t imagine being drawn in enough to care about the last book, and that’s the saddest part of it all when I was so excited about the first book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Less-mainstream fantasy reads. I don’t really know many people reading this series so it was still enjoyable to read something that was a little “unique” to me.
Left Me Wanting More: The feel of the first book. I missed nearly everything that made the first book what it was. Heists! Banter! Ugh.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you read FOUNDRYSIDE and enjoyed it, you may still like SHOREFALL. It didn’t work for me but a bunch of other reviewers really loved it!

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BOOKS LIKE SHOREFALL

             

Ashlords (Ashlords #1) – Scott Reintgen

Ashlords (Ashlords #1) – Scott ReintgenTitle: Ashlords (Ashlords #1) by Scott Reintgen
Publishing Info: January 21, 2020 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Date Completed: February 17, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders--skilled at alchemy--who must compete at The Races--the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.

Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.

Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged.

In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest--a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?

bookreview1

So far, most of my Goodreads friend reviews are mostly five-star ratings for this book and some four-star. How did we know I was going to be the black sheep here…? If you’d like to read a cynical/critical review, this is it!

First of all, the comparison to “Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races”… just no. I usually hate comparisons and this one is one terrible. They’re two of my favorite books EVER with incredible character development, world-building, and plotting, and this book did not have it for me. The only Scorpio Races connection is the fact that it’s a horse race and it’s nothing else like TSR and Red Rising’s plotting and character connections are far superior than this book. It was far more of a Hunger Games feel than RR or TSR.

I listened to this book on audio and all of the narrators are ones I’ve listened to before and really enjoyed, so I know it wasn’t an issue of narrator. (Rebecca Soler, Lauren Fortgang, and Andrew Eiden, in case you were wondering!) When it comes to my fantasy preferences nowadays, I. Need. World-Building. The first paragraph of this book was the most interesting. There was a mention about nebulas in the sky and … hey, that was it as far as the actual WORLD part of the world-building. Is this a fantasy world? Are we in space? Is this related to our galaxy? I immediately wanted to know more about the galaxies in the sky and where this book took place and we never really get to know. Not just that, but there’s no real history about this fantasy world at all. There are plenty of mentions about “the gods” and how they’re the gods of the Ashlords but there’s not really much of anything else. We know that sacrifices happen, gods live in the underworld, and the Ashlords are connected to the gods above the others, but I don’t even know anything about the country or town or divisions of any sort.
There are a lot of things that don’t come up in the book until they’re needed so it just seems like a total afterthought. There are random leaders of each … community? Town? See, I don’t even know how this country (or whatever) is divided and why there are random leaders. Of course, the leader is oppressive and creepy and he shows up just to be awful and has no other significance whatsoever. Then there’s this police force which doesn’t show up until the end when all of a sudden they’re necessary. Even with the races and the horses/phoenixes, there were things we didn’t get to know until it was happening and everything was just told to us instead of actually learning about things in a more natural fashion.
I also don’t even know anything about the phoenixes at ALL…??? The synopsis said they were gifted to the Ashlords by the gods but we don’t really get to learn about that at all, anywhere in the book. There are tiiiiny pieces but I barely know anything about them. The characters create/influence them with alchemy but we don’t get to learn much about the alchemy other than being told what ingredients are used and we don’t really get to know why or how it works. Where did they come from? Are they otherworldly beings? How do their rebirths work and why do they HAVE to do that? What’s the magic system with what makes them different and how the riders use them? Why do riders have to happen and what do they gain from the races? Why are the races necessary? And so many more questions about gods and Ashlords and I COULD GO ON.
I really can talk a LOT more about this but let’s just say that there’s really no history or world-building, or at least not nearly enough for my taste. I could have been incredibly invested if I even know what this world was about.

Most of this book is action. There’s a lot of time spent spent talking about the races, which is fine! But everything else took a backseat, and for me, it really felt like EVERYTHING else.

I also really did not feel connected to the characters at all. There are three main characters but we barely get to know their personalities at all. Everything is basically about the race and we hardly get to see the characters interact with anyone of importance. We get some glimpses of Imelda and her friendships and her home life, but they’re just glimpses. No real time is spent there and it’s mainly just to set up other random parts of the story. The characters are very basic and don’t really tell us much about their histories either.

There’s one character POV that’s in second person instead of the other two in first person and there’s seemingly no reason why. I would hope there’s an actual reason but it wasn’t revealed in the first book and I won’t be reading on so maybe I’ll look it up later. It could have been interesting but it really didn’t seem to serve a purpose here.

I’m sure there’s more bubbling up inside my fountain of feelings here, but really, this one just did not do it for me. I don’t know how I feel SO far off from everyone so far but it was interesting going into it with an open mind AND expecting like it and seeing what my true feelings were without any hype or any other expectations.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasy/sci-fi blend. This really was an interesting mix of fantasy and science-fiction. I really wanted to know more about everything!
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. The world-building in this book was just not up to par for me. I had a LOT of questions and there were so many things that weren’t touched upon that it made me really question everything. There were too many missed opportunities here.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

So lots of other people really enjoyed this book, maybe people who have not read THE SCORPIO RACES nor RED RISING or who at least weren’t making those comparisons because it didn’t have that feel at all for me. You just can’t compare the character development in THE SCORPIO RACES and the insane plotting and world-building in RED RISING. Anyway… a lot of other people loved this one but it angered me, really, haha. So check out other reviews, I’d say!

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BOOKS LIKE ASHLORDS

             

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.

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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

             

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) – Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) – Seanan McGuireTitle: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 29, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she's found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

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While I enjoyed IN AN ABSENT DREAM, I sort of felt like this prequel should maybe not have been the fourth book in the series. I didn’t mind that it was out of order chronologically but I felt more disconnected from Lundy after the last couple books (to be honest, I binge read the first three so I can’t remember which was she prominent in) and I would have liked to see her story earlier.

I liked how, unlike other children who had found doors, Lundy had family history with her door and the Goblin Market and how she was able to go there and back until ultimately the door was shut on her as well. It was also more interesting because she had some ties to the “real world” that she didn’t want to give up and felt an equal pull towards this new one. A lot of the other characters felt 100% better in their new worlds whereas Lundy’s sister gave her quite the reason to stay.

I really liked the feel of the world and the other characters. This felt like one of the lesser-developed portals compared to the other stories, possibly because Lundy kept going back and forth between the two. I would have like to spend more time there discovering more about the rules, spending time with some of the quests and tribulations instead of them being things that were just referenced.

This wasn’t my favorite story but it was still rather enjoyable. I know each story really does go back and it’s out of sequence chronologically speaking, but I almost wish there would have been one more story back and the school first and then heading back out to get more backstories of the other children at the school. I think I needed one more element to tie things back together, possibly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The many worlds of this series. It’s always so interesting to see what each person’s different world is! I really love exploring each one and seeing the creativity behind them all.
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. I just felt al little distant from Lundy in this book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was earlier in the series.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’ve really been enjoying this series! Plus they’re super quick reads and really fun on audio!

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BOOKS LIKE IN AN ABSENT DREAM

             

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea – Erin MorgensternTitle: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Penguin Random House, Doubleday Books
Source: Amazon
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism, Fantasy
Date Completed: September 2, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Night Circus, The Night Circus

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

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THE NIGHT CIRCUS is one of my favorite books and I’ve been waiting so long for a new Erin Morgenstern book that I was SO NERVOUS for THE STARLESS SEA! I also have a tendency to hype myself up and sometimes overhype myself for some of my favorite books so it was quite the effort to let myself get immersed in the book and not get ahead of myself! Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about because Morgenstern’s master prose easily wrapped me inside of the pages of this book and I was instantly swept away.

THE STARLESS SEA is basically a love story to books, reading, writing, and anything literary. There are so many amazing quotes about books and literature here that it was easy for me to love on so many different levels, but it wasn’t just about the characters being book lovers. The concept of stories made up this book on a magical level, adding fantastical elements to storytelling in the real world. It’s really kind of impossible to describe but Morgernstern once again nails that dreamy element of magical realism that lets you peek behind the curtain into the magical undercurrent of the normal world. It’s truly mesmerizing and it was such an incredible thing to read.

There’s quite an array of characters in the book, all of which were lovable, really. All of them have their flaws but I absolutely loved following the story of main character Zachary Rawlins. He sort of reminded me of a Quentin-type character (from The Magicians) except not quite as tragic and not quite as… erm… whiny, I guess (sorry, Q. It’s a common complaint). He’s a book-lover, has a studious mind, is a little more reserved, and just has something about him that reminded me of Quentin, which is funny considering I read later on that Erin Morgenstern actually kind of borrowed the concept of the bee-key-sword combination from Lev Grossman and The Magicians!

It’s kind of funny how THE STARLESS SEA seems to leave me wordless and tongue-tied when it’s so beautifully written but it’s slightly indescribable and so hard to review! I think the beauty of the book speaks for itself. I loved the stories within the story that linked back to different stories that represented things in real life which were also magical. (See? Impossible.) Everything just folded back in on itself and connected so perfectly and it was a truly wonderful read.

 

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Bookish magic. Can it really get much better than magic inspired by and revolving around books and stories? I don’t know if it can.
Left Me Wanting More: Time with the ending. There is a point in magical realism books where I have a hard time merging the fantasy and reality and that point in THE STARLESS SEA really came towards the end for me. I just wanted a biiiiit more time to spend with some of the magical elements to really feel grounded with them and know that this was real.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I know that this book isn’t for everyone BUT if you enjoy magical realism or think you might get along with this book, I do highly recommend it! The writing is definitely more etherial.

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BOOKS LIKE THE STARLESS SEA

             

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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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.

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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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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