All the Stars and Teeth Review

*I received an ARC from Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review.*

This book has almost everything my nerdy heart could want: an intense magic system, plenty of mystery and deception, epic plot twists, royalty, a fierce heroine, an adventure on the high seas, friendship, a sassy pirate, and even a mermaid. And, like the stunning icing on the cake, the lyrical style of prose totally drew me in. I adored it!

And speaking of a fierce heroine—I loved how Amora was strong not just in magic, not just in fighting skills, but mentally. She pulled some fast moves to get out of tight spots, and it was exciting to see how her cleverness saved her. Then again, the same could be said of her friends and crew mates—I really enjoyed the dynamics there and how they ended up working together as a team!

I loved how Grace kept me guessing throughout the book. We knew there was something up, with hints here and there, but we didn’t see the full extent of the problems Amora is facing until some big reveals near the end. Those are the sort of twists I live for!

This was one that I started during a busy time of my life, but as soon as life slowed down a little for me, BOOM, I was hooked. I’m definitely excited to see what else this author has in store, considering how fabulous this debut is!

Rogue Princess Review

*I received an ARC from Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review*

This is one of those weird situations where I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it this book. I’m wavering somewhere in a 3-4 star range, so I’m going to say this is maybe 3.5 stars for me.

There were a lot of aspects of this book I loved, which made it hard to put down! I tore threw this book! If a sci-fi genderbent retelling of Cinderella doesn’t sound epic enough, how about a feisty, tough princess, pirates, witty banter, a humorous male love interest, and a plot twist I didn’t see coming?! Still amazing?! Oh yes.

Unfortunately, one of the plot twists, although brilliant, also weirded me out enough to drop my rating. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but it kind of took some of my love for the story away. I was left with some more questions.

I also had some occasional problems with the writing style—it got better as I read, but it felt awkward in parts to me. I think this is mainly because some scenes, especially at the end, were a little rushed.

Perhaps another reason I can’t give this a full 5 stars is because it is, naturally and unfortunately, competing in my heart with The Lunar Chronicles. And as far as sci-fi fairytale retellings with witty banter go, TLC is still king (or queen 😉) in my heart.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It was an entertaining ride!

Rogue Princess releases on 1/21/20! ☺️ If you love sci-fi, romance, pirates, retellings, and humorous dialogue, I recommend you check this one out!

House of Salt and Sorrows Review

It’s been a little while since I read a book in only a day, but I did devour this one super quickly. I started it September 1st, but without much time to read, I only made it a few chapters in, here and there, until today, when I consumed this book! ⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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I just could not put it down! It was just the right amount of creepy and mysterious and suspenseful. I loved the gloomy but opulent atmosphere, the touches of the fantastic, the gods and tricksters, the sisterly bonds yet mounting tension from stress and grief, and the way I was constantly guessing and being surprised. It was dark and shocking, but with hope and light too. Basically, it was exactly what I was hoping for and more, and definitely a 5-star read. I’m glad this highly anticipated book was not a disappointment for me. 😍⁣⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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I’m not super familiar with The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale to know much about how this retelling compares to the original. I’m curious to read the Grimm version and compare them now.

If this sounds like a book you would love, definitely check it out!

The Crowns of Croswald Review

I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed the whimsy and magic of this book! It definitely gave me some serious Harry Potter vibes, but with a unique take on a world of royals and scrivenists, entertaining characters, new creatures and wondrous places.

There were a few times I found myself confused, wishing for some more world-building to explain the way the political and magical system worked. Sometimes I had questions that I felt were skimmed over, or moments in character dialogue that were interrupted or dropped, when I felt the characters would have questioned or spoken more. It made me a little confused about the passage of time in areas.

Overall, it was an engrossing read, and the more the world developed and was explained, the more I wanted to experience it and learn even more! I want to know what becomes of Ivy and her friends, whom I hope to get to know more in book 2.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back Review

*WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*

*Thank you so much to the publisher for provided me with a free advance copy in exchange for my honest review.*

I’ll be honest, I was a little disappointed with this book, because I went into it with fairly high expectations. Sky in the Deep wasn’t a super complex novel, but it was a compelling story with characters I bonded with. This one felt almost like the sort of early draft I would write for a book: the main plot points or bare bones were there, but it was missing the meat of the story where more character development happens. If it weren’t for Sky in the Deep, I’m not sure I would have connected at all to the characters or world. As it was, I mostly connected with Halvard…because of Sky in the Deep.

The characters weren’t bad, the writing style was all right (there was a point I felt a little confused during a battle scene, but those rough patches were, I believe, the uncorrected parts of the ARC I was reading and nothing more), and I still enjoyed the world building and how Young continues to develop the world of Sky in the Deep. But I wanted MORE. More character development, more chances to see the relationships develop between characters (especially the romantic relationship), and more suspense. The plot didn’t grip me like I wanted it to because there just wasn’t that much suspense. I don’t mind being able to predict some things in books (which characters will end up together, etc.) but I need some unpredictability to keep me really invested. Additionally, the romance was…barely-there. Which is OK, except that I didn’t really see the point in having one at all. The hint of romance that did happen had the “fated to be” trope of two people feeling a mysterious connection even though they barely know one another. If there is going to be a romance in a book, I like to see it develop a little and give me a few chances to swoon. I want a couple I can root for!

I also wanted to see Tova developed more. I liked her character, but again, I just didn’t feel like I knew her as well as I should have. And I certainly didn’t feel like I had enough for that abrupt ending when she was finally reunited with her people. It was the mystery of her origins and what had happened to her early on that compelled me to keep reading the book, more than anything else.

All of that said, Young still has a way with words. There were still moments I could see the heart of the story. I just needed MORE. It could have taken this story from “All right, but I may never read it again” to “I MUST have a copy to reread someday!” It mostly just made me want to reread Sky in Deep

Four Dead Queens Review

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 *SPOILER ALERT*

SYNOPSIS

Four dead queens. Three days to catch a killer. Two forbidden romances.
One shocking twist you won’t see coming.

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

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First off, I enjoyed the mystery and atmosphere of this book. From the layered culture that felt like a fun blend of fantasy and sci-fi–kings and queens and carriages mixed alongside holograms and futuristic suits formed from microorganisms that regulate your body temperature, help you heal, etc.–to the murder mystery added into the mix, I was immediately drawn into the concept. After all, fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery are all genres I love to read!

The plot kept me guessing, too. For someone who grew up on Agatha Christie and her ability to ceaselessly shock readers with her books, the ending definitely surprised me. I kept suspecting the inspector, to be honest. At first, I was a little disappointed when Arebella came into the picture…it felt, too obvious. Of course it is Marguerite’s missing daughter! However, I thought the sci-fi-tech twist of Mackiel using Keralie to commit the murders was pretty clever. The clues were all there, and even I failed to see them.

There were, however, a few places where the plot was fuzzy or boring for me. In the beginning, many of the queens’ narratives were slow-paced, because they told rather than showed a lot. There were a few info dumps to explain Quadara’s history, and those dragged for me. A few times I was tempted even to skip the queens’ POV chapters (I didn’t). Then more queens began to die and I was dragged in, wanting to know what was happening and half-hoping one of them would manage to survive.

Another aspect that bothered me was the way time was handled at the end of the story. I found myself a little confused about the passage of time when Keralie and Varin were in the palace–four days passed? It felt like less time. What did they eat? How often did they sleep? It felt a little garbled to me. I understand, now that I’ve read the ending and know what was happening to Keralie, that that was at least partially intentional on the author’s part, but these issues pulled me out of the story a little. It was hard to focus on the action when I was wondering, Where the heck have they gotten food while they’ve been hiding in the palace for four days?

One final thing that really nagged at me was the moment when they overheard the inspector, and he later revealed he’d known they were there. I thought it was weird that he knew but didn’t try to capture and question them sooner. He admitted he thought they were suspicious, but did nothing about it while queens were continuing to die? It was because of things like this that I spent so much time suspecting this guy!

In the end, I found myself desperately wanting Keralie to succeed in her mission to save the queens. It was a bit of a relief to see at least one of them survive, because after it all I felt a little bit more connected to the queens and wanted them to survive. I liked that twist as well, since it gave Marguerite the opportunity to confront her daughter. The plot twists shocked me. I enjoyed watching Keralie’s character develop, and I thought she and Varin were cute together, adding in just enough romance to give us some swoon-worthy moments. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, with a unique genre mash-up that I would like to see more of in books, and I’m interested to see what Astrid Scholte writes next.