Friday, May 5, 2023

Review: Julieta and the Romeos by Maria E. Andreu

Julieta and the Romeos
by Maria E. Andreu
Publication Date: May 16th 2023
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Find This Book: Julieta and the Romeos
Rating: 4/5

**An ARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

The summer between junior and senior year, Julieta is accepted into an elite writing course in New York City — taught by her favorite author. Having always dreamed of becoming a writer, this mentorship could drastically shape her future. Add on top of that helping out at her family restaurant and three potential love interests, and you’ve got the recipe for a great contemporary romance!

Our Romeos Include:

-Ryan, her rival, and her best friend’s twin brother

-Lucas, her childhood best friend that could be something more

-Calvin, the new boy next door (or really, Abuela’s next door neighbor)

 As the summer goes on, Julieta commutes to class with Ryan, works at her family restaurant with Lucas, watches soaps with her Abuela and Calvin, and struggles with receiving writing critiques from her idol. All of these scenarios bring out different aspects of Julieta’s personality that she both cherishes and is in conflict with.

When Julieta publishes a writing assignment for class on a Wattpad equivalent, it evolves into a piece being co-written with an anonymous author. A local reference is included and Julieta realizes that they might know each other in real life. Could they be the man of her dreams? Could they be one of her Romeos?? If only she could get them to confess…

Reflecting on her love life predicament with her aunt, one of the best quotes in the book occurs:
“The question isn’t which boy is right for you. The question is which boy helps you be the best version of yourself. Or, an even bigger question, what version of yourself do you want to be, independent of them all?”

All in all, I quickly got sucked into Julieta’s life and I enjoyed how the plot pulled in her family dynamics and friendship with Ivy on top of the romances. If you’re looking for a sweet, fun contemporary romance, with a lesson in discovering yourself along the way, this is the book for you!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday #20

Created by The Broke and The Bookish 
Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf

1. The Ones We're Meant to Find

2. The Near Witch

3. The Young Elites

4. The Box in the Woods

5. Blood Scion

6. All of This is True

7. The Battle of the Labyrinth

8. Clockwork Princess

9. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

10. The Starless Sea

Review: This Woven Kingdom

This Woven Kingdom
by Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: February 1st 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins
Find This Book: This Woven Kingdom
Rating: 3/5

**A finalized copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

This Woven Kingdom contains beautiful prose and descriptions, but unfortunately very little plot. It comes with the territory of an almost 500-page book that spans about 3 days of in-book time. 60% of This Woven Kingdom is the main characters’ inner monologue, 20% is setting/food/clothing description, 10% is verbal dialogue, and the last 10% is where the actual occurring events happen. I prefer to be shown actions to back up character motivations and thoughts, but this book heavily relies upon the reader being told what to think. The whole experience made it hard to connect with, or even like, either of the two main protagonists.

I was hoping for a lush Persian mythology read, but This Woven Kingdom is essentially a Cinderella retelling with cosmetic Middle Eastern inspirations regarding food and clothing. A dual-POV read, we alternate between Alizeh a long-lost princess of the Jinn who is currently hiding as a lowly servant, and Kamran the heir to the human empire of Ardunia. Their lots in life place them at odds, for Alizeh was prophesized to end the reign of the current king of Ardunia, Kamran’s grandfather. Of course, Alizeh and Kamran happen to cross paths on the street and become an insta-love forbidden romance. As I mentioned, this book is about 10% plot. Over the course of about 3 days, Kamran and Alizeh think about the other non-stop and their inner thoughts take up the majority of the writing of this book. All of this builds up to a ball, (Yay, an event is finally occurring!) so you have that to look forward to in the last 100 pages or so. Check out my book recap for a more thorough summary.

If you come into this with the right mindset, I think it can certainly be an enjoyable read, but it was very different than how it was marketed and you have to be ready for it to be a slow-paced read, very trope-heavy and descriptor-heavy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Book Recap: This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: February 1st 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins
Find This Book: This Woven Kingdom

Alizeh is the lost princess of the Jinn, a magical race of beings made from fire. She raised to be royal until an attack on her home orphans her. Left to work as a servant, she has no money, no allies, no friends. This all changes when she is attacked on the street. She defends herself and lets her attacker go, an act observed by the human prince, Kamran. In disbelief at her skills and mercy, he believes her to be a spy from an enemy kingdom and starts investigating.

He makes an ass of himself in many ways that involve him making wild assumptions about others, but he also starts to care for Alizeh along the way. She, too, has become mesmerized by the prince giving a lowly servant such as herself attention and kindness. This budding romance is shaken by a new discovery: the kingdom’s diviners have prophesied King Zaal’s downfall at the hand of Alizeh! How can Kamran be falling for the person who will be the end of his grandfather?

A familiar face from her childhood gifts her a nosta. A small orb that changes temperature: hot when someone is telling her the truth and cold when someone is lying to her. A useful tool! Except she somehow jumps to conclusions and makes several horrible decisions at the end of the book.

Recap of MAJOR SPOILERS: The king of the enemy kingdom of Tulan, Cyrus, kills King Zaal at a royal ball. Very public, but/and it was probably justified. We find out that King Zaal had elongated his life to give Kamran more of his childhood (at the cost of killing orphans and eating their brains). Kamran challenges Cyrus to a duel and is saved by Alizeh who intervenes before Cyrus can deal a deathblow. Alizeh and Kamran can finally have their happily ever after, except Cyrus kidnaps her so Kamran assumes that Alizeh betrayed him. This all seems to contradict the prophecy King Zaal was worried about, as Alizeh had nothing to do with his death/end of his reign. Maybe Zaal misinterpreted the prophecy? I'm hoping this will be explained in books 2 or 3.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Review: The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The First to Die at the End
by Adam Silvera
Publication Date: October 4th 2022
Publisher:Quill Tree Books
Find This Book: The First to Die at the End
Rating: 5/5

**An early finalized copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

The First to Die at the End recreates the magic of Adam Silvera’s highly acclaimed 2017 publication They Both Die at the End (TBDITE). Death-Cast comes calling, and it’s someone’s End Day. When you know it’s your last day to live, what would you do? In this prequel, Silvera takes us back to Death-Cast’s very first day in service and reminds us to enjoy every day to the fullest.

On Death-Cast Eve, two strangers, Valentino Prince and Orion Pagan, have a chance meeting in Times Square. At the stroke of midnight, one of them receives a call from Death-Cast, and the other doesn’t. As they live that last day to their hearts content is becomes clear: if Death-Cast is real, their day will end in heartbreak. Filled with life’s first and some of life’s lasts, this novel is both earth-shattering and utterly charming. Silvera highlights and romanticizes the power of 24 hours and the lasting impact we have on the people we meet.

This story makes use of multiple POV’s (primarily Valentino and Orion, but others when impactful as well). As expected, this 500+ page book mainly covers a 24-hour time period, bringing magical prose to every beautiful moment. While similar in concept to TBDITE, this still tells a fresh story. In TBDITE , Death-Cast is normal, even mundane. Of course you get a warning before you die, and there are expectations that come with being a “decker.” In this prequel it is Death-Cast’s first day which comes with new rules and policies being figured out on the fly. Does Death-Cast work? How should flights and hospitals function with people slated for death? The new turmoil made for a fascinating change pace to a world we've visited before.

This will be an emotional read for anyone how picks it up, I don’t think anyone has learned their lesson there, but the titles did warned you! The best part? Either book can be read as a standalone or in tandem. For those who read both, you will be rewarded. Silvera ties the two together in magical, yet subtle, ways.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

ALC Review: All of Our Demise by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

All of Our Demise
by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman
Publication Date: August 30th 2022
Publisher: Tor Teen
Find This Book: All of Our Demise
Rating: 5/5

**An ALC of this book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

All of Our Demise is the epic conclusion to All of Us Villains, a fantasy duology and a 2021 favorite of mine. Long story short, it did NOT disappoint.

All of Our Demise picks up pretty much right where All of Us Villains ended: the familial champions of each house are caught in a tournament curse, destined to fight to the death. But what if the curse could be broken? The novel opens up with newly drawn and fragile alliances being formed between those who want to break the curse and those who want to win the tournament the old-fashioned way (i.e. by killing all of the champions).

With the tournament’s curse weakened from the events of book one, our champions find themselves faced with new benefits and new challenges. The tournament boundary has effectively dissolved, allowing the champions to re-enter town to gain information and new spells while non-champions can enter the arena and complicate matters to their hearts content. This evolves into news and PR quotes at the beginning of each chapter, conveying what the public is seeing and hearing as the tournament continues. It makes for a fascinating and compelling development to book one’s world-building foundation, to be sure!

My favorite aspect? The multiple POV’s! They are all so well-developed! The audiobook narrators did a fantastic job individualizing the voices as well. I connected with each tournament champion, and loved seeing events from each of their eyes, especially Isobel and Alistair. They are each so unique and complex, and they each brought something to the table as the narrative developed. Without getting to spoiler-y, a character has been resurrected and a new champion unexpectedly joins the tournament, allowing for even crazier dynamics across the board. Plus, we get budding romances and we get to see how it develops from both sides!

As both a character- and plot-driven narrative, you’ll be rooting alongside all these morally grey narrators as this fast-paced and action-packed tournament of death comes to a close. Isobel, Briony, Finley, Alistair and Gavin will take you on a dark, atmospheric, adventure in this latest and final installment!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Review: Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

Rust in the Root
by Justina Ireland
Publication Date: September 20th 2022
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Find This Book: Rust in the Root
Rating: 3.5/5

**An early finalized copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

It’s 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided: between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology (otherwise known as Mechomancy) not the traditional mystical arts.

Laura is a talented mystical arts mage from Pennsylvania who hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license, allowing her to use her talents publicly. But six months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.

As they’re sent off on their first mission together, they’ll discover dangerous work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and they’ll need to work together to have a chance at survival.

Rust in the Root is a fleshed out historical fantasy read, which is quite an accomplishment for a standalone. This is a solid alternate reality focused on a government agency investigating a dark mystery in Ohio. Laura will need to develop both her powers and her friendships if she wants to make it out alive and save the country she lives in.

What was special about this novel was the culmination of different story telling elements. Traditional prose is paired with the Skylark’s official mission report, as well as Laura’s photographs of the people and places she meets along the way (real photographs, sourced from an archive!). The plot, betrayals, and character development were all fantastic. I read this is less than 24 hours! Why didn’t this get 5 stars? For me, parts of the arc development and prose felt a bit too rushed, which I didn’t expect from an author with so many publications under her belt.

Friday, September 9, 2022

ARC Review: Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove
by Rati Mehrotra
Publication Date: October 18th 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Find This Book: Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove
Rating: 4/5

**An ARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove centers around Katyani, the adoptive daughter, bondswoman, and royal guard of the Queen of Chandela. Her future has never been in doubt: she will be her adoptive brother's most trusted advisor when he becomes king. Attending to Ayan and his cousin Bhairav, Katyani is shipped off to a monastic school of a famous guru where they will hone the skills needed to be the next leaders of the kingdom (including magic and mosnter hunting). Nothing could annoy Katyani more than leaving court and being shipped off to a rule-abiding school in the middle of a forest, except her run-ins with Daksh, the guru’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul. (Yes, there is a slow-burn romance!)

But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested by monsters, Katyani must find answers from her past to save all she loves and forge her own destiny. Bonds can be broken, but debts must be repaid.

This book is a fantastic standalone fantasy, set in medieval India. It will suck you in with Katyani's fun yet brash personality and with a fast-paced plot full of with magic, Indian mythology, and court intrigue! Katyani's dedication to her promises, and her loyalty to her friends and family created a loveable heroine who uses more than just her brute strength when in the face of danger. The slow-burn romance could have used a bigger pay-off which is what knocked this down a star for me, but the world-building was well fleshed out and Katyani's struggle for her identity and sense of home really made this book stand out.