REVIEW: Dangerous Alliance – Jennieke Cohen (ARC)

Title: Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance
Author: Jennieke Cohen
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.

Dangerous Alliance was absolutely DELIGHTFUL. I had such a fun time reading this book! It was witty, smart, full of romance and a little dash of mystery. I’m a huge fan of reading Regency romances, so the fact that this is a YA historical novel coming tropes of a Regency romance + Jane Austen elements + an actual mystery? This was a combination I never knew I needed in my life but I completely devoured this glorious tale.

I’ve read other YA historical fiction books with similar premises, but not that have been written as excellently as Dangerous Alliance, or that have capture my attention as fully. From the very first chapter, we are introduced quickly to both the capable protagonist, Vicky, and the nonstop action. There is a lot of different types of conflict present which kept me constantly turning the page to find out what happened next. And I loved the mystery aspect as well! It kept me guessing until late in the game which made it all the more enjoyable.

The romance aspect was constructed perfectly as well. Some of my favorite tropes from Regency romances were at play: heroine needing to marry quickly to save her family, estranged childhood friend back in town, slow-burn romance. I also think the decision to have both Vicky and Tom’s POV worked extremely well for this book. I was surprised at first, but not necessarily disappointed. One of my favorite parts of reading historical romance novels is reading the mutual angst and tension from both points of views.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, Jane Austen, the Regency-era, or the fun elements of historical romance books. Dangerous Alliance is a well-crafted, wonderful story full of non-stop action and fun!

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I am not an emotional person, but through the years I’ve come to realize that I am an emotional reader. Years ago, I never would have admitted if a book made me cry, but today I’m here to unashamedly list the top ten books that made me shed a few tears – or just flat out sobbed.


257391881. THE BOOK THIEF
How could a book narrated by Death set during WWII not be a tearjerker? Some books stick with you forever, and for me I’ll never forget reading this amazing story for the first time. The entire book is really poignant and sad, but there’s a particular moment at the end where I lost it. This is one of my favorite books ever and I always recommend it to everyone.

327024872. THE BIRD AND THE BLADE
I read the reviews before I started this, and I familiarized myself with the opera in which the plot is loosely based, and so I knew going into it that the ending was going to hurt spectacularly. And yet even after preparing myself for the heartbreak, Megan Bannen was able to absolutely annihilate my emotions. The story ends in a way that is heartwarming, heart-wrenching, and altogether unforgettable. Of all the books on this list, this one produced the most tears.  [review]

254463433. MUSE OF NIGHTMARES
As anyone who’s read my reviews for this series knows, my two favorite characters are actually Erin-Fane and Azareen. And as anyone who’s read these books knows, those two have one of the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking stories that I’ve ever read. Everytime another piece of their background was revealed, it was like being stabbed in the heart all over again. And then that happened in this book and I became a mess; I went through all five stages of grief. I don’t know what it is about Eril-Fane and Azareen’s tragic love story, but it just gets to me every time. The epilogue nearly put me in an early grave.  [review]

311790064. SWEET BLACK WAVES
Hey, remember when Kristina Perez wrote a beautiful, magical story set in ancient Ireland, based on the legend of Tristan and Iseult, with an amazing, wonderful love story between Branwen and Tristan and then DESTROYED EVERYTHING within the last ten pages? Yeah, me too. If you’ve read this book, you know exactly what scene I am talking about. When I read it I was dumbstruck. I must have yelled “what the fuck” half a dozen times and contemplated throwing my kindle across the room. Even just thinking about it right now, that particular part of the book still makes me sick to my stomach and want to curl up in a ball and sob. And from what I’ve read of the reviews so far, the sequel is just as heartbreaking, if not worse 🙃  [review]

25. ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
This book came out so long ago, and yet I remember vividly reading this for the first time. I also remember exactly when I read about Sirius’ death. He quickly became my favorite character after Prisoner of Azkaban, so his death hit me hard. The book also released a couple months after my grandmother had passed, so I also think that had something to do with all my emotions while reading. Sirius’ death is the worst in the series and I won’t be convinced otherwise.

300400686. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT
My expectations of what was going to happen in this book and what actually happened were vastly different. There is a plot-twist that basically comes out of nowhere and sucker punches you straight in the face. Except getting punched in the face would actually have hurt less. My heart broke so hard for the main character, Jared. I’ll admit I cried some ugly tears as I whispered to myself, “oh no” over and over. This is such a touching and emotional story and yet unfortunately a really underrated YA contemporary.  [review]

140619577. RUIN AND RISING
This book only made me cry for one particular scene and – lo and behold, what a surprise – it happened to be the death of my favorite character. I remember feeling so despondent because I couldn’t believe it was happening. All I wanted was for him to have the happy ending with Alina that he deserved and then Leigh Bardugo went and betrayed me.

173476348. ME BEFORE YOU
Reading this was an emotional rollercoaster. I laughed. I cried. I’m pretty sure I screamed obscenities at one point (the ending). The relationship between Lou and Will was so honest and beautiful. The reactions and choices the characters made in the book were absolutely realistic and natural. The book also brings to light some ethical dilemmas and thought-provoking situations that have stuck with me for a long time, especially as someone who works in health care. [review]

118700859. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Some of the most beautiful love stories are wrapped in tragedy. We all knew what was going to happen by the end of this book, and yet it didn’t stop me from hoping and believing in a happy ever after. This is an iconic YA contemporary book that really started a whole trend of other tragic YA stories in a similar vein. This book taught me that anything can happen and to never trust the author.

3673955310. FURY
This remains one of the endings I hated the most for any book or series. Without spoiling too much, I spent all three books rooting for two characters to finally realize their feelings for each other, only for it to happen LITERALLY pages before one of those said characters dies. There was no gratification for me as a reader, which was upsetting, and then we added up the death which was even more upsetting given the story. To put in shortly, I cried in both despair and anger at the last chapter.

 

Monthly Wrap-Up: June 2019

Hey everyone! I’m on a two week summer break from classes and I could not be happier. I can’t wait to spend this time getting ahead on homework and getting a lot of reading in! This month was fantastic for reading for me: I read two books that are currently my favorite of the year! What are you all planning to read in July? While making a TBR I realized I have a lot of ARCs that need to be read for August so I think I’ll be spending most of my July reading doing that!


35561260NOCTURNA: There was nothing wrong this book, but upon finishing it I felt pretty apathetic towards it. I did enjoy the magic and the world-building and the characters, but besides that, nothing about the plot captured my full attention or pulled me into the story. By the end of the book, I was reading just to finish it. All in all, the book was pretty unmemorable to me, which is a shame because it sounded so good and I was really interested in the premise.  ★★½

38330596THE STORM CROW: The action starts out right from the start, which was a great way to get me invested in this book. I absolutely loved the elemental crows aspect and I really liked the protagonist, Anthia. She struggles with her depression and grief and the author did a fantastic job representing this throughout the book. My only issue was the romance: the synopsis of the book makes it seem like we should be expecting one thing, but when given another option, it fell pretty flat.  ARC provided by the publisher.  [review]  ★★★★

42785825THE FRIEND ZONE: When I started this, I honestly just expected a light-hearted, fluffy contemporary romance perfect for summer. And while the book delivered with the romance, angst, and humor, it also brought out emotions that were unexpected in the best way. Besides a few issues I had – such as the light, gray-area cheating that occurs early on and the constant putting down of other women – I did really enjoy this book and would totally recommend it as a fun summer romance!  ARC provided by the publisher.  [review]  ★★★★

42201395SORCERY OF THORNS: This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I had a lot of fun reading it! This book contains sentient books; a fierce, sword-wielding librarian; and a handsome, broody sorcerer with a tragic past. What more could any bibliophile ask for in a book? Margaret Rogerson did an amazing job with the world-building and the magical aspects of this story and I cannot wait for whatever she writes next!  ★★★★

36578543FIREBORNE: THIS BOOK WAS FLIPPING AMAZING. It’s going to take everything I can not to go rambling on and on, but please do yourself a favor and add this to your TBR. It’s been a few weeks and I’m still amazed over how awesome this book was. I’ve seen the premised being described as Pluto’s Republic + Aegon Targaryen + Hermione Granger and I’m here to tell you that yes, it’s exactly that in the best way possible.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★★★

36558159THE BEHOLDER: Okay, so there were parts of this that I definitely did enjoy. Huge kudos to Anna Bright for writing a love triangle in which I rooted for both characters equally. But the rest of the story fell pretty flat for me. My biggest issue was the world-building. It felt really disorganized and confusing. There was a lot of anachronistic elements to the settings and it pulled me out of the story multiple times.  [review]  ★★½

40523458KINGSBANE:  I was not expecting this to be as action-packed as it was! There was definitely no Second Book Syndrome here. It was very easy to fall back into this story and become just as invested in the characters as I was in the first book. I really loved Rielle in Furborn, but it was hard to watch her make the choices she made in this book, especially when it was hurting other people I really care about. And that ending….I did not see that twist coming! I cannot wait for the finale and expect it to be as awesome as the first two.  ★★★★

39854434FIX HER UP:  Tessa Bailey has earned herself a new fan. Holy shit, this book was HOT. I was expecting a fun, contemporary romance but I was not expecting those steamy scenes! And listen, I am not complaining one bit. From the romance to the fake-dating trope (a favorite), there was so much to love about this story. This was my first Tessa Bailey, but you can bet it won’t be my last. Excellent all around.  [review]  ★★★★★

40653162CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT: Although the premise was not anything new, this book handled it in such a fantastic way. Maegan and Rob are each dealing with their own family issues, and I loved how they eventually find solace and comfort in each other. There were a lot of heavy topics involved in this story, and I thought Brigid Kemmerer wrote about them in a very compelling and realistic way.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★★

42815556SPIN THE DAWN: The book is being pitched at Mulan meets Project Runaway, and that’s the perfect description for this marvelous book. Maia was an amazing heroine: she was devoted to her family, resourceful, intelligent, and caring. With a protagonist to cheer for, a love interest that will steal your heart, and writing that draws you in from the first chapter, I’m positive readers will love this book as much as I did!  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★★

40177770DEV1AT3: Another action-packed book from Jay Kristoff, full of fun characters and set in such a cool world. This book focuses a lot more on Lemon Fresh and her story and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this, but once I started it was a total non-issue. She makes some important discoveries for herself and finally starts to develop of sense of self-identity. ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]   ★★★★

41118857THE DRAGON REPUBLIC: I AM NOT OKAY. I really need this book to be released because I need someone to talk to about that ending. I absolutely devoured this. The Poppy War was one of my favorite books from last year, so I was a little nervous going into this, but I ended up enjoying this even more so. All I will say is: you are not prepared for this book. Absolutely stunning.  ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.  [review]  ★★★★★

39679076HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS: The premise of this sounded amazing, and so I was pretty bummed up that it didn’t live up to my expectations. I really liked the atmospheric setting and the spooky/eerie vibe the story gave off. The romance kind of ruined it for me: I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle or how insta-lovey it was, and I thought the way it wrapped up was a bit too convenient.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★

OTHER

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REVIEW: The Beholder – Anna Bright

36558159Title: The Beholder (The Beholder #1)
Author: Anna Bright
Rating: ★★½

I struggled with a rating, because while there were parts of the story I enjoyed, for the most part I felt pretty meh about the book. But before I get into my review, let’s talk about that cover because wow is it gorgeous. And I’m blessed to have the FairyLoot edition which has pastel pink sprayed edges and rose gold foil lettering – two colors that I absolutely love. It’s such a pretty book!

I’m not sure why The Beholder has been described as The Odyssey meets The Bachelorette, because the only thing resembling The Odyssey is a member of Selah’s crew named Homer. So if you’re going into this expecting a retelling of that particular tale, you are going to be disappointed.

My biggest issue is the world building. I’ve seen other reviewers mention their concerns and I totally agree that the setting felt extremely disorganized, confusing, and anachronistic. There are so many contrasting aspects present and it pulled me out of the story multiple times. The book begins like it’s planning to be an alternative historical fiction set not too long after Potomac’s separation from England, however, later in the book there’s the presence of radios; and yet no other mention of technology exists, such as electricity. Different parts of the book read like they took place in different time periods, and the dialogues featured a lot of present day words and phrases. There was just way too much going on to make any sense of anything.

And now the romances. Here’s where I need to give Anna Bright a lot kudos for getting me to successful root for multiple love interests in the same book. We meet one of suitors early on, and I grew to really enjoy his character and the blossoming romance between him and Selah as the pages went on. Upon meeting the next suitor, I was very surprised to find myself also loving this particular love interest and becoming totally invested in Selah’s relationship with him to the point that I literally forgot about the previous suitor.

While I didn’t mind the multiple love interests (it’s obviously a huge part of the plot and unsurprising to the reader because of the synopsis), I took issue with the way the romances were written. Developing attraction, affection, and feelings in a short period of time is understandable and relatable. Falling completely in love in a two week period (with back to back guys) is not love: it’s infatuation. There’s also a third hinted love interest (and the direction I’m pretty sure the author is ultimately going to take it…unfortunately), as well as another potential suitor we’re destined to meet in the sequel, who I’m actually really interested in learning more about. If I decided to read the next book, it’ll be because I’m really excited about him!

It wasn’t my intention to rant, because honestly I did not hate the book and I truly don’t believe it’s a bad story. The Beholder has a very intriguing and unique premise, and I think with some extra polishing and structure it could have been a great story. In the end, I felt too confused by all the different elements of the plot and world-building to enjoy it as much as I had hoped.