The Witches of the Glass Castle by Gabriella Lepore (ARC)

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This was such a delight! Witches, mystery and darkness, what more can you ask for? And it was easily devoured, which is a very attractive quality that shouldn’t be undervalued. I love the satisfaction of it, to get so carried away with a story… It’s happiness.

The story follows Mia and her brother Dino who discovers that they are witches. Their whole family are witches (well, at least on their mother’s side) and all it takes is one small incantation, even said by mistake, to awaken the magic within. Because of their awakening powers, they are sent away to a place that can help the siblings learn control and nurture whatever power they may have. At the Glass Castle, they meet frightening but handsome warrior witches with feral instincts called Hunters and witches called Arcana that can read peoples thoughts and have visions of the future. It’s a strange but colorful new world where Mia and Dino must both come to terms with who they are and as events begins spiraling out of control they must choose what they think is right and where their allegiances lie in the end.

There’s some really good twists and turns in this book. It kept the story and my interest peaked through the whole thing. I’m also very fond of how the author portrayed her characters (and their dynamic). It was just the right amount of goof, cuteness and realness to make the relationships work.

I really recommend this book to anyone who love YA fantasy, and witch lore. A fascination with witches should be existent when picking this up. Just saying… 😉

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars! Witches of the Glass Castle is the first book in a duology, where the Witches of the Dark Power is the second book and they both releases today the 18th. So, Happy Book Birthday to Gabriella Lepore!

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (ARC)

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Becky Albertalli’s story about a young girl named Molly, who’s constantly falling in and out of love, is delightfully written and I’d also like to add that her penchant (as I understand it) for diverse characters is spot on in today’s climate. It’s refreshing to read about a family dynamic that’s both something originally new and still manages to convey the modern-day family that often consists of more than one “correct” version.

Molly’s a seventeen-year-old girl who’s never been kissed and has never had a boyfriend. What she has had though are multiple crushes and thus she’s avoided experiencing rejection. Molly doesn’t see this as a problem, she’s careful… that’s all. When her womanizing and somewhat cynical twin sister Cassie suddenly falls madly in love, Molly can’t deny that she’s lonely and longing for connecting with someone of her own. Maybe having a boyfriend will even help her reconnect with her sister, as well as gifting her with her first kiss. Luckily (or maybe confusingly) for her, two boys pop up catching her attention. Who will she choose? The cute hipster boy Will who’s best friends with Cassie’s new girlfriend or her coworker the charming nerd boy Reid. And will she have the guts to put herself up for potential rejection?

Some scenes in this book had me cringing, not in a bad way, but in the way that I was acutely embarrassed on behalf of a character. That’s some really good writing and makes me very keen to read her Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!

4 out of 5 stars!

I received this copy from the publisher (Penguin Random House UK Children’s) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Once A Soldier by Mary Jo Putney (ARC)

This is one of my guilty pleasures… Romance novels. Because who doesn’t like some steamy storyline once in a while? It’s a pretty undemanding genre that allows for some shifty timelines and cheeky sappy dialogue. Perfect reads for both warm summer days and cold winter nights.

I read all manner of romance, but my favorite are the ones that are stamped mystery/paranormal/crime/thriller/fantasy/sci-fi (well, you get my point) as they most often have a story built around the relationship(s) that intrigues me and keeps me on my toes but still give me steamy scenes and that tingly lovey-dovey feel. Nora Roberts is one author who does this combination beautifully. Now I’ve found another author who does this really well.

Once a Soldier is a historical romance (bonus points) that takes place at the end of Napoleons reign. Will Masterson take one last mission before he intends to retire from the war to manage his estate and title. A mission that takes him to the little mountain kingdom of San Gabriel where he meets Athena Markham, the foreigner who acts as a governess to the princess of said kingdom. Together they must find a way to keep San Gabriel’s enemies from invading, whilst also coming to terms with their mutual attraction.

I received this copy from the publisher (Kensington Books) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To see the pretty cover for this book, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (ARC)

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This wasn’t a book that made me feel highly excitable, where I was left feeling like the story was almost going too fast for me to keep up. This was a steady influx of tense adrenaline in the pit of my stomach. You know the feeling, the feeling of wondering when the other shoe will drop and there’s bound to be trouble afoot. Don’t mistake my description for a dull read, because believe me when I say that there’s plenty of action in this story. It’s the way it’s told that make you feel all anticipatory. There’s a sense of danger through the whole thing and the characters are well cemented to further strengthen it all. They are well thought through and oh so clever. I loved the whole thing from start to finish, though I do warn you of the prologue. It can seem a little dry, but you’ll need that backdrop to get familiar with the world of the Great Library. It’s worth every word of academic style dryness, as it gives you an overall perspective for when you meet the main character Jess and the other players in this story.

This is a different setting than Caine’s other books but her storytelling is as good as her Weather Warden series. It pulls you in and stays with you during the day when not reading. You’ll not be sorry to pick this up!

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market dealer who specializes in acquiring and selling books in a world where books have been outlawed for the safety of both the humankind and the books themselves.

It’s about a world obsessed with words, with books, with knowledge. It’s a world where these things are strictly controlled by an organization named the Library who believes that the wrong kind of information can corrupt the denizens of the world and that humans thus need to be protected against themselves. Though no one may own a real book, it’s thought of as a sin to deprive the masses of the wisdom of the written word and so when the discovery of alchemy produced the mirrored tablet, the Library enabled everyone, even the lowest of the low, to have access to all the great (approved) works that’s ever been written. It’s a time of enlightenment where everyone can read and write, and to be chosen by the Library to preserve and protect the written word is an honor and a privilege.

For Jess, this means a life of constant danger. As his father’s son he’s meant to spy for the family business of black market dealings and no things are as valuable as original books in a world where they are the rarest item out there. And the best and worst place to acquire these rare books? The Library’s HQ of course, in Alexandria.

I’m really looking forward to read about how Jess and his friends fare in the next installment of the Great Library series, Paper and Fire. 🙂

I received this copy from the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To see the beautiful cover for this book, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon. It’s amazing!

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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First of all, Maggie Stiefvater nailed it with this series. I love Blue, Gansey, Adam and Ronan to pieces. Henry was a surprise and I really liked that he got a bigger part in their final story. I loved the creepy goosebumps-inducing name and the insight of their Enemy. Let’s just stamp the whole thing with a I LOVED THIS and move on shall we?

The only thing I can think of that might have brought it down a notch in the Raven King, for me, was this: I liked the way that she built up the storyline by inviting other perspectives, BUT it was also a bit confusing at times. One, two or three of the “new” characters (that until now has been a peripheral influence at best) were to me a bit confusing when they were introduced in a couple of chapters like they were the main characters to this story. Or that the characters themselves at least thought so. Not a big deal to be sure, but it left me a bit unbalanced and wondering if I’ve missed something in the earlier storyline. Are there bits of the story that I’ve forgotten from the previous books or are there novellas I haven’t read yet?

Anyway, overall this book (this series really) was awesome. Such a great adventure!

If you haven’t read this series yet, I really recommend that you read them in order as the Raven King is the conclusion to the Raven Cycle. The first book is called The Raven Boys and it’s there that you’ll first meet our dynamic group of main characters.

Blue lives with her mom and family at 300 Fox Way, a house filled with psychic women. For sixteen years she’s been told that she will kill her true love by a kiss. The longest standing prediction in 300 Fox Way. So when Blue, who has no psychic powers herself other than being an amplifier for such gifts, sees a spirit of a boy on the corpse road for the first time – there can only be one explanation. Either he’s her true love or she’s killed him. Or rather she will, within a year.

As fate would have it, she meets this boy named Gansey shortly after her vision of him on the corpse road. Even though she can’t imagine falling in love with Gansey, she’s determined to find out the truth and to prevent his death. So when she gets the chance to be involved in his search for the legendary king Glendower alongside his two friends Adam and Ronan, she takes it.

Amber Smoke by Kristin Cast (ARC)

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Spontaneous reaction upon finishing this book? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! That ending was the major of cliffhangers with some author-snark thrown in at the end. “The End…For Now.” I mean, come on! First she gets me invested in the characters, builds up the drama and basically uses the epilogue as a cliffhanger of evil? Genius! The gauntlet has been thrown and I must get my hands on the sequel pronto.

So, to move on and summarize… I loved Amber Smoke!

It’s about Eva and Alek finding their way to each other, their destinies being intertwined with that of the ailing Tartarus. In the realm of the Underworld the prison Tartarus is failing under a curse and tormented souls of the damned are escaping to the mortal realm, wreaking havoc and heralding an apocalypse. Alek, warrior son of the Furies, is sent on a mission by his mothers to find Eva, the descendant of Pythia, who is not yet aware of her ancestry or destiny, before everything falls apart. Though finding this lost daughter of the Oracle proves harder than Alek thought.

The whole story, characters and feel of the world is (not the same but) precisely what I was expecting after having read the first 3 books in the House of Night series which Cast co-authored. I did feel as though the story could have used a bit more something to solidify the relationships and given the whole thing more fluidity. Like a couple of more events to give the characters (and reader) a chance to feel the connection between both them and the plot. To get a more solid grip on everything. Or maybe that’s just me being greedy for more and not ready to let go of the story about Eva and Alek.

If you’ve read The House of Night series, or The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop, that may not have anything in common other than being built on the premises of other mythological dimensions, the characters that move between and their impact on one another plus the general feeling of them, I think you’ll really like Amber Smoke.

I received this copy from the publisher (Diversion Books) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond (ARC)

I haven’t read that many books with a circus as a backdrop and having read this I don’t understand why, because this book was entertainment of the highest trapeze. Suspenseful with a hint of darkness, but an easy read and quite lovely all together. I loved every minute of this!

It’s about a girl named Moira who dreams of becoming a great magician, performing intricate showy illusions in Las Vegas like her father. There’s one small hitch though. Her father is not keen on the idea of his beloved daughter following in his footsteps, in fact, he won’t even give her a chance to show her skills and shuts her down every time she tries. So, when an invitation to the great Cirque American lands by her feet by accident she takes her chance and who could blame her?

The Miraculous Moira gets a shot at her dream. Little does she know there might be a reason her father was so adamant about keeping her away from magic all these years. Any magic at all…

This book is a stand-alone, though technically Girl in the Shadows is the second book set in this world. The first book published was Girl on a Wire. In retrospect I would have read Girl on a Wire first, because this story’s somewhat based on the first one and both revolve around the same artefact. It made me very curious about Jules, Remy and Dita from Girl on a Wire who Moira befriends upon arriving to the Cirque American, and their adventure.

BUT! This does not diminish Girl in the Shadows at all! So, if you have a chance to read Girl in the Shadows? Take it! 🙂

I received this copy from the publisher (Amazon Skyscape) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To see the beautiful cover for this book, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon. It’s gorgeous!

The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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I had my doubts about this series. I’ve read part of a trilogy by Jennifer L. Armentrout a couple of years ago where I LOVED the first book, was a bit put off by the second and couldn’t stomach the third. Then, at this year’s book sale in February I found the first book in the Lux series in the bargain section. I’m glad I did decide to pick up something by this author again.

The Lux series is delightfully well-balanced with action, romance and moral conundrums. The big plus being the consistency in writing and story through book 1-4 and they’re a solid 4 stars so far. I find that sometimes the first couple of books in a series is usually the best and the rest just kind of…degrades. Rarely to the extent that the books are unreadable, but they’re often not as interesting as the first one(s). For example, the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton and the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling. I freaking love these three, but the first books in either series is just genius compared to the ones that came later.

The first book introduces Kat who’s just moved to West Virginia with her mother. Kat’s life so far revolves around books and blogging about them (bonus points, right there). Having lost her father to cancer and with a mother that’s trying to stay afloat, she’s learned to take care of herself in her everyday life. She’s basically do an infusion of tumult, of the infuriating but hot neighbor variety. It’s just her luck the disturbed neighbor and his friendly sister are aliens. With baggage. Suspicious, two-faced government baggage.

There are five books in total and I have the Kindle version of Opposition waiting for me to read. 🙂

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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The author Rainbow Rowell is a recent addition in my bookshelves. I hadn’t read anything by her before Fangirl, but I’d heard lots about her and been bombarded by pictures of her books on Instagram. Particularly Fangirl and Eleanor & Park. So you could say this was purely an insta-buy for me. I don’t have that many Contemporaries among my books, but it’s a genre that I’m beginning to love.

Fangirl is about a girl named Cath that upon going to college gets stranded by her twin sister in her own dorm room with a girl who, well, is not someone who Cath normally hangs out with. Cath isn’t the outgoing girl who her sister is. So when she meets her roommate and her boy(?)friend she’s stumped.

She prefers writing and reading to partying and socializing. Her life with her sister has so far revolved around the Simon Snow series, but Wren has outgrown their fandom and decides to strike out on her own. Thus leaving Cath to find her way disentangling from a fictional world that she’s spent years submerged in; reading fan fiction, writing her own and investing her emotions wholeheartedly in. What happens when life starts intervening in Cath the Fangirl’s life?

I loved this book. Though to be honest I was in “inhale-mode” while reading it and finished it in a day, which this time resulted in me having mixed feelings about Fangirl. I thought it was a great read, but not awesome, you know? I needed to take a step back and let it sort itself out in the back of my mind. I don’t know why, but sometimes this happens to me. It all becomes this weird tangle of story and feels and I can’t really sort them out right away. This was one of those books that has grown in hindsight, from great to amazing.

Fangirl is such a wonderful book and you won’t be sorry for picking it up.

If you’ve read this book, please feel free to comment down below and tell me your thoughts. I would love to hear them!

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I’m pretty forgiving about literature and movies, I can pretty much read any book or see any movie without having hardly any reservations about it. Gladly wanting to read or see the next installment. As long as it’s within my preferred genres, of course. My reviews are mostly 4 or 5 star reviews (out of five), and it’s not that I don’t have an opinion, I do, but most of the time I actually see the entertainment value be they bad B-movies or books with a bad storyline, and haven’t heart to credit them less.
My hang-ups are more centered around inconsistencies in the stories, mostly on a factual basis, like a name or age suddenly changing. Or worse, the actual background being different. That will get my hackles raised straight away. Facts are what keeps me anchored in the story, making me connect with the characters even though we’re basically different or have different values.

Though, if I’m being honest, even my hackles couldn’t keep me from a good book, or an entertaining movie.

Shatter Me however set me on a completely different mindset. Here I was, faced with no factual incongruity but with the onslaught of metaphors and visuals that made it hard for me to see past the language and enjoy the story. Though I like the story, the characters and the relation between them, I found it really hard to be bombarded with these images all the time. One scene that could have been riveting in one or two pages required twice as much with this kind of storytelling. And if I’m being frank, many of these metaphors were really poorly done and not helping the story at all. I mean, by their lonesome, scattered throughout the book… maybe, but clustered together like this? No thanks. And some of them doesn’t even make sense, and it took me extra focus to try to understand what I was reading. If I were to guess, the story took up about 30 % of the book, the rest is just fluff. This felt to me like a classic case of the “kill your darlings” pointer you get at writing school.

All the darlings survived in this book.

3/5 stars