Review: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas

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house of earth and blood coverHouse of Earth and Blood

Crescent City #1

by Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Age Category: New Adult / Adult

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Published on: March 3rd, 2020

 

Sarah J. Maas is the queen of hella dramatic, smutty romantic fantasy with casts of badass characters, and this book attests to that.

House of Earth and Blood is highly addicting, especially the ending. IT WAS A WILD ROLLER-COASTER!! There were so many days where I just spent like 3-4 hours lying in bed to read this book. I literally read under my covers with my phone light in order to finish the book when my roommate went to bed early and I still had 50 pages left. I had been sorta slumping prior to this book, and reading this novel revived my obsessive love and joy of reading.

It was so fun to enter a new world by SJM! I don’t often like my fantasy books to overlap with technology, but this book definitely changed my position on that! I appreciate that SJM didn’t bury us under heaps of dry exposition and instead just threw us into the world (though I did get a pinch lost here and there with all the names and terminology, but not too bad). The incorporation of technology definitely left me feeling like I was watching an action-packed “shoot’em up” movie in the form of the book, and I adored it! (ALSO, the way she describes the universe gives me the impression that it could easily be in the same mega-verse as her other series and I’m 100% here for it.)

But while I adored this book, I will admit that SJM continues to write in the same dramatic style that’s very hit-or-miss for some people and that she regularly utilizes the same character archetypes. Like Aelin and Feyre, Bryce is also a cunning, badass, strong, loyal, gorgeous part-Fae woman. So SJM definitely has her trends and stereotypes, which caused me to roll my eyes at times, but at the same time…I don’t know, I also just love it?

And Bryce’s development! Though she does share a lot of similarities with SJM’s past protagonists, she definitely has her own individual journey. Due to elements of loss, grief, and depression, this book definitely had some darker undertones to it. Fantasy novels can so often fall into the trap of being dismissive of character deaths, and I appreciated how the impact of loss never left Bryce: it only morphed forms throughout the book.

This isn’t your traditional and classic epic fantasy, and I acknowledge that it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. House of Earth and Blood is still epic in its magic, characters, dramatics (all the secret identity reveals! I was shrieking in excitement), and sarcasm. This novel is hilarious, entertaining, a wild ride, and gave me all the feels. I realize that I haven’t gone into many specifics in this review and that it’s mostly just a happy-rant (I was too enthralled reading this book to take any notes like I usually do). But I’m okay with the way this review is, because you honestly just need to experience this book for yourself.

I cannot wait to see where the series goes next. SJM has taken up a permanent residence in my fantasy-loving heart, and this book has only given me more reason to continue to buy every book she releases.

Trigger Warnings: contemplation of suicide (and a near attempt in a flashback), depression, grief, loss of a loved one, excessive use of alcohol and drugs, murder, violence

Rating: 4.25 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“Without a doubt! Make room in your heart, because I’m ready to move in.”

BLOG TOUR STOP: What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka [Review + Giveaway!]

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Hi, welcome to my stop on the What I Want You to See blog tour (hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club)! I’m so psyched that I was approved to participate in this blog tour! Make sure to read the whole post if you want to learn more about this read & its author, hear my review, and enter the giveaway!


ABOUT THE BOOK

book coverWHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE

by Catherine Linka

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: February 4th, 2020

Genre: Contemporary

Age Category: Young Adult (tho technically New Adult)

Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Books | iTunes

SYNOPSIS

Winning a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school seems like a fairy tale ending to Sabine Reye’s awful senior year. After losing both her mother and her home, Sabine longs for a place where she belongs.

But the cutthroat world of visual arts is nothing like what Sabine had imagined. Colin Krell, the renowned faculty member whom she had hoped would mentor her, seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work—and warns her that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.

Desperate and humiliated, Sabine doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who understands better than anyone the pressures of art school. He even helps Sabine get insight on Krell by showing her the modern master’s work in progress, a portrait that’s sold for a million dollars sight unseen.

Sabine is enthralled by the portrait; within those swirling, colorful layers of paint is the key to winning her inscrutable teacher’s approval. Krell did advise her to improve her craft by copying a painting she connects with . . . but what would he think of Sabine secretly painting her own version of his masterpiece? And what should she do when she accidentally becomes party to a crime so well -plotted that no one knows about it but her?

Complex and utterly original, What I Want You to See is a gripping tale of deception, attraction, and moral ambiguity.


REVIEW

This book was the perfect fun read to compliment the “Intro to Art History” class I’m currently taking (and the drawing class I took last semester!). What I Want You to See was a captivating contemporary coming-of-age story mixed with romance, mystery, and of course, art.

One of my favorite elements about this novel was that it not only followed an aspiring artist, but that it followed a protagonist going to college, which technically makes it New Adult (even though it’s being marketed as Young Adult). As a creative writing major, I could definitely relate to the protagonist’s struggle with pushing herself creatively and doubting herself as an artist. And the friendships! Making friends in college can be so hard, so I liked seeing Sabine yearn for connection and friendship. Eventually Sabine gains a couple of quality friends, and I appreciated that they were a constant thread throughout the novel, and weren’t shoved aside in favor of romance like so many YA contemporaries have a bad habit of doing. Sabine’s constantly juggling work, homework, art, friends, romance, and stress, which is honestly so accurate to college.

An aspect that took me by surprise was how much I enjoyed reading about Sabine’s character. Initially, I was a bit skeptic, but as I continued to fly through chapters, I really started to admire her portrayal. Sabine is a girl with a lot on her plate, and I mean a lot. She’s constantly torn and unsure on how to approach things, her emotions consistently making her change her decisions, and I really liked the realism in this. Teens/young adults are constantly questioning and doubting themselves (or at least it feels like I am, lol).

There was one thing that didn’t quite work for me and that was the pacing. The novel is divided into weirdly short chapters, and while I liked the shortness at times, there were definitely multiple times where I questioned the choice of chapter breaks in specific scenes. Additionally, I felt the ending was a bit…anticlimactic? It felt oddly stretched out and the climax felt pushed up too close to the end. The ending felt a bit too convenient and definitely not explored enough. I really wanted more of an aftermath.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read. It wasn’t astounding, but it had a unique premise and I really appreciated reading a contemporary set in college. I would love to read more books like this one!

Trigger Warnings: loss of a parent, homelessness, grief, stealing, lying, manipulation

Rating: 3.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I paint an intriguing picture, but I’m not quite a masterpiece.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Catherine Linka is the author of the young adult novel WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE as well as the dystopian series A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and A GIRL UNDONE. A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS was an ABA Indie Next Pick and won the Young Adult Novel Award 2014 from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. A frequent speaker at writing and teen conferences, Catherine received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and worked as a young adult book buyer for an independent bookstore for seven years. Prior to pursuing a career in publishing, she studied international politics at Georgetown University followed by a master’s degree in business at the University of North Carolina. Catherine is married and lives with her husband in the San Gabriel foothills. Visit her at http://www.catherlinelinka.com.

Website| Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook


GIVEAWAY

Prize: Win a finished copy of WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE by Catherine Linka (US Only)

Start Date: January 29th, 2020

End Date: February 12th, 2020

ENTER HERE


If you want to check out other stops on this blog tour, here’s a link to the schedule!

Have any of you already read What I Want You to See? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR? Let me know down in the comments!

Review: The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

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***Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR and 47North for sending me a physical copy for review***

36447028. sy475 The Will and the Wilds

by Charlie N. Holmberg

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Age Category: Young Adult / New Adult

Publisher: 47North

Published on: January 21st, 2020 [TODAY!!]

 

Welp, this book kept me up until 3:30am one night because I couldn’t bear to put it down. This romantic fantasy standalone was such a refreshing read and I’m sad that I devoured it so quickly!

The Will and the Wilds follows Enna, a young woman considered an oddity among her small town. She spends her days minding the household, selling mushrooms from her and her father’s small farm, and expanding her deceased grandmother’s research on Mystings, demons that frequent the human realm and roam the wildwood. When Enna suddenly starts to draw abnormal attention from vicious Mystings, she summons another Mysting to bargain for protection. But the plan falters, and she finds herself bound to the Mysting, Maekallus. Enna begins to trade pieces of her soul to see their bargain through, but she has to decide how much she’s willing to give up to protect not only herself, but also Maekallus.

What I loved best about this book is functioned as a great palette cleaner and a fun book to start off the year on. The Will and the Wilds is a light, fun, and sweet read. Though I believe it’s being marketed as Young Adult, Enna’s age of 20 years old technically makes the book New Adult. Nonetheless, this PG-rated (chaste? Basically there’s lots of kissing scenes but no smut) makes it readable for both young YA readers and adults alike. Paranormal romances will never get old in my mind, and this story did not disappoint. I adored the hate-to-love romance that occurred between Enna and Maekallus.

Functioning as a light read and a palette cleaner doesn’t mean this novel is without depth. The Will and the Wilds explores the concept of what makes a monster, and in turn, a human. We also see Enna grapple with her own personal desires to become a scholar and researcher of Mystings while also being tied down to her small town and to the care of her father.

As one would expect from a short (less than 300 pages!) fantasy standalone primarily focused on the romance, the book was relatively light in its worldbuilding. As I flipped through the pages, I could almost glimpse beyond the corners into other parts of Holmberg’s world, but for the most part, only the bare minimal was touched upon throughout the novel. That being said, threads of eeriness and mystery still manage to snake their way into the book’s atmosphere.

The element that I primarily struggled with was the narration. The Will and the Wilds is relayed through a first person perspective of Enna with the occasional chapter from Maekallus’s POV. Though I appreciated seeing inside of Enna’s mind, I found her narration heavy-handed in “telling” (as opposed to showing). Throughout the story, Enna repeatedly reminds the reader of things already known, clarifies the already obvious, or bluntly introduces backstory.

Overall, I had a great time reading this book. I know it was intended as a standalone, but if Charlie N. Holmberg ever decides to revisit this world in another book, I would definitely pick it up. I’m looking forward to seeing what Holmberg writes next.

Trigger Warnings: lying, manipulation

Rating: 3.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m a refreshing read, but I couldn’t quite will myself onto your favorites’ shelf.”

Review: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

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the storm crow coverThe Storm Crow

by Kalyn Josephson

Genre: Fantasy

Age Category: Young Adult

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Released on: July 9th, 2019

 

 

So, I kinda made a mistake of reading 80% of this book in September and leaving the last 40 pages to read till December, so my thoughts on this book are a little hazy. Regardless, I wanted to write a review of The Storm Crow because it was one of my top 3 anticipated releases for 2019!

In The Storm Crow, Princess Thia falls into a depression after the death of her mother and the magical crows that helped her kingdom function. A year later, her older sister, now the Queen, has no choice but to betroth Thia to the Illucian Prince, a boy whose Empire is slowly taking over the continent, their current target being Thia’s kingdom, Rhodaire. A spark of hope blooms inside of Thia when she finds a sole crow egg among the ruins of the rookery. Together, with her sister, friends, and the royal advisors, Thia concocts a plan to create an alliance with the other kingdoms to rebel against the Illucian Empire. But when Thia returns with her betrothed to Illucia, the path forward no longer seems clear, as she struggles with her depression, her shifting perspective on her betrothed, and her inability to hatch the crow egg.

Of course, one of the greatest elements of this novel was seeing Thia come to terms with her depression. Though the narration and portrayal of her mental illness felt a bit blunt, I loved how prominent it was throughout the story. It’s a consistent thread throughout the chapters and not merely brought up when it’s most convenient. Mental illness doesn’t make an appearance enough in fantasy novels, and I really hope more characters in similar positions to Thia’s pop up in the future.

In addition, there were a handful of other characteristics that I enjoyed. First, the world of The Storm Crow was fascinating. Josephson definitely fleshed out the cultures for each of the kingdoms (she also has an awesome guide in the back that gives you an overview of every kingdom, describing their current political state to their economy to their religion). The love triangle/romance situation was also somewhat refreshing. I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers, but essentially Josephson hints at what you would expect to be a typical love triangle and then twists it to provide a new set up (thought there was a bit of obnoxious insta-love going on). Finally, Thia’s sapphic best friend and guard, Kiva, was also a great joy to read about.

But when it came to the plot and the pacing, I wasn’t a fan. Thia’s plan to ignite a rebellion with the kingdoms felt overly simplistic and spur of the moment (e.g. I was shocked how easily her sister, the Queen, agreed to it), to the point where it seemed naïve and child-like. As a result, the plot came across as rushed in some places. Alongside this, Thia’s first-person narration was very heavy-handed in its “telling” and direct explanations to the reader, which made it harder for me to immerse myself in the novel.

Despite being an enjoyable read, The Storm Crow did not quite live up to my expectations. That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good book; I personally just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the YA crow/raven trend and/or anyone looking for more mental illness rep in their fantasy.

Trigger Warnings: Depression, grief, loss of a parent, physical torture, mental/emotional manipulation

Rating: 3.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m a fun ride, but I wasn’t able to fly into your heart.”