Moonshot by Alessandra Torre

ARC provided to me by author Alessandra Torre in exchange for an honest review.

I’m also buddy-reading this with SueBee and some of the amazing ladies at Shh… [Smut, Heroes & HEAs…] ❤️.

I grew up in a household very involved in sports; playing sports, watching sports, going to sporting events. I also grew up with the Redwings being incontestable, U of M football at an all time high, and even the Pistons were able to win a championship while I was in high school. Michigan is also the home of the Tigers that could never win while I was growing up. I still went to a game every summer with my family, but cheering for the losing Tigers my whole life, who were pretty much the joke of the MLB, felt bad. Obviously the Tigers did pick it up a little, even though we won’t talk about their World Series run, but baseball was just never a sport that resonated as much with me as all the rest.

I couldn’t even picture myself reading a book surrounding baseball, so my immediate expectations of Moonshot were pretty low. I have loved everything Alessandra Torre has written, I just couldn’t help but wish she chose a different sport. When she was sweet enough to give me an ARC, I figured I’d give it a try and just DNF it if I couldn’t get into it.

I was completely hooked and addicted after the prologue.

Tyler, named after Ty Cobb, is seventeen and literally grew up with the New York Yankees. Her dad is a legend on their team and she’s made them all her family since her mother passed away when she was young. She’s a ball girl for them, but viewed as a daughter to most of them.

That is, until Chase Stern is trading to his dream team, the Yankees, after a messy ending with the Dodgers. Because of his time on the Dodgers, and his parting with them, he has a horrible reputation. He’s only twenty-two and trying hard to forget about a secret past of his that still haunts him.

A forbidden love develops between Ty and Chase, and they are forced to hide it from the entire team. Chase makes a very stupid decision, in hopes to forget his past, which makes Ty make an even more stupid choice. The end result isn’t pretty, Ty gets traded, and they end up not seeing each other for four years.

“I gasped, he stilled, and there was a moment of pure fullness, his lips against mine, one sweet kiss that promised me everything, including heartbreak.”

Now, this wouldn’t be an Alessandra Torre book without a few twists you didn’t see coming.

After a few shocks later, and I was able to pick my jaw up from the floor, we learn about a serial killer who is choosing a girl a year – all blonde, all wearing the same necklace, all wearing a New York Yankees jersey. Ty, now married to her childhood sweetheart and owner of the Yankees, believes it is because the Yankees haven’t won a World Series. The murdered girls haunt her, and she thinks the only solution is to win the World Series and the killings will stop.

It just so happens that their best shot at winning, and a deal that they couldn’t pass up, is for her former lover, Chase Stern, to come back to the Yankees.

“Certain loves can’t be fought. The harder you tried, the harder you would be knocked back, over and over again, until it beat you into submission, until your heart caved and body surrendered.”

I will throw a little disclaimer out there that the main protagonist is only seventeen at the start. Even though it never made me feel uncomfortable, I can see how maybe it would someone else. This book also has a lot of infidelity! Again, this didn’t bother me and is tastefully done, but I know a lot of people find that hard to be enjoyable in books. If either of these things are just small hang-ups for you, I would still implore you to give this book a shot.

I loved this book; I completely devoured it in one sitting. Alessandra proves time and time again that she is a wonderful writer and truly is the queen of sexual tension, and this book doesn’t fall short. The story is amazingly crafted, I fell in love with the characters, the pacing was superb, the mystery was addicting, the sex was phenomenal, and the ending was perfection.

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, I want to give all the props in the world to Alexandra Oliva, because this is one of the best debut author novels I’ve ever read. I was so impressed by her fresh take on a survivor/pandemic story in this heavily saturated market.

“That’s how they do it; they blur the line between reality and nightmare. They give me bad dreams, and then they make them come true.”

The Last One is about a TV survival reality show that is airing right before a global pandemic happens. The contestants are unaware, still thinking they are participating in the show in hopes of winning the one million dollar prize.

The cast is made up of 12 people, with different color bandanas, that are reduced to mere stereotypes:
1.) Zoo, sky blue bandana – female, main protagonist, loves animals, white, blonde, glasses.
2.) Tracker, red bandana – male, survival expert, has a sick mother.
3.) Waitress, violet bandana – female, very good looking, viewed as dumb.
4.) Rancher, black & yellow bandana – cowboy.
5.) Air Force, navy blue bandana – male, military pilot.
6.) Black Doctor, mustard yellow bandana – male, radiologist, calm.
7.) Cheerleader Boy, pink bandana – college student, viewed as weak.
8.) Biology, orange bandana – lesbian, 7th grade science teacher.
9.) Engineer, maroon & brown bandana – male, young, Chinese-American, wants to learn.
10.) Asian Girl, neon yellow bandana – very skilled in carpentry.
11.) Exorcist, lime green bandana – male, red hair, performs exorcisms, viewed as crazy.
12.) Banker, black & white bandana – male, filler, Jewish, super nice.

You do, eventually, find out their names in a very tricky way that is lightly laced throughout the book. This ended up being one of my favorite parts of the story, and every time I would come across a name I would get giddy and have to write it in my notes so I could figure out all twelve upon completion. You, also, find out the fate of all twelve contestants, and I really appreciated not having any loose ends. I also believe the author could make at least one spin-off novel if she so desired.

The start of the story was a little slow, yet overwhelming, to me. It was mostly overwhelming because you are thrown so many stereotypes and descriptions. I can’t even imagine reading this book without notes. It felt slow because this story has alternating chapters where one will be pre-apocalypse and the following will be post-apocalypse. I really wanted to just binge read all the post-apocalypse things, so when the pre-apocalypse chapters would come they would feel really slow and somewhat drag. Once you get into the middle ground where the chapters and time start to merge, and once you meet Brennan, it becomes an easy five star read that I wasn’t able to put down.

Brennan completely made this story for me. His struggle, his pain, his loss, all resonated greatly with me. Seeing him grow, learn, be able to still love and take care of others without losing hope was something of magic.

“Because his future is more important than my past.”

Watching Zoo break down, physically and mentally, was very emotional for me to read. Watching her break just broke me. She was a wonderful main protagonist, and her struggles provoked so much sympathy from me. I can’t, and never want to, imagine the pain she felt and everything she had to endure. All of her different revelations made this book one of the most heartbreaking reads I’ve read. Yet, despite it all, this book definitely left me with a greater feeling of hope.

The rest of the cast that are stereotyped to the world will really open reader’s eyes. We are so quick to judge, so quick to cast assumptions. This book heavily weighs in on this and how sad it, and the media, really is. If anything, this book is just worth reading for that eye-opening experience that I think a lot of people in this world need.

I have not read Station Eleven, but I do see many of my friends comparing this book to it. So I’m feeling like if that was your cup of tea, this will also be. Regardless, this was a wonderful book that I’m still in disbelief over. I would completely recommend getting this upon release, and this story will stick with me for some time to come.

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

I’m actually pretty impressed with this. This book is co-written and, I’ll be honest with you, the only reason I even preordered this was because one of the authors, Sasha, is big in the BookTube world. She always seems so genuine and sweet; I couldn’t help but want to support her. I also think Sasha’s knowledge of reviewing books to the masses really paid off, because she wrote a book that I think a lot of YA readers will actually really appreciate.

This first installment of the Androma Saga is surrounding four awesome space chicks running their own ship. I mean, that alone should somewhat hook you. The star of this story is Androma, AKA: the Bloody Baroness, and she and her crew fulfill different missions to make money. Some of them are not the most morally right, and killing always leaves Androma, and her dreams, feeling haunted.

Androma is captain of the Marauder and she has three lovely ladies on ship with her. First is Lira, Androma’s Second in Command and the pilot of the Marauder. Then, we have Gilly, who is a very feisty thirteen year old. Lastly, Breck, who is a giantess from another planet and is very good with a gun. These three make up Androma’s crew, and together they are pretty strong female characters that I can’t wait to learn more about, because 62 pages are hardly enough to form a connection.

The story takes an abrupt turn when Androma is visited by two ghosts from her past. The first being the man that taught her everything she knows, who is now a bounty hunter in search of her. The second is Governor Cyprian, who offers Androma is deal she cannot refuse, but he is also a reminder of a past event that Androma has tried desperately to forget.

My main criticism is with the main character Androma. I like her, I do, but I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve read this character before. Then Androma is physically described, and I just couldn’t help but read the entirety of the book picturing Celaena Sardothien, from Throne of Glass. I’m not saying other books can’t have white haired assassins, but I also can’t help thinking this character was heavily influence from Sarah J. Maas and her popularity. I mean, have you seen the Crown of Midnight cover with the two swords/katanas? This book even has the master/prodigy sub-plot happening.

My only other criticism is I hated the made up swear word. Not only is “fike” used, it is used constantly. Every time it was used I felt like it pulled me out of the story. I feel like this book would have been so much better without the use/over use of it.

I do wish I could just get the full book instead of these smaller installments, because I seriously want more of this world, but I know that is beyond anyone’s control. One prologue and nine chapters was not enough, but I’m very excited to continue on and see how this story develops.

“Hearts were pathetic things, too easily broken.”

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin

Buddy Read with Anna!

This story left me feeling pretty haunted, so please keep that in mind and maybe read the book yourself first, before giving this to your child. I do think this story packs a pretty big punch with a pretty impactful message, even though I think the message could be misconstrued.

For me, the message, or symbolism, was it is okay to be cold and alone, but sometimes it is worth it to take a risk to feel someone else’s warmth, especially the love of your family. It’s completely fine to deal with your pain and hurt on your own, but sometimes just feeling loved will heal the biggest of wounds.

This book stars Adara and is mostly about three years of her life. She is a “winter child”, because she was born during the worst freeze in history. Snow, ice, and cold do not bother her in the slightest, and she kind of gave me an Elsa vibe because she also likes to make ice castles (smooth, GRRM, smooth). She lives with her older brother, her older sister, and her father. When she is four she comes in close contact with “her” ice dragon. Then, when she is five “her” ice dragon lets her go for a ride. During these two years of her life, Adara is very closed off and recluse. In my opinion, she is scared to accept love and doesn’t know how to deal with her pain and guilt. Also, there is constant talk of a war with dragons. They hear about the new from their Uncle, Hal, who is a dragonrider for the king’s army.

When Adara is seven, the dark dragons come. Her father refused to leave their home, because this is where his wife and his parents are buried. Three dark dragons come and begin to attack their village with their riders. Adara is then forced to choose the safe, lonely, cold life or choose to protect the warmth of her family’s love.

Now, in my opinion, again, this book also has underlining ASOIAF symbolism, too! I mean, it’s literally ice versus fire! This book is set before the Seven Kingdoms, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see ice dragons in Westeros. (Especially with a title like The Winds of Winter!)

I also have to mention the absolutely gorgeous illustrations in this book. My eyes have never been blessed with Luis Royo’s work before, but they very much appreciated what they saw in this story. I could look at this book for hours, it’s so breathtaking. I also think the illustrations were a big reason this story resonated so much with me and, in turn, made me feel so haunted.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Did I just read a unique story about witches, with a full POC cast, that also had a healthy portrayal of bisexuality? At this point, I don’t think this book is being marketed correctly, because who in the hell wouldn’t want to read this book after knowing those somewhat hidden three points? Then, midway through the book, I realized this book also has faeries, so I was as good as done for by that point and completely ready to sing this books praises. I really believe this is a hidden gem, and I’m so thankful I put in a request for an ARC of this when I just thought it was about witches.

“Spells are for witches. Brujas do cantos.
All brujas are witches but not all witches are brujas.”

Alex isn’t just a bruja, but she is an Encantrix – the most powerful bruja to be in her family for generations. Unfortunately, Alex doesn’t want the power or the pain she think follows this power. She even goes to an extreme length to first hide then get rid of her powers, but Alex forgets that everything comes with a price.

Her older sister, Lula, is the gorgeous one with the bruja power of healing. Her younger sister, Rose, is a child genius with a special communicative bruja gift. Everyone thinks that Alex’s power just isn’t showing up, no one expects her to just be hiding it because of a traumatic event from her past.

Obviously she couldn’t hide it forever, hence the book, and when her family realizes that her power has not only came, but is the most powerful gift able to be given, they start planning her deathday. Deathdays in the bruja community are very special and very grand, sort of like a quinceañera, but with ghosts from your family blessing your journey, too.

“That’s the thing, my love. Even if you don’t think of the dead, the dead are thinking of you.”

After a couple bad decisions, Alex accidentally casts her entire family away at her deathday celebration, while trying to perform a cantos to get rid of her powers instead of embracing them. This embarks the journey of her and a boy who claims he knows the way to Los Lagos to rescue her family.

This story is told in three parts. The first part is in Brooklyn, NY. The second part is Alex and Nova entering Los Lagos, which was really reminiscent to me of Narnia, even though I think it’s supposed to be a purgatory, and I loved every second of it. I especially loved Agosto and the rest of his fae. Then, lastly, the third part is their confrontation at the Tree of Souls, where her family is being held against their will.

This story was a good surprise; I loved the Latin-American perspective, and was so happy with the acceptance of Alex’s bisexuality. Her whole family didn’t make a big deal about it, because it’s really not a big deal, but that’s hard for a lot of authors to realize. There was no drama leading up to it, there was no unnecessary angst because of it, it was just natural, accepted, and beautifully done. I really appreciated it.

This all being said, I still have to warn you that there is a love triangle. Well, there will probably be a love triangle later down the line of this series. Alex, in my eyes, always makes her choice clear, but I can still see the triangle developing with its sharp angles ready to pierce my heart.

“Not all loves are meant to last forever. Some burn like fire until there is nothing left but ash and black ink on skin.”

This was a pleasant read that I thoroughly enjoyed being surprised over. Los Lagos was my favorite part, and I think I will read book two just in hopes of seeing more of those magical side characters. There is also a decent sized surprise at the end, which for sure left me wanting some questions answered.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

#readASOIAF Read-Along – Hosted by Riley from Riley Marie, Elizabeth from Liz Loves Literature, and Kayla from BOOKadoodles. ♥

“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.”

It’s been so long since I actually read A Game of Thrones and I feel like the TV show has taken over most of my memory by now. Luckily, I thought with this reread it would be the perfect time to actually give this series a proper review. This review may have a few mild spoilers laced throughout, so please use caution while reading.

I was much more emotional than I thought I would be. I mean, I’ve read this before, I’ve seen most of this played out before my eyes, but my heart still wasn’t prepared. If anything I think it made it worse or me even more emotional, because I know the outcome of most these characters I’ve came to love.

“The things we love destroy us every time, lad. Remember that.”

Ned, my too honorable Ned. I completely forget he was only thirty-five years old. I mean, I know that’s considered old in this world, but rereading this series in my late twenties makes me appreciate his age even more. If only he listened to Renly. Hell, if only he listened to Little Finger things would have been different. There wouldn’t even be a game of thrones; the Starks would have just won.

All my empathy must have ran out with Ned and his children, because this reread really made me very upset at Catelyn. I used to think that Catelyn’s motives were because of House Tully’s motto: “Family, Duty, Honor”, AKA: family is greater than everything, but she’s actually pretty selfish or at least shows an incredible amount of partiality towards certain children of hers. As much as her actions and words towards Jon made me sick, my heart bled the most for poor Rickon. He was only three years old when his mother completely neglected him for weeks, only to then leave him completely. Then, when she has the opportunity to go back to Winterfell, when she meets up with Rob, she decided to stay and help guide him, instead of going back to her cripple child and toddler who both desperately need their mother while all of their family has abandoned them. I mean, I can only imagine the abandonment issues that Rickon is going to developed when we finally find out what he has been up to.

Bran is the character I feel like I gained the most knowledge about while rereading this book. I was a little blown away when I realized the first chapter was in his point of view. I feel like that has substantial meaning in and of itself. I’m not sure if George R.R. Martin has ever said before, but I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe Bran is one of his favorite characters. I also wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Bran makes it to the very end and maybe even have the last chapter in his point of view.

My feelings on Sansa remained the same: annoyed. Yet, I know it’s not her fault, well, I mean, it is, but it’s her age and her hormones, too. She grew up dreaming of fairytales and wanted more than anything to one day be living one. Then, all of a sudden, she has a handsome prince dangled before her, with dreams of being queen one day. I completely can understand why Sansa does and says the things she does, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them or that I’m immune to being annoyed by them.

My feelings for Arya, also, remained the same: in awe. Arya will always be my favorite Stark. I hope if I have a daughter one day that she is strong, brave, and not afraid to be different like Arya. Her chapters may not be my favorite, but Arya has always felt like the character I care the most about. Like, I care more about her safety than all the rest. In contrast, Rob is the character I care the least about in this book, because he is just so damn boring. It’s no wonder why he doesn’t get his own points of view.

Jon’s way more angsty than I remember and dramatically more angsty than the show ever portrayed him. I mean, I understand he’s only fourteen in the book, I had just forgotten I suppose. And, my goodness, the R+L=J theory is thrown in your face left and right during this book. I am not sure how George R.R. Martin will be able to not have that be end game, because of all the foreshadowing in this book. I could fill this whole review with just me gushing over Jon, but I’ll save you and your eyes and just say I have a lot of love for this bastard.

“And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”

If you would have asked me who my favorite character was in A Game of Thrones before this reread I would have probably said Jon. If not Jon, I would have picked Daenerys or Arya. But no, my favorite character in A Game of Thrones is without a doubt, hands down, no questions asked, Tyrion. Maybe this is also where my dislike for Catelyn comes in, because she acts pretty rash and treats him pretty badly, too. Tyrion is so kind, and his struggle to not be like his father is so admirable. His story line is so rich and rewarding, yet so heartbreaking. I found myself craving his chapters, becoming absolutely addicted to everything he said, all while using my highlighter like a crazy person because he has the best quotes, too.

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

I love Drogo and Daenerys’ relationship and being able to see them overcome language barriers, cultural differences, hierarchy shifts, and fall in love is maybe the best thing in this book. I know a lot of people probably won’t romanticize their relationship, but I always found it heartwarming and endearing. Similar to my problems with Catelyn, I did find myself disliking Daenerys a little. I’m not going to say Mirri Maz Duur is innocent, she ends up doing some terrible things, but after this reread I totally think Drogo’s fate was his own fault, not Mirri’s. She made him a poultice, and he took it off to pack his cut with mud, which totally led to his infection. Then, when Mirri is pretty much given the options “heal Drogo or die” she forewarns Daenerys that she is going to use blood magic and a sacrifice must be made, and Daenerys gave her a confirmation without a lot of questions asked. Looking at it from her perspective, she was going to die if she didn’t try something. I don’t know, maybe I’m just older and more empathetic now, but that whole blame-game didn’t sit well with me this read-through. Yet, that didn’t stop me from crying like a baby at Daenerys and Drogo’s ending in this book.

The other thing I kept being unable to not notice with Daenerys was her constantly referral to home being that red door in Dragonstone. I know she could rule the seven kingdoms from Dragonstone instead of King’s Landing, but maybe she would also find peace and solace bringing honor to the House Targaryen and becoming Lady of Dragonstone until the end of her days. I mean, I’m probably thinking way too much into this and I know it’s a huge stretch, but would George R.R. Martin really make it as simple as Daenerys winning the game of thrones? I feel like the entirety of the series is set up for that, and George R.R. Martin likes twists far too much for that. In before Varys.

I loved the cameos from some overlooked characters that I tend to forget about. I loved seeing Osha being brought into the story, especially since George R.R. Martin does such a wonderful job hiding how important she will end up being. I enjoyed reading about Beric immensely. I mean, his fire sword is incredibly badass, and knowing his completely different story arc on the TV show makes me enjoy reading about how vastly different his path will leads in the book. Jeor was also a very enjoyable side character, and I loved seeing angsty Jon attempting to be his personal steward.

I know this book can seem overwhelming just from the size alone. I also know reading it is a little less appealing because of the HBO’s genius of making it the best TV show on air as of now. Yet, I have to advocate that you will gain a lot of missing information from actually reading this book. Honestly, this book never felt like 800 pages for me. The multiple perspectives are amazing, and I love being in certain protagonist’s heads, while seeing how another protagonist feels as an outsider looking in on the situation. George R.R. Martin is a wonderful story teller, and this world he has created is unlike anything else. This book does have some pretty dark themes, so please use caution if you are uncomfortable reading about rape, highly explicit sex scenes, and just overall a lot of violence.

Overall, I’m so happy I did this reread. I’m so sorry if I’m theory crafting too much, I blame my love for it on Reddit completely. I feel very satisfied with picking up themes I feel like I didn’t see before. As I said before, I think I’m a much more empathetic reader now and I think that is the reason I changed my views on many characters. I’m so excited to see what else I find, and figure out how else I feel, while rereading the rest of these books. This reread also reinforced that my love for A Song of Ice and Fire knows no bounds.

“We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Age of Myth is set 3,000 years before the the Riyria Revelations, but don’t be scared because this series is meant to be read separately and there will be no spoilers if you haven’t completed it or even started it.

This book also kind of gave me a Mistborn vibe, because each chapter starts out with a passage from The book of Brin. But unlike Mistborn, there isn’t much of a mystery, because we are quickly introduced to Brin and we know she is an apprentice to one day become the keeper of ways in her village. That basically means she is supposed to remember and tell all of the stories that have happened before and during her time, thus this story unravels.

I actually haven’t read anything by Michael J. Sullivan before, but after reading this I will quickly remedy that. This book was a delight that completely immersed me into this world of gods, men (Rhunes), and men who everyone thinks are gods (Fhrey).

This book has very many characters and very many points of view, but all are inferior to my beloved Suri. She is my newest beautiful little cinnamon roll that is too good for this world, too pure. Suri is an amazing fourteen-ish year old with an equally adorable pet wolf, Minna. She is also a mystic, which means she has some magic and has many means in which to predict the future. One day she gets a premonition in the form of a vision (I did not mean to make that rhyme, but now I’m just thinking about Hamilton) that is going to be disastrous for the whole world. Her old trainer and the woman that raised her, a well respected Augur named Tura, told Suri that if she ever got a vision like this, she had to tell it to the Chieftain of Clan Rhen.

Then we have Persephone, who Suri tells her ill-fated premonition to, because she is the Chieftain’s wife and he is out on a revenge mission to kill a bear that has caused a lot of pain in their village. Persephone is a great female lead, as well, and shows how strong she is time and time again throughout this book. I truly came to love Persephone by the end of this book, and she showed exponential characters growth.

“Welcome the gods,
Heal the injured,
Follow the wolf.”

Even though I said this book has very many points of view, it is first told with three distinct events in mind. That is, until the three story-lines that spring from these three events meet towards the middle and the end of this book. The next story line, and first perspective we actually get to see, is Raithe’s. Raithe only has his father left in his world, and desperate times makes them make a desperate decision to trespass in lands that mere men are not allowed to venture to. After a grave decision that soon changes everyone’s world, Raithe is forced to flee with a slave named Malcom, who has quite an affinity for rocks

“A wise man once told me no man can escape death, but it’s how we run that defines us. And if I have to run, I think I’d like to go where she’s going.”

The last most important view is from a 2,000 year old woman named Arion. Arion is from the Miralyith tribe, which is the tribe that thinks they are pretty much gods or at least the closest thing to it. Arion does not completely share this view, but still holds a very high place of honor in this society and is the tutor to the crown prince. Miralyiths pretty much rule the Instarya tribe, because even though Instaryas have very strong warrior skills, Miralyiths have more powerful magic, which they call the arts. Arion is incredibly skilled in the arts, yet is still somewhat forced to go on a mission to bring back an Instarya captain that has broken rank violently and then went rogue with some of his men.

What happens when these three paths cross is magical and has become one of my favorite reads of 2016. I truly fell in love with this start of what is sure to be an epic series. I literally couldn’t put down the last 20% of this book, I was so enthralled. Michael J. Sullivan did say he wrote the entirety of this series before releasing this first installment, so thank the Lord for that, because I’m not sure I could wait too long to see what happens, especially with that jaw dropping ending twist that I never saw coming.

If you like epic fantasies with high adventure and multiple points of view, I really think you’ll enjoy this. I went into this book not expecting much, mostly because I haven’t read the Riyria Revelations , yet, but I came out incredible happy with all my five star needs met. The world building was outstanding, the character development was fantastic, and the overall story completely captivated me. If you’re on the fence about this book, I say it is definitely worth the gamble and that you will most likely be very satisfied.

Oh, and did I mention the trees talk? Be still, my Raven Boy heart.

Wings of Hope by Pippa DaCosta

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novella was…. different.

I believe you would enjoy it more, or at least get more out of it, if you were already familiar with this series, which I’m not, because this book is set fifteen years before Beyond the Veil.

Wings of Hope was a pretty dark story about a half-demon/half-human girl named Muse, that is a slave to a very abusive full-demon named Da’mean (he’s so awful, even his name has mean in it). Muse has been passed from owner to owner since she was very young, because half-demons are viewed as lesser and only really capable of being slaves of some sort.

Well, that all changes for Muse when she meets Mammon, Prince of Greed, for the first time. He sees something in her, and makes Da’mean let him borrow Muse. On her mini-vacation with Mammon, he helps her hone her fire elemental power and tells her about her true heritage and a world beyond the veil that is all humans.

“One day you will have vengeance, little half-blood. You will stand upon a wasteland littered with your dead kin and you will be free.”

The next book, Beyond the Veil, is actually free (as of today) on Amazon, which I did buy, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read. I’ll be honest; this book did very little to make me excited to continue on with this series.

Also, this novella was only fifty pages, but the font of this was like 72 pt and I legitimately felt like an angry little old lady while reading this.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I enjoyed this book, but it did a horrible job keeping my attention for the first half. Maybe it was because I chose the audio-book as the medium to read this on. Regardless, the first half of this book was really hard for me in general, mostly because of Shahrzad.

This is actually a wonderful One Thousand and One Nights retelling. In case your memory is hazy, One Thousand and One Nights is a beautiful story about a man who takes a new bride each night, but they lose their life by the next day. One woman tells such a beautiful tale to this man that he keeps her alive the next day, then the next day, then the next day, and so on and so forth because he is so enthralled by her story. She lives for 1,001 nights, telling this tale, but he chooses not to kill her when it has ended, because by that point he is in love with her.

Well, The Wrath & the Dawn retelling is actually very similar. The twist this story has on One Thousand and One Nights is that Shahrzad, the girl telling the tale, is on a revenge mission because her best friend was taken and killed the following morning. But that sounds like a pretty cool twist, right? Right! That is, until Shahrzad starts falling in love with the man, Khalid, Caliph of Khorasan, two days after meeting him, for literally no reason other than him being good-looking.

“I will live to see tomorrow’s sunset. Make no mistake. I swear. I will live to see as many sunsets as it takes. And I will kill you. With my bare hands.”

Like I said, only the first half was somewhat disappointing for me, because after that I started to see behind the scenes and see Khalid’s worth. But Shahrzad went into this mission thirsty for blood, and it was too unbelievable for me to imagine she would jeopardize her mission because her best friend’s killer is handsome with a nice smile.

That being said, after that first fifty-percent, I became complete Khalid trash, too. Be still, my heart. I seriously fell in love, and some of the things that came out of his mouth made me melt into a puddle on my bed. Yet, then I couldn’t help but question why he was so interested in Shahrzad. Why was she so different than all the others? I understand she was telling him a story, and that reminded him of his mother, but he seemed to instantly fall in love with her before she even opened her mouth to begin her plan.

“It’s inevitable. When you meet the one who makes you smile as you’ve never smiled before, cry as you’ve never cried before… there is nothing to do but fall.”

Oh, but heads up, there is a love triangle. Well, for me, personally, there was never any competition on who I would pick, but I feel it’s worth noting for people who hate that type of angst.

The imagery in this book was close to perfection. I’ve seen this said before, but the statement holds true: this book makes you feel like you can taste the food they are eating, hear the music they are listening to, completely picture the palace they are in, see the clothes they are wearing in great detail. Renee Ahdieh really does a phenomenal job doing this, and you will feel completely immersed in this world she created.

The final twenty-five perfect of this book was, also, perfection. I actually even cried, not just for Khalid, but for Shahrzad, too. Hell, I even cried for Jalal and Despina! Then my heart started breaking a little for Tariq! I was a blubbering mess, but it’s totally because this story is told so magnificently that it was impossible for me not to feel everything imaginable that these characters were feeling.

I could also probably highlight this whole book, because it is that beautifully written. I had so many quotes highlighted by the time I was done with this book, and many of them I will keep with me forever.

“I love you, a thousand times over. And I will never apologize for it.”

Unseen Messages by Pepper Winters

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“I should’ve listened, should’ve paid attention. The messages were there. Warning me. But I didn’t see and I paid the price…”

I’m so sorry, but I’m going to have to preface this review with a rant:
> When you arrive at the airport to check in, the airline informs you that your ticket was cancelled.
> You feel like this is a sign not to get on the plane.
> Customs stops you and delays you by patting you down completely.
>You feel like this is a sign not to get on the plane.
> Then there is a problem with your fingerprints, and you once again feel like you might not be able to make this flight.
> You feel like this is a sign not to get on the plane.
> While boarding the plane, attendants tell you that that there is a visa problem
> You feel like this is a sign not to get on the plane, again, but do not want people to think you’re crazy, or seen one too many Final Destinations, so you board anyway.

Now, up until this point I can still salvage the believability. It’s a stretch, but I still can find some sort of resemblance of believability, because maybe our main protagonist really wants to get home that badly and would ignore her nagging intuition.

>When on the plane you still feel uneasy.
>Terrible turbulence starts to happen.
>Oxygen masks drop, lights flicker, and screens go static.
>You feel the plane actually descending and start preparing for a crash.
> Thank your luck; you have an amazing pilot who ends up being able to land the plane safely at the airport.
>You’re notified that, unfortunately, all connecting flights are delayed until morning, you know, because there is a freakin’ hurricane out there that almost caused your plane to crash.
> You then decided not to wait the night out and go home the next day safely, but you realize that you want to take a shady ass helicopter, during the middle of this storm, to a random resort with even more random strangers (oh, but one is swoon worthy), so that you can have a creative outlet.

^This. That last point. That is when I realized that if I was going to get any enjoyment out of this book I was going to have to pretend the circumstances of her getting on this deserted island happened very differently. Because that shit wouldn’t happen. Not in a million freakin’ years would that shit happen. /rant

Okay, now that that is off my chest we can move on. This is a survival story about two young adults and two children stuck on a deserted island in Fiji. Estelle is 25 and a singer/songwriter, Galloway is a 28 year old contractor that is harboring a secret from his past, Conner is 13 and Pippa is almost 8 and they are both struggling with the fact that they just lost their parents.

Sounds pretty terrible, huh? This book tells you everything about their time on the island, and I do mean everything – like 600 pages of everything. I felt like this book dragged and dragged, and started feeling pretty painful to read. But that’s the thing – I couldn’t stop reading it. As unbelievable and boring as it would get, I kept reading because I became obsessed with knowing if they get off the island. So, kudos for Pepper Winters for that, even though I think this is the worst book she’s written. I was literally obsessed with Indebted and Monsters in the Dark by her, so this was a huge letdown for me.

I know this review sounds really angry and negative, and I’m sorry for that. I was just really disappointed, because I’ve come to trust Pepper Winters and her stories that always end up being my guilty pleasures. I always feel so much for her characters and their stories, and she has written some of the most passionate and sexy scenes I’ve ever read in my life. I just expected more, a lot more, and I’ve never read a story or characters like this from her and, more importantly, I’ve never been disappointed with anything from her before.

This all being said, and as I started before, this book was very addicting and it was impossible for me to DNF it even though I felt like I should at 20% in. I had to keep reading, I had to know the outcome, and I completely think that attests to Pepper Winters ability to write and write very well. This survival story was just not for me, but I truly hope it will be for you.

I’m still going to buy and read the next thing Pepper Winters writes, she is just not on as high of a pedestal as she was before.