ARC Review: THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN by C.L. Polk


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28114396
THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN
C.L. Polk

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Erewhon
Pages: 384
Release date: October 13th 2020

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?


The Midnight Bargain was a surprisingly engaging read, if a bit rough in the beginning, with quite a bit of tension and a writing style that was easy to get into. The world-building was really intriguing–the questions it raised and the answers provided were some of my favorite things about the novel.

The characters were all pretty interesting, but some of them could have been more fleshed out. The novel was told entirely from Beatrice’s perspective and, in the first 25%, it was a bit difficult to get a good sense of her personality. She did have amazing moments of development throughout the novel, though, and the last 30% or so showed the heart of her. Continue reading

Review: JADE CITY by Fonda Lee


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28114396
JADE CITY
Fonda Lee

Series: The Green Bone Saga #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 560
Release date: June 26th 2018

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.


“Expectations are a funny thing.”


Sometimes, certain books are just Too Good.

Jade City was such! a tense read from beginning to end that I found myself thinking of the story even when I had to put the book down. The writing was so captivating and engrossing and the multiple POV narrative had such a smooth flow that captured my attention right away and kept me glued to my Kindle. I loved the premise, since I’m a huge sucker for crime families, and the execution was so so unique, well done, and expertly written.

The world-building in this \o/ Fonda Lee created a fascinating new (and Asian inspired!) world in this novel. I loved loved loved the concept of Jade warriors and how that tied into clans, as well as the consequences of what such power could give and bring to people. The filial piety, the importance of honor, the expectations that had to be met. It was all so so so good and so interesting to read about. Continue reading

Review: GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN by Talia Hibbert


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GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN
Talia Hibbert

Series: The Brown Sisters #1
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 369
Release date: November 5th 2019

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…


Get a Life, Chloe Brown was such a cute and fun read that it cured my reading slump! The writing was so easy to get into and the perspectives of both of our narrators, Chloe and Red, were so wonderful! I loved their points of view and how funny they were, especially when they were interacting with each other. Their relationship very much started as an enemies-to-reluctant-friends sort of thing and I looooved how it was executed.

The plot was pretty straight forward and very well executed. I loved how Hibbert introduced Chloe and developed her as a character. I can’t speak personally about the representation that exists in the novel, since it’s not my reality, but I really appreciated how organic the explanations and conversations about Chloe’s chronic illness (fibromyalgia) came about–it was still a big part of her life that affected her day-to-day living, but she wasn’t reduced to that. Continue reading

Review: THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by T.J. Klune


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THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA
T.J. Klune

Genre: LGBTQ+, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 393
Release date: March 17th 2020

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.


The House in the Cerulean Sea was a quirky and fun read with a fast pace and really intriguing characters! It was so easy to get swept up in the narrative and Linus’ perspective. The world-building was developed slowly through his eyes and it was so interesting to find out about this new world and its people as Linus got sent to the House and interacted with the children.

And the kids! They were the best part and totally stole the show. Each and every one of them was so funny and complex and I loved getting to know them bit by bit. This was such an unique and creative concept and Klune developed it so well by writing these kids as he did. They were so much fun and I loved all the different aspects of their personalities. Continue reading

Review: THE SKY WEAVER by Kristen Ciccarelli


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THE SKY WEAVER
Kristen Ciccarelli

SeriesIskari #3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 400
Release date: November 12th 2019

At the end of one world, there always lies another.

Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard—helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.

Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as the Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman power to move between worlds.

When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?

Now Safire and Eris—sworn enemies—find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara. From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Star Isles, their search and their stories become woven ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they’re hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world—and the next.


The Sky Weaver was an improvement over the last book! The characters and plot were more developed and there was more action and tension to make things interesting. Eris and Safire were lovely characters to follow as they narrated the story and the slow build of their relationship was super sweet to read. Continue reading

WWW Wednesday: Read, Reading, Will Read (154)

wwwwed

Welcome to WWW Wednesday, a meme currently being hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. It’s a place for you to do a little update on what your reading plans are.

The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

 

1. The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

Historical Fantasy ARC! Just started this and I’m intrigued so far. There was only one plot point early on that I wasn’t a fan of, but lets see how this develops.

2. Confissões do crematório by Caitlin Doughty

Nonfiction! The famous “Smoke gets in your eyes” as the original title. I’ve only read one chapter so far, but I feel like this will be Good.


What did you recently finish reading?

    1. The Fantastic Fluke by Sam Burns: M/M Fantasy! Pretty sweet, but the writing is a bit clunky. Also, it’s marked as a standalone but it ends in a cliffhanger.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I have no idea. I’m pretty tired and drained of will these days, so reading has been difficult. Hopefully I’ll find something light and spooky to read.


What books did you recently finish reading? What do you plan on reading next?
Tell me in the comments!


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Top 10 Tuesday: Illustrated Covers

t10

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is: Cover Freebie.

31145148Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas


When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free. However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death.

22840421With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo


With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen.

30233110Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender


Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge.

18189606I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver


When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school. But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing.

27883214The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White


Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

23299512Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson


Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs. Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect.

24485589Wicked Fox by Kat Cho


Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest.

23592235Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson


All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power. Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire.

30095464Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim


Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.


What types of covers are your favorites?
Let me know in the comments!


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Review: ON THE WINGS OF WAR by Hailey Turner


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ON THE WINGS OF WAR
Hailey Turner

Series: Soulbound #5
Genre: LGBTQ+, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: –
Pages: 395
Release date: September 2nd 2020

The coveted Morrígan’s staff is up for sale on the black market to the highest bidder, and SOA Special Agent Patrick Collins will do whatever it takes to ensure the Dominion Sect doesn’t get their hands on it. Returning the weapon to its rightful owner is another step on the long road toward clearing Patrick’s soul debt, but he won’t walk it alone. Jonothon de Vere won’t let him.

Obeying the gods means Patrick must travel to London. For Jono, it means facing a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His return to England isn’t welcome, and neither is their pack, but Jono and Patrick will face the antagonism together. Politics aside, their priority must be the mission, but the bone-chilling secret they uncover in the London god pack will have far-reaching repercussions no one can ignore.

A race against time takes Patrick and Jono from the streets of London to the bright lights of Paris, where hospitality is thin on the ground, the air is filled with whispered prayers for the missing, and the Morrígan’s staff will end up in the one place it should never have gone—a graveyard.

For beneath Paris lie the long-forgotten dead, and when they rise to walk again, the living can only hope to die.


I’m going to start this by linking to Jennifer☠Pher☠’s review of On the Wings of War. They summarized my thoughts on it pretty well.

I read this in one sitting, as I always do with Soulbound novels, and the writing was just as engaging as in the previous novels. I love Patrick and Jono’s POVs and how much they’ve changed and developed throughout the series. The stakes kept getting higher and higher and you could really feel the tension through every chapter and twist. Continue reading

Review: THE RAGE OF DRAGONS by Evan Winter


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THE RAGE OF DRAGONS
Evan Winter

SeriesThe Burning #1
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 544
Release date: July 16th 2019

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.


“The world burns!”


Y’all, The Rage of Dragons was everything I could have asked for in an Epic Fantasy novel. I honestly have no words for how much I loved this, just hearts in my eyes. The writing was so so so good and the world-building was so expertly done that I had no difficulty with immersing myself in this new world. The pace held steady and Tau’s perspective was not only engrossing but was also filled with emotion in every chapter.

And speaking of Tau! I’m super weak for revenge stories in general and his was so! good! So many things happened to him and to the people he loved in this novel and his resolve never! wavered! He knew what he wanted and he was willing to do anything to get it. His transformation from the beginning of the novel to the end of it was heartbreaking, but such good story-telling. He’s quickly become one of my favorite ever protagonists and I hope he gets a chance to kill all the people he wants to kill. Continue reading

Review: THE SHADOWS by Alex North


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28114396
THE SHADOWS
Alex North

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Celadon Books
Pages: 336
Release date: July 7th 2020

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…


I devoured The Shadows in about two hours. Alex North’s writing captured my attention right away in the first chapter and I found it impossible to put the book down. I was pretty scared through some of the chapters? There was a quality to North’s writing that unsettled me and made some of the passages feel super creepy, especially when they were related to lucid dreaming. Continue reading