Arc Review: Forestborn (Forestborn #1) by Elayne Audrey Becker

Title: Forestborn (Forestborn #1)
Author: Elayne Audrey Becker
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: August 31st, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

TO BE BORN OF THE FOREST IS A GIFT AND A CURSE.

Rora is a shifter, as magical as all those born in the wilderness–and as feared. She uses her abilities to spy for the king, traveling under different guises and listening for signs of trouble.

When a magical illness surfaces across the kingdom, Rora uncovers a devastating truth: Finley, the young prince and her best friend, has caught it, too. His only hope is stardust, the rarest of magical elements, found deep in the wilderness where Rora grew up–and to which she swore never to return.

But for her only friend, Rora will face her past and brave the dark, magical wood, journeying with her brother and the obstinate, older prince who insists on coming. Together, they must survive sentient forests and creatures unknown, battling an ever-changing landscape while escaping human pursuers who want them dead. With illness gripping the kingdom and war on the horizon, Finley’s is not the only life that hangs in the balance.” (Goodreads)

I was hoping to like this one more than I did. It has elements that would usually be up my alley but I was having a hard time grasping to the story. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the book but more of a, “It’s me not, you” moment.

The plot starts off in the midst of political issues between kingdoms and the mistreatment of magic users. One of the magic users that is introduced at the beginning is Rora, the main character and shifter. She also has a brother who is the same as her. I like reading about sibling bonds and this was no different.

There are a lot of characters introduced and some do have very small parts. For some reason I thought this was a standalone and that is why I didn’t care too much about the character development being quick but by the end I came to the realization it will be a series and then it just kind of left me with more questions than anything. Maybe I will be the only one who feels this way. I never fully connected with any of the characters either. They weren’t bad to read about but I couldn’t feel for the plot twists that involved them.

The pacing was fine but there were slow times as the plot deals with a lot of traveling. This could be one reason why I couldn’t stay interested. There is hints at romance but not a whole lot happens on page. I was okay with that as I was more interested in the world-building and magic system than anything.

Overall, this was fine and I did like certain aspects of the book. I can see a lot of readers enjoying this one even if I didn’t love it.

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Arc Review: Faking Reality by Sara Fujimura

Title: Faking Reality
Author: Sara Fujimura
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: July 13th, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“Dakota McDonald swore after “The Great Homecoming Disaster” that she’d never allow her romantic life to be a plot line in her parents’ HGTV show again. But when the restaurant run by the family of her best friend (and secret crush), Leo, is on the line, Dakota might end up eating her own words.

Leo Matsuda dreams of escaping his small town Arizona life and the suffocating demands of working in his family’s restaurant, but the closer he gets to his goal—thanks to the help of his best friend (and secret crush) Dakota—the more reasons there are for him to stay.” (Goodreads)

I was looking forward to this book as I had previously read another book by this author and really liked it. The blurb sounded great as I don’t think I have ever read a book where the main character’s family has a reality tv show, especially one on HGTV. I mean, who doesn’t love that channel?

There is a lot of good things about this book. One of those being diversity. I also liked the reality tv show idea and how it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Dakota’s life doesn’t go smoothly because of it. It was also cool to see Dakota like doing building things. I know that is a terrible way of describing it but I can’t think of words at the moment, haha.

I wouldn’t say I ever fully connected with the characters but I can understand their situations and why they chose to make some decisions, not all of them though. Some were just not good.

Even though there were good things, there were also a couple things that left me not loving this book. The pacing was off for me and in certain areas it felt like the story dragged on. Some parts could have been left out and I think it would have made it stronger. The other issue was the romance. I couldn’t feel the chemistry behind any of the relationships going on. When it came to Leo and Dakota, part of this could be the fact that it is hard for me to enjoy friends-to-lovers but again, the chemistry just wasn’t there for me.

Overall, this was good but I wish I had loved it more. It will definitely make you hungry though, haha.

Arc Review: Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores #3) by Danielle L. Jensen

Title: Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores #3)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 5 stars

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review.

“From bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen comes a thrilling new novel in the Dark Shores world, a series that Sarah J. Maas called “everything I look for in a fantasy novel.”

THEIR BATTLES ENDED IN VICTORY

Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever.

His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war.

BUT THE WAR HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN

Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for.

Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.” (Goodreads)

This series can be read as followed:

1. Dark Shores or Dark Skies
2. Dark Skies or Dark Shores
3. Tarnished Empire
4. Gilded Serpent

TW: Swearing, violence, war, death, alcohol consumption, drug consumption, and more explicit sexual content than the prior books. 16+ (from the author)

I can tell you that this series gets better and better with each book that comes out. This was a wild ride from start to finish! I don’t know if my heart will ever recover from this.

One thing that I loved about this book is the combined point-of-views from the first two books, Dark Shores and Dark Skies. It was thrilling to see how the characters were faring from their standpoint as well as the relationship bonds that are forming and breaking, plus some spicy scenes I just wasn’t expecting!

Since this book is so long I was worried that there would be a lot of lull moments but the author does a good job at keeping a good pace and also introducing plot twists to keep the reader intrigued throughout. It was easy to want to keep reading as one point-of-view would end on a cliffhanger so you had to keep reading to find out what would happen next.

I am also happy that I read Tarnished Empire before starting this book. Tarnished Empire is a prequel to the series but gives us more incite into a fewer well-known characters such as Marcus and Felix. It also introduced us to newer characters and one making a huge introduction in the latest book of the series. I have my feelings towards that certain character but I’ll keep it at that because I think the surprise of it all is so much better than if I told you!

The plot is filled with political intrigue, war, romance, blight, and the gods of those from the Dark Shores. There is never a quiet moment as each character deals with their actions which sometimes has consequences as well as just trying to stay alive to make a difference or keep being a puppet pulled by strings. It’s heartbreaking, thrilling, and filled with happy moments that seem to be few and far between but you just hope for the best.

Overall, I have come to love this series and hope that if you haven’t checked it out yet you will do so! It’s just too good and I think any fantasy lover will enjoy this book.

Arc Review: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance #3) by Joanna Hathaway

Title: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance #3)
Author: Joanna Hathaway
Genre: YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 5 Stars

Thank you so much to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway’s stunning, World Wars-inspired Southern Sun, Northern Star

Reeling from the tragedy that beset her family, Princess Aurelia has joined the resistance in Havenspur, spying on the Northern leaders who were once her allies and determined to stop her uncle’s machinations for war. Meanwhile, her beloved pilot Athan leads his squadron into battle as the Safire wage a losing war abroad and combat growing unrest back home.

When Athan is sent on leave to Havenspur following the death of a comrade, the pair reunite and rekindle their romance until Aurelia uncovers one of Athan’s secrets, a secret that could save countless lives. But exposing it to the right people will cost her Athan’s trust, and this time, their shared memories of love might not be enough to stop the fateful path of destruction that threatens all they’ve fought to defend.

As history unfolds around them, every move they make drives them one step closer to either recreating their parents’ shadowed past or redeeming the alliance that could bring peace.

The breathtaking finale to a legendary series. Part war drama, part romance, Southern Sun, Northern Star is the epic conclusion to the Glass Alliance series.” (Goodreads)

I am not even sure where to start with this review. I have many thoughts and I went through a whirlwind of feelings but I will do my best to type it out and hopefully it makes sense.

In the beginning, there is a prologue and I wasn’t sure how it fit into it all but it does show us the tragedy of war and that is quite fitting for this entire book.

As with the other books, there are two point-of-views: Athan and Aurelia. There is also a surprise one (besides the prologue) that is found much later in the book. I enjoyed being back in Athan’s and Aurelia’s mind. This time it was much different as war has really changed them both, especially Aurelia.

Aurelia aka Ali has seen and been through a lot through the course of the books. I have felt for her so many times but it was hard at times to like her in this one. She did a lot of things that didn’t fit who she was but it also made sense as war changes everyone. She had good intentions, but sometimes good intentions lead to bad results.

Athan is the same old pilot we know and love. He is out there doing his job and I loved reading about the plane fight scenes even if they were brutal at times. Thinking about it now, I would say that he has grown and in a good way. As with Aurelia, he wanted what was best for his people. He did have good intentions as well and again, some led to bad results. It’s easy to see the similarities between them, but at the same time he knew where his loyalty was. I couldn’t always say the same for Aurelia.

The romance between them wasn’t as big as the other two books but it worked well for the plot as it focuses more on their jobs and being away from each other. Aurelia doesn’t always make it easy on Athan to love her but he still sticks by her no matter what. I will say that he is very dedicated because I definitely wouldn’t have been so understanding in a few of the situations. I still can’t deny their love though. It’s one of my favorites.

With war comes violence and tragic losses. I’m trying not to cry just writing this out, ha. I was worried who would head to the grave and I definitely felt the losses. I cried for one and it wasn’t even for the one I was most upset about! This is a very brutal book and it will tug at your heartstrings.

When it came to the pacing, there was a few slow moments but it wasn’t hard to continue on because I needed to know what would happen next.

The ending was not what I expected and had me in tears. Don’t worry it was for a good reason!

Overall, I loved this book! It’s hard to put into words what I feel for it. As the finale for a trilogy, it’s hard to say goodbye to the characters and the journey they have taken to get here. I have loved each book dearly. I know these books will remain on my shelf for many, many years and I also know I will revisit them one day down the road.

E-Arc Review: Payback (Vale Hall #3) by Kristen Simmons

Title: Payback (Vale Hall #3)
Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Publisher:  Tor Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!




The unpredictable truth will be revealed in Payback, the stunning conclusion to Kristen Simmons’ Edgar-nominated thriller series that started with The Deceivers

Brynn Hilder has conned a lot of people. From the spoiled rich kids of Sikawa City to her mom’s loser ex-boyfriend, from a motorcycle gang to a senator’s son. If there was money to be gained, or a secret to uncover, she figured out how to get it done. And thanks to Vale Hall and its director, Dr. David Odin, she’s found a family of hustlers just like her.

Together, Brynn and her friends have overcome doubt, deceit, and betrayal to unearth the truth–a truth even a group of professional scammers couldn’t have predicted.

And now they must tackle the biggest con artist of them all: the man who brought them all together.” (Goodreads)

It’s always sad to see a series end that I enjoyed reading. It’s been a wild journey of manipulation, secrets, and a whole lot of conning to get to this ending but it was definitely worth it! I think this series is quite underrated and if you haven’t heard of it and want a review, you can find them on goodreads or on my blog. (Book #1 and Book #2)

The main character, Brynn, has been through a lot in these books and she definitely put all of the skills she has learned to good use in this last book for the biggest con ever. There is a lot I admire about her. One of those things being her strive to not give up even when it seems like all hope is lost. She puts her game face on and keeps going no matter the danger she puts herself. Even though she may have not liked everyone she went to school with from the beginning, she still wants what is best for them all. I loved reading about her growth.

There is one major relationship in this series and then others that are minimal but still cute. When it comes to the relationship of Caleb and Brynn (the major one), I always enjoyed the page time they had. It hadn’t always been easy for them but they made it work even if the worst of conditions. I also liked how much Caleb trusted her even when it seemed like she had changed her mind on things. He is pretty great.

When it came to the plot, as with the other two books there are plot twists that I didn’t see coming. One was a real big surprise but I’m really happy about it. I think it added to all of the mystery and took it up one more notch. I don’t feel like the ending was rushed and was satisfying to see the biggest con artist get what he deserved! Plus, there is an epilogue and I liked seeing how everything went a year later.

Overall, it was enjoyable! I’ll be sad to see these characters go but am looking forward to whatever this author writes next.

Book Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

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41438037._SY475_Title: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: May 7th, 2019

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High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.” (Goodreads)

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I’ve had this one sitting my shelf since probably like September of last year. Why have I been putting it off? I have no idea, haha. Isn’t that how it usually goes?

I’ve had the second book in this series pre-ordered since the author said it was going to be a dust-jacket done by one of my favorite authors. So, this month I figured I needed to buckle down since that book comes out in May.

Guys, it was literally so good! I haven’t felt this way about a book in a long time.

I will say that the first 50 pages or so was fine but it hadn’t pulled me in yet. I was like, “great politics.” but then everything started happening and it just became too good to put down!

Teriana kicks butt! She is a pirate and knows how to steer ships. There was one part that reminded me of the Pirates of the Carribean.

It literally had me so excited!

Now, obviously this isn’t just about pirates but also politics. Her enemy Marcus works for the Consul of the empire and is charged with conquering these new lands that they never knew existed with help from Teriana.

Since their are two main characters, each one has their own point-of-view. I enjoy more than one so it was no surprise that I would love the ones in this book.

Marcus has a lot of baggage. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. His outer appearance screams bloody thirsty legionnaire but there is more to him and I was here for it all! Give me more Marcus!

Many fantasy books have a relationship going through the plot. This one does but its slow and not without struggles and fighting those feelings. It had everything I wanted from it and more.

After the beginning, the plot doesn’t slow down. I think that’s why it was so easy to get swept away. Sure, there isn’t always action but you just start loving every character and want to continue reading about them, including the minor ones.

Overall, I’m so glad I decided to finally pick this one up. It was a grand adventure and I can’t wait to see what else this series has in store for me!

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Recently Acquired: Sisters of Shadow and Light

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Hello Lovely Bookworms!

Well guys, I got another eARC from NetGalley. I honestly didn’t think that I would be approved for Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson because it took forever and a day! I am really excited for this one because it sounds amazing and definitely one that is up my alley. Plus since I have a few sisters, anything that is based around sisterhood is one that I must read!

This book will be released on November 5th, 2019 by Tor Teen.

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40032033._SY475_.jpgSynopsis:

“”The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes…”.

Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world―including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.

On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father’s Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a “roar” that drowns everything else out―leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.

For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world…until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes.” (Goodreads)

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What do you think of this one? Does it pique your interest? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads