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: Eight Will Fall – Sarah Harian (ARC)

35827843._SY475_Title: Eight Will Fall
Author: Sarah Harian
Rating: ★★★★

ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.

Eight Will Fall was a totally fun adventure. The premise follows eight criminals sent into an underground labyrinth with a mission to defeat a magical ancient god that has been destroying their kingdom. Sarah Harian compared it The Descent meets The Goonies and that is such a clever and accurate description of this book!

The worldbuilding was so good. It was pretty simple and easy to follow without being underdeveloped. The majority of the focus was on the plot, which was really appreciated. The magic system that was developed was also really unique and added another layer of intrigue to the story. The descriptions of the caves and underground tunnels were written in a way that I could vividly picture myself underground. The author also did an amazing job setting the creepy, gorey vibe of the story. Some parts are definitely going to be giving readers goosebumps!

The execution of this book was perfect for what the author was trying to achieve. I don’t think I’ve read another book like it where a sense of dread seems to linger over the reader. Eight Will Fall is definitely one of a kind and I hope this makes it on to a lot of TBR lists!

 

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: The Bone Houses – Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC)

36524503Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: ★★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher.

The Bone Houses has me under its spell. The story follows a gravedigger and a mapmaker on an epic adventure full of family, magic, and the undead. The book 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.

The book has so many things going for it. Ryn was a fantastic protagonists with a no-nonsense attitude that I adored. It’s so easy to love a character that’s smart and capable like her. The loving relationship she shares with her sister and brother was another wonderful aspect of the story. It was great seeing how much they cared for each other and what lengths Ryn was willing to take to protect them.

Emily Lloyd-Jones did a marvelous job creating a dark, creepy vibe for this story. Ryn has taken over her father’s job as the town’s gravedigger, but these days most townspeople are opting for burning the bodies of the deceased in order to avoid coming back as a bone house–a zombie, essentially. When more and more bone houses start appearing from the haunted forest near the town, Ryn–with the help of a lost mapmaker, Ellis–embark on a journey to the center of the forest to solve the problem.

The pacing was perfect and the plot never seemed to slow down. I had a lot of fun following the journey of Ryn and Ellis as they worked together in their goal to defeat the magic affecting the bone houses. There is a slight romance, but it’s more of a hint than anything and it takes a backseat to the plot and growth of the characters.

There was a lot of Welsh mythology present in The Bone Houses and I absolutely loved it! I think this is the first book I’ve read based heavily on Welsh folktales and the story was extremely captivating. The book’s themes about death, life after death, and grief were very poignant and impactful. I think the author handled the subject with expertise.

The Bone Houses was an engaging, thrilling story that reads like a spooky mythology retelling. From the dark elements, to the fearless protagonist, to a very loyal undead goat, there’s a lot to love in this book. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, atmospheric standalone fantasy!