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TBalla04

99 problems, and a book ain't one

Hello. My name is Tricia, and I have an addiction, an addiction to fiction. Fellow addicts, I welcome you with open arms. Blogger over @ bookwormcoalition.wordpress.com

KILL THE QUEEN BY: JENNIFER ESTEP

Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep

I read this one in day. It pretty much sucked me right in and I didn't want to put it down once I got going. I wish they'd be more careful with tag lines for books sometimes, 'Gladiator meets Game of Thrones' was very ambitious and while I can see some elements here, basically court politics and gladiator fighting, it puts a lot of pressure on a story to be a lot more intricate than it is, or has to be, I think.

 

I liked pretty much all of the characters, Evie's journey was interesting and entertaining and I love that this was only the beginning of it really. I was quite surprised to find out Evie was 28 years old. This felt much more like a YA coming of age journey to me than an adult story. Which was totally fine by me, I love that type of thing. I'm thinking the next book might kick it up a few notches from occasional swearing and one frank sex thought lol. The scenery changes were perfect, I loved discovering each new place, even if it was just different sects within the kingdom and out of the palace. I extra loved the idea of the ultimate people pleaser finally getting to find a kind of freedom and ultimately a better version of herself in doing things for her own pleasure for a change.

 

Honestly this felt like a lighter fun fantasy that had some heavier more complex stuff going on for sure but it never felt heavy to me. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the story progresses in the next book!

FOUL IS FAIR BY HANNAH CAPIN

Foul is Fair - Hannah Capin

This is not a book for the faint of heart. This one is all sharp edges. The pages are blades and the words are poison. It is a blood soaked revenge tale that is relentless, uncomfortable at times (most of the times) but also shamefully entertaining. It can read a little disjointed but I think it was purposefully done that way. Definitely feeling those Shakespearean vibes and a more contemporary Heathers/Cruel Intentions (on steroids...and maybe like bath salts too lol). It's amped up and bloodthirsty and venomous. Maybe a bit too over the top but mostly in an enjoyable way. I'd like to read more by this author in the future.

 

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin's Press / Wednesday Books via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE BY: CASEY McQUISTON

Red, White & Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've seen so many people gush over Alex and Henry for months and months now, and I totally get the hype. One thing I have yet to see gushed about though that spoke to my little news geek heart was all the political goodness in there too! I can't think of a better time in our current political atmosphere to have a book like this come out. It really ignites that hope you have inside, with it being so close and also so far away from what we live now, that if Alex and Henry and all the inhabitants of their little world can get there maybe we can as well, before too long.

 

This story managed to be painfully beautifully real and also somehow still kind of magical at the same time. I read it all in two sittings and if I'm being honest the only reason it was two was because I had responsibilities I couldn't shirk. I really look forward to seeing what this author comes out with next!

REVERIE BY: RYAN LA SALA

Reverie - Ryan La Sala

I was so excited about the premise of this book, and with a tag line like "Inception meets The Magicians" I was like I NEED THIS NOW. I was pumped to receive an ARC from Netgalley. While I did overall enjoy this book, it ended up being more of a mixed bag for me.

 

I really loved the idea of the reveries! Definitely a very cool, imaginative idea. They were often vivid and beautifully described. On the flip side I thought there were some aspects of them I wish was a little more fleshed out as I felt like the concept of them was an idea that was brought to life only 85% conceived. I'm not quite sure if this was intended as a standalone book or part of a series where it is intended to expand on the idea more thoroughly in the future.

 

The characters are another element that I really liked in a lot of way but felt like something was missing. They were 100% fabulous but I also found myself struggling to connect with them. Like a beautiful painting that's just a smidge too far away to fully appreciate. I loved the idea of them having powers too and how this ragtag team of wildly different people shared one important thing in common, being misunderstood and not really knowing where they fit in this world. I only wish that would have been expanded on more as the thing that brought them together. It felt like maybe the author was unsure on how to make that happen more organically and so it is just stated vaguely later that their powers were magically bestowed to them without them really understanding why or how. I think doing this another way could have helped connect me to them more. I wanted to see how they became a team, see the struggle to adjust to this wild thing happening to them and all around them, and see those connections and bonds being forged rather than just being told it was so because...magic.

 

All in all I think this is a unique imaginative story that is a lot of fun but missing a few pieces that would have really made it amazing.

 

I received an ARC of this book from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

THE ENFORCER BY ABIGAIL OWEN

The Enforcer  - Abigail Owen

So earlier this year I was lucky enough to get an arc of the first book in the Inferno Rising series, The Rogue King by Abigail Owen. I was over the moon for this rich world of dragon shifters and the building dragonian political uprising all alongside a good slow-burn (pun definitely intended) romance. I was so excited to see another dragon book from Abigail Owen coming that I automatically requested it. In my haste I didn't realize this was actually the third book in her Fire's Edge series. I'm relieved to say that I had no trouble following along as this book actually appears to tie in with the Inferno Rising series and on the flip side could be read as a standalone novel. Although I highly recommend checking the other books out, I know I certainly intend on devouring the rest of the Fire's Edge books now.

 

 

This is such a vast interesting world. I loved getting a peek at another faction of it here. The brooding moody Drake and the strong spitfire Cami were great leading characters. The thing I really like about all of these books I've read thus far is that even the secondary characters are crucial to the plot and they are equally as entertaining! *Rune and Lyndi I'm looking at you specifically* I'm consistently left wanting to get to know them more. Give me books for all them please! I can't wait to read the Fire's Edge books that preceded this one! I'm officially a fan.

 

 

I received an ARC of this book from Entangled Publishing via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

THE GOD GAME BY: DANNY TOBEY

The God Game - Danny Tobey

 

The God Game takes technology turning against us to that even scarier level, because really it's US turning against each other and ourselves. Technology is the glorious monster we have created, and we merrily revel in it, ensnared by its siren song. Give us connection, show me people like me, curious, hopeful, shy, angry, secretive...wanting. Pretty it up with smiles and items I need. Sell me the life, the look, the power, the status, the praise, the community, the voice, the escape, the very thing I so desperately desire. The thing we don't always like to ask is what's the cost? There's an insideousnesss to it, the very thing that makes us feel so connected is the thing that can most disconnect us from vital components, consequences, shame, our surroundings, the people sitting right next to us. I absolutely love when these things are explored like they were in this novel. It can be kinda dark and twisty but it never seems all that outlandish, and the best part to me is that it says more about the human condition than it does the technological boogeyman (that's already in the house *gasp*) in so many delicious ways.

 

 

It felt very fitting to have this being explored with teenagers especially, I think. The generation that has had this modern marvel at their fingertips their entire lives. I thought maybe it was possible that the darkness of the novel would be toned down to suit the YA genre, but it wasn't and I love that. Also, I think the age of the characters helped in a way bring a lightness to the story that ended up being a wonderful balance. There's an earnestness and innocence in kids that age, but also a naivety and malleability that can be dangerous in certain situations. Tobey truly gave us a superb little band of misfits we could root for.

 

 

I honestly had a hard time putting this book down each time I picked it up, which was typically late at night when tasks were finished and all was quiet. 3 sittings was all it took and it would have been less had I not started each time at 11pm. This author tells one hell of a story and he does so well. The God Game is a page turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very satisfying conclusion. I'll be looking for more from Danny Tobey.

 

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin's Press and this is my honest review.

SAWKILL GIRLS BY CLAIRE LEGRAND

Sawkill Girls - Claire Legrand

YA Feminist Horror with a wide range of sexual/racial/body type representation...can this please be a new fad because I LOVE IT.

 

This story was beautifully written. Every element of it. It was atmospheric, lyrical, thoughtful, edgy, bloody, and chillingly evocative. I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like it. Sawkill Girls covered so many things but I never once felt stretched thin by it. Legrand weaved this tale seamlessly together, much like a spider weaves a beautiful dew kissed web in the breaking light of day. It ensnares you and you can't help but admire the sheer beauty of it even as you're trapped in its sticky thrall awaiting inevitable doom.

 

I first found Legrand when I read Furyborn (book 1 of the Empirium trilogy) which I also loved. I had high hopes for this book when I picked it up, but I had no idea how vastly different they would ultimately be from one another, in the best possible way. There was an unexpected range to Legrand's storytelling I was not aware of before this. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next! Whatever it may be will be an auto-buy for me right off the jump. I don't even need a description, I'm officially a super fan and can't wait to be wowed again and again.

BAD NIGHT STAND BY: ELISE FABER

Bad Night Stand  - Elise Faber

This was a pretty quick paced engrossing read. There were a few dips at the beginning that had me questioning the characters, but they (mainly Jordan tbh) grew on me as the story continued and more was revealed. Funny enough, one thing I especially appreciated was how *searches for the right word...* unfulfilling/awkward/truly bad that stand was. Sometimes it's fun to be dreamily swept away by a fluff romance where everything is perfection, abs have their own set of abs, and orgasms come in the dozens every time. But sometimes I really enjoy a little more REAL and a little less fluff. I liked that Abby and Jordan took awhile to find their groove. I also found that this story felt less romance formulaic to me. Of course there were ups and downs, but it never truly fit into that pattern of when and where many do, which was nice. I think it added to the initial beginning dips, but I found I liked it more as I continued. I liked being kept on my toes not knowing what was coming next.  I look forward to reading more of this series, I hope to see some of the side characters step into the limelight, cause they were all pretty great.

THE BLACKSMITH QUEEN BY: G.A. AIKEN

The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga #1) - G.A. Aiken

 

This story snuck up on me. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to love it. I don't want to say it felt simple, because that isn't quite right, but maybe as if it was kind of immature. In a sense some of it is a bit immature, with the constantly bickering sisters especially, but honestly it ended up just being so much fun! The plot was interesting, the action was an ever flowing gift from the gods, and the characters and their banter were wildly entertaining.

 

 

Can we also just talk about how freaking awesome it is to have kickass heroines that aren't stunningly beautiful without knowing it?! A big-burly-hammer-toting-foul-mouthed-warrior-blacksmith-queen....YAAASSSS.

 

 

That alone really sets this one apart from many others in this genre and I'm so here for it. I mean how could you not love Keely extra hard? That girl has a heart of gold and a fierce unrelenting spirit. The whole Smythe clan was a riot, not to mention the myriad of magical/mmythical beings they befriend along the way. Even the animals were captivating! Long live the demon dogs!

 

* "THEY ARE WOLVES" Caid adamantly reminds *

 

 

 

This book was full of little surprises like that. I also wasn't expecting it to be as brutal as it was in the fighting scenes either, but it was, in the best possible way. I love that this author doesn't shy away from things, she goes for it...with gusto. Whether it be bloodshed, swearing, or even just traversing a giant willful family dynamic. It also managed to feel very light to me even though there was so much destruction and danger. The banter and camaraderie kind of helped give it this awesome balance. I really appreciated that.

 

 

This was a bolder book in a lot of little ways like that and it made the journey incredibly entertaining and just so darn fun! I see this author has other books out and I can't wait to read more by her.

 
 
I received an ARC of this book from Kensington Books via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

 

HEXEN'S BINDING BY J. KOWALLIS

Hexen's Binding  - J. Kowallis

 

In Hexen's Cross Taran was impressive in so many ways but she seemed to be lacking in the practice of the Hexen craft and it was clear that she would need to bolster that moving forward. I couldn't imagine just how exactly that would come about in Hexen's Binding and I was truly surprised how it did in the best way. Some say the pen is mightier than the sword and that has maybe never been as true as it is for Taran, especially when that pen is building a magical arsenal of knowledge into her own grimoire.

 

 

I also have to say I really appreciated the strong family dynamic elements in this one. A lot of this story is getting to know ones roots, whether it be on the magical side of things, family, or even feelings. In all of those scenarios one thing rings true, it isn't easy to dig in deep and it is not always pretty what you find along the way, but in the end real strength will be found and built upon piece by piece. The Grims and the Donovans are like any other family in a lot of ways, they have their fractures and their failings but they also have immense strength and in the end a willingness to put differences aside and stand together when it counts.

 

 

While I wouldn't go as far to say that Hexen's Binding was the calm before the storm, because there was enough struggle to keep you glued to the pages, I did feel like it was building to a grand crescendo coming about in the next book. This ending satisfies just enough but will have you on the edge of your seat desperately awaiting the next installment.

 

 

I received an ARC of this book from the author and this is my honest review.

CARAVAL BY: STEPHANIE GARBER

Caraval - Stephanie Garber

I'm torn on my feelings about this book. The world was magical and exciting (for the most part), very vivid and easy to get swept up in. But the characters kinda fell a little flat for me. I still have some hope that Lengend seems rather complex. I am left feeling a bit like in this 3D world Garber created though most of the characters came through 2D. I'm curious to see what happens in the next book. I have a feeling that it could make or break the Trilogy for me.

THE ROGUE KING BY: ABIGAIL OWEN

The Rogue King (Inferno Rising #1) - Abigail Owen

The Rogue King was PNR at its finest. Phenomenal world building and characters. I was instantly sucked into the story and didn't want to put it down till I finished!

 

I can truly only think of two minor things that were confusing to me. One being that the title and cover seem to indicate this being Brand's story and in a way it definitely is, but the description and the story itself seems to highlight Kasia more (which I loved) and it seems to me as if the following one(s) will be centered around her sisters and obviously their potential mates. I just found it an interesting choice. But what do I know, maybe hot male bods call out to their core demographic more at first glance? The other thing is I'm a bit unclear about the humans in this world. It seemed as if they are likely mostly unaware of the supernatural/shifter elements around them. And I get that there was multiple points made about the dragons especially being able to hide in plain sight in a multitude of ways, but something about that still seems so increasingly difficult when recruiting humans for dragon mates and a building dragon war. I'm curious to see if that's something that comes to a head in future books. It seemed hard to contain in this book and I'd imagine it will only be increasingly so as it proceeds. Dragons are kinda hard to miss, especially when engaged in battle and not as adapt at shielding.

 

Other than those two things everything else was masterfully done imo. The Supernatural element was superb, I highly enjoyed the politics within the dragon colonies and the larger story there with the high King oppressor and building rebellion. I was totally engrossed in it all. I also loved the other shifters and mythical beings, especially some that were a complete surprise *cough Hershel cough*. And let's not forget the star of the show, Kasia the Phoenix herself! She was awesome! Why is there not more Phoenix shifter books?! So so good. I really enjoyed seeing her learn and harness her own abilities as we went along too. I can't wait to see more about her sisters and how her story progresses as well!

 

The romance was great. Initially it did feel a bit insta but it honestly ended up being a little more of a slow burn which was awesome. Insta chemistry + some mystery is a wonderful combo.

 

I'm thrilled this is only the beginning of something much larger! I really look forward to more and I'm definitely going to check out more from this author.

 

I received an ARC of this book from Entangled Publishing via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

FORTUNA SWORN BY K.J. SUTTON

Fortuna Sworn (Fortuna Sworn #1) - K.J. Sutton

AHHHH I have so many burning questions! I can definitely say Fortuna Sworn will leave you wanting more in a wonderful (MADDENING) way.

 

I really enjoyed Fortuna and her journey into the world of the Fae. She was a good leading lady, strong, smart, audacious and stubborn as all get out. My kinda gal! It's everyone else I'm so unsure of! Every time I thought I had one of them figured out I was thrown for a loop and the story went in another direction I wasn't expecting. The men in Fortuna's life are quite puzzling. I was hoping to get a little better of an understanding of at least a few of them by the end but alas I will have to wait until the next book.

 

The pace is pretty consistently steady which makes for a quicker read. I thought the Fae politics were brilliant! The trials were very interesting but I did feel like the end of them was rather anticlimactic, which was surprising as they seemed to start of really strong.

You'll find many familiar mythical beings in this one, and even a few unique ones! I liked that the author really made the familiar ones her own though. With some subtle and some larger tweaks.


All in all an enchanting start to a magical tale. I'm looking forward to more...and really figuring out these mysterious men!

 

I received an ARC of this book from the author and this is my honest review.

99 PERCENT MINE BY SALLY THORNE

99 Percent Mine - Sally Thorne

This was a cute quick read. I hate to compare it to The Hating Game, but I loved that book so much I think I went into this one with really high expectations and that maybe made it hard for 99 Percent Mine to live up to all that. It was good but it didn't wow me like The Hating Game did.

HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS BY: ERIN A. CRAIG

House of Salt and Sorrows - Erin A Craig

 

I'm so torn on my feelings about this book. On one hand, I really loved that this was a reimagining of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and I found the haunting more horror novel parts of this book to be brilliant! Unfortunately though there wasn't that many of them really. I thought that this area in particular is where this author shined. I found her darker scenes to be the most vivid. I truly hope she one day decides to write a horror novel, because I'd read the hell out of it.

On the other hand I found this to be a slow read for me. More often than not I was just waiting to get to the next macabre scene because those were the ones I enjoyed the most. I think maybe the issue for me was that this story was being pulled into so many directions, a mystery, a romance, a thriller, etc. that it ultimately didn't fully accomplish any of them. It was as if the foundations were there but none were fully fleshed out and realized. The romance ended up feeling rushed, the mystery seemed to rise and then fall away and then rise again, and the thrilling parts were too few and far between. Sometimes compelling characters can help make up for this type of thing a bit, but I had a hard time connecting with any of them. Annaleigh more often than not thought about doing things rather than actually fully going for it.

Ultimately House of Salt and Sorrows just ended up falling somewhere in the middle for me. I liked the roots individually, but as we went along they kinda grew tangled together, suffocating each from their full potential.

I received an ARC of this book from Delacorte Press via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

THE HATING GAME BY SALLY THORNE

The Hating Game: A Novel - Sally Thorne

This was a light fun read from beginning to end! Nothing like turning 'Don't hate the player hate the game' right on its head lol. I have to admit, enemies to lovers is probably my top loved trope and this was that at its best. I had a few genuine laugh out loud moments while reading this, which makes me look quite the unhinged person to people standing by, but totally worth it. I look forward to reading more from Thorne in the very near future.