Together We Burn by Isabel Ibanez

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: May 31st, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Dragons, Young Adult Fantasy

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see her father fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.

An ancient city plagued by dragons. A flamenco dancer determined to save her ancestral home. A dragon hunter refusing to teach her his ways. They don’t want each other, but they need each other, and without him her world will burn.

First Line:

My mother died screaming my name.

Together We Burn by Isabel Ibanez

I had been hearing a lot of hype around the blogoverse about Together We Burn before I got the invite to review it. With everything I had been hearing, I was very interested in reading it. So curious that I went and put it in my To Read pile. So when the publisher sent me the invite, I jumped on it. I am glad I did. This book was a great read!!

Together We Burn had an exciting plotline. Zarela is a flamenco dancer who lost her mother, a famous flamenco dancer when the dragon her father was fighting went rogue and burned everyone in the arena. Disaster strikes again when, during the 500th-anniversary show, another dragon broke free of his bonds and rained carnage on the arena. One of the dragon’s victims was Zarela’s father. He wasn’t killed but was severely injured. That left Zarela to deal with the backlash. Convinced it was sabotage, Zarela starts an investigation. She is also determined to return her family’s arena to its former glory. Her investigation into that day and her quest to bring the arena back are merged when she realizes that the attack was not random. Failing to convince the Dragon Guild that there was foul play behind the attack, Zarela is left with no choice but to fight the dragons herself. But, she only has days to learn. Can Zarela find out who is behind the attacks? Can she save her family’s arena? And more importantly, can Zarela learn to fight dragons and not get killed?

The plotline in Together We Burn moved slowly during the book’s first half. On the one hand, I liked it because it let me learn about Zarela’s background, the background of dragon fighting, and the tragedy of her mother’s death/the arena carnage. But on the other hand, the book started dragging by 40% of the book. But, after Zarela hires Arturo, the book picks up speed. By the end of the book, the plotline was super fast.

What I loved about this book was that the author included a glossary of the different types of dragons and other guilds in Hispalia. I can’t tell you how many times I used that glossary, and I wish every author would do something like that. I found it helpful while reading.

I liked Zarela. Even though she was devastated by what happened to her parents (and remember, it was two different occasions), she rose to the occasion. She was willing to do whatever it took to keep the arena afloat. That included learning how to fight dragons so she could keep her family’s arena. And that meant hiring a dragon hunter/ex-dragon fighter to teach how to survive in the arena. While doing that, she was also investigating what happened at the arena. I found her to be a very well-rounded character who surprised me.

Arturo didn’t become a central character until the middle of the book. He wanted nothing to do with Zarela at first. But, her stubbornness and resolve won him over. He was hard on her, which didn’t surprise me. He needed to teach her the basics of dragon fighting before the event that could save the arena. He also reluctantly became involved with her investigation into the events at the arena. He was instrumental in several key scenes towards the end of the book. The author wiped away doubts about him before the arena scenes at the end of the book.

Several memorable secondary characters breathed life into the book. They added additional depth to the storyline. I will not go into each one, but I enjoyed the flair they each added.

I loved how the author portrayed the dragons. She went from seeing them as ferocious creatures who lived to kill and maim to creatures who were misunderstood and wanted to be left alone. I loved it!!

The storyline with Zarela and the investigation was well written. I didn’t figure out who was behind everything until the author revealed that person. I was completely surprised by who it was and the reasons behind it.

The storyline with Zarela, Arturo, and learning how to fight dragons was interesting. I liked how Zarela convinced Arturo to work with her (the girl is stubborn). But, I also liked how Arturo showed Zarela a different side to dragons. The lessons made me wince, and Arturo was rough on Zarela. But considering she could die, he wasn’t harsh enough. And the twist to that plotline (what Zarela and Arturo figured out and used) was amazing!!

There was a romance angle in Together We Burn, but I was kind of meh about it. I liked that Zarela and Arturo got together but did the author need to discuss it? In my opinion, no.

The fantasy angle in Together We Burn was well written. I liked how the author chose to portray magic (both good and bad) along with dragons. That alone made me want to see more books written in this universe.

The end of Together We Burn was good. There were no twists (other than the dragon fight), and everyone did have their HEAs.

I would recommend Together We Burn to anyone over 16. There are sex and sexual situations (not graphic) and violence.

Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: March 8th, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary, Suspense, Crime

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Scarlett’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.

When the FBI shows up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.

Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a novel about trying right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.

First Line:

Dayton Culver was well aware he was trespassing when he and his golden retriever, Lulu, veered off the path in the woods.

daughter by kate mclaughlin

When I first saw Daughter on NetGalley, I was mildly intrigued. But, at the time, I didn’t request it. I figured that if the book gods wanted me to read this book, they would make it happen. Well, it happened. I got the invite from SMP, and I was pretty excited to read it. But I got it at a pretty bad time. I had some personal things going on and had to push this book to the back burner. It sat on my TBR for almost two months, and during that time, I kept seeing reviews for it everywhere. Nearly all were favorable, and that kept me amped to read it. I was blown away when I read it. It lived up to my internal hype and the hype I kept seeing.

Daughter had an exciting plotline. Scarlet is your typical seventeen-year-old. She has a great group of friends, a boy that she is interested in, and a mother who is beyond overprotective. That is blown away when Scarlet finds out that her life is a lie. She has been in hiding her entire life. Why? She is the daughter of a serial killer. That same serial killer is dying and wants to talk to Scarlet. The FBI is hoping that he tells Scarlet about his remaining victims and hopes to keep her identity under wraps. But that is blown when pictures of Scarlet and her mother are leaked to the press. Overnight, Scarlet’s life is ruined. She is stalked by the paparazzi and groupies of her father. Most of her friends turn on her. But Scarlet feels connected to her father’s victims and is determined to find her way through this mess. What will Scarlet do?

I will admit, I am a true crime junkie. I watch everything and anything on serial killers. But I have never seen anything that discusses what the families of the serial killers go through. I have seen plenty of speculation but never what their trauma was and how they coped with it. So, reading a book from the perspective of a serial killer’s daughter was interesting.

The author chose to interweave news articles, web forums, and podcasts throughout the book. It made me upset and very uncomfortable to read those articles. I also got mad that one outlet released Scarlet and her mother’s home address, city, and state. I also was a little irritated by how cruel some of those articles/forums/podcasts were. Scarlet was a baby. She had nothing to do with her father’s crimes and was actively helping the FBI. What else did they want her to do?

Scarlet was a powerful young woman. Her reaction to what her mother and the FBI told her was nothing short of what I would expect from a teenager. She handled everything else with grace. I did think what the FBI asked of her was a little too much. But she was a boss when it came to talking with her father. She couldn’t have handled it any better. I also loved her idea of honoring the victims. I thought it would be healing not only for Scarlet but for the loved ones the victims left behind.

Jeffery Lake was an absolute monster. My skin crawled when I read his interactions with Scarlet, and I wanted to throw up when he told Scarlet the reason behind her “real” name. And what he did after he died, I have no words.

The thriller angle of Daughter was a bit slow at times, but it was there. It did ramp up when Scarlet and her mother traveled to Raleigh—not knowing what Lake would do or say added to that.

The suspense angle of Daughter was excellent. I never knew what direction their conversations would take. Would he give her another name, or would he play mind games with her? It was that part of the book that kept me glued to it.

The end of Daughter was a bit anti-climatic. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop or something to happen (different than the storage unit deal). Nothing happened, though. I liked seeing how Scarlet and her mother were thriving now that Lake was dead. The legacy he had left was awful, but they both were learning to live with it.

I would recommend Daughter to anyone over 21. Drug use, alcohol use, language, description of necrophilia, language, sexual situations, and mild violence.

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of Publication: March 15th, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

First Line:

It is summer again and we are alive.

i am margaret moore by hannah capin

When I got the email from NetGalley that I Am Margaret Moore was available to “Read Now,” I jumped on it. I had this book on my TBR since I saw that Hannah Capin was publishing it. I had loved Foul is Fair and had high expectations for this book. Well, I Am Margaret Moore fell short of my high expectations.

I Am Margaret Moore is the story of Margaret and her friends. The summer before, Margaret was involved in a scandal with another camper and was sent away. This summer, she was going to move past the drama and enjoy her summer. But things don’t go the way she wants. Her friends want the truth about what happened last summer, and Margaret isn’t telling them. Because if she tells the truth, she’s afraid no one will believe her. What happened that night?

I will be very blunt; I wasn’t a fan of how the author wrote this book. There are no chapters. Instead, once a scene ended, some headers separated them (example: The Girls with paragraphs describing Margaret’s friends). I get why the author chose to write the book she did, but I like cut-and-dry chapters.

The flow of I Am Margaret Moore was choppy, and the timeline jumped around a lot. I couldn’t tell if I was in the past or present. Again, I get why the author did this, but for me, it didn’t work.

I wasn’t too sure about how I felt about Margaret. During the first half of the book, I couldn’t connect with her at all. But, by the second half of the book, I did start to like and pity her. Yes, pity. She had so much happened to her in a short amount of time.

Margaret’s friends were the true backbone of the book. They were determined to find out what happened to Margaret. That led to disciplinary action from the naval school, but that didn’t deter them.

There are a couple of twists in the plot that I saw coming. I guessed the first one right away, and once certain events happened in the second half of the book, I figured that out too.

I wasn’t a fan of the end of I Am Margaret Moore. Again, it was choppy, with events playing out of order—the choppiness and the fact that the HEA seemed thrown on as an afterthought.

I would recommend I Am Margaret Moore to anyone over the age of 16. There is implied sex, some kissing scenes, mild language, and mild violence.

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy: Book 2) by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy Book 2) by [Duncan, Emily A.]

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: April 7th, 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Something Dark and Holy

Wicked Saints—Book 1

Ruthless Gods—Book 2

Untitled—Book 3 (expected publication date: 2021)

Where to find Ruthless Gods: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

The stunning sequel to instant New York Times bestseller, Wicked Saints!

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

First Line:

There was a darkness.

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

My Review:

I was pretty excited when I saw that SMP/Wednesday Books had granted my wish for this book on NetGalley. I hadn’t expected it, though. My wishes never get granted on that site. After my excitement died down, I realized that it was the 2nd book. I was still optimistic about the book, though. Lately, I have been reading books that are 2nd or 3rd in a series, and that was stand-alone. I figured that Ruthless Gods would be the same. Oh boy, was I wrong.

Ruthless Gods had a fast-moving plotline. The author was able to keep the pace up even with the book being split into numerous POVs. That I did like, she marked who’s chapter it was. I had zero issues following along with the book that way. It also worked well with the pacing. Some storylines were left open, and characters that were mentioned but never brought up again. But, considering that this is the 2nd book in the series, I have a feeling everything will be tied together in the 3rd book.

As I mentioned above, Ruthless Gods is NOT a stand-alone book. You do need to read Wicked Saints before reading Ruthless Gods. That way, the backstories/explanation of the different countries/explanation of the religions (which is essential!!) are fully disclosed. I was lost when reading Ruthless Gods because I didn’t read Wicked Saints first.

Another source of irritation for me was the lack of understanding of the different relationships between the character. Nadya and Malachiasz, I got right away. Serefin and Kacper’s was a little muddier. Ostiya, Parijahan, and Rashid’s relationships with each other, and the central 3 was even more mysterious. That is where reading Wicked Saints would have come in handy — now saying that I was impressed with the character growth that Serefin, Nadya, and Malachiasz had throughout the book.

Ruthless Gods had to have been one of the more darker, bloodier young adult books that I have read in a while. The amount of violence was terrific. The author doesn’t even bother to build-up to the first violent scene. It was bam, there you go. Now, that didn’t bother me. I figured by reading the synopsis that it was going to be bloody and violent. But it might bother other people.

I was fascinated by a couple of things in Ruthless Gods. I was fascinated that this book was based loosely in Russia. I do wish that there was some glossary that explained the different terms used in the book. I was also fascinated by the various religions portrayed. I do wish that there was a glossary dedicated to the different saints/terms that Nadya and her fellow monks used. Again, it would have gone a long way to helping me understand everything.

The storylines were well written also. There was almost too much going on in the book at one point, but the author did a fantastic job keeping everything separate. The Nadya/Malachiasz storyline broke my heart. Serefin’s broke my heart too. I couldn’t imagine living like he did and being forced to do the things he did.

The best part of the book was the last part of the book from when Katya was introduced onwards. Everything just snowballed once the group got into that forest. I expected what Serefin and Nadya did. The whole book was leading up to those two crucial things. But, I wasn’t expecting what happened to Malachiasz. That took me completely by surprise. The epilogue was fantastic. I cannot wait to read book three because of what was promised in that epilogue.

I would give Ruthless Gods an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is mild language. There is violence. I would reccomend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Ruthless Gods. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Jane Anonymous: A Novel by [Stolarz, Laurie Faria]

5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: January 7th, 2020

Genre: Young Adult

Where you can find Jane Anonymous: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

Bestselling author Laurie Faria Stolarz returns with Jane Anonymous, a gripping tale of a seventeen-year-old girl’s kidnapping and her struggle to fit back into her life after she escapes.

Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and a crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life.

Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew―everything you thought you experienced―turned out to be a lie?

First Line:

Dear Reader(s),

Before ten months ago, I didn’t know that the coil spring from a mattress could be used as a makeshift weapon, or that the rod inside a toilet tank worked just as well as the claw of a hammer.

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

My Review:

I was intrigued when I read the blurb for Jane Anonymous. I have read plenty of books about kidnapping and the effects on the victims, so I thought I was ready for the book. Well, I was wrong. Jane Anonymous was one of the rawest, more emotional books that I have read to date.

The plotlines for Jane Anonymous are split into two sections. There is “Then” and “Now.” The pacing for each plotline is fast and well written. There is no lag, which was great and complimented the fast pace of the plotline. There were also no dropped characters.

I wanted to reach through my Kindle, grab Jane, and hug her. The author did a fantastic job of showing the difference in her. She was an outgoing girl with a fantastic view of life before her kidnapping. After her abduction, though, she was the opposite. The author didn’t make her magically healed and had her forget what happened to her. Instead, she had Jane struggle with being home. She also showed how Jane was affected by PTSD and anxiety. Again, there were tears on my end.

The “Then” part of the storyline was amazingly written. I liked reading how Jane kept her sanity during her captivity. The author did a fantastic job of showing how Jane was broken down by her kidnapper and then built back up. It was a perfect example of Stockholm Syndrome. But, my favorite part of this book was when she escaped. It was amazing!!

The “Now” part of the storyline broke my heart. Jane was so broken. She tries to recreate her room from when she was kidnapped. Jane kept to the award system that her kidnapper used. She refused to talk to someone because of how they treated her. She had to deal with people alternately praising her and talking about her behind her back. But, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

The end of Jane Anonymous was terrific. I can’t get into it, but I was a blubbery, sobbing mess. It made me have hope for her too. I am for sure going to be looking out for more books by this author!!

I would give Jane Anonymous an Older Teen rating. There are no sexual situations. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Jane Anonymous. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Grace Year by [Liggett, Kim]

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: October 8th, 2019

Genre: Young Adult

Where you can find The Grace Year: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

Survive the year.

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

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to 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 a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a 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.

First Line:

No one speaks of the grace year.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

My Review:

From the minute I read the blurb for The Grace Year, I knew that I wanted to read it. It had all the earmarks of a book that I would love. A strong female main character and a storyline that seems to be fantastic. I am glad that I read The Grace Year. It ended up being all that and then some!!

The plotline of The Grace Year sucked me in. It was well written and fast. Yes, quick. This book took place over the girls 16th year, and it flew. Oh, man, it did fly. I loved it!!

I liked Tierney. She was one of the most influential female main characters that I have read to date. I liked that in a society that viewed women as the lesser sex, she wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion. I loved that she didn’t want a man to make her happy. But I felt that her behavior in the last half of the book contradicted that. But that is what made me like her character so much!!!

Tierney and Ryker’s storyline was interesting to read. I am not going to get into it because there are some significant spoilers. All I have to say is that there were times where I was heartbroken and then times where I was elated. I know, such a contradiction but once you read the book, you will understand.

The plotline with Hans surprised me. I was not expecting him to do what he did. I put the book down and said, “No way.” Then picked the book back up and continued reading. It explained so much. So much!!!

I do want to comment on the women in the village. I thought one thing when I started reading the book. By the end of the book, my view about them changed. Tierney’s mother was a huge one.

The end of The Grace Year made me cry. All I have to say is that it was bittersweet. Because of the way it ended, I am hoping that there is a book 2.

I would give The Grace Year an Older Teen rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread The Grace Year. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep) by Adrienne Young

4 Stars

Date of publication: September 3rd, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Genre: Young Adult

Series: Sky in the Deep

Sky in the Deep—Book 1

The Girl the Sea Gave Back—Book 2

Where you can find The Girl the Sea Gave Back: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

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.

First Line:

Give me the child.”

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

My Review:

I was excited to read The Girl the Sea Gave Back. Every review I read about this book painted it as a fantastic read. So, I went into this book with high expectations. I am happy to say that The Girl the Sea Gave Back lived up to those expectations. It was a fantastic read!!

The plotline for The Girl the Sea Gave Back was interesting. Tova was found in the wreckage of a funeral boat by a Svell holy man. Recognized as a Truthtongue by she is taken to the nearby Svell village. There, she is used to read runes for the leader of the Svell. Things change for her when two rival clans merge into one. Forced to read the runes, what Tova sees will change her life. People will die, and Tova will realize that she can have the one thing that she wants the most: a home.

The plotline for The Girl the Sea Gave Back was fast-paced and well written. I have a love/hate relationship with fast-paced books. I love them because the book zips along. I don’t like them because sometimes, there are plotlines that get overlooked. Which didn’t happen here.

I loved how the author had the tribes modeled after the Vikings. The tribes weren’t exactly like the Vikings, but there were enough similarities that I had pause at points and tell myself, “This is a fantasy book. Not real life.” The two essential things that stood out to me were the Tova reading the runes and the funeral boat in the prologue.

I liked Tova and man, did I feel bad for her at points in the book. What she went through was awful. The Svell hated her because she was a Kyrr Truthtongue, but they used her too. I couldn’t even imagine growing up under that type of hatred. She read the stones that told the Svell that they needed to battle Nadhir, which sets her on course to meet with Halvard. I also liked that Tova was conflicted about her rune reading. She wanted to please the leader, but at the same time, she didn’t want to cause death. I found her connection to Halvard to be interesting. I do wish that more had been explained about why she was connected to him. Something other than he was her destiny. Because I’ll tell you, it did confuse me.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a bloody book. There are quite a few battles between the Svell and the Nadhir. I liked that the author didn’t hold anything back when it came to describing the battles. I am not at all affected by blood and violence in a book. But some people are.

There is no romance in The Girl the Sea Gave Back. I can’t tell you all the last time I read a young adult book that didn’t have a romance. I loved it!! There was a hint of it between Tova and Halvard but it didn’t get beyond a hint.

I do wish that Tova’s background had been released sooner. I would have understood certain parts of the book better. I didn’t put two and two together until the middle of the book. And even then, it took me a while to realize who Tova was.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back is not a stand-alone book. I read it as one and was left wondering about several things mentioned in the book. Relationships and how the Nadhir were brought together were the main ones. Read Sky in the Deep before reading The Girl the Sea Gave Back.

The end of The Girl the Sea Gave Back was interesting. The way individual storylines were ended made me wonder if there will be another book in this world. I hope so because I enjoyed it. I hope that there will be more focus on the Kyrr if there is.

I would give The Girl the Sea Gave Back an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is no language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread The Girl the Sea Gave Back. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves: Book 1) by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)

5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: January 19th, 2019

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Where you can find The Gilded Wolves: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

My review:

Severin is a wealthy hotelier in 1889 Paris. He seems to have it all but looks can be deceiving. Severin is a treasure hunter with an agenda. He wants his House reinstated back into the mysterious Order of Babel. He wants to be acknowledged as the blood heir to the house. The only way for that to happen is to hunt down and retrieve a ring stolen from the Matriarch of one of the two houses that are left. He also needs to prevent an ancient artifact from coming to life and destroying the world. It is not going to be easy. Severin needs the help of his team. Can Severin and his team hunt down the ring and prevent the artifact from coming to life? Or will they be too late?

The Gilded Wolves showed up on my radar a few months back. When I read the blurb, I had a “meh” reaction and almost didn’t accept the review request from the publisher. At the time, my reading/review schedule was busy. Even though the book was due to be published in January, I didn’t think I was going to be able to read it. Then I reread the blurb and my “meh” reaction turned into a “Hmmm“. Since I had a few books scheduled for review in January, I decided to accept the review request. Let me tell you, I am so glad that I did. This has to be one of the best books I have read this year.

This was a beautifully written book. The author took her time building up the characters backstories while progressing with the main storylines. Any other book would have me sitting here and complaining about it. But not here. It worked. The author separated the backstories by having them in italics. What I liked also is that there was no confusion when that happened either. That alone made this book an enjoyable read for me.

I liked that the main characters were fleshed out and they were diverse. Enrique was from the Philippines and was mixed race. He was Filipino/Spanish. Laila was from India. Zofia was Jewish and from Poland. Hypnos was White and Black. Severin was Middle Eastern and White.  I enjoyed reading how each culture was different and how everyone meshed together.

I also liked how the author chose to bring up sexuality in the book. The century that the book is set in wasn’t known for being tolerant of homosexuality or bisexuality. So to have Enrique be bisexual was awesome. His attraction to both Hypnos and Zofia was written beautifully. He wasn’t ashamed at being attracted to both men and women. Which was fantastic. 

I didn’t like Severin when he was first introduced in the book. He came across as cocky and careless. As the book went on, I did start to like him. All he wanted was to bring his House back and to be its Patriarch. Which is why I was surprised when he did what he did at the end of the book.

I liked Laila. She was the heart and soul of the group. The relationships that she forged with everyone was prevalent throughout the book. I was surprised and intrigued by her backstory. I am wondering what is going to happen to her when she turns 19. Her hidden ability was amazing.

Zofia was odd but I liked her. She was brilliant. Her nickname of “the phoenix” fit her. I wanted to cry when she was remembering her years at the university. The way she was treated by both her classmates and teachers was horrible. I don’t blame her for doing what she did (even though it was by accident).

Enrique was one of my favorite characters in the book. For the reasons, I stated above. Also because he told it like it was to Severin. He was also brilliant. The history he knew blew me away.

Tristan touched my heart. From the beginning of the book, I could tell there was something wrong. The abuse that he suffered by Wrath broke him. He reminded me of a small child at points in the book. Because of that, I thought he job as a poisoner was odd. But he was brilliant. He was also obsessed with spiders. He devotion to Goliath was touching. Creepy, but touching.

The plotline with Severin and his quest to get his House back was fascinating. I liked that Egyptian mythology was used in the book. At times, the book reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie. I love it when a plotline keeps me guessing and this one definitely did.

The secondary plotlines enriched the main plotline. They added more depth to the book that was needed.

The end of The Gilded Wolves surprised me. It also broke my heart. The author did a fantastic job at wrapping up some storylines and leaving other ones wide open. The cliffhanger at the end of the book did its job. I am going to have to read book 2 when it comes out. 

I gave The Gilded Wolves a 5-star rating. This is a beautifully written book. It has a diverse cast of characters and plotlines that kept me reading. 

I would give The Gilded Wolves an Older Teen rating. There is no sex (there is mention of sex and several kissing scenes). There is no language. There is violence. There are trigger warnings. They would be child abuse. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread The Gilded Wolves. I would also recommend it to family and friends.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Gilded Wolves.

All opinions stated in this review of The Gilded Wolves are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Have you read The Glided Wolves?

Love it? 

Hate it?

Meh about it?

Let me know!!!

Sadie by Courtney Summers

4.5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Day of publication: September 4th, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find Sadie: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. 

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

My review:

I had seen reviews for Sadie on various blogs that I follow. All them good. I thought to myself “This book can’t be THAT good.” I had gotten Sadie as an ARC a few months back but due to school vacation, I fell behind on my reviews. So I went into reading this book with a fair amount of skepticism. Well, let me take back everything I thought to myself. Sadie was amazing. There are very few books that I will get completely immersed in and Sadie was one.

I loved the way it was written. It was split between being told as a podcast and from Sadie’s POV. Not only did I get to see the effect of Sadie’s leaving had on people. But I also got to read about what Sadie was thinking when she started off on her journey to find Keith.

I loved how the author dangled parts of the plotline. Instead of giving everything all at once, she broke things up into little pieces. You know that Mattie, Sadie’s younger sister, was killed. You know that Sadie didn’t deal with it well. It’s the underneath that the author takes her time revealing. It was drawn out. Sadie would reveal something then it would switch to McCray as he is doing this podcast. What was revealed was explained after the fact, by the people affected. It was interesting because not everything was told to McCray.

McCray was trying to do good with his podcast but it seemed like he was always 3 steps behind Sadie. At one point, I got mad because he kept running into dead ends. But, Sadie did make it easy for him to follow her. She left clues. I could see McCray getting more and more involved in this case the more time he spent on it. He went from an impersonal radio host to a human being trying his best to find a missing girl. It was interesting to see that transformation.

I should have seen what Keith did to Sadie coming. It wasn’t addressed until after Sadie found those pictures. Then, I understood while she was doing this for Mattie, she was also doing it for herself and the other girls that Keith victimized. If Keith had stayed away, Sadie would have gone on with her life, caring for Mattie. But he came back and bad things happened. That broke Sadie. So yes, I wasn’t surprised that she decided to go after him.

I was angry with Sadie’s mother. She was the catalyst for everything. Either she didn’t know or she turned a blind eye to what was going on. But, when he dared to attempt something on Mattie, she threw him out. Even with Mattie dead and Sadie gone, her mother mourned only for Mattie. I don’t think she had it in her to love Sadie (even though she said she did). May Beth, the surrogate grandmother, shed more tears for Sadie than her own mother. That showed how empty Sadie’s life was.

I couldn’t believe the ending. I tried to flip to the next page because I refused to believe that the author ended it that way. I might have shouted “Seriously!!!” Talking about frustrating. But genius of the author. Because it made you think. And, unfortunately, it ended as it would have in real life. With more questions than answers.

What I liked about Sadie:

A) Relatable characters

B) How it was written

C) Was able to get completely immersed in it.

What I disliked about Sadie:

A) Keith

B) Sadie’s mother

C) The ending

I gave Sadie a 4.5-star rating. I was completely immersed in this book from page 1. This was a fantastic book to read. The only downside to it was the ending. Other than that, a great book to read.

I gave Sadie an Older Teen rating. There are sex and sexual references. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Sadie. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Sadie

All opinions stated in this review of Sadie are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

The Raging Ones (The Raging Ones: Book 1) by Krista Ritchie and Becca Ritchie

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: August 14th, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Series: The Raging Ones

The Raging Ones – Book 1

Where you can find The Raging Ones: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

From New York Times bestselling authors Krista and Becca Ritchie, comes The Raging Ones, an edge of your seat sci-fi romance with twists and turns that you will never see coming!

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds. 

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday. 

Until the day she does. 

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people who haunt him and the world that imprisoned him. 

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny. 

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought-after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.

My review:

My interest in The Raging Ones was caught when I read the blurb. I could see the potential in a plotline based on a society that knew when they were going to die. Then I read the book and man, I can’t even begin to describe what it was like reading this book. The best way I can describe it is like unwrapping a Christmas gift. You don’t know what you are going to get and you are eager to get it open to see it. That is how I felt about The Raging Ones.

The Raging Ones follows 3 teenagers who have dodged their deathdays. In doing that, they have bonded with each other. Desperate to keep their secrets, the trio decides that their best bet is to enter a competition that will send them into space. A competition that will test their bonds and their alliances with each other. But what awaits them in space?

Franny is the first character that we are introduced to in the book. She is a brass, crass Fast Tracker. Fast Trackers are people who are destined to die in their teens/early adulthood. They are known for partying like it is the last day of their life…every single day. I felt bad for Franny because all she wanted was her money so she could die knowing what it would be like to be rich. I liked her. She was the more open of the trio. The more impulsive one. I liked her. She did get the short end of the stick with her new tattoos. That artist did not like her.

Mykal was introduced with Court. Mykal was a Babe. Babes are children whose death dates happen before the age of 8. When he didn’t die, he removed himself from his Hinterland village, supporting himself alone until he found Court half-frozen. While Mykal came across as a country bumpkin but he was anything but. I loved his character. He had a way of looking at things that were refreshing.

Court was the mysterious one. He was an Influential. Influentials are people whose deathdays happen far in the future. Court was very stingy in giving information about himself. That drove me nuts but also kept reading. Court cared about Franny and Mykal but didn’t want to get too close to them. He was also the driving force behind the 3 of them getting into the space program. I liked his character but came to love him.

The bond that Mykal and Court had were intense. As was their attraction to each other. But they didn’t act on it. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife, it was that heavy. I was surprised that nothing happened between them sooner in the book. I did think that there was going to be a love triangle with Franny but nothing ever came from it. Which I liked. A love triangle would have taken away from the storyline.

I do wish that more had been spent on explaining why death dates were needed and how they were discovered. It was explained very briefly but not in detail. I also wish that more time had been given to explained Mykal, Court and Franny’s connection. Why they had it and why they didn’t die.

I liked the science fiction aspect of the book but I did feel that it went on for a tad bit too long. It felt that there was some unneeded luggage with that plotline that could have been trimmed. Mainly the part of the storyline with the cheating. It added nothing to the storyline and bored me.

The end of the book was fantastic. The author had a huge plot twist that I didn’t see coming. There were no hints or anything leading up to it. I was shocked. The author ended the book on that note. Brilliant move on their part. Because now I have to read the next book to see what is going to happen. Also, the author didn’t wrap up the main storyline or any of the storylines added late in the book. So I am curious to see how they will be resolved in book 2.

What I liked about The Raging Ones

A) How diverse the characters were

B) The bond that connected Mykal, Court, and Franny

C) No love triangle

What I disliked about The Raging Ones:

A) No explanation on why death dates were needed/discovered

B) No explanation about Franny, Court, and Mykal’s connection

C) Science fiction part of the book went on a little too long for my taste

I gave The Raging Ones a 4-star rating. I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed reading it. I do think that there was too little information given about death dates and Mykal, Franny, and Court’s connection. Other than that, I enjoyed the book.

I would give The Raging Ones an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is mild violence. There is mild language. I would suggest that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread The Raging Ones. I would also recommend it to family and friends.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Raging Ones.

All opinions stated in this review of The Raging Ones are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**