Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

official blurb
They killed my mother.  They took our magic.  They tried to bury us. Now we rise. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

my blurb!
A YA fantasy novel about teens attempting to save their world.

2.75 out of 5

Full disclosure: There was an extra .25 star for the end notes written by the author.

what i didn't like
The predictability! I just got the vibe that this book was supposed to be constantly surprising me with plot points. But somehow I was never surprised.
The writing –  This book was written for a young audience. But I read a LOT of books written for a younger audience. It was just too spelled out. How are the characters feeling? I know exactly how they’re feeling because you literally just told me.
The characters constantly making annoying choices. I won’t go into specifics to avoid any spoilers but I was basically annoyed the whole book.
Inan reminded me a lot of Cal from the Red Queen series but without the likeability of Cal. (Team Cal!) Inan mostly annoyed me 100% of the time.  BUT his character was needed in the plot so he’s meh.

what i liked
A lot of plot elements (but not twists) were featured in this book, and that made it a little more fun to read.
The setup of the world was believable and realistic for it being a fantasy novel.
Shout out to Mama Agba. Her character was strong, resilient and great!
Shout out to Tzain for putting up with his annoying sister. (So annoying!)
Shout out to Amari for being anything but what she was born to be.

Overall, I had to force myself to read this book which is over 500 pages and is not a stand alone novel.  I don’t know if I’ll read the next one but feel free to wait until the whole series is out before you pick it up.

It should be noted that this author is black. She advocates for black rights and we need more authors like her. We need to be reading more diverse books (myself included!).  In her authors note she explains that she wrote this book to allow people to process and have more empathy for the police brutality issues plaguing brown America.  For that reason, I would recommend this book if you’re thinking of picking it up.

while reading you should
Take: a self defense class
Eat: a fresh loaf of bread
Watch: The Harry Potter series (feel free to skip around and watch one you know you love, ONLY if you’ve already watched them all before.)

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

official blurb
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.
Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

my blurb!
a bizarre and fantastical book about kids on a quest to save their family, and unknowingly the world.

3 out of 5

Okay, I’m gonna take some hits here but this book was not the amazing book that everyone said it was. It is a “children’s book”… that’s in quotes because the diction in this book was not easily read for children but for kids. I know that seems like I’m not making a distinction. I would say this isn’t a children’s book like… Ferdinand the bull. It is a kids book like… Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, or The Lion the Witch and the wardrobe.

BUT the biggest question on your mind is- will I see the movie? (I know, I’m practically a Jedi mind reader). I will see the movie- when my library gets it for free. (Which is NOT a knock because I love me some Reese Witherspoon, and also I surf the library app like its Instagram so I usually get the movie within a week or 2 of its initial release to DVD). This book just didn’t touch me so profoundly that I need to run to the theater to experience the glory in IMAX.

Did you guys ever skip a classic Disney movie growing up just to watch it when you’re an adult and when you watched it you were like- oh… that was good I guess? (cough cough, Cinderella cartoon). That’s what this was like for me. I think if I had the magic of it at a younger age and I was rereading it- the nostalgia value would rank it higher. But alas, this deprived child (why me, why?!) did not read a wrinkle in time (damn you California public education system!) Although to be fair if it was assigned I was way too cool to do my reading assignments (okay, sorry CA education system, I take it back).

what i liked
Fun scriptural references, good life lessons, dynamic family, kids on adventures.
I also liked that this was a quick read. I’m not interested in continuing the series but it was a good one time read for me.

what was meh-
There was a level of cheesiness at the end of this book, but no spoilers here. (However if you’d like to comment on the cheese yourself in the comment section I’d love to talk about it!)

what i didn't like
I felt like I almost missed a chapter in the beginning when the character of Calvin is introduced and he is constantly insulting but also somehow has instalove.

It should be noted that this is a series but could be read in a stand alone setting. every book in the series is out

If you would like to purchase this book, please click here.

while reading you should
listen to: the pride and prejudice soundtrack
watch on your dad player: the stepford wives
eat: movie theater popcorn

when to read
this is a spring or summer read. good weather required.

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Blood Oath (The Darkest Drae) by Rayne Wagner and Kelly St. Claire

Everything I know is a lie. I’m an ordinary mortal girl. Lord Irrik is a depraved dragon-shifter. King Irdelron is an immortal tyrant. In the disease-ridden land of Verald, life is mapped out much like the well-established rings of our kingdom. Everyone has a role… Me? I’ll be uselessly serving potato stew for the rest of my life because I can’t make anything grow. But starvation brews rebellion. When the king strikes back, I’m captured by Lord Irrik. Instantly, I’m embroiled in a deadly game. One where I’m desperate to understand the rules. Because nothing makes sense anymore. Now, I’m not only fighting for my life… but a love that could be the key to my freedom. What if the truth means you’re not who–or what–you thought you were?

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately that are great Guilty Pleasures, but not, like, literary masterpieces. Blood Oath is one of those books.

Listen, I have a confession to make. My name is Hawk and I have an addiction to Kindle Unlimited. Every time I try to end my subscription, I’m sucked in by another book I would never spend money on, but somehow justify spending $9.99/month to access on Amazon…

That makes sense, right?

Let’s talk about our heroine, Ryn. She is infuriatingly dumb. Especially once you realize everything her mother did to keep her safe. Spoiler alert, Ryn blows it in like the first few chapters. I mean, I like Ryn. She can be funny. But she also causes a lot of problems simply because she’s being stubborn or obtuse. She’s also super special, so I guess she can get away with some of it.

Now, let’s talk about our hero! Lord Irrik has done awful things in the name of the king. But we learn there is a reason why he has done them. And we learn that he has done everything in his power to mitigate the damage that could be caused by his actions. I totally fell in love with him right away! You could tell there was more to him than we saw on the surface. I really felt for what he had been through, and what he put himself and others through in an attempt to do the right thing.

There are some dark aspects to this book. Ryn and Irrik don’t live in a happy world. And realm change doesn’t come without a cost. There are a lot of dramatic emotions that make me want to roll my eyes, but I still read the book, AND read the sequel, AND marked the release date of the third book… Guilty pleasure. You feel me?

SUMMARY

Read it for fun. There’s an element of fated romance in here, too, which y’all know I’m a sucker for at this point. And since it’s been raining LITERALLY EVERY WEEKEND, it’s definitely a good rainy day read! I don’t even know how to read sunny day books anymore.  What even is sun?

 

 

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

SUMMARY

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives Elias and Laia as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire. Laia is determined to break into Kauf–the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison–to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholar’s survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom. But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kaur, and–most heartbreaking of all–Helene, Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike. Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a tortuous mission of her own–one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read An Ember in the Ashes, the review of its sequel may spoil some of its story.

FAVORITE SENTENCE

Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.

MY THOUGHTS

Ok, I normally don’t love stories told from multiple points of view. But, as with the first book in this series–An Ember in the Ashes–it works. We get two from the old crowd, Laia and Elias, but we also get to hear from Helene Aquilla in this book. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel about Helene in the first book, but I totally fell in love with her in this book. I loved hearing her story even more than Laia and Elias’s.

I did roll my eyes at the blossoming love between Laia and the jinn. I rolled my eyes quite a bit at that plot twist…

But other than that, I loved this book. I have a lot of exciting hopes for Helene and her new ally. I am curious to see how Laia and Elias stay connected. And there are TWO more books to read after this one!! TWO!!!

SUMMARY

If you liked An Ember in the Ashes, keep reading the series. I think it’s only going to get better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic by JK Rowling and The British Library

 3 out of 5

I love the Harry Potter novels, my dog’s name is Granger and people always think that she’s named after the Industrial Tool Company and also think that she’s a boy. But really she’s named after Hermione Granger and she has hair that is always everywhere. So when I saw that my local library was ordering a copy of this book I got really excited to go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter series!

It didn’t really do anything for me as a whole… it was more of a coffee table book. I read it in between other books I was finishing and didn’t really have any drive to push through it consistently. There were some interesting things in it though.  Especially actual scanned copies of JK Rowling’s writing and drawings (was I the only one who didn’t realize that she was an artist? I mean that might be a really loose term, but if I tried to draw Diagon Alley nobody would know what it was supposed to be!). Overall it does what it says it’s going to do it gives you a history of magic and goes through some of the spells in the book and a lot of the background of how JK Rowling came up with the ideas to use specific elements throughout the series. So if you want to nerd along with the Harry Potter series it’s a great companion for that. It’s just not compelling enough to read through in one sitting, but it’s a great coffee table book to read when you have time or a great bathroom book to read when… well, when you have time.

To buy this book click here

while reading you should

Eat: movie theater popcorn
Drink: homemade butter beer (or just really frothy coffee)
Listen to: The Harry Potter Soundtrack

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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chockshi

Official Blurb

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets–thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

My BLURB

Gods, demons, fated romances. A skeletal demon horse with jokes. Lots of people acting emotionally and slightly irrationally. But I guess we can forgive them in the end.

FAVORITE SENTENCE

I see only night and smoke, dreams and glass, embers and wings. And I would not have you any other way.

my thoughts

rating 3.75 out of 5

This book actually turned out so different from what I thought, but I wasn’t mad about it! Y’all know I love fated romances, and it soon became clear that there was a lot of awesome fatefulness going on in this story.

Maya’s relationship with her family is complicated, and at times hopeful and depressing. Her relationship with her father especially so. I loved her relationship with her sister and thought it really showed Maya’s character, and explained many of her choices throughout the book.

Even a favored daughter is still just a daughter.

I personally enjoyed the submersion into Indian folklore and mythology, although I had to look up some of the stories on my own since we only seem to learn about Roman and Greek mythology. But I actually appreciated not receiving a history lesson in the book, and just being told things as though I should already know them. Because why shouldn’t I?

My kingdom needs a queen. It needs someone with fury in her heart and shadows in her smile…It needs you.

I loved the world we found ourselves in for this story. The characters, the relationships, the history. There were definitely a few times where I was like, WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING OF COURSE THAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN, but eventually people came around.

There was so much beautiful language throughout this book, and I do wish that we went more in-depth with the story. You know how some books teeter right on the edge of not quite providing you with that emotional aspect? That’s how I felt reading this book. It was almost there, and the author could definitely take us there because of the level of the writing, but it just wasn’t quite there.

I know your soul. Everything else is an ornament.

SUMMARY

Listen, go read this book. It was such a beautiful read. It’s good for a nice snuggle. It’s been raining every weekend for a while, so I think it’s also a good rainy day read.

HawkSignature

You should definitely drink some masala chai while you read. Just throwing that out there.

 

Go to the grocery store and pick some up. Pick up some snacks, too. Just because one can never have enough snacks.

-Hawk-

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2Ce8CKt

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

official blurb

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

my blurb!

When the world’s most annoying sisters go to a Magical Carnival only to become even more annoying as they attempt to navigate their way to the carnival finale.

1 out of 5

Okay, I have seen this book on SO many bookstagrams saying it was amazing.  I even succumbed to the peer pressure and read this even though it is the first book of a series and a recent release.  THIS. BOOK. WAS. AWFUL.

First of all, the way everything is spelled out for the reader. Whew.  We get it- your dad is a bad guy. The first chapter REALLY goes on an on here.

Also, how many storylines are we going to have? Abusive father, grandmother’s tales of the awe-inspiring circus, arranged marriage to a mysterious stranger, flirtatious sailor, secret threats from daddy about the sister.

Next gripe- the protagonist is awful! She reminds me of the main girl in Hush Hush, except the HH one was somehow likable! (Check out our must read guilty pleasures for the review of Hush Hush!). Is her cheesy nickname throughout the book really necessary? Her thought process is juvenile. “Does he want the wish? Surely not. No way. Okay, I won’t ask him bc he definitely doesn’t want it.”  To be fair- that’s not a direct quote from the book, but I feel like I definitely captured the thought process.

Oh did you want a quote from the book after that teaser? Okay, I won’t leave you hanging.  “It was the kind of night where she could smell the moon….” What?! What does that even mean?

Spoiler question I want answered:
She was so worried about her sister and then hasn’t seen her in days and just assumes she’s fine and at the Caraval?

Wow. That. Book. Was. Awful.

Why is there so much hype over this book? Don’t waste your time like I did! Save yourself!

 

IF you insist on reading this …while reading you should

Listen to: Inception Soundtrack
Wear: something warm

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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where is light, there must be darkness–and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the kind of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari–a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend–a slave boy from her betrothed’s household–Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

WINNER! 5 out of 5 stars!!

I loved this book! I wanted to read it as soon as I discovered it, and I was finally able!

Kristen Ciccarelli’s The Last Namsara reminded me of a cross Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown and Kristen Cashore’s Graceling, but it felt like a completely new concept. The Last Namsara creates a new world and new characters that I loved. I wanted to know all the history of these lands! It’s the same feeling I got reading The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, and Graceling. The writing style is similar, too, so if you’re a fan of those books, definitely check out The Last Namsara. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

One of my favorite parts about this book was the author’s occasional interjections of the stories that are often referenced throughout the main plot. Of course, we learn about the history from our characters, but the more “official” histories really added some depth and realism to the book.
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I loved Asha’s personal development throughout the story. After killing dragons her whole life, she needed some convincing to trust them and learn that they were not what she had always been told. I loved her relationship with Shadow, and then with Kozu.

I don’t want to give away any more from this book! Definitely read it! I will be returning to it time and again, and can’t wait for the next book in the series!

-Hawk-

The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker

5 out of 5

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-food pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed. Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.

There are a few things I look for in books that I recommend. Obviously, the plot needs to be solid. I hate gaping holes in the story line. For a fantasy novel, I want the world to be realistic, but I don’t need pages and pages of world-building. What I’m really looking for is a group of characters I can fall in love with, and who I miss when I’m finished reading. And if an author can make that happen without my even realizing it, all the better.

The Emperor’s Edge hits all of those points for me, and Lindsay Buroker throws some humor in there as an added bonus. If I could write like anyone, it would be like Buroker. She feels familiar, like a friend. The relationships between the characters develop so organically that you feel like you’re right there with them.

Amaranthe is a such a strong female character. She’s intelligent and breaks barriers for women in her world by becoming an enforcer. She has a strong moral compass, and will do what is right even if it isn’t easy. When she’s confronted with a threat to her country, she builds a diverse and dynamic team to help her stop the threat. She sees the good in people and encourages them to utilize their strengths. The dialogue between her team is often humorous and I caught myself unexpectedly smiling and laughing out loud.

I was so sad when this book ended, and so happy to read more books in the series. I return to it again and again when I need to read something familiar. I read Harry Potter for the world, and The Emperor’s Edge series for the characters. Highly highly recommend this book and this series.

-Hawk-

Academy of Assassins by Stacey Brutger

Only one thing stands between humans and the deadly supernatural world… The Academy of Assassins.

Abandoned as a child and unable to remember her past, Morgan was raised as a hunter, one of an elite group of fighters sworn to protect humans from the dangerous paranormal creatures who invade our world… creatures such as herself. Her life changes the day she’s summoned to the Academy of Assassins, a school that trains witches and hunters to eradicate paranormals who prey on humans. Her first assignment: find and eliminate the killer who is using the Academy as their own personal hunting ground.

As Morgan delves deeper into the investigation, she will need to dodge assassination attempts, avoid the distraction of romantic entanglements with the devilishly handsome security expert Kincade and his maddeningly overprotective teammates, while keeping the volatile magic in her blood concealed from those would use if for their own purposes. When the danger increases and the school is threatened, Morgan must unearth her missing memories before someone finishes the job they started so long ago–killing her an unleashing a plague that will consume the world.

3 out of 5

So I included the whole long “blurb” for the Academy of Assassins (I normally shorten the long ones) because I was reading it again and realizing that it’s not really how the book played out. And it’s probably important to mention that. She doesn’t really have to survive assassination attempts. The missing memories are really not all that important to finishing her mission. And what would be unleashed should Morgan be killed is not a plague.

But I did enjoy this book! I’m adding it to the Guilty Pleasures reading list.

Morgan is a secretly powerful being, and she is not even aware. She hasn’t fit in anywhere before, but at the Academy, she meets a team that becomes her family. I mentioned before that I love fated romances. And it seemed like that’s how this would turn out, too. I won’t say much more but if you’re uncomfortable with the terms “mate,” “bonded mate,” or “polyamory,” then you might not enjoy this book all that much. It’s NOT a romance. But, as with many supernatural books, everyone has fated “mates.” In this case, it seems our girl Morgan has multiple fated mates. Don’t worry, it’s not explicit. And everyone gets cool tattoos out of it!

I say this book is a guilty pleasure, but there are also some SUPER awk phrases, especially when she first meets her team. Let me just give you a small sampling:

“She almost wished the shifter would spot her just so she could see the color of his eyes–she bet they were a deep brown a girl could get lost in.”

“He stared at her is if he knew her and had waited a lifetime to find her.”

“She shivered, easily imagining how he would be with a woman.”

Cringe-worthy.

But I kept reading. The Lord only knows why. In the end, I enjoyed it. She’s got cool jewelry. Runes tattooed on her body. She’s super important for a few reasons, but I won’t tell you why. And she’s a badass woman who kicks butt, wears leather, and owns way too many weapons!

The Academy of Assassins is the first in a series, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book! Add it to your Guilty Pleasures list!

-Hawk-