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Friday, March 16, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - High Voltage (Fever #10) by Karen Marie Moning

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: High Voltage
(Fever #10)
Author: Karen Marie Moning 
Age Category/Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
There is no action without consequence…

Dani O’Malley was nine years old when the delusional, sadistic Rowena transformed her into a ruthless killer. Years later, she’s tough, hardened, yet achingly vulnerable and fiercely compassionate, living alone by her own exacting code. Despite the scars on her body, driven by deeper ones carved into her soul, no one is more committed to protecting Dublin. By day, she ensures the safety of those she rescues, by night she hunts evil, dispensing justice swiftly and without mercy, determined to give those she cares for the peace she has never known.

There is no power without price…

When the Faerie Queen used the dangerously powerful Song of Making to heal the world from the damage done by the Hoar Frost King, catastrophic magic seeped deep into the earth, giving rise to horrifying, unforeseen consequences–and now deadly enemies plot in the darkness, preparing to enslave the human race and unleash an ancient reign of hell on Earth.

There is no future without sacrifice…

With the lethal, immortal Ryodan at her side, armed with the epic Sword of Light, Dani once again battles to save the world but her past comes back to haunt her with a vengeance, demanding an unspeakable price for the power she needs to save the human race and no one—not even Ryodan who’d move the very stars for her—can save her this time…

Buy Links: Amazon

4.5 “High Fever" Stars

The Fever series is my favorite book series ever, and I will never get tired of it. That is all.

No. That's not all, obviously. But I won't write a long review because my thoughts are never coherent when it comes to these characters and this world I love so freaking much. All I want to say before is that I miss Mac and Jericho (because, yes, they still are my OTP), I'm completely obsessed with Dani and Ryodan, and I suspect I'm just going into another major book hangover. Honestly, I don't know why I read Fever books right after they're released because it always leaves feeling me depressed at the thought I'll have to wait another year or longer for the next one. I imagine that's how people felt when the Harry Potter books came out (I read them much later on).

So, yeah, this was another winner for me. Sorry for those who don't like Dani and Ryodan. Sorry for those who think KMM should've ended the series after the first 5 brilliant books. Sure they haven't been as spectecular, but when you have a world like the one she created and characters that can make you feel as much as they do after ten books, I have to say: Keep writing!

One thing, though. High Voltage read a lot more like fantasy romance than urban fantasy, but see the gif bellow if you think I cared:

This book gave me ALL THE RIGHT FREAKING FEELS, so I'm using gifs for the rest of my review. This was me when:

1. Chapter One ended

2. Dani thought about Ryodan:

3. Shazam was Shazam:

4. Chapter Seventeen happened and almost gave me a heart attack:

5. Chapter Twenty brought me Dani's dress and that car ride:

6. Jericho made a brief appearance:

7. Mac made an even briefer (is that a word?) appearance:

8. This quote gave me life: "He ran his thumb over the screen as if he might somehow touch Mac through it. And I thought, Holy hell, Jericho Barrons has a…not a vulnerability but yes, that. A weakness, a need. Mac. I’d seen it in her, too."

9. The letter revealed more about Ryodan's actions:

10. Every time Lor talked:

11. Chapter Thirty-One tried to end my life:

12. Chapter Thirty-Four finally brought me the words I wanted to hear:

13. All the other POV chapters got in the way of my ship time:

14. The villain was dealt with in one page:

15. Dani "evolved" and learned the truth of what she was/could do:

16. The Shazam twist came:

17. Roydan thought it was an illusion:

18. Everything about the last chapter and epilogue happened and just gave me life back:

19. I realize Fever #11 had no release date yet:

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo 
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Buy Links: Amazon

4.5 “I didn’t even like Ariel” Stars

OMG, how is this book not a big thing already? I totally blame the lack of publicity this book got on the fact that it came out on March 6th with a thousand other books. I mean, it was astonishing the number of YA released that day. LOL

All I can say is To Kill a Kingdom deserves your attention and love.

Honestly, I was never a big fan of Ariel and the Little Mermaid. When I think of Disney princesses, she’s one of the last ones to come to mind. So, imagine my surprise when I read the blurb and go, Ohhhhh, Ariel has turned dark and I like it.

To Kill a Kingdom is the story of Lira, a siren princess that lives to kill princes and steal their hearts to prove to her Sea Queen mother than she’s strong and powerful and cruel enough to take her place when time comes; and Elian, a human prince who lives to kill sirens. You know where this is getting, right?

Lira is a badass siren, but she shows a link to her humanity from the start, and it comes in the form of her also siren cousin. Elian is also a badass, and his charm is partially due to his respect and friendship with his crew of pirates.

This is how we meet Lira:
“I HAVE A HEART for every year I’ve been alive.
There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody. I count each of them, so I can be sure none were stolen in the night. It’s not such an odd fear to have. Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.”

This is how we meet Elian:

“TECHNICALLY, I’M A MURDERER, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.”

The first third of the story is full of heart-stealing (literally and not) and siren-stabbing scenes, and bad attitude and good humor and “OMG, I’m already falling hard for this book” screams from me.

Then, we move on to what the curse. Not a spoiler since the blurb gives it away. Also, this is a retelling, so Lira will obviously become a human at some point. So, yeah, the evil Sea Queen curses Lira and gives her legs and a human appearance so she has to steal Elian’s heart without her powers, or say goodbye to her siren form and probably her life.

I’ll say this, the Sea Queen isn’t joking around. She’s evil and she won’t spare anyone, family or not. So Lira has a reason to be scared and to have turned into the killer she is. But humans aren’t always trash (despite what our current global situation implies), and Elian and his crew have a chance to change Lira’s mind about humans even though they have zero idea she’s a siren.

As for Elian, rescuing a drowning, naked Lira also ends up being a chance to end a war without having to kill the entire siren species. Since he also doesn’t that’s a real possibility, he spends his time searching for a magical item that will kill the Sea Queen and her daughter.

So here we have these two beings that are planning on killing each other, but end up stuck together and I’m obviously loving all of it.

The banter is incredible from the start. The humor is there, although I’m not sure everyone will appreciate it. I did. The characters are amazing! I loved, loved Madrid and Kye, two members of Elian’s crew. I LOOOOVED how Madrid was so eager to have another female pirate on the crew that she welcome Lira with open arms. I loved how Kye was protective of Elian and made sure Lira knew he was keeping an eye on her. I love how Madrid and Kye were together in a healthy, no-drama-needed relationship. I loved that Kye was protective of Elian, but he didn’t suffocate Madrid. I loved when all of that interacted and joked and teased and made me laugh.

Dude, this book made me laugh.

I can’t even with the world building. I CAN’T. It’s just so amazing. All the countries/kingdoms we visited with Elian and Lira were so rich and unique. I’m still OBSESSED with the love country that sounded like a chocolate-filled heaven. I want it!!!

And the romance?

The freaking romance!!! Five words: Slow Burn + Hate to Love.

They were perfect together and that last scene was the end of me. I’m just dead.

Seriously, that entire last chapter was perfect because it gave me everything I needed. First, my happy ending, thank you very much. Second, my ship being adorable on a literal ship. Third, an ending that showed me a powerful female main character who followed her destiny, an equally happy male main character who found a way to fulfill his dream and the two of them engaged in a healthy relationship that survives distance and is built in mutual respect for each other’s responsibilities and dreams.

And a real ending. No cliffhanger, no need for sequels. A freaking standalone. When was the last time I read a YA Fantasy standalone that had a perfect ending that left me wanting to read more, but also knowing that maybe I shouldn’t because it’s already perfect? I can’t remember.

Now that you read this long and rambly review, go show this book some love, PLEASE!

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Friday, March 09, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Review - Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner
Author: Lianne Oelke
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: January 9th, 2018
Publisher: Clarion Books
The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don't know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she'll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She'll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

Buy Links: Amazon
4 “The best of Reality TV” Stars

Nice Try, Jane Sinner was the book I needed this week. It was fun, witty, deep and sort of unique.

The narrative choices were a little different from what I’m used to since this was supposed to be Jane Sinner’s journal, but I still loved it. I pretty much loved a lot about this book.

First, I loved Jane. She was such a fun and interesting character to follow. Even when she was struggling to feel anything, she still made me feel, which made the entire experience even more intriguing.

A teen expelled from school before graduation because of something she did (and you will only learn halfway through the book), Jane goes to a community college to get her degree. There, she signs up for a Big-Brother-like show produced by one of the students—the House of Orange.

The whole reality TV setting was amazing, and it served as the perfect background for this journey. It made Jane face the kind of challenges that were at times entertaining and silly, but allowed her to put herself out there and grow. It also introduced her to a bunch of people that helped her come into her own.

All the contestants were interesting and well-developed, but Marc and Robbie were definitely the ones I liked the most. That’s probably because they were the ones to interact with Jane for the longest period of time. Robbie was the friend, then not-friend, then love interest. And Marc...well, he was the subject of Jane's hilarious experiment, which was one of the funniest parts of this book.

Carol, Jane’s sister, was another favorite of mine. Her relationship with Jane was nuanced and made for some touching moments.

Like I said, there’s romance, but it isn’t the focus of the story. This book is all about Jane’s struggles and her journey to finding herself. There’s talk of religion, depression, suicide,  mental health, sexuality and a lot of other serious things in a snarky, fun but also deep way.  It’s hard to say much about this book without giving out major spoilers, but I can definitely say going into it knowing little about what the story was about made the reading experience better.

If you're looking for a humurous story with awesome characters and beautifully done on-page character growth, then this is definitely it.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Release & Review - The Belles (The Belles #1) by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Belles
(The Belles #1)
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Buy Link: Amazon

3.5 “Beautiful World” Stars

If I were to rate this book based solely on world building, I’d give it five stars. That’s how much I enjoyed Orléans and its beauty-obsessed society. In all honesty, all the stars I’m giving this book are for the stunning world this author created.

In The Belles, we have a society that resembles a little The Capitol from The Hunger Games, since everyone is willing to go to extremes to ensure they’re “beautiful”.  For that, they have the help of the magical Belles, a group of girls “born” with powers to turn the citizens of Orléans from their gray-self they’re born to beautiful beings.

In ways, the book creates a parallel with our world that is shocking and disturbing. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it easy to see our society getting as far as the characters in this story do in order to obtain the so-called beautiful look they want. It’s even easier to understand how they change that said ideal look from one day to the next. If everyone had the chance to change how they looked whenever they pleased, wouldn’t most people do it? Look at the numbers for the plastic surgery industry and you’ll find an answer to that question.

Speaking of which, I absolutely loved the fact that the beauty procedures done by the Belles weren’t pain-free. In fact, the Belles had to give their clients a special tea in order to take some of the pain away. This attention to detail was one of the things that made the Belle-world and the Belles themselves both intriguing and relatable. So, yes, I believe the author deserves high praise for world building.

The writing was also good. I’ve seen people complain about the heavy descriptions, and I agree it was a bit much, but I’m willing to overlook that because of the theme of the book. Since this is a story about beauty, detailed descriptions were expected. 

Now, even though I loved the world, I can’t say the same about the characters. Of all of them, I can only name two characters I was still rooting for by the end of the book, and none of them is the protagonist.

In fact, Camellia was most definitely not my kind of heroine. Introduced as this adventurous, rule-breaking Belle, I felt like Camellia only put those traits to use for selfish reasons. Selfish is the first word I’d use to describe her.

In the beginning of the story, I admired Camellia’s drive to become the Queen’s favorite (a Belle chosen to serve the royals), but her actions after the first announcement left a bad taste in my mouth. And she wasn’t the only one misbehaving. Amber was just as bad. Look, I get that they were competitive girls and they were fighting for the same title, but they were also raised as sisters. If Camellia’s words were to be believed, they were also best friends. I didn’t see any of that, to be honest. All I saw were two selfish girls putting their competition and desire to be the best ahead of their sisterhood, each other’s safety and other people’s lives.

The worst thing about this was that they didn’t overcome part of this rivalry/selfishness until the last few pages. And I say “part” because I still feel there wasn’t nearly enough character growth when it came to both Camellia and Amber. They did horrible things because they wanted to prove their worth, and the lengths that they had to go to realize that they’ve gone too far just made me dislike them even more. 

Here's also where I touch on a sensitive subject: the book was problematic in its treatment of gay characters. Spoilers will prevent me from getting into details, but I'd heard the rumors before I read and I have to agree. 

My biggest problem with the book, though, was Camellia's lack of agency. This book is long—maybe too long—and it felt like most of it was spent in the beauty rooms. Camellia lost herself in the beauty treatments and ignored the clear signs that things around her were truly bad.

People warned her of the dangers of getting involved in the villain’s web of lies, but Camellia was too busy showing the villain her abilities (including ones she should’ve kept hidden) to pay attention to the warnings. It took the Queen coming to her and revealing a secret for Camellia to finally come to her senses. And even when she did, it took her forever and ever to do something about it. I want to keep this spoiler-free, so I can’t go into detail, but Camellia waited until the last few pages to finally use her powers to do that something that was crucial to the safety of the rest of her people. And since she waited that long, her actions didn’t have the impact they needed.

She also went on and on about how she missed and worried about her sisters, but she waited until almost the end to go check on one of them. When she did, she found something incredibly troubling. What did she do? Nothing of importance. She heard a few excuses and swallowed them, then moved on to another beauty appointment.

Even if I take the selfishness out of Camellia’s shows of independency and rebellion, they were mostly followed by silly actions that made me roll my eyes.

After the first time Camellia tried to go against the villain, she thought it was okay to eat food the villain brought to her room right after that, even though she’d been alerted to how poison was becoming common in the castle. Really, girl? Really?

By the way, what happened to Camellia’s favorite servant, Bree? Did Camellia seriously do nothing to save the girl who was accused of a crime she didn’t commit? I know things got chaotic soon after that, but she could’ve used the time she spent flirting with August to try to free Bree.

Speaking of August… That romance just didn’t do it for me at all. In fact, I was way more interested in Camellia’s friendship with Rémy than that boring romance. It also didn’t help that it felt insta-love and insta-trust. I mean, Camellia knew nothing about this boy that showed up out of nowhere and was suddenly interested in her, but she thought, “Oh, Let me start spilling well-kept Belle secrets to this complete stranger just because he’s cute.”

Camellia wasn’t even the only one who acted silly. The whole mystery with the Queen’s eldest daughter had the most predictable and lackluster outcome. I’m sorry, but how did no one realize what was happening? I mean…

So, yeah, unfortunately I had a lot of problems with the characters and some of plot choices, but the experience wasn’t exactly negative. I loved the world and I'm always here for more diverse fantasy with stunning covers!!! Look at that cover. So pretty!

Despite my reservations and the time it took me to finish it, I read all of it and I was excited when the two characters I truly liked were finally in the same room in the last page. If they play a bigger part on the sequel, then I think we have all the right elements for a better book.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.