REVIEW: Echo North – Joanna Ruth Meyer (ARC)

40046030Title: Echo North
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter. 

“Ever north, where the mountain meets the sky and the trees are hung with stars.”

Echo North is a breathtaking, brilliant retelling of one of my favorite fairytales, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, while also blending elements of other similar stories, such as Tam Lin. This book completely blew my expectations out of the water. 

I’m familiar with the stories on which Echo North is inspired by, and so I had some sense of how the plot would unfold. Joanna Ruth Meyer did such an excellent job, however, in taking the original elements of the fairytales and adding little twists to create a whimsical story that was both true to its roots, and yet totally unique. After making a deal with a strange white wolf, Echo, our heroine, finds herself as caretaker of an enchanted house that responds to her wishes. The house also includes a library full of magical mirror-books, capable of transporting the reader into the books’ story. 

“What would happen when I blew out the lamp—what would happen if I lit it again?”

The storytelling was fantastic. The vivid descriptions and writing had me completely enamored by the book. Little hints are revealed along the way, and yet I was so focused on the magic of the story that it wasn’t until after the reveals at the end that I was able to reflect upon all the pieces. The ending was a little bittersweet, but it was entirely satisfying and wrapped the book up perfectly. 

Please do yourself a favor and add Echo North to your TBR, especially if you’re a fan of whimsical fairytales like East of the Sun, West of the MoonThis is such an enchanting, wonderful story and I’m so thankful I was finally able to find an early copy of it. 

REVIEW: The White Stag – Kara Barbieri (ARC)

39863517Title: The White Stag (Permafrost #1)
Author: Kara Barbieri
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

The last goblin book I read was a disappointment, so I was pleasantly surprised by The White Stag. The reviews for this seem to be either hit or miss, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book! This is a darker story than most YA Fantasy and deals with tougher subjects, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The beginning of the book dumps readers right into the middle of the action, and I was initially thrown off for a few moments, but as I continued reading I came to the realization that I actually liked that approach and it seemed to work for the story the author was trying to tell. Janneke, the protagonist, was such an interesting character to read about, and I had no problem rooting for her through the events of the book. Kara Barbieri really drives the message of Janneke being a survivor after everything she has had to endure, such as the death of her family and personal trauma. As the story goes on, she begins to figure out and accept who she is, and becomes an even stronger fighter.

The concept of the Wild Hunt was so intriguing to read about. It creates a lot of action for the story, and also allows for some growth for out characters. I really enjoyed the progression of feelings between Janneke and Soren. The romance felt believable and natural, and I look forward to seeing it develop further in the next book. And that ending was quite the twist! I can honestly say I did not expect anything of that sort happening, and I’m really curious as to what will happen in the upcoming sequel. 

REVIEW: Slayer – Kiersten White (ARC)

34723130Title: Slayer (Slayer #1)
Author: Kiersten White
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher.

Firstly, I would like to give a shout out to the lovely ladies at the Riveted booth at YALLfest for letting me play the lollipop game nine times until I finally won a book – it was totally worth the eight times of disappointment to get this! 

Slayer was an absolute blast to read. And if you’re unsure about whether this book is for you because of all the Buffy references let me ease your mind: I’ve only ever seen season one of Buffy, and I not only tremendously enjoyed this book, but could also easily follow along with the plot and world. 

Kiersten White did an amazing job crafting this book and maintaining the same vibe and humor as the show. Slayer was so fun and entertaining! I loved the protagonist, Nina. She’s not the typical “strong” heroine we meet in a lot of YA fantasy/paranormal books: she’s reluctant to step into her newly appointed role as Slayer, and would rather spend her time at home reading (same) or as a medic healing others (also same). She struggles between her need to kill and her desire to fix. 

“How can I reconcile my natural instincts to take care of things, to heal things, with what my calling actually is?”

I had no problem getting through this, even when the beginning was a bit slower. I really enjoyed following Nina’s progress and growth as a character, as well as her relationships with her sister and friends. There were a few twists at the very end that have me very excited for the next book! Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Buffy, have a passing admiration for the show, or just enjoy fun demon-slaying books, Slayer will not disappoint! 

REVIEW: Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

39348113Title: Skyward (Skyward #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: ★★★★★

Stars, this was scudding fantastic. This was my first Brandon Sanderson novel, but you can bet it definitely will not be my last. I’ve heard such great things about his works, and now I can finally understand all the praise. Skyward was thrilling Sci-Fi full of non-stop action and terrific characters. 

I could not stop reading this book. The way in which Sanderson describes the action sequences was so vivid and easy to follow along with. I could understand everything and could clearly picture what was happening in my mind. It seriously made me not only enjoy the book so much better, but also had me flying through the action-packed pages. There were also a few illustrations within the book that were not only interesting to study, but also helped with envisioning the maneuvers and flying described in the scenes. 

“Tremble and fear, all enemies!” he shouted. “For we shall shake the air with thunder and blood! Your doom is eminent!”

Spensa was an amazing protagonist and I really enjoyed reading the book through her perspective. She not only gained my empathy because of her situation, but also my respect because of the way she conducted herself, and her passion and dedication towards her goals. I also really loved how dorky she could be and her sense of humor! Not only was there a great main character, but a whole cast of lovable side characters as well, including a quirky AI spaceship named M-Bot. The friendships (and possible enemies-to-lovers?!) formed between Spensa and them were so wonderfully written and realistic, and I look forward to more in the next book. 

I always talk about how fantasy is my favorite genre and everything, but books like Skyward remind me just how much I love Sci-Fi/Space books and why it’s one of my favorite subjects to read about. If I could pick any genre to transport myself into, it would be something like this. Skyward was such a delightful and fun surprise to read, and the sequel is already on my list of most anticipated releases for next year! 

REVIEW: The Girl King – Mimi Yu (ARC)

38232365Title: The Girl King (The Girl King #1)
Author: Mimi Yu
Rating: ★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

The Girl King is an East Asian inspired story full of fantasy elements, a magic system, and sisterly betrayal. The synopsis is really intriguing and I was invested in the plot, however this was a difficult review to write, because while there was a lot I liked about the book, there were also a few things I didn’t enjoy. 

One of the things I liked was that I was never bored while reading. The pacing was well-done, and I never had a problem with the story capturing my attention. There were even a times when I had a hard time stopping and wanted to continue to read chapter after chapter. The story was told through three different character POVs: Lu, Min, and Nokhai. Each chapter was told in third person, which made it harder to connect with the characters. I liked reading Lu and Nokhai’s chapters; I really loved Lu’s narrative arc and Nok was such an interesting character that I hope to learn much more about in the next books!

Another aspect I really loved about The Girl King was the dichotomy of personality between Lu and Min, and how each sister changed and adapted to their situation as the book progressed. I wasn’t a fan of Min’s chapters, although I did appreciate her transition from a guileless and quiet young girl into arguably the antagonist. Her naivety and youth were frustrating to read, especially when it came to some of the choices she made, but I can’t argue that she makes an intriguing character for upcoming sequels. 

I wanted to love The Girl King much more than what I did, but unfortunately there were a few aspects of the story that made it harder to connect with and enjoy. Despite the things I didn’t like, there were quite a few that I did really like and so I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series!