REVIEW: Honor Among Thieves – Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

30129657Title: Honor Among Thieves (The Honors #1)
Author: Rachel Caine & Anne Aguirre
Rating: ★★★★½

Space adventure books are one of my favorites, and I’m so happy that they’re becoming more and more prevalent in the Young Adult genre. Unfortunately, that also means a lot of them start to follow the same basic plot. Honor Among Thieves breaks the mold as a unique, engaging book unlike anything I’ve ever read. 

The entire concept of the book, from the Leviathan and Nadim to the Honors program, was completely fascinating. The authors have created a story that will capture your attention and refuse to let it go. I wanted to jump into the story and be a part of the adventure! How amazing would it be to become an Honor and travel around space on a sentient being/ship exploring other worlds? And on top of excellent writing, great world-building, and an intriguing plot, the characters were diverse and compelling. I loved the dynamic between Nadim, Zara, and Beatriz. As the story progresses, we can see how important to each other they become as they take on the roles of the Leviathan, the Pilot, and the Starsinger. Zara and Beatriz not only have a wonderful friendship built between them, but also each have a different, yet important, relationship with Nadim.

Honor Among Thieves was full of page-turning action, and a dash of mystery, that kept the plot moving forward at all times. I found it hard to stop reading and my enjoyment only increased as I read on. There was also zero romance in this book. I’ll be the first to admit that typically I don’t tend to enjoy a book that doesn’t have even just the teensiest bit of something in that department. But that goes to show how effortlessly amazing this story is by itself. This book proves that a romance doesn’t need to be at the center of a story for it to succeed and be great. 

I was quite surprised by how much I loved this. Honor Among Thieves is a fantastic story full of adventure, action, and thrills. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens in the sequel. If anyone is looking for a great Sci-Fi story, I would definitely recommend!


REVIEW: Song of Blood & Stone – L. Penelope (ARC)

36347830Title: Song of Blood and Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1)
Author: L. Penelope
Rating: ★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

There were parts about Song of Blood and Stone that I liked, and there were parts about it that I didn’t like. The intriguing synopsis (and the gorgeous cover, I’m shallow like that) is what first piqued my interest, and I was excited to be approved for an advanced copy. As I began reading, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this is actually a New Adult novel in the Fantasy Romance genre, not a Young Adult Fantasy. I keep saying there needs to be more NA Fantasy books!

One of the better aspects of the book was the plot; it was straightforward, with no unnecessary drama added. The story was not entirely unique, however, and loosely followed the same formula as many other fantasy books. But even with that being said, I was still entertained enough to want to continue reading to see how everything would be resolved by the end. Another really part of the story were the diverse characters and the relationship between Jasminda and Jack. The author casts a very realistic portrayal of their relationship and the hardships they had to face to be together.

My biggest struggle with Song of Blood and Stone had to do with the world-building. I spent a majority of the time confused about the setting and the world. At first, it reads like a typical historical fantasy, and then suddenly there are mentions of electricity, phones, trucks, and airships. Every time a more modern invention was mentioned, it completely threw me off. I think the world-building needed to be developed more fully. I also wish there had been a better explanation of the magic system and Earthsingers’ abilities. I finished the book and still wasn’t sure what they could actually do and how.

Because of the combination of an unremarkable plot and undeveloped world-building, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had been hoping. Had there been either a really unique and gripping plot, or stronger world-building, I would have enjoyed the story a bit more.

REVIEW: The Wicked Deep – Shea Ernshaw

35297394Title: The Wicked Deep
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Rating: ★★★

“The Swan season has begun. And this little town tucked along the shore will not come out unharmed.”

This is the most conflicted I’ve ever felt having finished a book. I was over halfway done with this, completely enamored by everything in the story, and then something happened that unfortunately evaporated most of my good feelings. It’s a shame, because this is a terrific story; it’s totally captivating and has an slightly creepy quality to it that makes it unique and thrilling. My biggest problem was how the story and the romance was handled at the end, but I’ll get into that later on. My rating before and after the twist were drastically different, so I ended up averaging it. 

The best part of The Wicked Deep is how atmospheric the story is. Shea Ernshaw does a fantastic job crafting the town of Sparrow with her words, and it was so easy to envision while reading. Her writing is very compelling, easily drawing you into the story. I had a hard stop but this down because I was so engaged in the story. The tale of the Swan sisters and their legend to the town was skillfully done and believable. 

And now on to what bothered me about the book and why my liking quickly dropped. The next two paragraphs are going to be filled with spoilers, so skip it if you don’t want to be spoiled! Later in the story, it’s revealed that one of the Swan sisters, Hazel, has actually been in possession of Penny. It’s not a terribly surprising twist; I had a feeling that that’s what would happen, but I was hoping I was wrong. Because while it’s actually a good twist and important to the story, it made the romance very, very messy and did not sit well with me at all. Especially the way it gets wrapped up in the end. 

“Love is an enchantress – devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat.”

That quote sums up my feelings about this pretty well. I never usually enjoy romances in which one person is actually being possessed or controlled by someone else. I think it’s unfair to all the parties involved, particularly the person being controlled (Penny). However, had the ending been handled differently, I might not have minded it so much. But I absolutely hated the ending. First of all, I think it’s totally unfair to Penny that her mother and Bo chose not to tell her the truth about what happened. If it were me, I would want to know why my mom and boyfriend were acting so cautious around me and walking on eggshells. I felt extraordinarily sad by the end; not for Hazel or Bo, but for the girl whose summers, memories, and body were stolen, and yet the truth is being kept from her. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the best way to start a relationship is with lies and secrets. I also hated that the ending made it seem like Bo was still in love with Hazel? I felt so sad for Penny that she thinks he’s falling in love with her, but the way it’s written it comes off that he’s still in love with a ghost of girl that used to possess her body (a “girl” he knew for all of three weeks, who spent the last 200 years murdering boys, and killed his brother, but I digress). Even now, when I think about the ending, it feels like a pit in my stomach. I wish the story and romance had been wrapped up a lot neater, or in the very least a lot more clearer and unambiguous. 

The Wicked Deep is an enchanting, atmospheric, eerie read. As Shea Ernshaw’s debut novel, it’s expertly written and showcases her talent as an author. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future! If the romance had been handled differently at the end, or the ending wrapped up a little neater, this would have easily been a four or five star read. It doesn’t seem to have bothered many other people though, so I still would highly recommend giving this a read! 


REVIEW: Orphan Monster Spy – Matt Killeen (ARC)

35575184Title: Orphan Monster Spy
Author: Matt Killeen
Rating: ★★★

ARC provided by Penguin First to Read.

“I am Ursula Bettine Haller, she answered. Good little, dumb National Socialist monster. Nobody’s enemy. Everybody’s friend.”

I love historical fiction and books set during WWII so when I read the synopsis for Orphan Monster Spy, it sounded exactly like the kind of book I would want to read. The plot was well done and intriguing, and I was interested in the characters – especially Sarah – but I feel like a lot of things were just glossed over in the story. Parts of Sarah’s history were briefly mentioned and then never brought up again, which left me with a lot of questions by the end of the book. For a majority of the story, we follow Sarah as she attempts espionage by attending a Nazi boarding school for girls. There isn’t a whole lot going on during these parts, other than the horrifying conflicts and struggles Sarah has with the teachers and fellow students. The action picks up towards the end of the book, and that’s when things really become chilling and intense. The events in the last portion of the story are disturbing, and yet I didn’t want to stop reading. The story starts out fast-paced, slows down for a good chunk of the book, and then picks back up again.

Matt Killeen clearly put a lot of research and effort into writing a historical fiction novel full of details and accuracies. Orphan Monster Spy is an engaging story, but I think the book moved almost a little too fast at times and left a lot of loose ends and questions after the ending for me to be fully captivated by it. 

REVIEW: This Heart of Mine – C.C. Hunter

34964921Title: This Heart of Mine
Author: C.C. Hunter
Rating: ★★★★½

This Heart of Mine is a compelling, touching story focused on family, friendship, grief, love, and life. The author put a lot of heart (pun totally intended) into writing this book and it shows by the wonderful story and characters we get to read about.

The story is told from two alternating POVs, Leah and Matt. Both were such great protagonists: Matt is such a sweet cinnamon roll and Leah is a strong, caring heroine. The romance that develops between is so freaking adorable. I was unsure about the romance aspect going into this when I read the synopsis, but I was really happy about the way it was portrayed. I loved the fact that they had both unknowlingly liked each other for years before the events in the story; it made for some cute moments!

Some people felt confused by the strange mix of genres, YA Contemporary + Mystery, but I thought it was intriguing and was executed perfectly. The mystery aspect is very predictable but since it wasn’t the focus of the story, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. You can tell C.C. Hunter is very knowledgeable about the subject matter, and therefore for the most part the medical parts of the novel come off as insightful and realistic.

It’s easy to see that this book means a lot to the author by the love and care infused into the writing. This Heart of Mine is a compelling story with an inspiring message. It left me feeling glad I choose to be an organ donor, and can possibly one day in the (hopefully far) future give life back to someone. If you’re looking for a light, fun, uplifting read, I would recommend reading This Heart of Mine!