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. 

Underhyped Books of 2018

It’s that time of year: the time for the Best of 2018 lists. And while I love shouting about all my favorite reads to anyone and everyone as much as the next reader, there are also a whole bunch of great releases this year that haven’t seen as much hype and totally deserve praise. So I’ve decided to shine a spotlight on some of the most underrated releases of 2018!


DEBUT AUTHORS

30975382BLOOD AND SAND by C.V. Wyk
This historical fiction book set in Ancient rome features gladiators and is (very) loosely based on the legend of Spartacus! It’s fast-paced, well-written, and contains wonderful characters and a heart-warming enemies-to-loves romance. I’ve very picky when it comes to reading historical fiction due to my tendency to latch onto any inaccuracies or unbelievable scenarios (nerd alert), but I absolutely loved this and really recommend it.
Goodreads | Amazon

33413958YOUR ONE AND ONLY by Adrienne Finlay
If you’re looking for a unique YA Dystopian story with excellent execution, skillful writing, and great characters, look no further than this. The synopsis hints towards a book rife with tropes and romance-heavy, but it actually focuses on plot and character growth, with the romance riding shotgun. I highly recommend this book and I think other readers will become as enraptured by the story and characters as I was.
Goodreads | Amazon

31179006SWEET BLACK WAVES by Kristina Pérez
This is such an emotional, wonderful retelling of the legend Tristan and Iseult, set in ancient Ireland and full of Celtic mythology. The stunning worldbuilding and fantasy aspects are combined perfectly with historical elements. Branwen is a wonderful and selfless heroine with whom you can help feeling for, especially with that tumultuous and heartbreaking ending. My stomach is a knot of angst just thinking about it.
Goodreads | Amazon 

32702487THE BIRD AND THE BLADE by Megan Bannen
This was a fascinating, compelling, stunning story that captured my heart and attention from the very beginning. The story was both unique and intriguing in that it blended historical elements of the Mongol Empire with the Italian opera, Turandot, and it did so seamlessly. The story ends in a way that is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. An unforgettable, breathtaking, impressive book and one of my favorites of the year.
Goodreads | Amazon

34842042THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS by Laura E. Weymouth
This is an extremely different sort of book than Narnia, so if you’re expecting a whimsical story full of magic and mythical creatures, this is not that book. This a very character driven book, that deals with important issues and heavy subjects such as familial bonds, war, grief and guilt, depression, and mental illness. The writing is poetic and really quite lovely, and if you give this slower paced book a chance, I think you will find it very enjoyable.
Goodreads | Amazon 

NEW RELEASES

30339493ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE by Makiia Lucier
This is the only book on the list that I haven’t actually read, however I’ve heard such good things about this and it has a decently high rating. And for a YA Fantasy with an intriguing synopsis, I found it really surprising that there was hardly any hype for the book at all I have an arc of the companion novel, Song of the Abyss (which doesn’t seem to have as much hype either), so I look forward to reading this in the near future!
Goodreads | Amazon

36134048WHISPER OF THE TIDE by Sarah Tolscer
This is a the sequel to Song of the Current, and it makes me so mad that these books aren’t more popular. These books are action-packed, fast-paced, well-written, and have excellent worldbuilding. They feature an amazing kick-ass heroine, a spoiled yet charming prince, pirates, assassins, sea adventures, and of course – a swoon-worthy romance. This duology is really fun and entertaining, and it’s such a shame how underrated it is!
Goodreads | Amazon

34640572STATE OF SORROW by Melinda Salisbury
This book was so underhyped, that I had never even heard of it until it arrived in my March FairyLoot box. This is an absolutely spectacular book; the storytelling and the worldbuilding were stunning, and it’s full of political intrigue, breathtaking descriptions, and dynamic characters. The protagonists doesn’t fall under the typical “strong, female heroine” expected of YA fantasy books, but instead is clever, passionate, and possesses a quieter kind of strength.
Goodreads | Amazon 

36099148ALL THE WANDERING LIGHT by Heather Fawcett
This is the sequel to Even the Darkest Stars, and the worldbuilding was just as unique and gorgeous as the first book. The best part about these books is honestly the setting: it’s so different from any other fantasy world and it really made such a difference when reading. The book is set in snowy, mountainous area inspired by the Himalayas. It also features mountain climbing, explorations, dragons, witches, fire demons, and all kinds of other fun stuff!
Goodreads | Amazon

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!