Happy Friday! I’m here again with the next letter of the ABC Book Challenge!
Title: Eight Will Fall
Author: Sarah Harian
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!
Title: American Royals (American Royals #1)
Author: Katherine McGee
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.
Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
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!
Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
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!