Sword of Seven Sins

By Emily Colin

Hello, dear readers. How are you doing? Are you on lockdown in your country, your state? Are you with people or completely alone? I hope that you are hanging in there. It’s hard, but we can get through this together.

All this extra time has given me a moment to catch up on my book reviews, so let me proudly present – Sword of the Seven Sins!This is the most intense book I’ve read while under quarantine, binging it in just two days. It’s got amazing characters and a fast plot that will keep you up all night! An edge-of-you-seat, unputdownable roller coaster of a book. With So. Many. Feels.

Summary

Eva Marteinn never wanted to be a killer.

Raised in the Commonwealth, where citizens live and die by the code of the Seven Sins, Eva is sickened by the barbaric punishments the High Priests inflict. She sees the Bellators of Light, the Commonwealth’s executioners, as no more than conscienceless killers.

When she’s Chosen as the first female bellator—and can’t refuse, on threat of exile or disgrace—Eva is devastated. But she turns out to be inordinately gifted at the very role she abhors…no thanks to her mentor, Ari Shepherd, who alternates between ignoring her and challenging her to impossible tests.

Ari’s indifference conceals a dangerous secret: He’s loved Eva since they were children. When Eva falls for Ari too, she knows they should do anything to avoid each other. Love is forbidden. Lust is a death sentence. But as mentor and apprentice, they’re bound by the blood oath they swore the day of Eva’s Choosing.

Balanced on a razor’s edge of desire and betrayal, the two uncover a secret that could overturn the Commonwealth itself. Now Eva must make an impossible choice: Turn her back on Ari, and remain loyal to the only home she’s ever known—or risk everything on the slim hope of freedom, and stake her life on the boy she’s come to love. 

Musings

This book took me completely by surprise: I assumed it would take place in some sort of medieval setting, but instead, it’s in a dystopian, close-knit future society with 1984-level surveillance and a police-state run by the sword.

Imagine a society based on the Christian sins and virtues – but without belief. When a bastardization of morals are used to keep citizens in check. Eva and Ari live in the commonwealth of Ashes in a dystopian tomorrow, stumbling in love though the consequence is death. Here, if you are caught breaking one of the seven (deadly) sins, you’re lucky to get out alive, though the punishment is public and demeaning.

Eva is the first woman to be brought into the ranks of the commonwealth’s equivalent of police enforcers. Much to her dismay, I should add – she’s a computer wiz. It’s not like she has much say in the matter (ironically the day they are assigned their roles in society is called Choosing Day, despite them having no choice), and any complaint could see her badly punished.

To make matters worse, she is falling for her mentor, Ari. But imagine a society where love is a concept undefined from Lust: any feelings towards him make her a sinner. No matter how innocent their teenage love, they’re disgusted by their own feelings. Despite this, they have undeniable chemistry: both characters are complex and wonderfully fleshed out, and seeing them together is a blessing. You can’t help but hope that they love can prevail.

Of course, everything they know about their world is a lie – but I won’t say anything more here. No spoilers, I promise. And the author is STILL hiding things from us, so you know I can’t wait for the sequel!

Expected publication: July 6th 2020 by Blue Crow Books

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⚔️ COVER REVEAL! 🗡 QOTD: which ‘sin’ are you most guilty of this week? Isolation has brought out the glutton in me! 🍰 Happy Monday, friends! One week down of quarantine for me, not sure how many more to go, but I’m keeping my spirits up with good books. I’m so thrilled to be a part of the SWORD OF THE SEVEN SINS cover reveal by @emily_colin! This is the most intense book I’ve read while under quarantine, binging it in just two days. It’s got amazing characters and a fast plot that will keep you on the edge of your seats! BLURB: In a society governed by the Seven Sins, where attachment is forbidden and lust is punishable by death, reluctant teenage assassin Eva Marteinn must make an impossible choice: Remain loyal to the only home she’s ever known—or stake her life on the boy she’s come to love. 🗡 Imagine a society based on the Christian sins and virtues – but without belief. When a bastardization of morals are used to keep citizens in check. Eva and Ari live in the commonwealth of Ashes in a dystopian tomorrow, stumbling in love though the consequence is death. I adored these two complex characters, who spring off the page! You can’t help but root for them and feel their incredible chemistry: it hits the shelves July 6th and I’m already excited for the sequel! How is this Monday treating you? Please, if you need anyone to talk to, don’t hesitate to drop me a DM! ❤️ #swordofthesevensins #coverreveal #emilycolin #fantasybooks #youngadultbooks #yafantasy #bookreview #booksandflowers #rosesofinstagram #pinkroses #dystopian #indieauthor #authorsofinstagram #houseplants #alocasia #bibliophile #bookphotography #bookish #bookstagramfeature #booklover #bookaddict #bookaholic #igreads #instabooks #bookalicious #yalovin #bookstragram

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This Vicious Way

By Madeline Dyer

(The Dangerous Ones #2)

Readers of this blog know that I’m a massive fan of Madeline Dyer, and have been for a few years now. I’m always excited when she releases a new book in the Untamed universe, this dark, end-of-humanity dystopia where those that are left are divided between the Enhanced, a majority where mankind takes drugs to become superior, and the untamed, the small remnants of society who are determined not to give up what makes them human.

This Vicious Way is her newest release, in the Dangerous Ones spin-off series. And it’s of the best books Madeline Dyer has written to date: fast-paced, thrilling, with unforgettable characters and twists you will never see coming!

Summary

REVENGE IS NEVER EASY…

Aged five, Inga was snatched from her sister’s arms by Bridie’s Assassins, a group of Untamed rebels who believe the way to win the War of Humanity is to use more Untamed children as soldiers. For seven years, Inga’s life consisted of violence, exploitation, and death as they shaped her into their most deadly weapon. Then she escaped.

Now twenty-one, Inga has spent the last six years seeking revenge on the assassins—using the skills they taught her against them—and trying to find her family. She knows the Gods and Goddesses are behind her, because with every assassin she murders, Inga’s gifted with a vision of her cousins, Keelie and Elf. And soon—very soon—Inga is sure she will find her family again. She’s just got to kill all the assassins first.

But when she discovers her own sister is now leading the assassins, Inga’s resolve is tested. Sure, she will stop at nothing to get the life she deserves—even if it means putting other Untamed in danger and losing herself—but can she kill her own flesh and blood?

Musings

It’s always hardest to write a review about a book I adored because most of my thoughts are just muddled screaming nonsense of just “read it read it read it!” which I am urging all my friends to do with this book right now.

Whether you’ve read the Untamed series or not, this book still manages to grip you from the first page. It’s perfectly self-contained, though certain familiar characters make a return. It’s not a spoiler to say that Keelie from A Dangerous Game plays a role, and seeing her from a different perspective was really cool. Vice versa, being inside Inga’s head after having met her in the main series was a fascinating change.

Inga is violent. Not in the uninhibited way Keelie was in ADG, but in the cool and calculated way an assassin behaves. This is, at its core, a revenge story: a girl’s childhood is stolen away, and she will kill all of those responsible for making her into the killing machine is today. She’s brutal in a way the other Untamed characters haven’t been yet, and it makes the read all the more engrossing.

This book was a wild ride start to finish. I can’t wait to see who we’ll meet next in this series!

Every Wrong Right

by M.C. Frank
Outlaws, #2

You know that I’m a sucker for a good retelling. I love books that take a story we all know and love and turn it on its head, bringing depth to the characters we thought we understood and making a classic more complex. There’s a wonderful safety and warmth in these stories, and authors who manage to shift our expectations are to be commended.

Such as author M.D. Frank, who has embraced the task of revisiting the tale of Robin Hood and turning it into a story of assassins, betrayal, torture, and revenge. It’s brilliant, making Maid Marian so much more than a swooning princess, turning her into something bold and new. And her Robin Hood? Swoon. Worthy.

I should shut up and just let you check out my review. And take a minute to swoon over this gorgeous cover with me!

Summary

In the second installment of the Outlaws series, there are more deadly secrets, more pining and more danger to be found.
You’ll discover the answers to many of your questions from book one, and new ones will keep you at the edge of your seat.
Will Robin Hood find out the truth about Ru?
Will Robin and Ru kiss?
Will they finally share the truth about their origins?
Will they stay alive?
Will every wrong be made right?

Musings

Unlike the first book, this book was fast – it takes place over the course of around 24h, and would be perfectly adapted a television episode if this series was ever made into a show (which you know I would LOVE). It centers around a high stakes mission that the band of Outlaws leads in the heart of the castle, with a daring escape and a dangerous fallout.

Ru and Robin’s past becomes clearer, flashbacks filling us in as we go along, giving us more information about how they were split and Ru’s transformation into a little killing machine. We also learn more about her relationship with her father and the other men in the castle – including her future husband. This girl just cannot catch a break, and my heart weeps for her.

Her loyalties are put further to the test as her brother is once again waved in front of her eyes. Yet she cannot deny the positive change Robin is striving for. Whose side is she on – and who will she choose? I just can’t wait for the next book!

Expected publication: April 7th 2020

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

By Adrienne Young

Adrienne Young has done it again! I can’t get enough of her Viking fantasy novels. They’re wonderful and enthralling and have the most badass women in fiction, ever. 

Summary

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

Musings

Fair warning, this book can be quite brutal. The author makes it very clear that absolutely anyone can die at any time. So many of your favorite characters will not make it until the end. That is just the brutality of war. One clan has learned to grow past it, to no longer want it – and another, with a power-hungry leader, want to take the opportunity to rule. After the events of Sky In the Deep, the newly merged tribes know war is the last thing they want – but they know how to fight. 

Halvard, the cute little brother from book one, has done a serious glow up. Ten years later and he’s tagged to be the next chief of the clan, a boy raised in peace to despise war. The book follows his growth as he learns to accept his new role and lead his people through a time no one wants for anyone. It is a heavy burden and he must learn not to shoulder it alone. 

But the Girl the Sea Gave Back is Tova, the other protagonist of this book, and she’s a mystery even to herself. An outcast in the Svell clan for being a Kyrr, she also has the ability to read runes and see the future. But what she can’t she is her own beginnings. This mismatch of identity and basically abuse at the hands of the people who sheltered her drives her growth in this novel. But Tova’s personal story almost takes a step back as we explore the greater story of immident war. The question that arises then is: what role does fate play in our lives? Is everything set in (rune) stone? Is war inevitable or inadmissible?

I absolutely loved how we returned to the world of Eelyn and Fiske but saw a completely different side of it. Old favorites return and we see how the end of their war has changed them. How people grow during times of peace. How a peaceful people prepares for a war they do not want. How, on the other side, power corrupts. 

It’s even stronger than Sky in the Deep. I loved it so much! 

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🌊 If you were blessed with a divine ability, what would it be? ☀️ Hello bookworms! Im so excited to be a part of the The Girl the Sea Gave Back Blog tour! If any of you are fans of Vikings, then you need this book. Adrienne Young @adrienneyoungbooks is an insanely talented author, and she weaves together an exciting novel that really transports you back in time. We follow character from Sky in the Deep, her first novel, but both are standalones and can be read without the other (even though I highly recommend them both). I loved this book even more than the first! 💨⛰✨ Short blurb: For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. When her clan decide how they choose to survive, Tova must set in motion a series of events that could change her world forever. 🌊 💨🌙 Thanks to @titanbooks, I got to ask the author the same QOTD. Here’s what she said: I would probably want the ability to breathe underwater. I am really fascinated by the sea and sea life and I often have dreams where I’m under water and I’m not holding my breath. 🐟 🐠 🦈 The Girl the Sea Gave Back comes out TOMORROW! I’m so excited to be a part of the tour, a massive thank you both to Titan Books and Adrienne Young for letting me be a part of it. This intense Viking novel will have you on the edge of your Sea all the way until the end. It’s exhilarating! ✨🔥🌊 #thegirltheseagaveback #adrienneyoung #sea #ocean #booksandnature #booksandsea #bookstagram #blogtour #booktour #amreading #vikings #sunset #travel #france #marseillemaville #bookworm #mustread #titanbooks

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Sword and Pen Blog Tour – Giveaway and Exclusive Excerpt!

The Great Library #5
By Rachel Caine

It’s a bittersweet moment when a series you love ends. You’re excited for the grand finale, but at the same time, you’ve grown so close to the characters that you can’t imagine a world without them. Thankfully, Sword and Pen is an epic conclusion to one of my favorite series, and I’m so happy that it ended so wonderfully. I would have read it faster, but I just didn’t want it to end!

Needless to say, spoilers for the first four books here on out.

Summary

With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it’s worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.

Musings

We pick up immediately where we left off at the end of book four: the Archivist is on the run, and our little rebel family has taken over the great library. Now comes the toughest part: securing their victory. Saving the library from those who would rather destroy it then see it grow. 

Unlike the previous books, here we switch POV’s constantly. Jess is no longer the center of the tale: the entire team (talk about #squadgoals) gets their chance at the spotlight, and it makes the book so fast-paced it left me breathless. The archivist is fighting to regain control, the enemies are literally at the library gates, spies and traitors fill the ranks of even the most elite: it’s a non-stop roller coaster. 

I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. Suffice to say I was thrilled to go an adventure with Jess and the crew one last time. I’m definitely going to miss this wonderful little family, and the world that Caine has created. It’s so hard to believe it’s over, but it was a wonderful send off.

Expected publication: September 9th by Berkley Books 

And now, without further ado, an excerpt straight from Sword and Pen!

Jess

Brendan was dead, and Jess’s world was broken. He’d never known a moment without his twin existing somewhere, a distant warmth on the horizon, but now … now he shivered, alone, with his dead brother held close against his chest.

So much silence in the world now.

He’s still warm, Jess thought, and he was, Brendan’s skin still felt alive, inhabited, but there was nothing inside him. No heartbeat. No presence.

He was dimly aware that things were happening around him, that the bloody sands of the arena were full of people running, fighting, screaming, shouting. He didn’t care. Not now.

Let the world burn.

A shadow fell over him, and Jess looked up. It was Anubis, a giant automaton god gleaming with gold. The jackal’s black head blotted out the sun. It felt like the end of the world.

And then Anubis thrust his spear forward, and it plunged into Jess’s chest. It held him there, pinned, and suddenly Brendan’s body was gone, and Jess was alone and skewered on the spear … but it didn’t hurt. He felt weightless.

Anubis leaned closer and said, Wake up.

When he opened his eyes, he was lying in darkness on a soft mattress, covered by a blanket that smelled of spice and roses. Out the window to his left, the moon floated in a boat of clouds. Jess’s heart felt heavy and strange in his chest.

He could still feel the sticky blood on his hands, even though he knew they were clean. He’d washed Brendan’s blood away. No, he hadn’t. Thomas had brought a bowl of water and rinsed the gore away; he hadn’t done anything for himself. Hadn’t been able to. His friends had helped him here, into a strange house and a strange bed. He knew he should be grateful for that, but right now all he felt was empty, and deeply wrong. This was a world he didn’t know, one in which he was the only surviving Brightwell son. Half a twin.

He’d have taken large bets that Brendan would have been the one to survive everything, and come through stronger. And his brother would have bet even more on it. The world seemed so quiet without him.

Then you’ll just have to be louder, you moping idiot. He could almost hear his brother saying that with his usual cocky smirk. God knows you always acted like you wished you’d been an only child.

Giveaways!

Before I let you go, here’s your chance to win both your own copy of Sword and Pen AND an opportunity to maybe bring home the entire series!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you just want your own copy of Sword and Pen, enter here for your chance to win. Every blog on the tour has their own unique giveaway which means every you have another opportunity to win!

The Grace Year

By Kim Liggett

I read this book in a day, it was so impossible to put down; and yet it took me a whole month to digest it, and figure out how to review. This might be one of the most powerful YA books I have ever read and my mind was (and remains) blown by the entire experience. 

Summary

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Musings

This book had me shaking. Anger, frustration, injustice. It was horrifying in the same way as the Handmaid’s tale was, aggravating in the same way the Crucible was. Yet it was also beautiful, taking this intense oppression and capturing the beauty of small (and big) acts of resistance. 

The city (or country?) where this novel takes place has a “The Village” sense to it. Isolated, the divide between people – and women – could not be more pronounced. If you are not married, you are nothing. You work, or you sell your body. There are only so many eligible young men, and they’ll pick their future wife and let the rest work out of sight. Subtle hints show that this city might exist isolated in the US we know today, or some dystopian version of it, which intensified the realism. 

Every girl is sent to spend their sixteenth year away, isolate, for fear that their “magic” will destroy the community they have fought so hard to build. Girls live their lives with oppresive rules, dare their :”Magic” escape and hurt the community. Men fear them in this year, but want their power as well: any girl who escapes her confinement during her Grace year can be caught and her body parts sold for medical purposes. It’s a grotesque and terrifying prospect. 

We follow a girl who would be quite content working the fields, who is crash and bold and can’t stand the oppresive nature of her village. She loves to tinker, loves science and logic (a girl after my own heart) and doesn’t give into the oppressive system. While sometimes this borderlines on a “not like other girls” trope, it made me wonder just how many other girls were conceiling these feelings just to fit in. It was something that TO BEST THE BOYS touched on, but THE GRACE YEAR is more subtle, which I think really works. 

The main core of the novel revolves around “The things we do to other girls”. How we’re raised to tear each other down, to stop us from banding together. Together, we are strong. Together, we’re terrifying. The only way to keep the girls meek is to force them to tear each other appart. And THE GRACE YEAR shows this in a violent, beautiful way. We tell ourselves that in a LORD OF THE FLIES situation, girls would prevail, but not if we’re raised to see every other girl as competition…

Nothing is expected: twists ruin everything, and not everyone is promised a happily ever after – even if they survive the violence. At first I found the ending anti-climactic, but the subtility of it was pure perfection.

Seriously. If you read one new book this year, try THE GRACE YEAR. It’s going to stay with me forever.

Expected publication: October 8th 2019 by Wednesday Books

Liminal Boy

The Opposition #2
Stefani Chaney

Two years ago I had the absolute pleasure of devouring MIDNIGHT, the first book in this series, and fell in love with the spunky Jo, a louder version of me who fights to save her brother and for what is right. I was so thrilled to hear a sequel was in the works, and when the author offered me an advance copy, I screamed for joy. I couldn’t wait to get back to Jo, Jamie, Langdon and the crew. What I got was completely different from what I expected, but amazing all the same.

Summary

An angel out of control. 

A thief who knows too much. 

A power destined to self-destruct.

These are some of the things that haunt Langdon Moore, the longest lasting survivor of a twisted experiment that transformed certain aspects of a person into a weapon. Nothing about Langdon has ever made sense, and his verve confirms it. Born twice and died thrice, he knows this is his final chance to get things right.
The rest of the experiments are at a loss, still recovering from a shocking betrayal and the disappearance of the weapon crafted from Jo Harding’s verve. After a fight over leadership fractures the already unstable bunch, Langdon finds it easy to take shelter in his old isolating habits, slipping away from everyone— except for his service dog.
Unfortunately, his plans for solitude are derailed when his quiet home becomes Jo’s new headquarters. To make matters worse, Midnight doesn’t go anywhere without her twin brother, the model Jamie Harding. When a mysterious thief foretells the arrival of Angel, the most powerful survivor of the experiment, Langdon must act quickly. As a harsh winter ices over Montreal, he makes one final attempt at saving a life… even if that means forfeiting his last chance of finally having one of his own.

Musings

TW: Liminal Boy has a much heavier focus on mental health than Midnight does. I found it was written with that in mind, like it was speaking directly to those of us whose brains work a little differently, and I loved it.

Liminal Boy has a complete tonal shift from Midnight. While the first book in the Opposition series follows the perspective of brash and rash Jo Harding, the second is set from Langdon’s POV, a few months after the events of Midnight. He has a quieter, more thoughtful way of approaching his issues, though he struggles with depression and social anxiety which sometimes tarnish his view of the world. Seeing Jo from his eyes was completely unexpected, and I loved the way the author’s character have such depth.

The pacing is also much slower: while Midnight was a superhero origin story, with wam-bam-thank-you-mam action scenes and immediate danger, Liminal Boy is more of a thriller. It’s more thoughtful and introspective, as Langdon tries to settle back into his life, while dealing with the aftershocks of what Morgan did to him and the other test subjects. But it has this fascinating intrigue: they still have to find what Morgan/Jude/Judas were actually doing, and dismantle the clinic that almost cost them their lives. Plus, how does one get unknown technology out of their friends before it’s too late?

At first I found Liminal Boy to be… confusing. Events seemed to happen to Langdon, sometimes in (what felt like) the wrong order. It took me a while to get into the style, but then it ‘clicked’ for me and I loved it even more. Langdon’s growth and struggle were deeply personal, and at times it was like I was reading a contemporary novel rather than a superhero/urban fantasy book.

But the ending… oh my gosh, that ending. In the last two chapters everything comes together, and now I’m sitting here, trembling in anticipation for book three!

If you liked the characters of Midnight, you are going to love Liminal Boy. Be ready for the tonal shift, but I promise you it’s worth it. It’s a love letter to all outsiders as well as being a brilliant superhero tale.

Liminal Boy is out TODAY! Happy book birthday, Stefani Chaney!

Division

Adaline #4
Denise Kawaii

The next installment of Adaline is here, and I am living for it! This Middle Grade series blew me away when I binge read it just a few months ago, and I had incredibly high expectations for this fourth book. It blew them all away, and then some.

Summary

Boy 62 and his friends are crossing the radioactive wasteland.

They’re searching for the jailhouse that will be their new home.

But someone already lurks the halls of the rugged building, and they don’t want company.

When Boy 1124562 and his friends trek across the desert, they’re expecting to move into an abandoned building where they can build their A.I. enhanced computer without the danger of Hanford’s oversight. But when they arrive, they quickly discover that the building isn’t empty.

A dangerous Woman with a sordid past is hiding in the shadows of the abandoned building. Can the secret she holds be the key to keeping Hanford’s residents alive?

Musings

62 has been exiled from the other survivors, and along with his friends needs to learn how to live in this hostile, radioactive wasteland on his own. They’re not without a few resources: they’re living in a semi-abandoned building and have a few resources from Hanford. But they’re also harboring a terrible secret: one of the women thought to be living with the Oosa has actually escaped with a story too gruesome for the boys to even know.

What’s brilliant about Kawaii’s writing is that anyone at any age can read it and enjoy it. I binge read it in two days, only putting it down for work (groan) and was terrified of Sunny’s story, though I realize she doesn’t actually outright say what happened to her. It’s vague enough that any actual child reading this will be in the same mindset as 62, but adults can fill in the blanks, which makes the horror all the more horrifying since we tend to imagine the worst. 

There were moments of sweetness, too. My favorite parts had the boys discovering their world, such as the snakes, new buildings, and even the sweet potatoes. 62 is actually doing well with food now, and I feel so happy for this adorable cinnamon roll of a boy. I just want the best for him, and I have no idea how the author will give them happy endings with just a single book left!

I feel like adults and middle graders will approach this book differently, while both loving it to bits. It’s a fantastic adventure and a beautiful exploration of what it means to be human, from the point of view of the sweetest, most innocent protagonist you will ever meet. Book four ups the tension, and I cannot wait to see how book five will tie everything up!

Don’t miss book four of the Adaline series!

Wicked Saints – Blog Tour

by Emily A. Duncan

Once I got into this book, I couldn’t put it down. It was like the Grishaverse, except so much darker, and more gruesome: as if someone stitched Nevernight and Shadow and Bone together and didn’t apply a bandage.

Summary

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 
Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.
In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world
of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between
dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something
Dark and Holy trilogy.

Musings

So if you don’t like blood, turn away now. My only qualm with the book would be how gratuitous it was with all the bloodletting, cutting, and just everything blood; but I’m willing to look past it since it was such a gosh-darn great story. 

Three characters come into play: Nadya, a cleric girl given power by the gods, trying to save her country; Serefin, prince of the enemy country, and Malachiaz, a mysterious boy on the run. We have holy, royal, and cursed – and each willing to do what they must to get what they want. Nadya’s nation has been in a holy war with Serefin’s for centuries. While her country worships the gods, Serefin’s has renounced them, taking power from within under the form of blood magic. Both want the war to end by any means possible, and will become who they must to tear town the enemy. 

So far, it might seem formulaic. Until the author does one single, tiny little thing: she makes her characters begin to question where the gods actually come from. All of a sudden, the holy war seems inconsequential, as we realize that there is so much more at play. The author delves into the complex issues of wars fought over ideals, of the people who are caught in between. And I was hooked.

It’s basically YA on steroids. Everything is ramped up x1000: the blood, the magic, the complexity. Nothing was predictable. I really don’t want to give anything else away if I can avoid it, so I’ll stop my review here. But this book is really going to blow everyone away – I guarantee it!

OUT TODAY from Wednesday books!

The Near Witch – Blog Tour

By V.E. Schwab

It’s such a fascinating adventure to read your favorite author’s debut novel. V.E. Schwab is one of those instabuy authors of mine who would put any book out there and I’d preorder with my eyes shut. But the Near Witch was still one of hers that I hadn’t read yet, simply because I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was so excited for the new edition, and reading my favorite author’s first book was so much fun!

Summary

The Near Witch’ is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Musings

A dark and mysterious novel, we follow Lexi, a young girl in a tiny, isolated village on the moors, still mourning the loss of her father. She’s not happy staying at home, she’d rather follow in her father’s footsteps, working and hunting on the moors. When children start disappearing from town à la Pied Piper, Lexi is desperate to find answers to protect her beloved little sister, before she’s next. It doesn’t help that the children start disappearing just when a stranger appears in town, a boy who is more than he looks.

I think this is the first V.E. Schwab book where she uses first person narration. The novel follows a somewhat familiar YA fantasy plot, with a dark, mysterious danger, and a heroine who doesn’t conform. I found it a little odd that in such an old fashioned, puritanical town, we’d have a girl with such a modern name like Lexi, but whatever. She’s a bit – I hate to say this – flat, since her character can be recapped by two traits: not fitting in, and fiercely loving her sister. However, we already see traces of Schwab’s signature voice in the way Lexi stands up to the men in her village, and in the incredible atmosphere she creates.

When I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but feel cold. It’s a perfect ghost story, in the sense that it really does raise goosebumps on your skin, without resorting to cheap horror tricks. It made me feel like I was watching The Crucible – on the Moors of England. The oppressive fear of the ‘other’ makes the air thick and hard to breathe. So while my first reaction to the book was that I could see the plot coming a mile away, I was still transported by it, and blown away (no pun intended) by the subtle worldbuilding. MOORS! WITCHES! MAGIC! HECK YES!

The love story was also a bit flat. Cole is probably my favorite character of the bunch, but it felt super weird to read an instalove here. I was more excited about the actual story of the Near Witch, and wanted to spend more time tracking her down, and learning about her past. I thought there might be an extra twist at the end, but none came. I think it’s why I loved the short story that came after so much – Cole’s point of view, written with the power of Schwab’s writing ten years in the making.

This might be a bit blunt, but I think the best part of reading the Near Witch, now, is seeing how far V.E. Schwab has come since. The Near Witch is good, especially for a debut novel. But compare it to Vengeful… it’s like watching a child grow into a queen. Schwab has grown so much as a writer in the past decade, and it shows. It just makes me even more excited to see what she writes next!

Massive thank you to Titan Books for sending me the new collector’s edition!