REVIEW: The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg

40864907Title: The Kingdom
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Rating: ★★★½

If you’re expecting The Kingdom 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.

The Kingdom was a lot darker than I had anticipated. The book follows Ana, one of seven Fantasists – girls engineered to be beautiful, subservient, and made to cater to the wishes of visitors of the futuristic amusement park, The Kingdom. As the book goes on, things start to go awry in the park, and Ana (as well as the other girls) start to develop feelings and emotions not congruent with their programming. Eventually, Ana is charged with the murder of one of the park’s employers, Owen.

I really loved the themes present in the novel, especially the question of what it means to be “real” and human. I enjoyed following the journey of friendship that develops between Ana and Owen. Both of them are able to learn from the other and grow in character.

The book is written in a somewhat past and present format. The present are told through Ana’s POV, and the past is told through transcripts from Ana’s trial and other bits of “media” that are placed between chapters. I thought it was really well done and made it easy to fly through the pages.

The Kingdom was a book that never really got on my radar until more recently. I’m really glad I made the decision to read this because it was so good! The Kingdom is perfect for fans of dark science-fiction books with a bit of a murder mystery.

REVIEW: The Merciful Crow – Margaret Owen (ARC)

36483378._SX318_Title: The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow #1)
Author: Margaret Owen
Rating: ★★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher.

This is quite the impressive debut. With a killer first line to hook the reader in, The Merciful Crow is a fast-face, action-filled story with immersive worldbuilding and a fierce heroine!

Margaret Owen did a masterful job with the setting and the worldbuilding. 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.

The characters were wonderful. First of all, Fie was such a strong, capable heroine! It’s easy to root for her and I found myself agreeing with many of the hard choices she made along her journey. I also loved how Margaret Owen flipped the script with the other two main characters, Jasimir and Tavin. How often in YA books do we find a cocky prince and the quiet, brooding bodyguard? And yet The Merciful Crow offers a breath of fresh air with an unassuming prince and his charming, talkative bodyguard. It was such a change of pace for YA fantasy novels, and one I greatly enjoyed! And for those wondering: there is no love triangle! Instead, we are blessed with a slow-burn romance that was perfectly paced and realistically built. It was one of my favorite things about the book.

Technically, this is now a duology, but I loved that there was no cliffhanger and that the story was summed up nice enough to be a standalone. That being said, I’m super excited for the sequel and can’t wait to revisit this world and these characters! The Merciful Crow is an gripping debut and very compelling characters that I hope is one everyone’s radar!

 

 

REVIEW: House of Salt and Sorrows – Erin A. Craig (ARC)

39679076Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Rating: ★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

The premise of this sounded amazing and it has so many great reviews, so I was pretty bummed when it didn’t live up to my expectations. House of Salt and Sorrows is an eerie thriller full of fantasy elements. Unfortunately, the book just didn’t wow me.

I was impressed by the atmospheric setting. She managed to create a very spooky/eerie vibe, and yet there was a slight fairytale quality to the writing. Erin A. Craig also did a great job with the horror descriptions; had I been reading this had night, I definitely would have gotten some goosebumps.

While I found the descriptive writing and the mystery intriguing, for whatever reason the book has trouble keeping my attention. Maybe it was because I didn’t feel too much of a connection to Annaleigh. Maybe it was because it took awhile for the plot to start to really pick up. But whatever I was enjoying about the book, the romance kind of ruined the rest of it. The love triangle was super unnecessary and the relationship Annaleigh has with the love interest was basically insta-lust.

The ending and plot twists were not terribly unique, and I was able to guess a few of them very, very early on in the story. I also thought the way everything wrapped up was not only a little rushed compared to the more leisurely pace of the rest of the story, but came together a bit too neatly and conveniently. I was really looking forward to House of Salt and Sorrows but I couldn’t seem to enjoy the story as much as everyone has.

REVIEW: Spin the Dawn – Elizabeth Lim (ARC)

42815556Title: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

This book is being pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway and that is a pretty accurate description. Full of spectacular writing and a wonderful heroine, Spin the Dawn was a fun, fast-paced story that pulled me in from the first chapter.

I absolutely loved Maia. I thought she was a great protagonist and it was impossible not to root for her. Throughout the story, Maia shows a lot of perseverance and intelligence, and she grows as the novel goes on. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the next book and how she’s going to deal with the cards she was dealt by the end of this book.

I also really enjoyed the writing; it was beautiful, yet simple. The first half of the story was very fast-paced and I had trouble putting it down. The second half started to slow down, but by then I was so invested in the characters and the story that it didn’t bother me one bit. The romance was really excellent as well! I loved Edan and how his relationship with Maia blossomed. It was great to see how supportive and protective of Maia he was.

Spin the Dawn was a wonderful book with a compassionate, strong heroine to cheer for and a charming enchanter that will steal your heart. Elizabeth Lim weaves a marvelous story and I can’t wait for people to fall in love with these characters!

REVIEW: Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer (ARC)

40653162Title: Call It What You Want
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. 

Call It What You Want was a heartfelt story with an emotional depth that took me by surprise.

The premise was not anything new for a YA contemporary: two teenagers isolate by their peers find solace in each other. However, this book handled the trope in such a fantastic way. Rob and Maegan are each dealing with their own family issues, and after being forced to work together on a Calculus project, a friendship begins to form between them. I loved Rob so much! ❤️ He was so perfect! And it was really fun and satisfying watching his friendship to Maegan evolve from acquaintances to friends to something more. There were also a couple other great character relationships that develop as well with the side characters. In particular, I really enjoyed Rob and Owen’s friendship and Maegan’s relationship with her sister, Samantha. They were really important to the story and I was absorbed by their dynamics.

There were a lot of heavy topics brought up throughout the book, and Brigid Kemmerer wrote about them in a very compelling and realistic way. Some parts were so well written they made me feel a little emotional thinking about what some of these characters were going through. I absolutely love the fact that Brigid Kemmerer allowed the boys in the story to have emotions! You really don’t see enough of this in books, especially in the YA genre. Boys are allowed have emotions; to cry and to be upset and break down and not be any less masculine because of it. And when it did happen in the book, it wasn’t a huge focus and felt very natural and real. I honestly think it was one of my favorite aspects of the story.

Brigid Kemmerer really impressed me with this lovely book. I was not expecting the emotional depth and heavy topics brought up, but I thought they were brilliant and created such a wonderful story. Call It What You Want is a heartwarming, captivating book with some powerful messages.