April 2017 Reading Wrap Up

 

➽ The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15) by J.R. Ward – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Again, I’m not sure how, after all these books, BDB can still feel new and fresh. This series is about a brotherhood of vampires, who are all fighting a greater war for their survival. I love this world, these characters, and J.R. Ward proves time and time again that she is the Queen of PNR.

➽ A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
I read this for the BooktubeSFF Awards, and enjoyed it immensely more than I did A Darker Shade of Magic. This story surrounds four characters while a magical tournament is being hosted in their Red London, because in this world there are four parallel Londons. I’m still not entirely sure if I like V.E. Schwab’s writing style, but I absolutely love her character development!

➽ The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Gray & J.S. Herbison – β˜…β˜…β˜…
This was a short story about an abandoned and mysterious space ship in space! It was spooky, it was mysterious, and it felt like I was exploring the Titanic, alone, at the bottom of the ocean.

➽ Seven Princes of the Thousand Year Labyrinth, Vol. 1 by Aikawa Yu & Atori Haruno – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
The basic premise of this is that the Emperor of the seven lands has passed away, and the seven Lords of those seven lands find themselves trapped in a medieval castle. Inside the castle that was thought just a fantasy, the Lords are met with constant rising water, traps, puzzles, and riddles, that they must figure out or they will lose their lives. Together they must decide who will be the new Emperor.

➽ The Heart of Stone by Ben Galley – β˜…β˜…β˜…
This was a super unique read, because the main protagonist of this story is a Stone Golem! I had never read anything like that before, and I absolutely loved it. The Golem is forced to fight a war for a brand new master, but the Golem also realizing that he is much more than a weapon for humans to use.

➽ Seven Princes of the Thousand Year Labyrinth, Vol. 2 by Aikawa Yu & Atori Haruno – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
This is the second volume of this amazing manga, that is very quickly becoming one of my all time favorites! The Lords are met with more problems, and more secrets are becoming uncovered! I cannot wait to see what volume three will bring later this year!

➽ Crown of Lies (Truth and Lies Duet #1) by Pepper Winters – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
It had been a hot second since I’ve picked up any New Adult Romances, so this was a super unexpected treat! This story is about a girl, who hasn’t been able to ever have a childhood because of her responsibilities taking over her family’s business. One night she sneaks away, to see what else life has to offer, and she meets a boy who not only saves her life, but changes her life forever.

➽ Throne of Truth (Truth and Lies Duet #2) by Pepper Winters – β˜…β˜…
This was the lackluster conclusion to Crown of Lies, and even though I was really excited for it, it fell so very short and was actually has a pretty problematic ending. Hands down the worst thing I read this month.

➽ Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown – β˜…β˜…β˜…
I feel like I’m the last person on Earth that hasn’t read this trilogy, and it was my longest neglected ARC, so I figured I would rectify that! This book was so reminiscent to The Hunger Games that it was actually impossible to unsee. And as much as I still enjoyed the story, the use of rape as a plot device felt so very terrible.

➽ The Innkeeper Chronicles – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
This is a special edition bind-up of one of my favorite series of all time. This story is also very unique, and our main protagonist is an Innkeeper with a whole crazy set of powers! She receives guests from all around the universe, and has to play host to a vast array of different creatures! This is truly an amazing series, and this author writing duo writes the best Urban Fantasy to date.

➽ Dearest Clementine (Dearest #1) by Lex Martin – β˜…β˜…β˜…
This was another super cute Contemporary read that was perfect for the start of spring! It surrounds a college student that is working (and having writer’s block) on a new novel, while also struggling with being vulnerable and letting someone in. Also, this book has a sub-plot of a student’s disappearance, which makes for a pretty enjoyable, though rather predictable, mystery story.

➽ The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
This is probably the most important, influential, and powerful book of my generation. I feel like it should be required reading, because the message of what is going on in today’s world shouldn’t be ignored.

➽ Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
I’m so happy some of my amazing friends convinced me to read book two in this series, because The Hunger Games elements really did go away, and in place came a really addicting story about an uprising in space! I fell in love with some of these characters, and I cannot wait to finish Morning Star!

➽ Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
I also read this for the BooktubeSFF Awards! I have not read anything from The Stormlight Archive yet, but this novella sure made me want to! This was such a perfect little story about a young girl with magical powers and her plant elemental companion! Under 150 pages, Brandon Sanderson proves why he is one of the most read and sought after fantasy authors of our generation, and this novella was no exception!

➽ The Reborn King (The Dragon’s Blade, #1) by Michael R. Miller – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Not only is the cover of this book gorgeous, but the story is so very beautiful as well! This is a story of three factions, humans, dragons, and fae, banding together to try to defeat the never ending demons that are being summoned by a very ancient and evil entity. I just finished this book last night, and absolutely loved and adored it! I can’t wait to review it!

Overall, I’m super happy with my reading this month! It was for sure the best reading month I’ve had so far in 2017, with both quantity and quality. This is my first time ever doing a monthly wrap up, but I really enjoyed touching back and recapping everything I read for the month! I hope to do more of these throughout the year, and I hope you all enjoyed seeing everything I read in April. Happy reading, everyone!

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Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson

(I read this in Brandon Sanderson’s Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection!)
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Readalong for the BooktubeSFF Awards which is being hosted by Adriana from Perpetual Pages, Chelsea from TheReadingOutlaw, Samantha from Novels and Nonsense, Connor from Connor O’Brien, Elizabeth from Books and Pieces, Kaitlin from Kitty G, Sam from Thoughts on Tomes, Elena from Elena Reads Books, and Thomas from SFF180!

First and foremost, I haven’t read The Way of Kings or Words of Radiance, and I know this had some spoilers for me and I’m a horrible person, but I really needed to read this for the BooktubeSFF Awards. Plus, after reading I don’t really think it had that many spoilers. Like, I know there is obviously a resolution that happened after book two, and I know a new Desolation is about to cause a bunch of havoc in Oathbringer, but I still think I can enjoy all the books and still know very minimal.

(Art by Marie at jurassicpencil!)

This story surrounds a side character named Lift, who is freakin’ awesome! I was a little apprehensive, knowing that the main character was going to be a twelve-year-old, but she completely won me over and quickly. I also loved her spren, Wyndle, who is a plant elemental, which everyone knows I’m a sucker for any magical companion! They were such a cute pair, and I loved the visual of them traveling together, on the hunt for different kinds of pancakes.

The adorable pair travel to a new city, where Lift is very adamant about using her Edgedancer powers so she can catch the attention of a man named Darkness, who she believes is hunting someone else who has powers. During her stay in the new city, she meets a strange woman that runs an orphanage for sick children who are no longer wanted.

Darkness was a wonderfully complex villain, especially for only a 130 page story. I never thought he was purely bad, just significantly misguided, and I really can’t wait to actually read this series so I can read more about him and his questionable direction.

The only negative thing I will say is that I understand that Lift is young, but I’m not sure how problematic/unproblematic the mental health topic is in this book. I’m not the best judge of this, but a few of the things said in this book seemed like they could at least make someone else feel uncomfortable, so I think it’s important for me to note it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and it made me really hyped to start The Way of Kings! This was a really beautiful story that warmed my heart and made me giggle on many occasions. Lift and Wyndle were so easy to love, and I want to know anything and everything about them!

Golden Son (Red Rising, #2) by Pierce Brown

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#1.) Red Rising β˜…β˜…β˜…

Okay, let me shout this from on top of my roof real quick before I start reviewing this: this series is very much not a YA series, but is an ADULT series that has a lot of violence, gore, and cruelty throughout it. It is honestly almost the equivalent of calling ASOIAF a YA series, because it so happens to have some young adults in it.

For those of you unfamiliar with Red Rising, even though I feel like I was the only one left at this point, in this world that takes place in our universe, starring a young man from Mars, everyone is subdivided into color categories based on their skill sets, income, hair color, and what last name they possess (information provided by the Red Rising Wiki page):

➽ HighColors:
β€’ Golds – Rulers of society
β€’ Silvers – Financiers and businessmen
β€’ Whites – The clergy
β€’ Coppers – Administrators, lawyers and bureaucrats
➽ MidColors:
β€’ Blues – Astronavigators of ships
β€’ Yellows – Doctors and scientists
β€’ Greens – Programmers and developers
β€’ Violets – The creative class such as artists
β€’ Oranges – Mechanics
β€’ Grays – Law-enforcement, security, military and other armed personnel
➽ LowColors:
β€’ Browns – Servants
β€’ Obsidians – “Monstrous race only bred for war”
β€’ Pinks – Pleasure slaves
β€’ Reds – The unskilled and menial laborers

Darrow, that young man that was born and raised in the mines of Mars as a Red, has some pretty traumatic things happen to him in Red Rising that has lead to him being the main tool in a rebellion for equality among the colors. Obviously, the Golds and some higher-ups are not willing to just roll over and let this happen, so many of the important families are trying to stop this rebellion before it even truly begins.

β€œFor seven hundred years, my people have been enslaved without voice, without hope. Now I am their sword. And I do not forgive. I do not forget. So let him lead me onto his shuttle. Let him think he owns me. Let him welcome me into his house, so I might burn it down.”

I enjoyed this immensely more than Red Rising! Gone are the The Hunger Games vibes, and this story really came into its own with a very unique and addicting plot with a crazy enjoyable cast of characters.

I’m going to make this review just a spoiler-free gush about some of the characters, because they really are the shining light of this elaborate tale, and I feel like this book was very much just setting up for Morning Star, while continuing just to break my heart and make me cry over and over. Also, all reviewers know that middle books are always the hardest to review, so here we are!

And yes, I see why you all love Sevro now. He was, for me, the start of this book. Learning about his family and past, all the twists and turns, seeing his heart break, knowing his heart is going to break, it was the highlight of this whole book for me. Also, for my WoW friends, Sevro totally always reminds me of Durotan, and not just because of the wolf pelts (though it does help, let’s be real)!

Also, with the heart breaking, cliffhanger, ASOIAF -feeling, ending about killed me. Honestly, one of the hardest things I’ve ever read and then been left alone with, because it was the last page. I’m not sure how you all waited a year for Morning Star, but you are all the true MVPS here. Yeah, not even Brad Pitt in Se7en prepared me.

My heart also belonged to Lorn throughout this book. Seeing his grandchildren of all the different colors just sang to my very soul. He was also so willing to give up everything to protect Darrow. Seriously such an amazing character and such a wonder father figure that Darrow so badly needed.

β€œA boy throws stones. A fool steals kisses. A man gives his heart.”

Then Darrow’s mother…. Lord, my heart. The tea scene was probably my second favorite part of this entire book. I don’t have children yet, but I imagine most mothers would be very much like her, and it just broke me to tears, but happy tears.

My favorite scene was with the stained, freed, Obsidian, Ragnar Volarus. The monologues from him and with him were alone almost able for me to give Gold Son five stars. He is such a pure reflection of our very own humanity, and the terrible things we as humans do to other humans. I tear up just thinking about him, and how he is such a perfect little cinnamon roll after everything he’s been through.

β€œGodchild Andromedus, I am Ragnar Volarus, the Stained firstborn of my mother, Alia Snowsparrow of the Valkyrie Spires north of the Dragon’s Spine, south of the Fallen City, where the Winged Horror flies, brother of Sefi the Quiet, breaker of Tanos, which once stood by the water, and I make you an offering of stains.”

The other little cinnamon roll of this story is Pax’s dad, Kavax, and his jellybean eating little fox, Sophocles! Ahhhh! Seriously, cuteness overload. I was so happy to see and learn about Pax’s family in this book! It was such an unexpected pure joy-filled surprise! Please, keep them safe at any cost!

I still like Cassius, I know I’m sick, but I just feel like his actions are also so believable and understandable, especially if someone is setting up Darrow for him, which is so easy from what Darrow has already done and lied about to him. I do believe Cassius will come through at the end of this trilogy, but Lord, I’m still not over the ending of this freakin’ book!

β€œFriendships take minutes to make, moments to break, years to repair.”

And the Jackal is just on a whole other level. What a villain; a bad, broken, evil, corrupt, selfish, manipulating, villain. I mean, if you think he was bad in Red Rising at the war games, you are in for a treat with Golden Son.

Also, because it needs to be said, Roque is stupid.

Pierce Brown really excels in writing characters. Even though this book is filled with war, intergalactic-hardships, slavery, friendships, betrayal, revenge, and more the heart of this story and this world are all these amazingly crafted characters. It was so easy for me to just pour my heart out and type away all these things about these people, because Pierce Brown has me so heavilyy invested with each and every one of them.

Needless to say, I cannot wait to begin Morning Star, and I’m sorry if this review isn’t completely coherent, but I promise if you read the ending of Golden Son and then try to write a review right afterwards, it will probably look something like this mess. I mean, who needs to be processed and composed while reviewing a book, when you can be ugly crying and fangirling?

β€œHome isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.”

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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It has taken me a long while to compose this review, because this book is the most powerful book I’ve ever read. It is important, educational, and happening in our world right now as you’re reading this review. If you can only read one book in 2017, please pick this one.

This book is inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, where sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses her best friend, who is an unarmed black boy, be killed by a police officer. Starr is scared to speak up, constantly battling what to do, because there is never any justice for these heartless killings.

This book is real, honest, and it’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable is necessary to change. And this book is going to change a lot of people’s lives. I hope everyone reads this and starts educating themselves on, and will stop ignoring, the problems going on in today’s world. Books are the most powerful and influential tool we have, and The Hate U Give is a literary masterpiece that will be a constant reference for years to come.

β€œThat’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Important things that I want to say:
β€’ Reverse racism doesn’t exist.
β€’ White people will never know what it feels like to be a marginalized black person who is still being oppressed in 2017. You might think you do, but you don’t.
β€’ When you say #AllLivesMatter, even when coming from a place of good, it is hurtful and ignoring the greater problems that are prevalent.
β€’ When you say #BlueLivesMatter it actually makes me feel sick to my stomach, especially after reading this book. Stop doing this. I don’t care if your dad is “one of the good cops out there”; it is disrespectful for this plague of an epidemic that is happening to our black men and women.
β€’ I can do better and I can do more. We can do better and we can all do more.
β€’ Here is a list of some unarmed black men that have been killed over the past few years by the police brutality that is ever growing in the United States: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown Jr., Michael Brown Jr., Dante Parker, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Keith Lamont Scott, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and more that go unnamed and unanswered every day.

Remember these names. Honor these names. Open your eyes. See what is going on in our world and see how wrong it is. It is easy to ignore when it is not happening to you, but is this really the kind of world you want to live in? Open your heart; be empathetic to your fellow human. Let’s change this, and have The Hate U Give be the first stepping stone.

β€œYou can destroy wood and brick, but you can’t destroy a movement.”

Thank you, Angie Thomas; I truly hope your book changes this world.

Lastly, I want to emphasize that this review is coming to you from a young, white, immensely privileged woman. These are five amazing people of color giving amazing heartfelt reviews on YouTube that showcases why this book is the most important and influential book of our time. Here are a fewΒ of the people we should need to be listening to:
β€’ BooksAndBigHair
β€’ TheBookArcher
β€’ Lily Meade
β€’ iLivieforbooks
β€’ the (book) supplier

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Dearest Clementine (Dearest #1) by Lex Martin

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ARC provided to me by author Lex Martin in exchange for an honest review.

This was a super sweet, cute, summer/spring time read, with a mystery sub-plot that, even though it was pretty obvious, really pulls you into the story and makes it hard to put this book down.

Clementine is attending Boston University, where she is pursuing a degree in writing/english, even though she has already published a bestselling novel her freshman year, under a pen name. The story she had published is an account of real events that happened to her during her senior year of high school, but has changed all the names and tweaked the information. Yet, it would be absolutely devastating if people found out that she really wrote the book, because her and her family has been in the public eye for a long time.

Because of her apprehensiveness about being in the spotlight with the press, she is very averse to meeting new people. Also, because of the bad break up that she wrote about in high school, she is also very averse to dating anyone. That is, until she meets Gavin, a RA and journalist that is also the newest member of her friend’s band.

Clementine, being apprehensive about relationships, doesn’t want to give Gavin the time of day, but she is struggling with writers block and an assignment in her new romance class and he is the only thing that helps give her inspiration.

There is also a missing girl from Clementine’s university and Gavin is writing piece after piece trying to help bring her home. Clementine is also feeling very unsafe on campus, because she was sexually assaulted by a college professor her freshman year. Even though she had gotten a restraining order, he is back and is making it very apparent that he isn’t willing to stop pursuing Clementine.

We also are introduced to some amazing side characters that get their own spinoffs in this series, too! Jax, Clementine’s twin brother and soccer star, gets to be the male lead in Finding Dandelion! And Darren, who is Clementine’s ex, star quarterback of the rivaling university’s football team, gets to be the male lead in Kissing Madeline! I loved Darren. Don’t get me wrong, Gavin was pretty dreamy and Darren did mess up pretty inexcusably in high school, but I was low-key in love with Darren once he actually came into Clementine’s story personally.

I really enjoyed it, and it’s honestly such a good romantic contemporary that is perfect for this time of year. I only really have two negative things to say about this book:

The first being that, again, the abduction mystery, paired with the stalking professor, made for a really unexpected and enjoyable read, but it was also painfully obvious what was going on and how the situation was going to unfold.

The second thing is that there was a lot of “joking around” slut shaming in this book. I completely understand that I used to be very guilty of this, too, and this book was published in 2014, so I’m willing to give it some slack, but it still made for a jarring and unpleasant read when the girls/friends were talking to one another.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and I am so thankful that I was able to get a copy of this for free. I also fully plan to read both Finding Dandelion and Kissing Madeline, because all of these characters were so cute and so enjoyable to read about. Lex Martin did a wonderful job writing this story, and I have nothing but high hopes for her future.

The Innkeeper Chronicles Volume 1 by Ilona Andrews

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

It is no secret that I am obsessed and in love with everything that this writing duo creates. IA is truly a tier about all urban fantasy, and I recommend any and everything by them if you love the genre or are just getting into it. IA is maybe the only author(s) that I can say whole heartedly that I love everything they’ve created, not like, not think is okay or worth reading, LOVE.

Not only do you receive the first three volumes of this series in this bind up, it is also filled with jaw dropping gorgeous artwork by Doris Mantair. The art that was in these novels were also something that I looked forward to, but seeing them in full, and completely perfected, was amazing.

You can preorder this gorgeous bind up of all three novels in the Innkeeper Chronicles here for a limited time!

And if $75 is a little steep for you (and for me, let’s be real), this series started out as something IA posted serialized on their website. I’m not entirely sure if you can see find these books for free online, but they are about $13 each on Amazon, and so very worth reading.

Also, go request this on Netgalley while it is still available! Seriously, you get some breathtaking art work and three of the best PNR/UF books, by the very best PNR/UF writer(s), on the market! If I hadn’t already read this series, it would have been the best approval Netgalley has ever given me.

I’m going to break down each novel with their individual reviews and ratings, and also with links to their individual reviews on Goodreads. Again, I loved this series, this world, and these characters. Each book just gets better and better, and I hope and pray they continue on with this series until the end of time.

➽ 1.) Clean Sweep β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
I loved this new world and expected nothing less from this amazing writing duo. I was not expecting all the sci-fi developments, so that took me for by a very pleasant surprise. The concepts in this book were so unique; I’ve never read anything about “Innkeepers” before. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a completely new concept they created. Basically, if you’re looking for a good PNR/sci-fi love child, I can’t recommend this enough.

So what’s the deal with this innkeeper and her inn? Well, first off the inn is a sentient being that gives immense powers to the Innkeeper when they are on its property, and even some powers when off of it. Just like inns in our world, people check in to stay for however long periods of time and the innkeeper will see to their needs. In this world, travelers come from all over the universe and have some pretty peculiar wants and needs. Our main character and innkeeper, Dina, came into the profession because her parents were also innkeepers so she grew up with it and loved the lifestyle. Unfortunately, her parents and their whole inn disappeared, so she’s now made it her life mission to find them.

But what would an inn be without guests? We have a sexy neighborhood werewolf that doesn’t know how powerful he really is. We also have a vampire full aware of his power, who is a warrior that is pretty swoon-worthy. Yes, that combination does equal a love triangle. Then my personal favorite, a cannibal alien that’s on the run, with a strange appetite for Mellow Yellow and Funyuns. Then we throw in a very dangerous alien called a dahaka with his stalker beasts at his side, and we have a full paranormal/sci-fi cast.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t love this book as much as I did the rest of the Kate Daniels series, but it was still a good read. It just wasn’t un-put-down-able like how I find Kate Daniels. It still has the super witty writing that makes you laugh out loud and feel silly giggling to yourself. It still portrays Dina as a strong independent woman character that more girls would strive to be like. Most important, it still had an engaging story that makes for a wonderful read. This book might not be five stars, but it was still one of the better books I’ve read in 2015.

β€œI have spent my spare time studying literature popular with young women of this planet. One should always study the battlefield.”
Sean glanced at him. “And?”
“I suggest you give up now. According to my research, in a vampire-werewolf love triangle, the vampire always gets the girl.”

➽ 2.) Sweep in Peace β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Apparently, Jack, George, Gaston, and Lark/Sophie are all from IA’s other series The Edge. I haven’t read this series yet, but going off my friend’s reviews this is either going to make you very happy or completely turn you off of this book! I am kind of scared to read it, but I loved Sweep in Peace so maybe I’ll dive in one day when my stacks of “to reads” isn’t touching my bedroom ceiling.

Oh, and I also think you will be able to read this for free on IA’s website, but I don’t think all the chapters are up yet. Or maybe they took it down for the actual book release? Either way, I think you will eventually be able to read it for free, which is pretty neat.

Ilona Andrews has a gift that most authors do not have; every book they write makes me want to be a part of that world. I remember being so young while reading Harry Potter, and I felt the same magic after I finished every book. That crazy longing to want to live in that world, and be a part of that story. Maybe I’m just crazy, but that’s what Ilona does for me that most other authors will never be able to achieve, and for that they will get my never ending applause. Hell, Kate Daniels is post-apocalyptic and I still want to live in that world! Seriously, my fan-girling has made me sick, but I’m too far gone for any cure.

Sweep in Peace starts right up from where Clean Sweep left off. Honestly, you could probably just jump in and read this one; you just might not appreciate it (or Sean) as much, but this book does a wonderful job filling in the blanks without making the reader feel overwhelmed with information. Dina and Gertrude Hunt are still the same, while Caldenia is still the Inn’s only guest. Well, that soon changes when Dina accepts to host The Summit for three factions who are at war over a planet. The planet, Nexus, contains large subterranean reserves of Kuyo, which is a liquid used in production of “pharmaceutical asset of significant strategic value”. So it’s very valuable and everyone is fighting over it.

The Three Factions:
1.) The merchants of Baha-char represented by Nuan Cee’s clan (cute little fox people).
2.) The hope-crushing Horde represented by Otrokar (aliens that form their bodies for their jobs).
3.) The Holy Anocracy represented by House Krahr (vampires). Oh yes, this means Arland *swoon*.

So needless to say, Dina’s Inn is very full in this book. So she has to hire a chef to cook for all these people while she is constantly making sure Gertrude Hunt stay neutral and safe for all the new guests. The chef she hires ends up being my favorite character. Basically, he’s an exiled giant porcupine, who’s a former Red Cleaver chef, who is obsessed with mangoes and named Orro. I’m not really sure I have to say much more than that, but I can promise you if you read this book you, too, will fall in love with him!

This book is filled with Dina trying to keep the peace in her inn, while also trying to get all three factions to sign a peace treaty with one another. Obviously, it’s no small task and has Dina constantly working with these very different clans. Some major twists and turns happen, which leaves the reader on the edge of their seat while trying to figure out all the mysteries.

Overall, I loved this installment and cannot wait for the third. Please, oh please give us Klaus in the next one. Dina needs him, and I sure as hell need to know more about him. The epilogue will probably leave you wanting more Sean, even though all I want is more Arland.

β€œI asked him if he was leaving anyone behind. He said he met a girl with stardust on her robe, and when he looked into her eyes, he saw the Universe looking back.”

➽ 3.) One Fell Sweep β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Everything IA touches turns to gold, and this series is no exception. The Innkeeper Chronicles feel so cozy, yet are so action packed and have so much swoon-worthy romance. IA somehow weaves a story with the perfect balance of mystery, filled with high-tense situations, with all these unique concepts, and makes it feel like home. I can’t recommend this series, or this writing duo, enough.

This series is written in weekly installments that IA posts for free. I, being the masochist that I truly am, always wait until it is actually published in book form to review, but it is still pretty freakin’ awesome that this is a series that they write for their fans out of the kindness of their hearts.

Without giving too much away, and because we are three books into this series now, the first book in this series, Clean Sweep, stars a innkeeper, Dina, who runs a magical inn that allows life forms from all over the Galaxy to stay for whatever period of time they need. Not everyone has the magical gifts to be able to run their own inn, but Dina’s parents owned their own inn while she was growing up, so she is very familiar with this magical safe place that is hidden away from the rest of Earth.

Innkeepers also have immense power, especially on their inn’s property. On top of being able to command the house at your every whim, because you have to be able to make your guests comfortable, which means constantly changing the rooms and layout to their needs, innkeepers have the responsibility to keep their guests safe, and have a whole magical property at their disposal.

Yet, an inn’s ability to thrive and live is constantly syncing with the guests that are needed for it to house. In the first book, The Innkeeper Chronicles, this is very apparent, but now that we are three books in, the inn is prospering, thriving, and very powerful.

Each book deals with a new threat to the inn, or its guests, but the constant theme of the whole series is that Dina’s once innkeeper parents have gone missing. Dina keeps a picture of them on display right when you walk into her inn, no matter how the layout of the inn changes, in hopes that someone will recognize them and be able to give her information. So far, her quest results have turned up empty.

β€œHusbands can fall out of love. Friends can betray you. But when you’re stuck in a hellhole far from home, your family will move heaven and earth to get you back.”

But in One Fell Sweep she gets a proposition from a new alien that wishes to stay at the Gertrude Hunt for information on her parents’ whereabouts that she cannot help but accept. Even if that means risking everything and everyone she loves.

And when I said everyone that Dina loves, I truly mean that, because this book introduces a few new characters that would be impossible for you not to fall in love with!:

Seriously, every hiss turned me into a bigger puddle of goo.

β€œI have run, my lord. And I would do it again, if the circumstances called for it. Honor can’t keep my daughter alive, but I can.”

And if you’ve been following my reviews of this series, you’ll know that Arland is, hands down, my favorite character. (When will I grow out of my brooding vampire phase?) And seeing his character arc take a very unexpected turn made my heart melt and my ovaries swoon.

Can we also talk about how this book takes place during Christmas? Like, this book already feels magical and is impossible for the reader to not want to be staying and living in Dina’s inn, but the timeline correlating with our present day was something so amazing. I couldn’t help but be enthralled with this book, in this world, and with these characters once again.

β€œYou taught me the meaning of loneliness, because when I don’t see you, I feel alone.”

Seeing Dina grow not only as an innkeeper, but as a person, is so rewarding. I cannot wait to see the direction the fourth book takes, and how Dina and Sean are going to proceed with their new information, regarding the Ripper of Souls.

IA is seriously in a league of their own for Urban Fantasy, but, honestly, they are dominating their take on Sci-Fi, too. With all the different planets and species, and then their greater message of acceptance and love with organisms that are different or misunderstood in this Galaxy, too? Then add in all their original and unique concepts. Like, this wife and husband writing duo are such a blessing to the literary world. #blessed

Red Rising (Red Rising, #1) by Pierce Brown

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

Red Rising is the oldest ARC I have on my TBR. One of my 2017 goals was to read and review it, because I always felt so much pressure when I’d think about picking it up, because this is such a beloved book in the community.

In this world that takes place in our universe, mostly on Mars, everyone is subdivided into color categories based on their skill sets, income, hair color, and what last name they possess (information provided by the Red Rising Wiki page):

➽ HighColors:
β€’ Golds – Rulers of society
β€’ Silvers – Financiers and businessmen
β€’ Whites – The clergy
β€’ Coppers – Administrators, lawyers and bureaucrats
➽ MidColors:
β€’ Blues – Astronavigators of ships
β€’ Yellows – Doctors and scientists
β€’ Greens – Programmers and developers
β€’ Violets – The creative class such as artists
β€’ Oranges – Mechanics
β€’ Grays – Law-enforcement, security, military and other armed personnel
➽ LowColors:
β€’ Browns – Servants
β€’ Obsidians – “Monstrous race only bred for war”
β€’ Pinks – Pleasure slaves
β€’ Reds – The unskilled and menial laborers

Red Rising is also broken up in to three parts, and because a few friends have asked me to break the story down for them, I’m going to! I will not spoil any main plot lines, and I will try to be as vague as possible, but please do not continue reading any further if you wish to go into Red Rising completely blind!

β€œI look at him for a moment. Words are a weapon stronger than he knows. And songs are even greater. The words wake the mind. The melody wakes the heart. I come from a people of song and dance. I don’t need him to tell me the power of words.”

➽ Part I: Our main protagonist’s journey starts out in the lows of the lows, because he is a Red. Darrow is the youngest HellDiver in his red colony, where he works in the mines all day, trying to make Mars livable. He for sure is the strongest and the most efficient miner, too, even though he will never receive the credit for it. But something happens that changes Darrow’s life and outlook forever, forcing him to go to the surface of Mars.

β€œI would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.”

➽ Part II: Darrow wakes up and meets with the Sons of Ares, and starts his transformation to enhance his body, so he can pass as a Gold and infiltrate their ranks by performing well enough at their military school, the Institute. Darrow was bitten by something when he was younger, so he and his heart are rare, but strong enough, to endure all of the surgeries. Maybe my favorite part of this book was learning about the Carver and his work. Oh, and Evey, because I loved her instantly and pictured Mercy from Overwatch and it made my fangirl thirsty heart so very happy. Anyways, Darrow goes to the Institute, performs very well, and is picked tenth out of one thousand students at the school and will now move on to the next part of their schooling.

β€œI am the Reaper and death is my shadow.”

➽ Part III: After performing a horrible and terrible act to move on to the next part of his schooling, we realize that all the different houses have pickled different people and given each group a castle. Darrow’s house, House Mars, cannot decide a leader, because they are all confrontational alpha males, so they split up into four different groups. We also become aware that this is being broadcasted, and higher ups are watching to recruit the strongest players. Also, if I’m being honest, this part feels like a rape filled The Hunger Games. Like, to the point that I’m honestly surprised Suzanne Collins wasn’t like, “what the fuck?”

β€œFunny thing, watching gods realize they’ve been mortal all along.”

Also, it needs to be said that there are trigger warnings for rape, sexual assault, and graphic violence, because I had no idea going into this book that there would be so much rape. I was so surprised. I feel like the book community really paints this as a YA SFF coming of age story, which I guess it is, but it is so much darker than I ever imaged. I don’t give a shit that Darrow was sixteen when this book started, this is an ADULT book.

Overall, I did enjoy this, actually more than The Hunger Games, but you can tell this story is so heavily influenced from The Hunger Games that it just ends up feeling bad. That parallels are consistent, and it was something that I just couldn’t unsee.

I also found it a little unbelievable that all these high up Golds would allow the chance of their children to be killed, especially for viewing pleasure. I understand that most have multiple kids, and this is their way to prove their worth, but I just can’t imagine that they would be okay allowing their kids to be a part of this academy where there is such a high death (and rape) turnover rate. Or, at the very least, they would train every child from the time they could walk into becoming amazing warriors and never allow their children to go into the Institute so unprepared and unable to fight like so many did.

I also hated how this story used rape to make Darrow look like a savior constantly. The book is brutal enough; we don’t need to have the rape ploy thrown in our faces every chapter, just so Darrow can save and/or avenge all the helpless women. Also, Darrow kills because of rape constantly, and then towards the end when he gets to play judge and dish out some punishments, he finds it in his heart to make it a bonding exercise. Like, please, it’s gross, tiresome, and pathetic. This book would have been leagues better without this hot mess of rape plot devices.

Also, Darrow wasn’t the most likable main character. I completely understand that he was only sixteen when starting his journey, so I try so very hard to cut him slack, but he makes the most questionable decisions, especially with everything he has riding on his performance. Also, if I was grieving over the love of my life, I probably wouldn’t be looking at every freakin’ girl I see, calling them “so beautiful” and admiring them every other chapter. Like, I get it, sixteen year old boys are horny, but it was so unnecessary and I think that I felt more impacted by Eo than Darrow ever did. Darrow felt more driven by his dick than by his rage or want for revenge, in my opinion.

My favorite character was, hands down, Cassius, a friend that Darrow makes at the start of him joining the Institute. I felt for his character so much, and I felt like every action he performed was so valid. His choices where so believable, and everything he did I feel like I would have done if I was in his position. He was for sure the most realistic character to me, and I couldn’t help but love him and his story arc. Like, if I continue on with Golden Son, it is 100% because of Cassius.

Overall, I’m mostly just happy I finally have read this ARC copy. I did enjoy this book; I just didn’t love it the way everyone else seems to. I feel like it would have had a much bigger impact on me if I hadn’t already read The Hunger Games and been a part of the hype for that series. I hated the use of rape in this, and I just felt like the story did leave a lot to be desired. Like I said, this is a beloved series in the book community, so if you’re at all interested I would for sure give it a shot.