REVIEW: The Bone Houses – Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC)

36524503Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: ★★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher.

The Bone Houses has me under its spell. The story follows a gravedigger and a mapmaker on an epic adventure full of family, magic, and the undead. The book features elements of Welsh mythology, meanwhile other parts were reminiscent of The Black Cauldron. The eerie, atmospheric settings gives a haunting feel to this mesmerizing story that reads as if it’s a dark fairytale.

The book has so many things going for it. Ryn was a fantastic protagonists with a no-nonsense attitude that I adored. It’s so easy to love a character that’s smart and capable like her. The loving relationship she shares with her sister and brother was another wonderful aspect of the story. It was great seeing how much they cared for each other and what lengths Ryn was willing to take to protect them.

Emily Lloyd-Jones did a marvelous job creating a dark, creepy vibe for this story. Ryn has taken over her father’s job as the town’s gravedigger, but these days most townspeople are opting for burning the bodies of the deceased in order to avoid coming back as a bone house–a zombie, essentially. When more and more bone houses start appearing from the haunted forest near the town, Ryn–with the help of a lost mapmaker, Ellis–embark on a journey to the center of the forest to solve the problem.

The pacing was perfect and the plot never seemed to slow down. I had a lot of fun following the journey of Ryn and Ellis as they worked together in their goal to defeat the magic affecting the bone houses. There is a slight romance, but it’s more of a hint than anything and it takes a backseat to the plot and growth of the characters.

There was a lot of Welsh mythology present in The Bone Houses and I absolutely loved it! I think this is the first book I’ve read based heavily on Welsh folktales and the story was extremely captivating. The book’s themes about death, life after death, and grief were very poignant and impactful. I think the author handled the subject with expertise.

The Bone Houses was an engaging, thrilling story that reads like a spooky mythology retelling. From the dark elements, to the fearless protagonist, to a very loyal undead goat, there’s a lot to love in this book. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, atmospheric standalone fantasy!

REVIEW: Crown of Coral and Pearl – Mara Rutherford (ARC)

37777083Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Rating: ★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Crown of Coral and Pearl captured my attention from the first time I saw that cover and read the synopsis. Upon finishing the book I definitely had some mixed feelings. For the most part, I found it enjoyable and the story did an excellent job keeping my attention . However there were a few aspects that I didn’t like as much and effected my overall feelings about the book.

The setting was very unique and a really cool part of the book. The story starts out in Nor’s home of Varenia, which is quite literally built on the sea. Their houses are built on stilts and they use boats to travel from one house to another. The village life revolves around fishing and other seafood, and diving for pearls. Mara Rutherford does an amazing job capturing what it must be like to live in such a place with her descriptions.

I really liked Nor as the protagonist. She was very capable, selfless, intelligent, and kind. It was easy to sympathize with her plight and I rooted for throughout the book! The strong sibling relationship between Nor and her twin, Zadie, was also a positive aspect of the story.

The romance kind of killed some of the momentum for me. It was very insta-lovey and there was no actually reason why Nor falls in love with Talin other than she finds him extremely handsome. They spend some time alone together, but not nearly enough to convince me that their relationship is real and fulfilling.

The pacing was the only other thing that really bothered me. I don’t know why, but it just felt really off. I feel like the story itself was fast-paced, but not a whole lot is going on plot-wise for much of the first half of the book. For instance, what felt like only the halfway point of the story’s plot was actually the 77% mark of the book (thanks, Kindle). At the time that I was reading, I was under the impression that this was as standalone (the ending reads like one) and so the pacing did feel right, especially since the ending kind of wrapped up quickly compared to the rest of the book. I’ve since check again and apparently there will be a sequel and I truly believe that that is a good thing!

Crown of Coral and Pearl introduces readers to a smart, adept heroine sure to please and a setting unlike others in YA fantasy. This didn’t quite check all the boxes for me, but I can see others really loving it!

#AGameofBooksathon | Progress Update #2

As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be participating in the #AGameofBooksathon Reading Challenge created by Noura @ The Perks of Being Noura! A lot of the books I had planned to read for this round I actually ended up reading early, so there is quite a bit of difference between this post and my original TBR for these challenges! I was able to read books from four of the categories, which allowed me to achieve Noble status! I had such fun completing participating in this reading challenge! ✨


ROUND TWO

FANTASY
📚Beast of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga #1) by Jill Criswell

HORROR
📚 N/A

SCIENCE FICTION / HISTORICAL FICTION
📚 The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

YOUNG ADULT
📚 The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow #1) by Margaret Owen

MIDDLE GRADE
📚 N/A

MYSTERY
📚 N/A

CONTEMPORARY / ROMANCE
📚On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci


 

Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2019

#ARCJuly was a success! I made a decision at the end of June that I would dedicate the month of July to catching up on the massive pile of ARCs I had that needed to be read, and I’m really proud of the number of books I managed to get through! There are some really fantastic releases coming out soon in the fall and I can’t wait for more people to read them!


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THE TOLL: When I found out I had won this giveaway, I was in disbelief. After reacclimating myself to the plot and setting, it was easy to get lost in the pages. The timeline in this book is a little tricky, but eventually it begins to unfold and it becomes easier to understand. Although there is less of Citra and Rowan’s POVs, I really enjoyed all the other storylines and think they really contributed to the overall story. This is a fantastic final installment to the series with an ending that is both bittersweet and hopeful! ARC provided by the publisher through a giveaway.   ★★★★

36483378._SX318_THE MERCIFUL CROW: This is quite the impressive debut. With a killer first line, Margaret Owen hooks the read into a fast-face, action-filled story with immersive worldbuilding and a fierce, capable heroine. From the complicated political system and magic castes, to the unique writing and verbiage, it’s impossible not to fall into this book and imagine yourself in the world created. Instead of the dreaded love triangle, we are blessed with a perfectly paced slow-burn romance that was one of my favorite things about the book. ARC provided by the publisher.  [review]  ★★★★½

42587433ON THE CORNER OF HATE AND LOVE: I enjoy the finer things in life and literature: slow-burn romance, hate-to-love romance, a healthy dose of angst. Thankfully, this book delivered everything I wanted in this fun, witty, charmingly romantic story. Unfortunately, I think this is going to fly under the radar of so many readers simply because the cover–which is not bad!–is not bright or fun enough to attract the eye like other similar adult contemporary romances. But if you’re reading this and enjoy a fun hate-to-love summer romance, please check this one out! ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★★½

42118210BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN: I saw this being hailed as Sky in the Deep set in Ireland, so I was instantly hooked. At the time that I was reading this, I really enjoyed it and was totally engaged in the plot. The writing was great, the characters were interesting, and I thought the plot was compelling. I wish it would have made a bit more of an impact on me, but overall it was a fun read! ARC provided by the publisher.  ★★★½

40864907THE KINGDOM: If you’re expecting this to be a fluffier, young adult version of Westworld + Disney World, think again. Jess Rothenberg combines science fiction with murder mystery in this sinister, thrilling story about what it means to be human. I really loved the themes present in the novel, especially the question of what it means to be “real” and human. The book is written in an alternating past and present format: the present is told through Ana’s POV and the past is told through transcripts from Ana’s trial and other bits of “media”. I thought it was really well done and made it easy to fly through the pages.  [review]  ★★★½

40024139SERPENT & DOVE: This book set in 17th century French inspired world, in which there is an ongoing enmity between cults of witches and the Church. The descriptive writing and the careful details woven into the worldbuilding really shine. Shelby Mahurin does an excellent job crafting and describing the society and the magic systems in a way that is believable and compelling. And also, this book contains the holy trinity of my favorite tropes: a forced/fake marriage, enemies-to-lovers, and slow-burn romance. ARC provided by the publisher.  [review]  ★★★★★

20958632THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST: Honestly, this rating is really generous because if I could describe my reading experience for this book it would be: meh. No one is more saddened than I am that I didn’t enjoy this more. The Folk in the Air series is one of my favorites so I thought I would be blown away by this one as well. I was hoping this would hold me over until Queen of Nothing comes out, but for the most part I was just kind of bored.  ★★★

37777083CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL: What I liked about this book was the strong sibling relationships and the protagonist, Nor. It was easy to sympathize with her and her plight, and I rooted for her the entire time! She was selfless, kind, and intelligent. My only issue with the book was that the pacing felt off. Plotwise, I felt like I was only halfway through the story, and yet when I checked my kindle I was already 77% through the book. Originally, when I read the book I was under the impression that this was a standalone, so the pacing bothered me a lot, but I’ve since checked again and apparently there is a sequel so I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion to the story! ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★

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THE LADY ROGUE: This reminded me a lot of Hunting Prince Dracula, in a good way! I really loved all the adventuring and the second chance romance trope. The story was fast paced and the plot moved along nicely. The book almost reads like a historical fiction with a bit of paranormal thrown in? I don’t know, it’s hard to explain but it was very enjoyable! ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  ★★★½

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THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY: This is the kind of story that reminds the reader of the magic of reading. Underneath this gorgeous cover lies a book about self-discovery, fun adventures, story-telling, and the bonds that form between people. Besides the main plotline, there’s also a smaller storyline told between chapters that left me breathless. . The way the author constructed these two separate stories and wove them together was absolutely beautiful. ARC provided by the publisher.  [review]  ★★★★

43263520._SY475_THE GRACE YEAR: I’m glad I stuck with this, because after accidentally reading spoilers about the ending, it was almost a DNF. I’ll admit that the first portion of the book was really hard to get into and dragged a lot. I think the biggest reason is because the book is split into four parts, but there’s no chapters. So it became really hard to find a good stopping spot since it seemed like the book would just go on and on and on. The middle got much better, and I started to enjoy the story by the last third of the book.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  ★★★½

BOOK COVERSONG OF THE ABYSS: I love these books and I really wish they were not so underrated! Seriously, this is such a well-written YA fantasy series and they need more exposure to the book community. I will 100% admit that I picked up this ARC because the main character’s name was Reyna. But I’m glad I did, because it forced me to read the first book–which I loved!–and I thought this was a great story as well! I definitely recommend these books to anyone looking for a fun fantasy with amazing characters and great writing.  ARC provided by the publisher.  [review]  ★★★★

42265183THE BEAUTIFUL: A dark and decadent fantasy that captures the reader’s attention from the first page. The mysterious, atmospheric setting really provides the perfect backdrop for a paranormal vampire book. And yes, the vampires themselves may not be as present throughout the book as one would expect, but the thrilling, horror vibe really makes up for it. Besides, it’s very obvious that vampires will have a starring role in the sequel! ARC provided by the publisher through a giveaway.  [review]  ★★★★

36524503THE BONE HOUSES: The story follows a gravedigger and a mapmaker on an epic adventure full of family, magic, and the undead. The book heavily features elements of Welsh mythology, meanwhile other parts were reminiscent of The Black Cauldron. The eerie, atmospheric settings gives a haunting feel to this mesmerizing story that reads as if it’s a dark fairytale.  ARC provided by the publisher.  [review]  ★★★★½

41716322._SY475_TREASON OF THORNS: This was an entertaining story and I liked it, but for some reason it didn’t captivate my attention as much as The Light Between Worlds. The premise is really cool: this is a story about magical, sentient houses. I think I wish the actual magic part had been a bit more developed, especially regarding how the houses work with their Caretakers. Overall, it was a fantastic idea that I think just didn’t deliver all the way.  ARC provided by the publisher. ★★★

OTHER

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Cry #ARCstravaganza: Gravemaidens | #ARCstrvaganza: The Girl the Sea Gave Back| The ABC Book Challenge – L | 2019 Mid-Year Book Freakout | #AGameofBooksathon Progress Update #1 | #ARCstravaganza: American Royals