Mist, Metal, & Ash by Gwendolyn Clare

91o9fn2iu5lTitle: Mist, Metal and Ash
Author: Gwendolyn Clare
Sequel to: Ink, Iron, & Glass
Date Started: April 13
Date Finished: April 16
Format: ebook from the digital library

In an alternate 19th-century Italy, Elsa has an incredible gift: she can craft new worlds with precise lines of script written in books. But political extremists have stolen the most dangerous book ever scribed―one that can rewrite the Earth itself. Now Elsa must track down the friend who betrayed her and recover the book before its destructive power is unleashed. Can she handle the secrets she’ll uncover along the way―including the ones hiding in her own heart?

From what I could remember of Ink, Iron, & Glass, I was looking forward to the sequel because I found the original world so compelling. It was a nice change of pace for me; historical fiction with a little bit of fantasy and science fiction thrown in. But what I got from Mist, Metal, & Ash was not the same thing. Yes, the world was further expanded on. Elsa is hell bent on trying to fix her mistake and not only get the editbook back but her friend (and maybe even something more) Leo back as well. Although, her and her other friends aren’t sure if Leo is worth rescuing because of his betrayal at the end of the previous novel. The journey to get there takes forever, and when Elsa does inflitrate Leo’s father’s home, the things that she does to get what she wants were actually a little bit disturbing. Kissing the brother to gain his trust? Yikes. I wasn’t a big fan of that at all.

If this book had been wrapped together with Ink, Iron, & Glass, I think I would have liked it better. As a separate sequel, I felt that a lot of time was wasted on Elsa trying to track Leo down and not enough time on the ultimate conclusion, since according to Clare this is supposed to be a duology. And now that I’m really thinking about it, a lot of things were completely left open. Like what happens to Elsa now? What about the deal that Porzia is making with the Order? And Leo’s brother Arias? And Leo himself? Hm…

Final Rating: 2 out of 5 stars. This book was left too open ended to be considered just a duology. The final events at the end felt too rushed and the ending was almost a little bit too easy – almost because of what Leo had to do. I hate when sequel fall flat of the originals!

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

a1zyev7lmhlTitle: King of Scars
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Date Started: April 5
Date Finished: April 11
Format: ebook from the digital library

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army. Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

So when I first found out that there was going to be another series of books centered in the Grishaverse I was really excited, even more so when I found out that they were going to center around my favorite pirate king. Nikolai was always an interesting character to me, and even more so as I did a complete re-read of the previous five Grishaverse novels in anticipation of King of Scars release. But when this novel started, I was thrown off since this novel starts with a new character’s POV – a kid in Ravka who’s afraid of the shadows and as the chapter draws to a close he has every right to be.

Apparently, the monster within Nikolai who everyone thought was defeated with the downfall of the Darkling has come back. On certain nights, Nikolai turns back into the beast, and it’s getting worse as the days drag on. His council – Zoya, Genya, and the others – are encouraging him to wed another and produce an heir so that way if this continues the line of succession will be clear. But Nikolai wants to try to find a solution. There has to be a reason for why this is happening again.

On the other side you have Nina (yes, THAT Nina from Six of Crows) who is still dealing with the grief over losing Matthias. She’s been hauling his body around with her on her mission for Nikolai to save the Grisha who are on the run in Fjerda. She eventually does put him to rest, but on the way she learns more things about her new power and herself. I’m kind of really intrigued to see where her story takes her in the sequel. I really hope there will be a girl revolution.

As for Nikolai and his beast. I posted on Goodreads and Twitter, that when I finished this book I was so angry. MAJOR SPOILER: After the whole Grisha trilogy of defeating the evil Darkling, how could you possibly BRING HIM BACK?! I feel betrayed and angry that I don’t already have the sequel in my hands so I can find out how this crazy madness ends.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I guess a part of me should have known that what happened in this novel happened. But still. This novel was wonderfully written and I cannot wait to read the sequel!

Bookshelf worthy? Another book to add to my Kindle wishlist.

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Stain by A.G. Howard

51qwwqx5vpl._sx332_bo1204203200_Title: Stain
Author: A.G. Howard
Date Started: April 6
Date Finished: April 11
Format: ebook from the digital library

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins… After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

I am severely undecided about Stain. Originally, the only works from Howard that I’ve read were here twisted version of Alice in Wonderland, Splintered series. I loved those novels, and that’s really what got me thinking about writing my own. However, a few years ago, Howard did a new take on Phantom of the Opera with Roseblood and even though I tried, I couldn’t get into that novel. So going into Stain, I was a little bit wary. Yes, this time around I actually knew the fairy tale – The Princess and the Pea – that she was trying to twist, but still… And it didn’t really look that great as I started. The language was over the top flowery. I was seriously sitting at my desk screaming in my mind for her to just get to the point already.

And really it lasted that way for a good chunk of this book. It wasn’t really until we go introduced to Prince Vesper and Lyra’s aunt made her play that things started to pick up. I especially loved the twist with the Pegasus. I didn’t really see it coming, and it was probably because by the time you get to reveal you totally forgot about what happened to get there to begin with because so many other things are going on. Bravo. As for the overall plot itself, I’m still not a hundred percent sure why this was a Princess and the Pea retelling, I mean, yes, there was that moment near the end, but other than that I think this was more of a mash up of re-tellings. Sleeping Beauty. Beauty and the Beast. Even a bit of Snow White and Cinderella too if I’m being honest.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Once I got back into Howard’s way with words, this book was actually pretty good. I loved the twists and turns this book had to offer and I really loved the two kingdoms that we were introduced to. It was almost like a faerie novel from Holly Black.

Bookshelf worthy? The cover art on Howard’s novels is amazing. If only I had the room…

Posted in AG Howard, Book Reviews, Fairy Tale Retellings, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

a1dcwxgrlklTitle: Undead Girl Gang
Author: Lily Anderson
Date Started: March 21
Date Finished: March 30
Format: ebook from the digital library

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft. So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

Okay, so truth be told, I read this book in bits and pieces instead of my normal 8 hour read binges that take place at work. Things have been much busier lately, so I haven’t had as much time to read as I want to, and I have a feeling that if I had the opportunity to sit down and focus on nothing but this book for a few hours, I would have probably flown through it and liked it. And that sounds really misleading. I did like Undead Girl Gang, it was different and I really liked how Mila and the other girls grew as characters along the way of trying to figure out who murdered them.

I mean, you take June and Dayton who are literally the cliquey mean girls, and the unpopular, fat, witch chick accidentally brings them back from the dead? I thought I was going to be in for a disaster of name calling and Mila’s second worst week from hell. And it started out that way, but once they really bunkered down to figure out who murdered the three of them, they really started to grow closer, and I’m actually kind of sad that they couldn’t be that way when they were alive. As for who actually did it? Fuck a duck, I did not see that one coming.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This kind of reminded me of the Blue is for Nightmares series from a bazillion years ago. Just insanely less gross and not as much drama. I really liked the premise and I kind of want to see a sequel where Mila and the girl from the newspaper are friends.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

91wirdzfbqlTitle: History is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Date Started: March 26
Date Finished: March 28
Format: Hardcover from local library

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Okay, so this is my first Adam Silvera read – unless you count What if it’s Us? that he wrote with Becky Albertali last year, but he was a co-author, so I really don’t count it? – and I really didn’t know what I was expecting when I started it. A love story? Certainly. A tragic love story? Well, I mean, there was a tragic death that was mentioned in the summary, so I guess? A story with gay main characters? Also, yes, I mean he did write a gay love story with Albertali AND considering whenever I read an Albertali book he’s an author that always comes up as ‘you may also like…’ I’m getting off track… Anyway, all of that aside, I have serious mixed feelings about this book.

On the bright side, I loved how flawed Griffin was. Yes, he was grieving for a good chunk of this book, but other than that he has his compulsions – even numbers, being on the left side of anyone, etc. – that made him all too real. Also he caused my anxiety to go up a few notches, but that’s another story all together. I also loved that his relationship with Jackson – Theo’s boyfriend when he died – didn’t turn into the typical contemporary foder – aka he becomes the rebound and/or the enemy of the whole novel. Even though I did get a little spooked when Griffin goes with Jackson to California and things happened, but the twist that came after it was nice, if a little diabolically heart wrenching.

On the negative side, I am still not a fan of the constant back and forth of time switches – then and now – I know that it was part of the plot “hey, you died and this is all you left me with” etc. but it kept drawing me out of the novel. Also, I’m still not a big fan of best friend groups turning into lovers with unrequited feelings aka Wade and Griffin. Friends can be just friends for life without any romantic feelings being involved.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. I’m a little bit torn on this one. I really liked the story, but I just problems with the constant back and forth of when Theo and Griffin started to dating and the aftermath of Theo’s death.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

51xlliibjel._sx327_bo1204203200_Title: Heart of Iron
Author: Ashley Poston
Date Started: March 13
Date Finished: March 21
Format: Hardcover from local library

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him. Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive. What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

So a while ago I reviewed Empress of a Thousand Skies that was supposed to be like Cinder, but in reality wasn’t. I kind of wished that that summary had been used for Heart of Iron instead, because this was a lot more like Cinder – and maybe Treasure Planet? – too than that other book was. And to be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like this book because it was another one of my midnight Pinterest/Goodreads/Twitter adds. The only thing I remembered when I picked it up at the library was that it was about space, a lost princess and it was by the same author of Geekerella and I loved that book so…maybe?

And you know what I did. Heart of Iron starts off a bit slow and there is a ton of information thrown at you in the first hundred pages that I don’t one hundred percent understand, but eventually the terms and events just become natural and you go with the flow. Ana is part of a group of pirate/rebels, she doesn’t remember her life before the crew of the Dossier found her and her robot friend D09, or Di as she likes to call him, in an escape pod. But now her best friend is on the verge of no longer existing because his memory core has been glitching, however Ana has a plan. And when the story begins she is in the midst of that plan. And how wrong it goes…

Of course, Ana turns out to be the lost princess of the Iron Kingdom and she tries to unravel what happened on the night of the fire that killed off her family and scarred her face for life. She gets help from one of the royal families Robb Valeros, who’s brother was next in line for the crown until she came back. Robb is a strange character because I get that he’s struggled with being the ‘second son’ his whole life and trying to be what his family wanted him to be…but the way he rebels! I don’t know. I really like his character, especially his connection with Jax – the one who captains the Dossier and a prince in his own right apparently, and who can read the stars to tell a person’s future by touch! – which is really the relationship that I’m rooting for the most in this series. And of course, what would a missing princess book be without a little insidious court politics going on. I want to know what the HIVE has got planned next…

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. The sequel comes out in July and I have a strange feeling that I’m not going to remember most of the details of this book by the time I get my hands on it. But…I really liked this novel, even though it takes place in space and even though it reminded me a little bit of a space version of Anastasia.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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The Wicked King by Holly Black

61fkd8ct5hlTitle: The Wicked King
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air
Previous Book in the Series:
1. The Cruel Prince
Date Started: March 13
Date Finished: March 14
Format: ebook from the digital library

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished. When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Oh, now THAT is the novel about faerie that I was expecting from Holly Black! Where The Cruel Prince was a little bit slow in it’s world building, The Wicked King was full of dark and twisty turns that I devoured. Jude is playing a very dangerous game by controlling the new King and her arch nemesis – Cardan – for only a year and a day only until she can figure out a way of putting Oak on the throne. Personally I think she was holding too many strings in play – keeping Cardan in check, ruling Faerie in his stead, being the new master of the Court of Shadows – it was daunting. Not to mention her little tricks to ‘improve’ herself. Something was bound to snap.

I was actually really happy when *SPOILERS* the Queen of the Sea kidnapped her and tried to make her do her bidding. It gave Jude time away and it really let Cardan grow as a character. Even though, if I’m being honest he was growing as a character from the start of the novel. I’m still not sure what his endgame is, the old Cardan would have done what he did out of spite for Jude being in control of him for so long. But this new Cardan? I think it’s so that she can have a somewhat normal mortal life. Although, he honestly doesn’t know her all that well if he thinks that will ever happen.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I’m on the edge of my seat to know what happens to Jude now that she’s been exiled from Faerie. At the same time I want to know what Cardan is going to do now that he no longer has her council. And obviously the Sea Queen is not going to be happy about his little show of power and then there is Jude’s faerie father Madoc is something else entirely. I cannot wait until the final book comes out next year!

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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