REVIEW: Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer (ARC)

40653162Title: Call It What You Want
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. 

Call It What You Want was a heartfelt story with an emotional depth that took me by surprise.

The premise was not anything new for a YA contemporary: two teenagers isolate by their peers find solace in each other. However, this book handled the trope in such a fantastic way. Rob and Maegan are each dealing with their own family issues, and after being forced to work together on a Calculus project, a friendship begins to form between them. I loved Rob so much! ❤️ He was so perfect! And it was really fun and satisfying watching his friendship to Maegan evolve from acquaintances to friends to something more. There were also a couple other great character relationships that develop as well with the side characters. In particular, I really enjoyed Rob and Owen’s friendship and Maegan’s relationship with her sister, Samantha. They were really important to the story and I was absorbed by their dynamics.

There were a lot of heavy topics brought up throughout the book, and Brigid Kemmerer wrote about them in a very compelling and realistic way. Some parts were so well written they made me feel a little emotional thinking about what some of these characters were going through. I absolutely love the fact that Brigid Kemmerer allowed the boys in the story to have emotions! You really don’t see enough of this in books, especially in the YA genre. Boys are allowed have emotions; to cry and to be upset and break down and not be any less masculine because of it. And when it did happen in the book, it wasn’t a huge focus and felt very natural and real. I honestly think it was one of my favorite aspects of the story.

Brigid Kemmerer really impressed me with this lovely book. I was not expecting the emotional depth and heavy topics brought up, but I thought they were brilliant and created such a wonderful story. Call It What You Want is a heartwarming, captivating book with some powerful messages.

REVIEW: DEV1AT3 – Jay Kristoff (ARC)

40177770Title: DEV1AT3 (Lifelike #2)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Jay Kristoff has delivered another thrilling book. Like it’s predecessor, DEV1AT3 was action-packed, features a cast of amazing characters, and is full of plot twists and reveals that will keep the reader begging for more.

First of all, the book begins with a recap. Bless you Jay. As silly as it may seem, I really wish more authors would do this with their series! It’s so incredibly helpful and saves me from either searching the internet for a recap or spending the first few chapters trying to remember everything that happened in the last book.

DEV1AT3 focuses a lot more on Lemon Fresh and her story. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this, but once I started it was a total non-issue. I really enjoyed her character in the first book and I loved following her journey in this one. She makes some important discoveries for herself and finally starts to develop of sense of self-identity. There were some X-Men vibes and I was totally digging it! We’re also introduced to some new fun characters; in particular, I was really enjoying reading about Grimm and Abraham and hope to learn more about them.

Besides Lemon Fresh, the story also features chapters from Cricket’s and Ezekiel’s POVs, but only few from Eve’s. Eve’s presence wasn’t as prominent in DEV1AT3, which I think is what led me to holding back a star, but I understand the decision to withhold her perspective. Eve is going through an identity crisis and therefore is make some really terrible choices. I really feel for her and I think by the end of the book she was beginning to realize that perhaps the path she has chosen is not what she really wants or believes in. I have total faith in her for the next book.

Jay absolutely killed it with the end. And by that, I mean he pulls another jaw-dropping cliffhanger that has me itching for the third book. DEV1AT3 was full of non-stop action and a fast-moving plot that pulled me in from the prologue. I absolutely love these characters and this world that Jay has written and I cannot wait for the conclusion!

REVIEW: Fireborne – Rosaria Munda (ARC)

36578543Title: Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle #1)
Author: Rosaria Munda
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

There are not enough words to describe my feelings about this book. Finishing this book left me feeling utterly speechless. I’m awestruck that this is Rosaria Munda’s debut, because it was nothing short of amazing. Fireborne is a thrilling, thought-provoking, powerful, gripping story that I can confidently say is easily my favorite book of the year, hands down.

Fireborn had been pitched as “Inspired by Plato’s Republic…Aegon Targaryen and Hermione Granger with dragons, set in the aftermath of a bloody revolution.” This is literally the most accurate book description I’ve read in my life. The story is told from the dual POVs of Lee and Annie. Lee is the only remaining survivor of the previous aristocracy who were massacred during the revolution. Annie is a orphan whose family suffered at the hands of that former aristocracy, and thanks to the new regime is offered an opportunity that would have been previously been unheard of. I found both Lee and Annie’s characters to be extremely compelling and well-written, and the complexity of their relationship was one of the highlights of the story. Both characters also had tremendous character growth by the end of the book and I was totally invested in them.

As for the book’s best feature: the political intrigue and turmoil. I’ve never said this before in a review – because in my opinion it’s in a league of its own – but if you enjoy the political intricacies and the grayness of which side is right/wrong, you will absolutely love this. This is a book in which the “good” guys do bad things, and the “bad” guys can be sympathized with. And books that have that aspect are my favorite, because in the real world there are no absolutes. Rosaria Munda does an excellent job developing those intricacies in her world and bringing adding an emotional depth to them.

Another thing I absolutely loved was the dragons! Many times, there are so-called “dragon” books, but the actual dragons are barely featured within the pages. That is definitely not the case in Fireborne. The dragons are heavily present in the story, and there are plenty of action-filled scenes with them! I also liked that the action scenes were descriptive enough to follow along and picture the scene, but not overdone to the degree where they become tedious or confusing. There are plenty of heart-pounding, page-turning scenes to love in this book!

I could go on and on about this book. I honestly had to force myself to put it down. My entire drive home from clinicals and work I fantasized about getting to read more chapters. I thought about the characters and the plot while I was in class. Fireborne is a politically-savvy, emotional, intoxicating story, and if it’s not already on your TBR, it needs to be.

REVIEW: The Storm Crow – Kalyn Josephson (ARC)

38330596Title: The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow #1)
Author: Kalyn Josephson
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher.

“Crow or no crow, one way or another, you will fly. You were always meant to rule the sky.”

The Storm Crow had been on my radar for a while and so I was ecstatic when I learned an ARC would be included in the December FairyLoot box! Who wouldn’t want to read a fantasy about elemental crows that can be ridden?! The Storm Crow was a fun new fantasy full of magic, strong female friendships, and a handsome tortured prince. 

The action begins right from the first chapter, which is the best way to hook me in. There were a couple slower moments, but for the most part The Storm Crow keeps the plot moving forward with plenty of action. The writing is excellent; Kalyn Josephson is a talent writer and does a great job pulling the reader into the story and painting a vivid picture. 

The author also does a fantastic job handling Anthia’s grief and depression. She doesn’t gloss over the character’s feelings and is very forthcoming portraying the emotions. It’s not hard to feel for Thia and want her to succeed in her journey!

As far as the romance, I will say that I feel kind of led on by the synopsis? The romance went in a direction I was not expecting. There’s nothing really wrong with the love interest per se; it was justv ery insta-lovey and meh. I’m not sure if we’re going to get a love triangle in the next book – some of the things Thia says towards the end make me feel doubtful – but I think I speak for the majority of people who’ve read this book in that we’re all rooting for someone else 😉

The Storm Crow was an entertaining story and I cannot wait for the second book! I look forward to more of Thia, Ericen and storm crows! 

REVIEW: Dark Shores – Danielle L. Jensen (ARC)

41438037Title: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Rating: ★★½

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

I promise, no one is more surprised by this rating than me. It really came down to the fact that I was expecting an action-pack, high-seas adventure and Dark Shores is neither of those things. I really, really wanted to like this because I love Danielle L. Jensen’s Malediction trilogy, but it honestly just fell flat.

Dark Shores is not a fast-paced book, and coupled with the lack of action, I struggled to get through it and had to force myself to sit down and read a few chapters at a time. Nothing happens for almost 80% of the book. The story is told through alternating POVs of the two protagonists, Marcus and Teriana. While I think the characters themselves are fine, I personally did not feel a connection with either of them, and so it made it really difficult to care about their journeys or their struggles.

Some of the early marketing for the book led me to believe this would be a swashbuckling tale featuring some pirates and epic adventures on the seas, but this is not that book. I know Danielle has worked hard to try to steer clear of that image because it’s not correct, but unfortunately my early ideas of what this book would be made an impression in my mind, and it was hard to ignore those expectations as I was reading. Although Dark Shores wasn’t the story for me, I’m still really looking forward to Jensen’s other new series, The Bridge Kingdom, finally becoming a print book later this year and hope I enjoy that more!