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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.

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!

book_recommendations1

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.

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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.

book_recommendations1

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.

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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

             

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) – Isabel Sterling

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) – Isabel SterlingTitle: These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling
Publishing Info: May 28, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Date Completed: May 20, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Hannah's a witch, but not the kind you're thinking of. She's the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she's ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly By Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah's concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah's sure it's the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she's going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem's witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling's delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven--and any chance she has with the new girl--is destroyed.

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This was such a fun, witchy read with a great diverse cast! I loved the Salem setting, the involvement of witch history, and the book’s own witchy story. Perfect for fans of books like UNDEAD GIRL GANG and HOW TO HANG A WITCH.

Author Isabel Sterling also did a great job of weaving in a mystery that kept me guessing! When a bad force enters town, first the main characters have to figure out what it is and then they have to figure out who it is, so there were many times where I had suspicions that were totally wrong (and one time I half-guessed correctly).

This was a quick, fun read with a cute romance to boot! With family and coven secrets involved, things get complicated and an ex who was a former best friend-turned-girlfriend who still wants Hannah back, there’s plenty of relationship story to keep readers of romantic plot lines involved too!

With the way things wrapped up here, I’m super curious to see what happens in book two! I wonder if it will follow further into this adventure or start a new concept with a new villain. There are many possibilities and I look forward to spending more time with these characters too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Witchy Vibes & relationships! I really loved the magic involved and the coven/group vibes! There was a great realistic representation of romantic relationships, family relationships, and awesome friendships with so many layers amongst all of them!
Left Me Wanting More: Magic use. Don’t get me wrong, the magic use was pretty represented given that most of the main characters were essentially underage witches (is that my TGIF Sabrina talk showing?) but I’m greedy and I want all the magic!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a fun, witchy story with some great characters and an exciting mystery! I definitely recommend it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN

             

Legendary (Caraval #2) – Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval #2) – Stephanie GarberTitle: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber
Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Source: Scribd, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: May 2, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Caraval (Caraval #1)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever...

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.

bookreview1

I re-read CARAVAL in order to prepare for LEGENDARY and yeahhhh. I didn’t need to do that. Let’s back up and assess how this read went for me.

So CARAVAL? Was just an okay read for me. I wanted to love it and expected to but so much of it just felt messy (maybe because it was far too whimsical for my taste?) and totally lawless. Anything could happen, characters (and readers) were intentionally duped and led astray but not in that good way where they’re clever and figure things out, and the villains were SO nasty that it was just disgusting and uncomfortable. I was hoping for a little change after we had gotten some of that stuff out of the way in CARAVAL but I think LEGENDARY actually got worse.

LEGENDARY follows Tella’s story from her POV and I wasn’t excited for it because I found Tella really annoying and immature in CARAVAL and while some people said it helped being from her POV in this book, it really didn’t do anything for me. I still found her far too impulsive in all the wrong ways and like Scarlett in CARAVAL, she just had a one-track mind and had blinders on for almost literally everything else.

Where I felt like the game of Caraval was totally random and lawless, I kind of felt like the whole plot of LEGENDARY followed suit. It was sloppy, choppy, and hopped around without and real transition or groundwork. So much time is spent on the visual aspects and imagery that there’s no real world building aside from the bare-bones structure of Caraval itself and the overall outline of where this book is going. The two books don’t really connect together aside from the fact that this takes place after the events of CARAVAL and the girls’ mother is mentioned a handful of times in CARAVAL without any other backstory to go with it, really. I feel like some really good world-building would have included mentions to any of the Deck of Destiny, more about their mother’s disappearance, or any single mention of the Fates. Plus it’s still pretty muddy how all of this magic even works. So much of it was a rumor and then we’ve got the power of the Fates and the cards and how did this all work out again? I know in fantasy novels sometimes magic just IS but the abilities and limits to the magic in these books goes from being “the closest thing to magic”, which makes you think it’s not magic at all, to actual magic like a magician type, to being compared to godlike, to Fates which are powerful beings and they came from where and why? There’s just a lot of groundwork that could have been laid for LEGENDARY in CARAVAL that wasn’t and this felt nearly unconnected plot-wise. I feel like the game of Caraval was included in this book purely to connect the two because it really wasn’t necessary for them to play the game at all in this book and it didn’t really add anything to it. The magic could have been incorporated in some other way and had a better flow to push things forward instead of making things fit into this Caraval box again.

I still find the whole concept of Legend himself confusing. We find out his true identity in this book but he was kept as two separate characters for so long that I feel like I only know one of them and I still don’t really know Legend. His story just seems to change to fit wherever the plot is going and there’s still so much that just doesn’t feel right. Too much of him still seems like an idea and not an actual character.

This book just didn’t do much for me. It actually irritated me more than I enjoyed it. I’ll still read/listen to Finale to finish it but I don’t even know where this series is going. There’s not a real series arc so I don’t even know what the plot of FINALE might even be. CARAVAL was pretty much only about finding Tella, and then LEGENDARY was pretty much only about finding their mother soooo. What now?

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Kept Me Hooked On: Descriptive Fantasy. Stephanie Garber is great with her descriptions and really brings worlds to life! The books are definitely highly sensory.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. CARAVAL was lacking some flow to me and LEGENDARY felt even messier in that regard. I feel like things could have been arranged much better.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

This series is HUGE with the readers out there but there are also some like me who feel the same way. If you liked CARAVAL a lot, I feel like you’ll like LEGENDARY!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LEGENDARY

             

Warrior of the Wild – Tricia Levenseller

Warrior of the Wild – Tricia LevensellerTitle: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
Publishing Info: February 26, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1)

How do you kill a god?

As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

bookreview1

WARRIOR OF THE WILD was such a fun read! I was a little worried because I’ve been really hit-or-miss with YA fantasy recently (a lot of it feeling too young in many ways, which is not a bad thing since it is young adult fiction but just not something I’ve been connecting with as of late) so I was really happy that I enjoyed WARRIOR OF THE WILD so much! I immediately got hooked on the tone of the book and really connected with Rasmira as a fierce warrior and really felt her fierceness in a true way.

The characters really made this book for me. I really enjoyed Rasmira’s character and loved that she was fierce but not a caricature of a fierce warrior. She had many layers to her characters and I could tell that a lot of thought and care was put into her reactions and interactions with other characters. There were many instances where she would stop to think how she was relating to another character and how it affected her, really taking into account the full picture. It wasn’t just a quick reaction or stubbornness for the sake of being fierce. The stubborn quality came from a true place in her heart where she stuck to her morals and beliefs while still growing to question where they came from and what was best for her.

I really enjoyed the story taking place in the wild, away from the bustle of the fantasy society to really focus on a few characters. I really loved the character relationships and interactions and I loved how they developed. The trio of Rasmira, Soren, and Iric was perfect. There was no love triangle and the friendships were beautiful. Each friendship was complicated with its own conflicts and I really liked how the introduction of Rasmira into the duo of Soren and Iric really shook things up to create a new dynamic. I actually could have used less romance, as little as there was, because I was enjoying the friendships so much and some of the kissing just felt a little out of place at times, but that could have also been because I was enjoying the friendships so much.

I also REALLY liked that it was a stand alone. I totally felt like it could have been drawn out into a series, following what happens if/when the characters return back to their villages, but I really appreciated that it wasn’t forced to continue into a series and bring up a whole new set of conflicts. This was wholly resolved in one book and I like where the end of this book left the readers! It was a quick read, settling on the perfect amount of time — not dragging on too long and not wrapping up too quickly. addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: YA Fantasy. I’ve been reading more adult books lately and have been shying away from some YA, just not hooking onto the tone. I’m so glad I enjoyed this one and fell right into it!
Left Me Wanting More: After-story. I really did enjoy where the book ended but it also made me want to see what else would happen! I wanted to see where the characters would go and what would happen after the book ended.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a great read and really fun all-around! The sass amongst the characters was perfect and I enjoyed the world-building and story.

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BOOKS LIKE WARRIOR OF THE WILD

             

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) – Sarah J. Maas

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: October 23, 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: November 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

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So. This was the end and I had one roller coaster of a ride with this series! I went from enjoying the first book to adoring the next three, like favorite-series-ever adoration, to being super salty about EMPIRE OF STORMS, DNFing TOWER OF DAWN, and falling somewhere in the middle with KINGDOM OF ASH. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a mixed range of feelings toward a series overall, so bear with my thoughts here. I’ll try to express both the loves and the things I didn’t enjoy.

Let’s start with the good things. Sarah J. Maas created this huge series that appealed so to many readers who didn’t think they were fantasy fans, including myself. This was one of the series that launched me into reading fantasy and knowing I could enjoy these big series. She created a very firm, passionate connection with Aelin, packed a lot of punches and surprises, and brought so many characters to life that became immense fan-favorites. I loved how she connected things from the entire Throne of Glass world in the first four books and the ending for Aelin and the crew felt right and satisfying.

My issue throughout all of KINGDOM OF ASH was just that it was too long. In Sarah’s Chicago tour stop, she said she “would die” (yes, that’s a direct quote) if she had to cut any more from this book and I felt like there was a lot that could have been condensed, especially from books 4- 7. There’s a lot that happens on the page with so many characters and as much as they are loved, I think characters like Elide, Manon, Aedion, and Lysandra didn’t really need as much on-page time as they were given in KINGDOM OF ASH. Aedion and Lysandra to carry a lot of that action when things are happening away from Aelin, but it didn’t really push the story forward. There was a lot of battle action and, of course, there was romance, but everything felt like it really could have been shorter and more focused. I didn’t think Nesryn needed any POV chapters at all and her part in this book really didn’t push anything forward. I’m still salty about Chaol’s role in the series, being so prominent through QUEEN OF SHADOWS, being eliminated in EoS only to have ToD and then his real purpose for the series seemed only to bring Yrene to the fray, which was EXTREMELY important and made me even more upset that Yrene only came to the series in a novella and in TOWER OF DAWN when she should have been a much more prominent character of this series from the start. I actually think she should have swapped focus with Manon, who I loved earlier on but didn’t connect with in KINGDOM OF ASH much at all. I also felt like Manon didn’t get the ending she deserved, not because of the THINGS that happened but because I was so excited for her connection with Aelin and how they crossed paths in the previous books and something just didn’t connect. Yes, her storyline does play an important role in the battle at Terrasen but I feel like we left her in a place that is deserving of a whole new series focused on Manon because I just don’t like where her story ended in this series.

I also noticed right away that I had issues with the writing this book. There were a lot of sentence fragments.
On every page.
In so many ways.
In every third paragraph.
And it really broke up the flow of the story. There were a lot of places where a sentence was chopped into fragments where it could have just gone on as a continuing idea and it really made things choppy and dramatic. I get it — they’re for effect — but it doesn’t have to be every other paragraph or every fifth sentence. It was a LOT.

I also felt like there was a real lack of world-building here. There was a lot of time spent with characters and witnessing their actions, but too many big moments and concepts were presented with not a lot of weight supporting them. Some of the big worldly concepts felt like they just happened without a lead up and readers are just expected to accept them as things that are possible in this world because hey, there’s magic. Granted, there’s a certain understanding that some of these characters have fae magic and that doesn’t really need explanation, and that I get, but some of the wyrdkey/portal/magical item/god/magical ability concepts seemed to just sort of happen. For how big and detailed these books are, I felt like more attention should have been focused on some of these interesting details about the political structure and magical rules. Too many characters seemed to be able to just have these certain magical abilities all of a sudden and I wouldn’t question it if it was just one who discovered they had more powers than they knew, but it kind of happened a lot and other moments seemed to come out of nowhere with these random grand magical gestures happening at the most convenient times when they were never mentioned before. I’m not off-put by their existence but I would have liked to see the characters discuss more about how some of these abilities worked, what sort of lore there was behind powers that could destroy the Valg, why some people inherited or developed X powers, etc. There were too many things that I felt like I was just supposed to take as they came instead of making a really cool connection into the rules of the magic.

And lastly, while I did feel like the ending was a great way to wrap up the series, I did still feel like there weren’t enough risks taken and not enough was… sacrificed, mostly because I’ve had these feelings before with the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and I couldn’t shake that feeling in this epic conclusion either. War isn’t clean and it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t protect all of the best people. There were some choices made and sacrifices given but it still felt a little too happy and perfect in a few ways. I’m glad I finished the series and I’m glad I read it and it was quite the epic adventure.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Finales. I am glad that I finished the series! It’s always so complicated ending a series but it’s so refreshing as well.
Left Me Wanting More: PLOT. Ugh, I felt so frustrated that this book barely moved anything forward. It was the finale!! We spent far too much time with the characters and their love stories or random action sequences that did nothing for the book when so much could have been happening.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’ve made it to the end, it’s worth finishing! I did like finishing the series even if I didn’t really love it.

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The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) – Holly Black

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) – Holly BlackTitle: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Little Brown
Source: ALAAC18, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 8, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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I have such mixed feelings about The Folk of the Air, mostly because of how much everyone loves these books and all of the hype. I’m plenty interested and I love the clever, well-thought out twists that really make these books so interesting but there’s just something that I keep missing and I think it has to do with the characters.

Don’t get me wrong — I actually love all of the characters, even the horrible ones. Jude is awesome, strong, and so true to herself. Cardan is terrible but also softening towards Jude and I love their hate-to-love relationship….. And yet, I feel like I just don’t connect to Cardan as much as I’m wanting to. I don’t think a book needs to have split POVs to connect to both main characters by any means, but I’m noticing the same issue I had in THE CRUEL PRINCE where I don’t feel like we spent enough time with Cardan and actually getting to SEE who he is. We’re told he’s cruel, doesn’t like to do work, doesn’t want responsibility, etc and there are instances that show that but I just feel like I don’t get to see that hidden layer as he softens to Jude. I guess because he still kind of doesn’t. They do both still hate each other and yet there’s an obvious attraction. It still just felt so icy and shut off and I still feel like I didn’t get to know him as much as I want to.

The plotting, as always, is amazing. The big twists and reveals are mostly saved for a big finale, where everything in the book ties together for the grand next step in the plot to steal the throne. I love seeing everything come together like that and the surprise to the characters as well as the audience. I kind of love how even though Jude has been planning things for a long time, it’s not revealed to the readers so everyone gets a good surprise! I do still have the same issue that I had in THE CRUEL PRINCE, though, where I wished that I had a hint of where things were going or some sort of other… thing to keep me engaged. I mean, I still was engaged in the story and I was invested so it’s hard to explain. There’s just a little something that was missing in both books that kept me from being wowed and I don’t know what it is.

I do think I became more invested in everything in THE WICKED KING and I actually really liked the ending, as world-changing as it was. You just never know where Holly Black is going to take you and as much as I can guess where things might go in books, I really don’t expect any of these monumental changes. It is quite exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cardan. I started to get the Cardan appeal a bit more with this book! He had some really great moments and I felt more connected than the first book!
Left Me Wanting More: Movement. The ending of these books hold so much excitement but I just feel like I want things to keep moving forward and not just rush to happen all at once at the end.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s a suuuuper popular series that so many people love. I’m stuck on not understanding that love as much but it is still a solid series.

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

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

Fall in love, break the curse.

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

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

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

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BOOKS LIKE A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY