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.

#ARCstravaganza: Gravemaidens – Kelly Coon

Happy Monday! #ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme now hosted by Flavia the Bibliophile where readers can show off their wonderful ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and spread the word about upcoming releases. For more information about this meme and its origins check out this post.


GRAVEMAIDENS – KELLY COON

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ABOUT THE BOOK

44291755Title: Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens #1)
Author: Kelly Coon
Release: October 29, 2019

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave. 

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame. 

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her. 

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

REVIEW: Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin (ARC)

40024139Title: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher.

“A witch and a witch hunter bound in holy matrimony. There was only one way such a story could end–a stake and a match.”

It’s only July and already I have been blessed with another glorious debut. Shelby Mahurin has written a deliciously rich and enchanting fantasy. If Serpent & Dove hasn’t already made it onto your TBR yet, it needs to be.

Serpent & Dove is 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. I loved that the book is not black and white: both the witches and the Chasseurs–the witch hunters belonging to the Church–have nuances to them that make them neither side totally wrong nor totally good.

This book contains the holy trinity of my favorite tropes: a forced/fake marriage, enemies-to-lovers, and slow-burn romance. The characters of this book absolutely drive the plot. Lou is an amazing heroine: she’s tenacious, cunning, and yet has a soft heart. Reid will steal your heart, as he did mine. He’s character growth throughout the story is off the charts. The dynamic between Lou and Reid is phenomenal. I was living for all that tension brewing between them. And for a YA book, this was surprisingly (and pleasantly) steamier than most. Nothing extreme, but definitely more mature. I loved it.

Shelby Mahurin pulled no punches with the last quarter of the book. The stakes are high throughout the story, but it all comes to an action-packed climax. There are a few delightful twists at the end and I am really looking forward to the sequel! Serpent & Dove is a not a book to miss.