Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

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Zera’s heart is in a glass jar belonging to a witch, and the only way to get it back and reclaim her freedom is to exchange it with a prince’s.

You know what sucks? When a book could have a name that perfectly embodies it but it can’t because it’s already taken and a bestseller (*cough Heartless cough*) so it has to take on a really weird long winded one instead (like Bring Me Their Hearts, when really it’s just one heart?). Honestly, Entangled should have just gone with The Heartless, but I can see why they didn’t. It just sucks.

Anyway, after reading the beautiful-but-super-bleak Cruel Prince, I wanted something light and sassy, and this book was IT. It pushes all the right buttons of traditional tropes in all the fun ways and I enjoyed it immensely. It had an interesting blend between magic and tech, and I really loved the characters. Everyone had their own goals and took significant plot-defining steps towards them, which is something rare to see with secondary characters in YA. Also queer and disabled rep – yes please!

I will definitely be picking up the next book, though since this was an ARC (thanks Netgalley!) it’s going to be a while before it comes out. Overall, I loved it and I’m excited for more!

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Everless by Sara Holland

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I couldn’t help loving this book. For me, it was Feyre from ACOTAR transported to a fantasy-style In Time (the Justin Timberlake movie) and it was so cool. There was a ton of mystery and intriguing characters and twists I didn’t see coming.

And the writing – I loved the writing! It kills me when I go on Goodreads after reading a book I loved and see that the low reviews cite writing as a negative. Not just because I disagree, but because it shows to me that no matter how I write my books, half the readers will find my prose insufferable. And it hurts. It makes me not want to write. I know you can’t please everyone, but when it comes to ‘this is amazing!’ and ‘this is terrible!’ there has to be some sort of middle ground, right?

Apparently not.

Anyway, this book had your standard enemies-to-lovers trope, which I didn’t mind because the guy wasn’t actually an asshole. It’s true that this is my favorite genre and so I’m biased, but if YA fantasy is your jam, you’ll enjoy this book.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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I have three words for this book: suspension of disbelief.

As long as you have that (and like the genre) you’ll enjoy it.

I liked the story itself. I liked the writing, and the characters, and the world. That cover is amazing too. I liked the love triangle and the surprising amount of deaths throughout. Most of the things that bothered other reviewers on Goodreads I didn’t mind.

However, throughout the whole thing I just could not believe that Mare could tell the world that she didn’t know she was Silver blooded for her entire life. Like…do periods not exist in that world? And then they kept putting her in positions where she was about to bleed? I just…I had to force myself NOT to think about it to enjoy the book.

And then there’s Silvers who can control minds. Do they not have safeguards against those kinds of powers? You know, in case one of them KILLS ANYONE THEY WANT? There’s no freaking way those people would be allowed in positions of power like that.  In ACOTAR I could believe it because there was a way to fight the control. But here? It’s just silly to let these guys roam free and manipulate whoever they want.

I understand that there has to be some things you just have to take as is, and when my disbelief is set aside it’s actually an enjoyable read. I won’t be picking up the next one, but I’m glad I read this book to get a better feel for good antagonists.

Overall it was a good read that I’m glad to have finally crossed off my shelf.

The Princess Game by Melanie Cellier

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Every cover for this series is freaking beautiful. Just wow. I can’t get enough of them.

The story had a great twist on the original that made me read this before any of the others. The Sleeping Princess isn’t actually asleep, the curse just makes it so she acts like a dimwit instead of the intelligent young woman that she is.

Unless she’s in disguise that is.

I just loved this idea, and while I enjoyed the plot and the romance, I found myself skimming more and more until I was turning pages with barely a glance. There was just too much hanging around and talking and not enough to keep me interested. I just wanted to know what happens!

Anyway, it really was a great twist, and anyone who likes retellings would enjoy this book. I’m excited for The Little Mermaid and The Swan Princess coming out this year. Yes please!

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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I’m terrible at ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ because I wasn’t going to read this book for that reason. The cover looks like it was drawn in colored pencils at a high school art class. Maybe I’m biased because I come from a family of artists, but come on, my friend’s octopus tattoo looks better. Still, when I got an email about a new mermaid book from NetGalley, I couldn’t help checking it out.

And OH. MY. GOD.

When you’re reading a book and you yell out ‘holy shit!’ you know it’s a good book. It’s the kind of book where you don’t see things coming and when they come you think God, how did I not see that coming? I should have seen it coming! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!

Anyway, I loved it. The writing is descriptive in all the right ways and the dialogue brought a smile to my face every time. I loved how it was a twist on The Little Mermaid, and I just can’t get over how great the ending was.

So I guess the moral of the story is, don’t judge a book by its cover. This one is worth the look.

Thanks NetGalley for giving me this ARC! I wouldn’t have read it otherwise.

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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I’ve been looking forward to this book from the moment I saw it on my Netgalley email, and though sadly the publisher didn’t approve my request for an ARC (making me wait MONTHS until it came out) I finally got the chance to read it.

First of all, and I know I’m a broken record when it comes to reviews for this book, but the cover is amazing. Seriously, this is a book that deserves a forward-facing spot on the shelf.

Now for the story. I came into this book expecting death magic, dealing with addiction, and f/f romance. I got all three, in that order, 1/3 of the book each. I can’t ask for anything more. Expectations: fulfilled.

As someone who’s written a zombie book, I understand the logistics behind what it means to die and come back a monster. This book was definitely an interesting and unique take on the genre, seamlessly blending fantasy into it, and while it wasn’t how I would have done it (I’m a ‘better safe than sorry’ kind of person over this world’s ‘trust everyone to keep each other safe’ mindset) I do see how it could work.

I also loved the Deadlands, it reminded me of Los Lagos from Labyrinth Lost, and I hope we get to see more of it in the future. The twists of this book were pretty predictable, but I think the next one won’t be since we don’t have a bunch of imminent events from the description looming over our heads anymore.

I thought the addiction storyline was done amazing. I truly felt for Odessa, and it was the part of the book I thought was the best. I really liked Valoria, and for the longest time I thought that they’d get together. I liked Evander, but I didn’t understand why he went through the trouble of becoming a necromancer and have his mother hate him for doing it when he really wanted to be an explorer. And with Meredy, I couldn’t help seeing Merida from Brave,  because she looked like her, acted like her (with the archery), and had a bear. I think Jax was my favorite character. I’d love a book just about him.

Overall, I’m glad to have read it and I hope publishers pick up more books like this (*cough cough hint hint*). We need more queer fantasy out there! Oh, and look at this amazing gift I got from Sarah for pre-ordering!

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

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I have…a lot of feelings about this book. I finished it yesterday and I still can’t figure out how to put it all into words.

Ok, I’ll try.

First of, the writing is WOW (I know, I’m a true wordsmith). This is the kind of lyrical, gorgeous prose that transports you into its world and characters. It reminded me a lot of Sara J. Maas’s ACOTAR, except with music instead of painting, and it was magical and beautiful and passionate. I loved absorbing every word of this book, wishing that I could write like that (while knowing that even 10,000 hours or 1,000,000 words of practice wouldn’t be enough). And the German feel of this book was so perfect, I couldn’t get enough of it. And the music – oh the music. I could relate so much to how music affects your soul. I sang opera as a child, shown off in Russian theaters and exhibitions, and music was my life for a long time. This brought back so many memories, and I loved it.

That brings us to the fact that it’s…pretty much ACOTAR (which I liked), but it ends before the grand finale. I’ve never seen Labyrinth, the movie the book is based on, but to me it screamed of Little Red Riding Hood (which I’m sure was intended). Here we get an incredible beginning, and haunting and heartbreaking follow up, and then it kind of just ends. Not even on a cliffhanger. I know there’s a book 2 that’s supposed to be the sequel, and I get where it’s going, but I really wanted there to be something to get me excited for book 2, and the ending of book 1 wasn’t it. However, the book 2 preview? Got me hooked like a fish on a reel.

Now there was one thing that bothered me: the word plain used to describe the MC’s looks. And it was used over, and over, and over. WTF is that even supposed to mean? No one is ‘just plain’. You know what’s plain? A white wall. You know what’s not plain? Literally any person ever. Go to Google images and search ‘plain girl’ and you’ll get what I mean. This is how I began picturing Liesl because I kept getting a word that made no sense to describe her:

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Plain -could- mean a lot of things. Plain could mean not wearing makeup or adornments, sure. Plain could be ordinary, sure. But here, plain was something only Liesl had. Something she thought made her worthless. Apparently, every other girl in her village was something else, while she was plain. Any teenage girl reading this book could think it’s her, and this is the worst kind of image to portray (especially since NOT every girl is a music savant). I get that the message is ‘beauty is on the inside’ but it didn’t have to be so critical of anyone who is not absolutely gorgeous. Ok, rant done.

Overall, I did enjoy this story and I LOVED the prose. I’ll be picking up book 2 eventually, mostly to see what happens to Liesl’s brother. He was the best character in the book and I can’t wait to find out what happened with him. I would recommend it to readers who love the edgy upper-YA fairy tales like ACOTAR with a slight twist.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me a chance to read and review this book.