Gilded Cage by Vic James
*I received an ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James from NetGalley, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.
Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy? "
Review: I didn't really have any idea of what this book was about going in, but I new it was a fantasy novel. This novel definitely did not disappoint.
The entire set up of this novel from the characters to plot to the world Vic James created is incredibly fascinating and was something I've never seen before. The way the world was set up was unique, but worked with the plot incredibly well. The world presented in Gilded Cage was presented, at first, as normal in terms of fantasy. There seemed to only exist a simple mix of magic and people, but quickly the darker side of the world is present. This dark twist quickly transforms this book into a whirlwind of adventure!
The book is written with multiple perspectives, which was slightly confusing at first, but, after I caught up with the names, was incredibly insightful to understand what those characters were feeling. It also conveniently sets up mind-blowing plot twists or at least connections that make you go, "OOHHH!". Gilded Cage is not lacking in a VARIETY of unique characters. I found that I was most similar to Ami, but that I preferred reading in Luke's perspective, which luckily was the general perspective. I would go into depth on each character, but there are far too many and I don't want to give anything away!
The plot of this novel is gripping and had me reaching to read a couple of pages, even when I was incredibly busy. I definitely thought I had the plot all worked out at a couple points along the book, but I was WRONG. Gilded Cage had my heart beating and definitely didn't always go the way I had predicted and that was amazing. The plot and characters were, without a doubt, why I can't wait for the next book. I didn't even realize this was a series until about halfway through, but I'm so grateful it is because I can't wait to see more of this unique world, its characters and the possibilities!
I'm so grateful to have gotten to read this book early on and I would recommend this to all YA readers, but especially for those who love a unique fantasy, some fast paced adventure, and those who want to new series to fall in love with! I also later found that this was first written on wattpad and won an award which only adds to the reasons of why more people need to read this book!
Cover: ★★★★★ (I don't know if this is even the finalized cover, but it's gorgeous all the same!)
Favorite Quote(s): "no one will make you play. We may have chosen you, but you have to choose the game."
"Trust lent you someone else's eyes, someone else's strong arms or quick brain. Made you bigger than just yourself."
"The severity of the man's punishment was no proof that he deserved it."
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
Synopsis:It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.
Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?
Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?
As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.
Review: WARNING SPOILERS FOR SNOW LIKE ASHES MAY BE PRESENT.
To start off with, I completely forgot all of Snow Like Ashes because it took me so long to get my hands on this novel and therefore I had ZERO guesses of what might happen. Slowly I got back into this Season & Rhythm world. Meira is an interesting main character because not only is she my age, but she also has aspects of life where she is definitely more knowledgeable than me, but for a lot of things I found her quite foolish with desicion-making. Sara Raasch did a brilliant job with the characters overall and I thought that Ice Like Fire allowed me to understand the characters on a better level as well as meeting new amazing characters like Ceridwen.
The plot was twisty! I loved the new aspects Ice Like Fire brings to the story and more and more of the world is explored and I LOVED THAT. It felt like their world itself was changing and that made it harder for me to try and guess what might happen ahead of time. Although I don't personally feel there was a lot of character excitement and focus, there was a LOT of focus on the world and its history/culture. This exploration was exciting, page turning, and brilliant all at once! There was a lot of figuring out the magic and the conduits and how they worked and it was definitely a journey to go along on.
Mather vs. Theron. Who could choose? Personally I support Mather and Meira, but we'll just have to see! I actually really enjoy stereotypical romances, like love triangles etc. so I enjoyed the romance in the novel, but romance isn't the main focus of this novel, though it is still prevalent. The romance actually really reminded me of the Hunger Games romance so be warned or be excited!
I would reccomend this book to fantasy lovers but definitely go and check outSnow Like Ashes first!
Favorite Quote(s): "The idea he planted sprouts roots and unfurls wide leaves, fostering recklessness similar to that of the wild girl I used to be."
"the girl was a storm of emotions"
"No one should be forced to be something they aren't."
Beautiful Something Else by Sheila Hageman
*I received a copy of Beautiful Something Else from the author, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "Beautiful Something Else is a contemporary romance with smarts and humor.
Lizbeth, an outwardly-confident but overly self-conscious thirty-year-old, is spurred on by her New Age friend, Janet, to trust the Universe and ask for what she wants in life—to land a starring role, lose five pounds and find herself naked with a man. The stars seem to be aligning for her, but not exactly in the way she meant.
A chance encounter with a film director at Grand Central Station may be her lucky break, but the New York City actress is blindsided when she is fired from her bill-paying waitress job, and she must decide where her true values lie. Should she take a position as a “pretend secretary” for a handsome, but holier-than-though chiropractor and healer with questionable morals to pay her rent?
While Chip Duncan woos a potential investor for his new healing center, he fights his romantic urges for Lizbeth. She finds herself falling in love with Chip’s caring, healing heart, but she’s equally frustrated by his greed and dishonesty.
Can Lizbeth resolve her body image issues and find a clear path to satisfaction in career and relationship? And will Chip realize in time that Lizbeth is the woman for him before he blows off her love?"
Review: This book definitely exceeded my expectations. I know that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but let's be honest, most of us do. That's why when I first looked at the cover I thought I would be reading a middle grade novel, that just happened to be quite a bit longer. What I got instead was a romance filled, new adult-ish contemporary which I found to be a really good read!
My favorite part about this novel was that this novel covered topics that can be considered taboo in our society. Although, it never goes into depth, just bringing up topics like beauty standards, religion, and feminism is a step up from ignoring these issues. I loved how characters interacted and I definitely read through this novel very quickly because of this.
The plot was interesting, but I, personally, did not find it incredibly unique and it wasn't very moving. However, I enjoyed the idea of the plot and that because of the lack of action, there was a deeper focus on the characters and what was occurring in their minds. Besides the lack of action, I also found the end of the novel to be cut short, or rushed. Although it definitely was not a horrible ending, and everything was able to come together, I just felt rushed through the last chapter.
Overall, Beautiful Something Else definitely surpassed by expectation of it. It would make a great read for anyone in search of a fun, romantic, novel to read.
Cover: ★★☆☆☆ (this cover really threw me off lol)
Favorite Quote(s): "How did you choose one religion over another?"
Oak and Mistletoe by J.Z.N. McCauley
*I received an ARC of Oak and Mistletoe from the author, J.Z.N. McCauley, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "A Druid Curse, A Prophesied Love, A Consuming Vengeance…
Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.
Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes. "
Review: There was definitely both good and bad that came with Oak and Mistletoe.
Bad news first. I found this book to be rushed and unrealistics. YES I KNOW that DOES sound strange because it is both fiction and fantasy, so how could it be "realistic"? Well, let me explain. It wasn't necessarily the magic part that threw me off, but that fact that the main character, Cathy, took everything in without emotion, even though her entire world had literally been shaken up. Something traumatic also happens within the first 50ish pages and I found that to be not only rushed, but again hard to fathom how Cathy could take in so much change with so little response. I also found the start of the book to be very rushed because there was barely any building up of the world and the characters before everything came crashing down. The romance also wasn't particularly believable, but I wouldn't say it was horrible either.
Now for the good part! I loved that Oak and Mistletoe was set in Ireland. I haven't read any books set in Ireland and it was great to see a part of a different culture. I read a lot of fantasy novels, but many are more modern and element based. I really like that this book featured a old mystic sort of magic in it and that definitely caught my attention. Many books also feature teens that seem to run off without a care in the world. Oak and Mistletoe captures the family vibe and includes the details many books leave out. For instance, Cathy doesn't disappear without making contact to others and even when they are out adventuring the book often mentions of them "relieving themselves" which I found both hilarious and realistic and something I know that many YA readers comment about.
PS: I would like to thank J.Z.N. McCauley for the bag of sweets and the signed book and bookmarks!
A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe
Synopsis: "Sora's life was full of magic--until she discovered it was all a lie.RSS Feed
Heir to Mt. Fuji's spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother's last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents' true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world's natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.
As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she's ever known."
Review: *I received a copy of A Mortal Song from Netgalley , but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
If you've been following my blog you may see that I read fantasy often, but A Mortal Song is quite a different read for me even though it falls under the category of fantasy. I saw both good and bad aspects to this book,but I'll starting with the bad.
This book was not a page turner for me. I can't read more than one book at a time, but I also couldn't seem to bother to pick this one up. The plot wasn't bad, but I never completely felt in their world and the fight scenes honestly made me skim by. I also didn't particularly like the romance or characters, neither was bad but neither were amazing. Due to this, I had to rate it a bit lower.
However, A Mortal Song also brought a lot of things that really set it apart from other books. First of all, diversity. In YA there are a LOT of strong female characters and having that in A Mortal Song was amazing, but the most unique aspect was the fact that this novel took place in Japan. I can honestly say I have never read more than one or two fantasy novels that take place in countries that aren't the US, the UK, or a completely fictional realm. This aspect was what really held my attention and kept me going. I also loved the world that was created and shamefully I don't know how much is actually a story told in Japan, but the mythology part to this novel was incredible.
Even with the fact that this book did not completely suit my tastes, I would still recommend this book because it is still a good read for those looking for a novel that branches out from what is usually seen in YA fantasy.
The Falconer by Elizabeth May
"One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale
She's a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.
She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.
She's a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.
She's a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.
The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read."
Review: I went into the book only knowing that it might include steampunk and that it is a historical fiction novel, but I got SO MUCH MORE. The element of fantasy and fae has introduced me to a new world of fiction! I never got into historical fiction because I have never been a fan of history in school and historical fiction never appealed to me but The Falconer may have changed me for good! As reader who hasn't really touched high fantasy, historical fiction, or steampunk this book itself was just so amazing I didn't even need much exposure to its parts to fall in love with it.
For me the book was separated into three things: romance, plot, and the world they lived in. Each provided their own unique input.
I was gripped by the first page. For many books it can take me a good chapter to finally get into the flow, but this novel had my complete attention and I couldn't stop thinking about it, which is how I knew it was good from the start. My lack of knowledge on the main parts of this novel didn't help me predict the plot line, but even with exposure to fae and historical fiction, I found that the twists and turns had my head spinning. I felt some Lunar Chronicle and Outlander vibes, but even that couldn't prepare me for some of the plot twists. The endless excitement, action, romance, and magic kept me reading and reading until my eyes were drooping and still I read on.
Love triangle? Not really. I really enjoyed the romance that was expertly weaved in and not all too strongly focused on. It was strange because this time period called for the focus on marriage, weddings, and courting, but Elizabeth May was able to turn away from that for the most part. The romantic tension was definately present throughout the novel underneath the surface, but overall the shift of focus brought more attention to an entirely different world that the characters lived in.
This brings in the world of Aileana who is not at ALL what she seems and her fiery attitude is a welcomed point of view in the novel. Her world is filled with gadgets in a time long ago, located at Edinburgh, Scotland. Her trinkets and gadgets remind me of Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles and I just happened to love that aspect of this novel. However, out of all the amazing things in their world I LOVED learning more about the fae. I have read some books with the fae mentioned here or there, but this novel has taught me more about fae than any other book and the entire subject is now something I can't wait to delve deeper into!
If it wasn't clear, I LOVED The Falconer and I am so excited to continue reading this series!
Favorite Quote(s): "It's a relief to be alone."
"It seems strange that such destructive creatures could build something so beautiful."
"Never trust the fae."
A fan of anything fiction, furry, & fun.