Title: The Ravens
Series: The Ravens #1
Author: Kass Morgan, Danielle, Paige
Genre:  young adult, fantasy, supernatural
Publisher:  HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Format: ARC
Page Count: 400
Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis

Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.


Review

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


I was really excited for a book about witches set in college. I feel like there is a dearth of books in the world set in college, so when I requested this I was extremely excited. I was hoping for something that I would love, and while I didn’t end up loving it, I did end up liking it. I felt that overall, this was a generally good book, but I also felt that there was some confusion for me in regards to certain parts. Or perhaps I just missed those moments and things were explained.

Things I liked: the dual POV worked for me. I like that we were seeing two different sides of the story, but I found both characters a little unbearable, but in that sense, they were relatable. I was curious to see how things would intersect in this book, and I think one of my main issues was, was that the book in some ways felt all over the place. I did not enjoy that fact. And because of that, the pacing itself was a little annoying. There were parts that I think were supposed to work together, but just didn’t fit. I’ll be honest, that is where I struggled the most: the plot.

I think that there was so much trying to be accomplished including trying to give enough background, that the important bits weren’t explained. I am more than happy to suspend disbelief, but this one just didn’t work for me in that way.

I did like the writing in this book a lot. I think it was a well written book, and I love the overall concept, and even the small plotlines. It just alternated between being not enough and too much at some points. But all this is just personal preference for me, to be honest.

I think overall, the book was good. It wouldn’t have three stars if it wasn’t. I think there was a twist at the end, that I had guessed, but it didn’t really make the book worse. In the end, I think that the idea of putting a coven of witches as a sorority was a fabulous idea, and using that as a launching point. I think it brings up a lot of commentary about Greek Life, especially how Greek Life is depicted. And this book managed to show a bit of both sides of it.

Overall, I liked the book, and I will be curious to see where this series goes.

 

  Author:     Estelle Laure
   Series:    n/a
   Genre:    Contemporary
   Pages:    304
   Publisher:    Wednesday Books
   Format:   earc
   Publication Date:     July 14, 2020

Description

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for a copy of the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book looked interesting to me both from synopsis and from the cover. The cover is so beautiful, and I was excited to start reading it. I will say this, I have never seen/read The Lost Boys or the Craft, so I had nothing to compare it to. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into in regards to that. Anyways, overall, it was okay. I really didn’t love it, or more specifically, I really liked the beginning of the book, but by the time we got to the middle I was no longer interested, and by the end I was bored.

The Writing
So, I think the writing is excellent. There is little I have to complain about the writing. I think the format of the book was lovely, we get past and “present” in this case 1987. So sometimes it made me blink to realize it wasn’t in present day. Although I feel like there could have been some benefit of it being set in present day. Overall, I think the writing was good and it worked.

The Pacing
The pacing was good at first, and then about halfway through the book it felt like everything changed, and then the book lost its momentum. It just felt awkward to me, and I didn’t enjoy the pacing all that much.

The Plot
Part of the problem with the pacing I think, comes from the plot. The plot is there, but I felt that a) the first part of the book was more entertaining before we even get to the meat of the “plot” and b) the actual plot took place in the last 20% of the book. Which is why the pacing felt awkward to me. If the book had been more plot focused I think it would have worked better. As it stands, it feels like it was supposed to be plot and character driven, and unfortunately, I think it fell down in the character section as well.

The Characters
I liked Mayhem at first. I think she was the best character of the lot. The rest of them were just…I don’t know. I felt that if the plot wasn’t actually going to be the main focus, and the character driven arcs were, we should have had more character development. We don’t really get that. For the most part the characters are static, and it is just okay overall. I liked Mayhem, and I think she was a good character. Overall, I felt that it was lackluster in terms of characters. I didn’t particularly really like anyone aside from Mayhem and to an extent Kidd.

Overall
It was an okay book. I think 2.5 stars, closer to 3 is about what I would rate this book. So strong at the beginning, and then it fell off. It was a huge disappointment to me. I was excited for it, but it just…didn’t do anything. I felt lost, and underwhelmed overall.

Rating

 

Author: Kaylynn Flanders
Series: Shielded #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 352
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: E-ARC
Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Book Description

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

Review

You know what, I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it. It was advertised as similar to a Sorcery of Thorns, but it isn’t really. This book is unique in and of itself. I think it does follow the mold of a fantasy book, and it does deal with libraries, but it isn’t the same, and you should not be thinking this is going to be another Sorcery of Thorns. It isn’t. However, I liked it just as much. (And I will admit, one part tore my heart out, and I’m not sure I can still believe it if its true…)

The Writing
The writing was lovely. I have no complaints in regards to the writing. I think there is something to be said for prose that flows well and isn’t inundated with description for a book like this. This book is very much action focused and it is go-go-go all the time. And yet it worked really well with Flanders writing style. I was impressed by it all. I couldn’t put the book down…I got obsessed and read it in one night. When I’m sleep deprived at work, I’m going to blame this addicting book.

The Pacing
Again, I loved the pacing of this book. I am sometimes in the mood for fast paced books, and sometimes in the mood for slow paced books. This one is a fast paced one. Something is always happening. Action everywhere! Do not expect there to be too many boring tea parties and balls in this book my good friends, but do expect lots of heroics, awesome sword waving girls and magic. In other words, yes, I liked the pacing.

The Plot
Now, I love this magic plot. And the library portions. All of it really. And I LOVED the take on the princess and the betrothal and everything else. It just all seemed to work together. I never felt that any of it was coming out awkwardly, and I wasn’t cringing every ten minutes. Were there certain parts I was screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” at as loud as I could yet.

Also, P.S. I got partway through the book and said “HAH I’M RIGHT” and then went “Uh-OH” and anyways, suffice to say I was pleasantly surprised all the way through with the plot. Yay good plots!

The Characters
JENNA. Let me tell you, she reminds me very much of Tamora Pierce’s heroines in some ways. She has the strength and likeability of them. She is flawed, but also good. I really loved her, and I think her journey in this story is great.

Enzo is as well. Ren too. Honestly, I only hate the villains as I was rightfully supposed to. But I like the characters. I feel for them. I wept tears and I rejoiced. I lived vicariously through Jenna and her amazing-ness. Yes, I liked the characters.

Let me just say, I think this book is great because the story doesn’t just revolve around romance.

The World building
One word: fabulous. I am really intrigued by this world. I do believe that what we’re give in terms of knowledge is more than enough to satisfy me. I never felt it was too much or too little. The lands are a part of the story yes, but so is the magic. And they’re woven together beautifully. I love it.

Overall
If you can’t tell, I loved this book. LOVED IT. I cannot wait to purchase it so I can get that gorgeous cover on my shelf…and now I’m thinking of the horrific wait for the next book because I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

Rating

 
Author: Bethany C. Morrow
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 288
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: E-Arc
Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Book Description

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

-From GoodReads

Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw sirens, I knew I wanted to read this book. There is little more I love than sirens and mermaids and well, I couldn’t resist. So I was so happy when I was given the chance to review this book ahead of publication. I was delighted for it. I really think though, that this book will mean so much more to POC. This I believe, will probably resonate with them. While I don’t face the same issues discussed in this book, I found the read to be wonderful and address many important issues of today.

The Writing & Pacing
The writing was very good. I think that Morrow is a good writer, and that is conveyed through how easy the book is to read. It all flows so well together, and I loved the dialogue. I think it was well done, and it really added to the story. It is also #ownvoices in the topics that it touches on. The pace is a little bit slow at times, but I think that is because some really relevant issues are addressed and the plot and pacing needed to slow down to address them. We get dual POV from both Tavia and Effie, and the voices were distinct, and so that worked really well for me.

The Plot
The plot was mostly character driven in my opinion. Most of the characters were in some way acting or reacting to events in the plot, but the main bulk of the story was about their journey and their introspection. I liked that. I think the combination of magical realism and the relevancy of the topics to today were great plot driving forces for the character arcs.

The Characters
Through Tavia and Effie we are presented with important, real life issues interspersed throughout the book. They’re worked in so well, that everything flows together. You really feel for the both of them as they struggle with their inner selves and the world at large. There is a lot going on in terms of character development and I think this book is really pointed about certain ideas. I don’t want to go into them here, as I feel this book is best experienced by actually reading it, not me just telling you this book does this, this and this. However, it reflects on what is occurring to POC today, and in my opinion, someone who is POC is going to relate to this far more than me, a white girl. I may understand the issues, but I do not live them.

There was a tiny romance subplot, I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it. It was there.

The World building
I think the world building was a great concept; and it was interesting too. Especially the parts about the sirens and their relation to being black. Excellent on all levels.

Overall
This was a great book, and one I highly recommend that everyone should pick up and read. There is very little in this book that doesn’t work — and it was an amazing read. I think this is going to resonate with many readers!

Rating

4 star

I  received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Author:     Emily Duncan
Genre:    YA/Fantasy/Dark Fantasy/Horror
Pages:    432
Format:   E-ARC
Rating:  

Description:

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.

Continue reading “Ruthless Gods — Book Review”