REVIEW: Relic – Bronwyn Eley (ARC)

46218744._SY475_.jpgTitle: Relic (The Relic Trilogy: Book 1)
Author: Bronwyn Eley
Rating: ★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher.

Relic is the first book in a new fantasy trilogy that is sure to impress many readers, myself included. With a strong heroine, excellent worldbuilding, and a very interesting premise, this was one heck of an entertaining story!

The premise of Relic felt really unique and fascinating, which is what originally drew me to the story. The book follows our protagonist, Kaylan, who has been chosen to be the next shadow: a personal servant to the Lord whom basically absorbs all the negative energy and pain given off by their magical relic. The worldbuilding present in the Relic was truly excellent. It was so easy to understand how the world worked without feeling confused or overwhelmed. Bronwyn Eley did a great job with placing the necessary pieces into the story and avoiding any information dumping.

I found Kaylan to be an excellent heroine! She was smart, caring, and resilient. Family and friendships mean a lot to her and are a central part of the story. She showed a lot of grit and determination in trying to solve her predicament, unwilling to simply roll over and accept her fate. I also thought she was very astute and made good decisions. For instance, when learning about a rebellion brewing, rather than joining forces with them straight away, she makes note of the negative consequences that rebelling could have on citizens. I loved that aspect! In many YA books, the hero/heroine jump ship to the rebels without even stopping to think if they were truly any better, or to at least weigh the pros/cons first. Bronwyn Eley excelled with that part of the book.

Overall, I thought Relic was a great debut fantasy book! I really enjoyed the main character and the premise of the story. This is the first book in a trilogy and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

REVIEW: The Girl the Sea Gave Back – Adrienne Young (ARC)

42867937Title: The Girl the Sea Gave Back
Author: Adrienne Young
Rating: ★★★½

ARC received by the publisher through a giveaway.

Sky in the Deep quickly became one of my favorite books after I finished reading it, and so The Girl the Sea Gave Back was something I was highly anticipating. Adrienne Young continues to be a wonderful storyteller and has crafter another novel full of strong characters and powerful writing, however it’s quite capture my attention the same way Sky in the Deep did.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a companion novel rather than a sequel to Sky in the Deep, so it is entirely possible to read this alone. I absolutely loved the Viking-inspired world Adrienne Young created in her previous work and she does an amazing job expanding on that world even more in this one with the introduction of new clans and traditions.

As for the rest of the book, it fell kind of flat. And trust me, no one is more disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this that much as I am. The majority of the book had very little action and didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It was missing a lot of the tension and angst that made Sky in the Deep so compelling.

I also didn’t connect as much to the characters. I really enjoyed Halvard and his point of view, but for some reason I couldn’t seem to connect with Tova. I will say that I really enjoyed how Adrienne Young handled the romance aspect (if you can even call it that?). There were many times when she could have pushed those characters together romantically, however, I’m glad she avoided that because it would have come off as forced and inorganic. Although, she does give a teaser at the end of the story that hints towards a possibility of something!

The Girl the Sea Gave Back was missing many of the captivating elements found in Sky in the Deep, and I was supremely disappointed that I couldn’t love this more. This was a very slow moving story without a lot of action or payoff that didn’t keep my attention. Adrienne Young is an amazing writer and I look forward to more stories from her in the future!

REVIEW: American Royals – Katherine McGee (ARC)

43744300Title: American Royals (American Royals #1)
Author: Katherine McGee
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher. 

There is something so deliciously fun about any Katherine McGee novel. Her books always hook me with their pages drama, complex characters, and angsty romances. American Royals is perfect for fans of The Thousandth Floor series, or for anyone that loves to read an entertaining book full of lies, secrets, and drama.

One of my favorite things about American Royals was the amazing cast of characters. Katherine McGee always does a fantastic job creating such interesting and complex characters, who grow over the course of the story. The book is told through the POVs of four characters; three of which are main characters, and one that is the antagonist.

Beatrice – the crowned princess, and next in line for the throne. She puts up an indifferent exterior, but I really enjoyed reading about her struggles to do what’s been expected of her all her life, compared to what she really desires.

Samantha – the young sister of Beatrice, and twin brother of Jefferson. She’s spent her whole life as “the spare” and being overshadowed by her older sister, and so she’s cultivated for herself the image of being a wild child. I liked her character well enough, but I didn’t think her POV really brought anything to the story, honestly.

Nina – Samantha’s best friend. Her mother worked for the king and so she spent her life growing up with Samantha and Jefferson at the Washington Palace. She was easily my favorite character and I rooted for her so hard throughout the story!

Daphne – Jefferson’s ex-girlfriend and the antagonist of the book, she’s spent her life grooming herself for a crown and a marriage to the prince. I want to slap her face so hard.

The way in which Katherine McGeen reimagine American history was extremely creative and well-crafted. You can tell she put a lot of thought into the world she’s created, not just by the big picture aspects, but by the small nuances of the story as well. It was so easy to believe in the world she created, and I loved the subtle little jabs towards our current political system!

As with most of her books, this one ends with a culmination of all the secrets and angst, and leaves us with a cliffhanger. I cannot wait for the next book in this series! American Royals is a marvelously entertaining book full of drama, scandalous secrets, and a healthy dose of angsty romance. I will be anxiously awaiting to read what happens next.

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!

REVIEW: The Beautiful – Renée Ahdieh (ARC)

42265183Title: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through a giveaway.

The Beautiful is 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.

Renée Ahdieh once again shines through her writing and world-building. Her descriptions of New Orleans circa 1872 were so vivid that I could easily paint a picture in my head of the scenes. There’s also a very dark, mysterious vibe present that highlights the paranormal aspects of the story.

From the other reviews I’ve read, people seem to disappointed that for a vampire book, the vampires are not very present. And yes, I was expecting more, however I think the pacing was excellent and the mystery keeps the reader on their toes. It also is very apparent that the next book in the series is going to full of vampires (and other paranormal creatures!) and I, for one, am extremely excited to see where Renée Ahdieh is going to take this series, especially after that ending!

The Beautiful is perfect for fans of the YA paranormal genre, and for those who enjoy engaging characters, rich descriptions, and a dark, atmospheric setting.