ARC REVIEW: The Kingdom of Back – Marie Lu

34213299Title: The Kingdom of Back
Author: Marie Lu
Rating: ★★★½

ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.

“And then one night you realize that you have given him so much of yourself that you are nothing but the curtsy and the smile and the quiet. That you are nothing.”

What is this book about? The synopsis is definitely a bit misleading (at least to me). I was expecting a fantasy story with musical aspects something along the veins of Wintersong. However, The Kingdom of Back is a historical fiction focused on the bond between siblings with some fantasy elements mixed in. The book follows the Nannerl Mozart and her relationship with her brother as they discover and cultivate their prodigious musical talents together.

What did I like? I’m a big enough person to admit that prior to this book, I was unaware of Wolfgang Mozart’s equally talented sister, Nannerl. Once I had read up about her on Wikipedia, I was able to better appreciate Marie Lu’s story. She gave such an important voice to Nannerl and I loved how true to history the book’s events were. Even the mention of the Kingdom of Back was really well done and did a great job giving insight to the possible thoughts and emotions Nannerl might have had about her success and place in the world compared to her brother’s.

What didn’t I like? The Kingdom of Back was a lot slower paced and longer than I had anticipated. Because it was lacking in action and focused more on Nannerl’s inner monologue, I struggled to push through parts of the book.

Overall thoughts: The Kingdom of Back was a totally different type of story than I had been expecting: the book is more historical fiction than fantasy. Marie Lu’s lyrical writing focuses on music and sibling love, however the book’s slower pace and lack of action failed to keep my attention.

BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY: Beyond the Shadowed Earth – ARC Review

Welcome to my stop on the Beyond the Shadowed Earth book tour! Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour host! 


ABOUT THE BOOK

book coverTitle: Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Beneath the Haunting Sea #2)
Author: 
Joanna Ruth Meyer

Release: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Genre: YA Fantasy

It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.

Years later, her hold on the empire begins to crumble and her best friend unexpectedly grows sick and dies. Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined.

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Review

What is this book about? Beyond the Shadowed Earth is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea rather than a sequel. The story is about Eda, who makes a small appearance in Beneath the Haunting Sea as the antagonist. Here, Eda loses the empire she fought so hard to gain control of and sets out to find the god with whom she made a bargain with years ago.

What did I like? Honestly, the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was Eda. She’s not written to be a very likeable character–she manipulated, lied, and murdered her way to be Empress. She’s selfish and power-hungry, yet it made the story that more intriguing to read. And because she was such a flawed character, it made her growth at the end that more meaningful and satisfying.

What didn’t I like? Parts of the story were slower which made hard to capture my attention, but other parts are very action-packed which makes up for the slower sections.

Overall thoughts? Beyond the Shadowed Earth is another well-written, fantasy story from Joanna Ruth Meyer. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves reading books about flawed characters and redemption stories.

★ ★ ★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

authorJoanna Ruth Meyer hails from Mesa, Arizona, where she lives with her dear family, a rascally feline, and an enormous grand piano. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to convince her students that Bach is actually awesome, or plotting her escape from the desert. She loves good music, thick books, looseleaf tea, rainstorms, and staring out of windows. One day, she aspires to own an old Victorian house with creaky wooden floors and a tower (for writing in, of course!).

 

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GIVEAWAY

Win one of two finished copies of Fireborne (US/CAN only).

✨ ENTER HERE ✨


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ARC REVIEW: Ashlords – Scott Reintgen

42281865Title: Ashlords
Author: Scott Reintgen
Rating: ★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. 

What is this book about? Ashlords follows the point of views of three characters from three very different backgrounds as they enter an annual competitive race featuring phoenix horses. Is it as awesome as the premise sounds? Yes.

What did I like? The premise of Ashlords is unlike any other I’ve read. Scott Reintgen did such an amazing job creating the plot and the world in this book. The entire concept of phoenix horses and using alchemy to rebirth different breeds of the horses was so well-developed and extremely interesting. Once I got into the meat of the novel, it was hard to pull my attention from its pages.

I also really loved the characters. The story follows three different protagonists from very different backgrounds. Ashlords focuses on more than just the horse race, but also on the political intrigue and the unrest brewing between the different people of the empire. The characters–Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa–become important pieces in the war and revolution to come.

What didn’t I like? Pippa’s POV was told through second person, which was hard for me to get into in the beginning of the book, but after a while I became accustomed to reading her chapters. I understand that it was done to help distinguish from the other POVs, but Scott Reintgen did such a great job making each voice unique that I didn’t think it was necessary.

Overall thoughts: Ashlords was a fun, fast-moving story about phoenix horses, a troubled empire, and meddlesome gods. Once the plot got going, it was hard to put this down and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel!

REVIEW: Husband Material – Emily Belden (ARC)

42867745._SY475_Title: Husband Material
Author: Emily Belden
Rating: DNF @ 58%

ARC provided by the publisher through Netgalley. 

Unfortunately, I had to call it quits shortly after the halfway mark. I skimmed quite a few parts from the remainder of the book, so I have a fairly good idea of what happens and I’m sorry to say that had I finished it, my final opinion would have been just as bad.

What is this book about? Husband Material follows our protagonist, Charlotte, a widow who lost her husband five years ago from a freak accident. She’s made a new life for herself in LA, however, a misfortunate event causes the ashes of her deceased husband to appear at her front door five years later, along with the reappearance of his best friend. Do not let the fact that this book keeps showing up under the romance genre; Husband Material is a not a feel-good, lighthearted romance novel. I sort of feel like I misled in that aspect? Instead, the story is about grief, secrets, and forgiveness.

What did I like? Charlotte was a pretty decent character. I really felt for her throughout the story and the incredible circumstances she’s had to overcome.

What didn’t I like? The first issue I had was the overly descriptive writing. There were so many unnecessary specifics and I felt like the author kept name-dropping expensive brands just for the sake of it. A lot of time in the book was spent describing every little detail of the book and characters; I don’t need to know the color, type, and label of the pajamas the character was wearing – just say she was in pajamas in move on!

The “love interest” – if you could even call him that – was terrible. There was absolutely zero chemistry between him and Charlotte and I could not for the life of me even figure out why she would be with him or even like him?? There were hardly any genuine moments of tension or buildup between the two of them to convince me of any kind of feelings. Not to mention that he is a thief and a liar and a terrible person!! The title of this book is ironic because he is most decidedly NOT husband material.

Overall thoughts: Husband Material has been marketed as a romance book and so I was expecting an entirely different kind of novel. Regardless, between the overly descriptive writing and the horrible “love interest” this was not something I wanted to continue to read and ended up quitting halfway.

REVIEW: To Love and to Hoax – Martha Waters (ARC)

48341787._SY475_Title: To Love and to Hoax
Author: Martha Waters
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. 

Had the publisher not reached out to me about this book, it probably would have missed my radar altogether. I haven’t seen the title on any upcoming lists, I hadn’t hear of this debut author, and in all honesty, one look at that cover and I would have skipped right over this (please can it get a makeover?). That being said, I am extremely thankful that I received that email about this upcoming rom-com, otherwise I would have missed out on this brilliantly written, laugh-out-loud funny, hate-to-love story.

What is this book about? To Love and to Hoax is a the best of two genres: rom-com meets historical romance. After an argument led to a falling out between them and cold detachment between the couple for the past four years, James and Violet begin a series of hoaxes and manipulation in the attempt to up-stage one another while insisting there are no feelings left between them. To Love and to Hoax is a second-chance romance story full of pranks, miscommunication, and a plethora of angst and sexual tension. Basically, everything I love best.

What did I like? Everything. I found both James and Violet to be delightful characters, each with their own problems that need to be worked through, and I loved watching their character growth both separately and has a couple. The antics the two of them create with the intention of vexing the other spouse were childish, yet totally believable. Although I am not married myself, I have heard from others on more than one occasion the kind of immaturity people get up to with their spouses that stem from a place of miscommunication and frustration.

The book also had a cast of lovely side characters! I’m really hoping the author decides to continue writing stories about James and Violet’s friends; I’d especially love a story about West and Sophie or Jeremy and Diana! Martha Waters is a debut author, but her writing was absolutely spectacular. I really look forward to reading more from her in the future.

What didn’t I like? Honestly, the only thing I didn’t enjoy about the novel is the cover. Literally that’s it.

Overall thoughts: I loved everything about this: the clever plot, the superb writing, the steamy romance, and the the humor. Martha Waters has written a fantastic hate-to-love rekindled romance that I’m so thankful was brought to my attention by the publisher. I really do think the book needs a new cover however, if only because a lot of people judge books by the cover (even though we swear we don’t) and I truly believe a revamped cover will up this book get the attention that it deserves.