From Breath and Ruin (Elements of Five, Book 1)

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Author: Carrie Ann Ryan

Series: Elements of Five

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Indie

Pages: 351

Lyric is a typical eighteen-year-old girl, who has no idea what direction her life is going to take. She hasn’t really thought tings out much, aside from attending college in the fall. For as long as she can remember, she has had nightmares about monsters and these two central figures that feel very real to her. She knows that they can’t be real, though, right? 

The Maison Realm was torn apart hundreds of years ago in to warring factions of Elemental Wielders. Now factions of both light and dark have been sent to the Earth realm in an effort to find the Spirit Priestess who is prophesied to wield the Elements of Five that will bring the fractured kingdoms together. Rhodes and his sister, Rosamund, were sent from the light realm  on this mission. 

When an incident occurs while out on a hike, Lyric’s whole world is turned upside down. Everything that she thought couldn’t be true suddenly seems incredibly real and very dangerous. She is suddenly in a battle for her, and others’, survival. 

This is the first book in a new YA Fantasy series out from author Carrie Ann Ryan. She is multiple best selling author of many series in the adult arena, but this is her first foray in to the YA world. Let’s dive in! Ok, the premise: Honestly, it can be very difficult to come up with something in the YA Fantasy world that isn’t tropey or hasn’t been done and re-hashed before. Guess what- she found it! This felt fresh and not overdone. This didn’t feel like something that I have read over and over again, and I really enjoyed it. The pacing was great. It slowed a little in a couple of parts, but that happens in the first books of multiple book fantasy series when building the foundation, and it picked right back up. The characters were engaging and fleshed out well. I enjoyed learning their stories and she gave me someone to root for. The world building was wonderful! Now, this is not something new for this author. She writes PNR in the adult arena (also, if you read PNR check hers out), but this is much more detailed world building and she did a lovely job of it. I’m hoping that it keeps building even more in the books to come. Overall, I would say that Ryan’s venture in to the YA Fantasy world is a success, so far! 

The Next book in the series, From Ash and Flame, is due out in mid November & I can’t wait! 

 

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Here There Are Monsters

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Author: Amelinda Berube

Genre: YA Fantasy/Thriller

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

Skye has grown up being the protector to her younger sister, Deirdre. Deirdre was always caught up in her games of queens, castles, and knights, and drug Skye in to them with her. She named Skye the Queen of Swords, the one that would protect her against everything, and that’s what she became. She also became an outcast because of it, the weird girl’s weird sister. When they moved to their new home, far away from their previous residence, Skye felt it was time for a new start. When they arrive, Deirdre is delighted that their new home is surrounded by woods and swamps to explore and create new kingdoms in. Skye, however, is done playing Deirdre’s games and makes a new circle of friends to call her own. Left to care for Deirdre while their parents are out one evening, Skye falls asleep and is awoken by her mother frantically looking for Deirdre. Deirdre is gone. Rescue crews continue searching to no avail, until Skye knows that she is the one who must go and find her. She must become her sister’s protector and play the games once again. 

Let’s start with the cover of this book. How creepy and beautiful is that?! It’s very fitting with the tone and story, and I just love it. Now that I got that out of the way, on to the book itself. It started out a bit slow for me, so I was a bit anxious that I wasn’t going to like it and I was not happy about that, as I went in to this very hopeful (this is definitely my kind of read!). Fortunately, it did pick up after a bit and I got in to it. The story is told in alternating time periods, as it flashes back between earlier in the girls’ childhood and present day. I did enjoy that as it gives a clearer picture as to what may have led up to the present day situation. The characters, especially the main characters, were well developed. The two main characters, Deirdre and Skye, however, were not particularly likeable characters in my opinion. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the main characters do not have to be likable for a book to read well. I do know that some readers are put off by this, so I wanted to throw it in in case this is a sticking point for you. There are some supernatural elements that come in to play as the book moves on, and this was a fun element. It is a very atmospheric book, which I believe may have been my favorite thing about the writing of this book. The author did a wonderful job of building the world/atmosphere and making it fit the story well. Where the beginning of the book suffered from a bit of a slow start, the end could have used a bit of a slow down. It felt a bit rushed to tie everything up, and left me feeling like a may have missed something. Overall, though, it was a solid read and if the author were to write something else in the same genre, I’d pick it up. 

This book will be released on August 1.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to review this.

Gilded Wolves Sequel!!!

Y’all!!! Roshani Chokshi just dropped the name and cover of the sequel to Gilded Wolves, and both are beautiful!!! Are you ready??!!

Squee!!! Isn’t it lovely??!!

In her tweet, Chokshi describes it as having “…ice peacocks and angst, mythological based murder and found family dynamics…”. I can’t wait to read this second book in this trilogy! This date is definitely marked in my calendar (unless I manage to get my hands on an early copy again- fingers crossed!)!

Circle of Shadows

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Author: Evelyn Skye

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Pages: 464

Sora and her gemina, Daemon, are apprentices in the Society of Taigas- warriors who are chosen by the goddess Luna and trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect Kichona. The kingdom has been relatively free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion a decade before, when the now Empress Aki had to fight her twin, Prince Gin, to the death for rule of Kichona. He was letting the power go to his head and was set to lead the kingdom in a dangerous direction. While on a scouting mission in the time leading up to their graduation, Sora and Daemon come up on an encampment that seems a bit off. They make a decision that may change Sora’s life and the life of everyone’s life around her forever. 

This is the first book in a new duology from the phenomenal Evelyn Skye (you’ll remember her from my gushing about The Crown’s Game duology!)!! This book was beautiful! I mean that in every way. The cover was beautiful, the writing was beautiful, the plot was beautiful, you get the point. Let me break it down for you, though. Obviously, you can see the cover, and it is even prettier in person (I’m a sucker for a pretty hardcover). The characters were all so well developed. The two main characters, Sora and Daemon, were obviously the most fleshed out, as they are the focal point of the story. The secondary characters, however, also have great stories, were incredibly well developed through the story, and a couple of them actually ended up being some of my favorites. The plot is fresh and new, which is something that I was looking for. It moved along at a great pace, so this long book really read quickly. Honestly, The Crown’s Game duology is one of my absolute favorite series (one that I recommend very often), so I was a little afraid. Trust me when I say that I was not disappointed in the least! I’m just sad I have to wait for the next one to find out what happens now. If you’re looking for a new, fun YA fantasy give this one a try! 

Best of 2018…

                                                                              The Best of 2018!!!

Hi all!!! 

I can’t believe that we are already at the end of 2018! It feels like this year has been extraordinarily long, but has gone by in a flash at the same time, if that makes sense. This year has certainly seen its share of highs and lows, but I hope that your year in books has been one of the highlights! Despite reading quite a bit less than I did last year, thanks to a marked uptick in work and several reading slumps, I can say that my literary journey was definitely a high note of the year. I read so many wonderful books this year from many, many wonderful authors- from old favorites to debuts. It was very difficult to narrow down my favorite reads of the year, so much so that I had to choose a fiction a non-fiction as I couldn’t decide between the final two! So, without further ado- my favorite books of 2018: 

                                Favorite Fiction of 2018: For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

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This book, the first in a new series by the amazing author of The Girl from Everywhere duology (another favorite of mine!), was released at the end of September of this year. It is a hefty book at a little over 500 pages (hardback edition), but I got so absorbed in it and it read so quickly that I read it while on a weekend trip. The world building was so phenomenal and the writing so lyrical (literally at times!), that it was easy to get swept away in the novel. I loved the strong female lead, and that this was an own voices novel so the writing was true to the character. This is technically YA Fantasy, but anyone who is a fan of well written fantasy would enjoy this. You can find the full review here: For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, Book 1)

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Muse-Fire-Heidi-Heilig/dp/0062380818/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546224730&sr=8-1&keywords=for+a+muse+of+fire

                            Favorite Non-Fiction of 2018: Becoming by Michelle Obama

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After the review that was posted yesterday, this may come as no surprise, but this is definitely the bet non-fiction that I read this year. This memoir was published in mid November, and I read it while I was on vacation. It took me a bit to write my review, because there was so much that I wanted to say about it, but I didn’t want to just summarize the entire book. I find Michelle Obama so inspirational, and this book made her even more so. She was open, witty, honest, funny, and relatable. This book left me with a feeling of hope. If you’re looking to add more memoirs to your reading list this year and haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it! Find my initial review here: Becoming

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Michelle-Obama/dp/1524763136/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546225152&sr=8-1&keywords=becoming+michelle+obama

I hope that you guys enjoy these as much as I did! What were your favorite reads of 2018? Anything that I should check out? I’ll be spending the next couple of days attempting to get together some semblance of a reading list for the first part of 2019. There are some exciting new books coming out this year!!

I wish you all an amazing new year!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, Book 1)

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Author: Heidi Helig

Series: For a Muse of Fire

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 512

 

Jetta and her parents are shadow players, and thanks to Jetta’s powerful ability, they have become the most famous troupe in Chakrana. Jetta, you see, holds the power of blood magic. She is able to see the souls of the departed and, using her blood, bind them to her shadow puppets (or paper, leaves, people…). This allows her to control the puppets without strings. It is also forbidden under the new regime. In their war-torn country, however, their skill is the best way for them to earn money and a way to Aquatan. Rumor has it that the Mad King found a spring there that helped to cure his melheur. Jetta needs that cure… As they are on the way, they are forced to join forces with a young smuggler (Leo) who has secrets of his own, and eyes that seem to see right through to the heart of Jetta’s secrets. As they make deals with one another, and attempt to make their way forward, they must all face decisions and truths that they never imagined and wonder if they will make it out alive.

This is the first book in a new trilogy from the lovely Heidi Heilig. It is much different from The Girl From Everywhere duology, but one can definitely tell that it is Heilig’s voice in this novel. It took me a little while to write this review, because I have a lot to say, but was not really sure how to start. First, the writing is absolutely beautiful. It moves at a smooth pace, and doesn’t ever really waver. There were no really slow parts, that books of this length can sometimes suffer from. It wasn’t overly wordy, it just had a lot to say. The story itself was interwoven with sheet music, letters, excerpts from plays, maps, and other documents that truly enriched the storyline. The world building was phenomenal. The rich Asian cultural elements mixed with the French-inspired colonialism paints a vivid picture. Once that it combined with the beautifully written folklore and Heilig’s writing of this fantasy world, it is definitely hard to put down.

Now, let’s get to the characters. As it should be, this was the heart of the story. These characters, not only the leading lady but the more secondary players as well, were so well written and multi-dimensional that I truly felt for them, and felt that I knew them, by the end of the book. Jetta, is struggling. It has been confirmed as canon that she is bipolar, but if you have ever known and loved someone who is bipolar you won’t need me to tell you that. She makes these amazingly impulsive decisions while in these high, manic periods that feel so right at the time that she is making them. She is sure that they will work out, and that she is doing the only thing that can be done. She then goes in to her depressive periods that leave her tired, weary, and questioning all of the decisions that she made while in her manic state. She believed that she was seeing things clearly, but it’s like everything slows down, and she can see it all in slow motion and truly grasp what has happened and the possible consequences. Heilig allowed this to be very visible to the reader, so it truly made Jetta a more relatable character and showed the drive behind her decision-making processes. On another note, the reader may catch that Jetta appears to be drawn to several different characters at different times- it has also been confirmed as canon that she is queer, which just makes her character even more interesting and well rounded. Leo is another wonderfully complex character. I mentioned earlier that he has his own secrets (which I won’t reveal here), but he is incredibly well fleshed out, complex, and so well written. Jetta’s parents, too, have their own secrets that they are hiding, their own struggles, worries, and concerns, and are very well rounded and relatable characters. You can feel their struggles as they are attempting to make the decisions that are the smart decisions, not the easy ones.

I can easily say that this is the best book that I have read thus far this year, and it is going to be very difficult to beat. If you are a fan of wonderful, rich fantasy, please give this one a try!