Tag Archives: Young Adult

Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

 Black Dawn
by Mallory McCartney

The end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.

With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

Rated: DNF @ 50%
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Publication: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

Such a beautiful cover and an amazing synopsis. Sadly, though, Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney just didn’t do it for me. I really tried to get into it, to power through and reach the end, but just, not enough happened to make me care about the characters, the world, the ending.

The world feels flimsy. We barely get any information about it except for the party line that gets crowed, there are powers, an Academy, murder, a bad guy/jilted man. All we know (in the first half of the book at least) is what gets told to Emory, which feels like the bare minimum. As a reader, I want to care about the world I’m reading about. I want to feel how high the stakes are and root one for the world to be saved. Yet, with so little information about Emory’s homeland given, it didn’t seem to matter to me.

The characters. Emory never feels like a potential Queen. We see her flounder, which would be great, if we get to feel her frustration, her desire to be what is needed. But we don’t get it (again, in the first half at least). We get someone in Emory who is barely there, barely a character. Then, Memphis. He just, I know he’s supposed to be the love interest, but he feels skeevy. He takes memories, gives memories because he’s selfish, secretly in love with her, leading another on. It’s just too much.

With a world and characters barely fleshed out in the first half of the book, I simply had no interest in finishing Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney, which is sad because I had such high hopes. Maybe it does pick up in the latter half of the book, but honestly, I shouldn’t have to reach the end of the book before caring about the story.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

 A Court of Wings and Ruin
by Sarah J Maas

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Publication: May 2, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Personally purchased title

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

Finally, the end, and boy what a surprise I got! A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas might be the book I disliked the least out of the series. Of course, we got more Nesta, but more importantly, we got more action, more everything else. Though, I must warn, the reason I enjoyed this the best out of the series might also have to do with the fact that I wasn’t invested in it anymore. I stopped hoping this would be amazing, read a million spoilers, was convinced it would be horrible, then skim-read the entire thing, finishing in 3 hours.

Maas finally cut out the pity party starts she’s had with the first two books, delving straight into subterfuge and revenge instead. Such a refreshing change of pace that just continues through the book. The focus seems to have changed from being Feyre and Rhys, to hey, there are other characters and people here too and maybe we should give them some page time. This made the story quite fast-paced and much more enjoyable.

The characters… were interesting. Nesta is back and better than ever. She’s still the only reason I don’t regret this series. Still the saving grace for me. I might consider borrowing a book about Nesta from the library if she gets a spin-off (never buying a Maas book again after this series). What boggles my mind is how Maas can develop Nesta so well, yet stumble so horribly with other characters. Namely, Mor. Mor, who has been a strong, independent character that does have vulnerabilities but fights with elegance, was now reduced to a shadow of her former self. Indeed, her character felt so different from what she was in the previous book, it was jarring. Then, there was what she was put through by her so-called ‘family.’ Yes, I’m talking about the inner circle. She was put in situations where her well-being was a not even an after-thought. The situation with Az is squicky for the main reason that we have a ‘best friend’ who makes Mor so uncomfortable she will sleep with random men. We have someone who became That Guy™ but are still supposed to like him? Be okay with him? Feel sorry for him? No, thank you.

The ending, not a letdown since I already had low expectations, but not amazing either. I think one of the biggest flaws is that Maas didn’t want to tie everything up. Not that she necessarily needs to, but it very much felt like the way it was written was simply to set up the spin-off novels coming next year. It didn’t feel like the focus was on the current fight, the current struggle.

There’s a lot more I can say about A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas, and expect to hear it during the Pages and Pause Screen podcast for it next week, May 17th. That said, this book is sure to polarize fans of the series, though I’m sure there’s nothing that I, or anyone else, can say to keep the rabid fangirls from picking it up.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

 A Court of Mist and Fury
by Sarah J Maas

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication: May 3, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Personally purchased title

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

I honestly don’t know what to make of A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. This being the second book ever I’ve read by Maas, it seems a pattern with her to have slow, excruciatingly boring starts that eventually builds up at the very end. How did this book manage to get four stars out of me then? Easy. Nesta Archeron, the saving grace of this series for me.

Maas continues the pity party for Feyre, though this time it is completely deserved. That said, the way Maas treats her PTSD does not feel real. It feels as though it’s just a cheap plot point to get her away from Tamlin, instead of something very real for Feyre. The fact that we could have gotten an amazing book just dealing with Feyre coming to terms with what she did, and what she did for Tamlin, and Tamlin coming to terms with what he couldn’t do, and then instead we got a book that swept all of that quickly under the rug for the sake of a rushed romance was so incredibly disappointing. I wanted better for everyone involved.

For me, everything felt flat, from the characters, to the missions, everything. At least in the first half. Then, things changed towards the end, as seems to be Maas’ style, which leaves me wondering if perhaps she doesn’t have enough story to carry out the page length she’s looking for so she drags the start. Or again, it’s probably just me.

So again, why the four stars? Minor character Nesta Archeron, Feyre’s sister. The only thing I found likable about this series so far. She’s horrible and she doesn’t apologize for it. She has passion and fights and is sure of herself. She felt like a character that shouldn’t have been, but fought her way to the front, starting as a stock evil sister in A Court of Thorns and Roses, and evolving to potential major player. She made the book exciting. The Target exclusive, Wings and Ember, made the book worth it and really made me wonder how Maas could do such a lovely job with Nesta and Cassian, with a short story, yet seems to struggle with the longer, actual books themselves.

If Nesta hadn’t been in A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas, there is no way I would ever pick up the third in the series, or bother reading more Maas. But, seeing her character gives me hope that things will pick up in A Court of Wings and Ruin.

This book was read for the Pages and Pause Screen podcast (part 1 and part 2). 

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

 A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

Rated: ★★½
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication: May 5, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Personally purchased title

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

I have heard such amazing things about A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Heard about how great Sarah J Maas is at creating great characters and amazing worlds. How gripping ACOTAR is and what a wild ride it is. Told it is everything I could ever want. Well, maybe all of that is true, but I didn’t see or feel it until the very end of the book.

One of the biggest flaws for me has to be the pacing. The first half of the book had me slogging along, ready to pull my hair out. There was so little actually accomplished, I just didn’t know what the big fuss was about. Then, finally at about the 75% mark, things picked up wildly. The last quarter of the book is what saved the book. If Maas was better able to find a balance between setting story up and going through action, this would have made a world of difference.

Then, the second biggest flaw for me were the characters, mainly protagonist Feyre. She fell so flat for me. The first half, and main reason the book was such a chore to get through, sees Feyre lamenting her life and in such a state of self-pity, I had to wonder why I was reading this instead of just living my own life and fretting upon my own depression. People are allowed to feel depressed, to be in despair, but when you’re writing characters feeling these things, you need to do so with craft. It’s hard to spend a hundred pages or so stuck in the mire with them, especially when you’re just getting to know them.

So, with the faults out of the way, how did the book still get three and a half stars? That ending! It was so unexpected and action packed, it made up for the rest of the book dragging. It made me wish we had seen more of that, convinced me that yes, Maas does know what she’s doing, but had me wondering why she saved it for the end.

There’s a lot more I can talk about, and have talked about in a pair of podcasts on Pages and Pause Screen (first half, second half). In general, however, I think my thoughts on A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas can be summed up by saying that it’s an intriguing start to a new series that will hopefully only pick up in the sequel!

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James

 Gilded Cage
by Vic James

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Gilded Cage by Vic James

All I can say is I need the second book ASAP! Gilded Cage by Vic James is an impressive first look into a new, grim world that feels oddly familiar and appropriate given the current state of affairs in the world. Society is broken up into the haves and the have-nots, as those with special powers they were born with (and are acquired through inherited birth by a few it seems) are in control of Great Britain, while the plebs without power all must endure a ten year period of slavery.

Characters are intriguing, especially those that are Equal. There is so much intrigue and family politics that we just don’t know and it drives me crazy! Silyen, the youngest of the Parva-Jardine family is the one with the most Skill, yet, the aristocracy isn’t Skill/merit based. It’s still handed down to the first born. Which puts emotionally unstable Gavar as next in line to rule one of Britain’s founding Equal fathers. James does something incredibly interesting when it comes to Gavar. She sets up an initial prejudice for readers, automatically framing him as an antagonist. Yet, for the rest of the novel, we see more than just the monster James paints in the prologue. We see there is a struggle there; he is volatile, yes, but he is loving too. He is extreme, and yet it is the reserved Silyen who gives off an air of detachment to everyone and everything, that proves to be the extremist. He is the one with the long game, though no one knows what it is, including readers.

There is a sense of heavy worldbuilding here as Vic James mentions how different parts of the world are split up between Equals and commoners. America split in two, an obvious nod to the Civil War, but also the current heavy rift in society and culture. Britain itself remains aristocratic and parliamentary, but it has become more of a joke, as those with the most power tend to be the most in charge; physical displays of Skill taking command. We also get a heavy sense of history behind everything, giving the world a gravity that draws you in.

I could talk about Gilded Cage by Vic James for hours. There are so many layers masterfully intertwined in a book that still remains firmly YA. Strong characters and solid worldbuilding make the political themes of the book flourish, giving readers a desire to make changes in their own world after seeing the inconsistencies and cruelties that are allowed to exist to the benefit of the empowered few.

Chemistry by CL Lynch

Chemistry by CL Lynch

 Chemistry
by CL Lynch

Stella Blunt’s world is ending. Her parents have dragged her across the country, and she has to start over in a new school. This is a big problem, because she doesn’t make friends easily: she’s large, she’s loud, and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Within days, Stella has alienated half the school.

Only one person seems to like her: Howard Mullins, the shy geek in her Chemistry class. He’s the biggest loser in school, but he’s a great listener, he’s smart at science, and he loves her for her mind. Then again, he drinks brains from a thermos and walks with a lurch.

Now undead hordes are showing up at her door, and Howard Mullins might be to blame.

Can Stella manage the bullies, figure out her complicated love life, AND handle a chainsaw?

Readers who are tired of traditional tropes and purple prose will enjoy this girl-power twist on Twilight from C. L. Lynch, who thinks big girls and zombies deserve love too.

Book 1 of the Stella Blunt series

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher: One Tall Tree
Publication: November 23, 2016
Genre: Zombies, YA, Urban Paranormal
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Chemistry by CL Lynch

This was an AMAZING book! I could not put it down. Chemistry by CL Lynch is everything Twilight should have been. It is funny, empowering, and still romantic. It is extremely telling how quickly I devoured it considering I absolutely hate anything zombies.

Lynch does a tremendous job keeping true to Twilight and keeping opposite. We have new student Stella Blunt who is large and in charge. This was so freaking great, to finally have a protagonist that can be good looking and large at the same time. Not curvy, large. She even makes jokes about it which endears her even more. Then, we have the actual realistic new student scenario where instead of being worshiped as Bella was, she is ostracized because really, who moves to a new school in the middle of the year just to be warmly welcomed by the student body when they never were at their old school?

The dynamic between Howard and Stella is fantastic. They joke about him being creepy and her warning him he better not watch her sleep, another great nod to Twilight. Howard is old fashioned, but apologizes for it and is awkward. He isn’t the suave brooder Edward was, which really, would someone that refuses to talk to the rest of the population actually be Mr Popularity?

Chemistry by CL Lynch reads much more true to life than Twilight. It’s funny and quirky with great pacing and an engaging storyline. Please, if you’ve read Twilight, do yourself a favor and pick this up. It is amazing!

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

 The Alchemists of Loom
by Elise Kova

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

Book 1 of the Loom Saga

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Publication: January 10, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Ariana had a bomb, three bullets, two refined daggers, a mental map of her heist, and a magic winch-box. All she waited for now was darkness.

Those first two sentences alone sucked me into The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. This was such a great fantasy book reminiscent of Six of Crows and Red Queen. With amazing pacing that never lags, characters that feel whole and real, and a world that is completely unique and amazing, this is definitely a fantasy novel I can recommend to readers.

Kova does not coddle the reader, thrusting you immediately into her brand new world which is brilliant and devastating all at once. You pick up meanings, customs, divisions as you read, but even without knowing the specifics, you feel like the author knows exactly what she’s talking about. The world has depth to it and doesn’t need to be explicitly explained for you to understand.

The characters are great and well-rounded. Arianna is especially fantastic as a main character that is strong-willed, bold, cunning, and non-heteronormative! Cvareh the Dragon (not a Smaug dragon btw) is her counterpart, arrogant and brash, more reaction than planned action. The glue holding them together is timid Florence. The three form a tiny little kinship to visit the Alchemists of Loom, each having their own reasons which they don’t necessarily share completely with the others.

If you’re looking for a new young adult fantasy that has solid grounding, an intricate plot, and characters that feel more like people than flat words on a page, please do yourselves a favor and pick up The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. It is a great book that makes me want to pick up her previous books as I wait for the second in the series.

IF you pre-order the book and email proof, you can get some pretty nifty swag. More info on Kova’s website

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Quotes & Excerpts

Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated the most with you and doing it until you died or it killed you — whichever came first.
pg 177

But a soul driven by vengeance was a selfish soul. A soul driven by vision was a generous one — one that bore itself before others and put the needs of the many before the needs of the few.
pg 357

About the Author


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Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

Rise by Luis Almonte

Rise by Luis Almonte

 Rise
by Luis Almonte

Fifteen-year-old high school sophomore Alexia Wick is an ordinary girl, with extraordinary abilities. She attends the prestigious South Haven Academy for the Gifted and Talented, but unknown to the other students, she is an Alerium witch. The daughter of a High Priest and Priestess, Alexia must learn to navigate the pressures of high school, all while preparing for one of the biggest competitions of her life- the Annual Trials.

Skill, stamina, and loyalty will all be tested in Rise, the first installment of the Trifecta Series. In this debut contemporary fantasy novel, magic gets real as Alexia trains for the Annual Trials, which pits teen against teen, by focusing on her craft and pushing her magic and spell casting abilities to their absolute limit. When the handsome and confident Kaleb moves into town, he offers Alexia a welcome distraction from the Trials, but a dark secret could soon tear them apart.

In the trials arena, friendships will be put to the test, fears will be confronted head-on, and powerful spells will be unleashed. When Alexia is confronted with the ultimate game of chance, and is torn between her first real love and the allegiance that binds her to her coven, will she buckle under the weight of the pressure … or will she rise to the challenge?

Book 1 in the Trifecta series

Rated: ★★
Publisher: Theorem
Publication: August 27, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Paranormal, Witchy, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Rise by Luis Almonte

OMG WHAT A STORY! So, I was beyond confused at the start, not really caring for prologues that start at the end of the book. I was really worried that I had made a mistake picking up Rise by Luis Almonte. Then, the story switched to what happened before the prologue and just yessss! Read this in one sitting because it was that much fun!

Now, before you pick this up, do be aware that this is very much a young adult book. I don’t just mean it’s a book for young adults, I mean it reads like a book for teenagers, not like the other “young adult” books we might be used to that can sometimes pass for adult fiction (not the erotic kind). It’s cute and intense all at once.

Alexia is daughter to two of the most powerful witches in her coven and approaching her pre-trial, a time where young witches are given the chance to prove their prowess and finesse with the craft before moving onto Trials and then being recognized as an actual apprentice/student with potential. Of course, while this is all going on, she has school going on where her one-time bff no longer seems to be her friend, being from rival covens after all. Yet, there’s still the boy best friend from the rival coven, there for her. Almonte is great at side-stepping the potential one-sided romance here, shutting it down right after its implied to the reader. I loved that because we got the “angst” but without having it drawn out like it is in most YA books.

And the reason it gets shut down? Kaleb, yummm, the fantastic new student that’s also mysterious with his mysterious sister. I love him SO MUCH. Yes, the romance between him and Alexia is seemingly quick and sudden, but I didn’t care because I wanted it so badly. Then, we find out his secret (which I had already predicted woohoo) and it’s even better!

So, why three stars? I think mainly because it was fun, but it wasn’t the pinnacle of YA fiction. While it was fun, some parts were predictable and the writing was okay but not amazing. Still, Rise by Luis Almonte was extremely enjoyable and I would definitely pick up the second book in the series.

About the Author

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Author Luis Almonte is a writer and poet who resides in New York with his spouse, along with CJ, a Boston Bull Terrier, and Ralfy, a Siberian husky. Luis is an avid poker player, and enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, and spending quality time with family and friends.