Review: City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: City of Bastards by Andrew ShvartsCity of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Series: Royal Bastards #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 5, 2018
Pages: 377
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend Zell and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city's prestigious University.

Then, Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate, a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she's suggesting is impossible... and treasonous.

But Tilla can't, won't, let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire Mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.


This was my immediate reaction on Twitter upon finishing City of Bastards. And then this happened:

I just finished this book a few days ago and…. Yeah, I still haven’t processed everything that happened and I’m still in shock and I truly don’t know if I can articulate my feelings in regards to this book. So bear with me!

I really loved Royal Bastards, so I had high hopes for this one, but I was also cautious going into it because I didn’t know if this was meant to be a duology or a trilogy, and I feared Second Book Syndrome. After finishing the book, I discovered it’s going to be a trilogy; however, there isn’t a single trace of Second Book Syndrome in this book. It exceeded my expectations and was EVEN BETTER than Royal Bastards! The writing was epic, the characters had awesome stories and growth, and the world building was incredible.

I absolutely adore Tilla. She’s come so far, yet has so far to go. I liked that she was so conflicted over being in Lightspire – she wanted to enjoy it, yet she missed home. It felt realistic. Through it all, she stayed true to herself and trusted her instincts. I really liked Ellarion and the easy friendship (maybe more?) he and Tilla formed. He was funny, sarcastic and strong. The way his story ended was heartbreaking, though… I’m anxious to see what it means for him in the third and final book.

I wasn’t as big a fan of Zell this book, and I’m not sure why. I think it was a combination of things, some of which I can’t discuss because spoilers. Maybe part of it was because I liked Ellarion so much and kind of shipped him and Tilla instead.

Lyriana probably had the most character development/growth out of everyone because of everything she went through. My heart broke for her throughout the book, but especially at the end. Like with Ellarion, I’m anxious to see what it will mean for her in book three.

Right off the bat, I REALLY like Markiska. Everything about her friendship with Tilla broke a lot of YA stereotypes and it was just epic. She was also such a badass! And then… The way her story ended… Grrr!!!

I also want to mention Marlo, because I adored him and Garrus. Also, Marlo reminded me of someone from the Karen Chance/Cassie Palmer books, and I can’t quite put my finger on who now… Or maybe he reminds me of Willy the Snitch from Buffy, except more badass… Still trying to figure this one out! Either way, I loved his character and the way his story ended!

I don’t know why, but I had major The Magicians vibes while reading this. I haven’t read the books, and only watched part of season one, but the comparison kept popping into my head – something about the “University” kept triggering the comparison. I’m still confused by this, but I’ll throw it out there for anyone who DOES like The Magicians – this book may interest you because of that!

The ending of this book was… I just… I can’t. I have no words. It was… explosive (hahaha). It was epic. It was crazy and insane. It was shocking and jaw-dropping… I just can’t. I can’t think of a better way to explain it. It was just… Whoa. And I REALLY NEED BOOK THREE RIGHT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU!!!!! I seriously don’t know if I can wait until 2019!!! *SOBS!!!!!!*

Overall, I really, really, REALLY enjoyed this book. It was even better than book one, and exceeded my expectations. It was more intense with higher stakes, and each character had more to lose. Highly recommend this for fans of Royal Bastards (you’re gonna LOVE IT even more than book one), The Magicians (still not sure about this comparison, but I’m still mentioning it), and fans of royalty, court life, magical universities and mystery/intrigue.


Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew ShvartsRoyal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Series: Royal Bastards #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 30, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

I adored this book so much!!! The characters were epic, the plot was intriguing and the writing was great. I’ve been in a terrible reading slump for over a year now, and this book really helped pull me out of it.

I loved Tilla right from the start. She’s “rebellious, determined and stubborn,” with “a bold heart and an iron will.” This was the way two of the characters in the book described her (hence the quotation marks), and I 100% agree. I liked Zell’s character growth. His backstory was heartbreaking but I loved the way his story ended. I really liked his relationship with Tilla.

Jax was an amazing character and I sobbed when one very big thing happened to him – I kept hoping there would be some kind of epic twist at the end, but alas, there was not. Lyriana was an interesting character. I’m hoping there’s a sequel because I’d love to see her in Lightspire, ruling in her natural element. I’d also love to learn more about her background and her magic.

Finally, Miles… UGH! Don’t even get me started. I didn’t like him in the beginning and I HATED him by the end.

I had a LOT of comparison vibes with this book. First, as always, I had major Reign feels (re: Kings, Queens, court and Bash, since he’s a bastard). Second, I had some pretty big Long May She Reign vibes. I can’t go into details without spoilers. But part of it was what happened at the banquet in the beginning and part of it was that Jax from Royal Bastards reminded me of William Fitzroy from Long May She Reign.

Finally, the biggest vibes I had while reading this book? Breakfast Club vibes! Our main characters were kind of just thrown together in this incredibly crazy, dangerous situation and they banded together and made the most out of it. But for some strange reason, these Breakfast Club vibes were “Degrassi’s Breakfast Club-like episode” vibes. You can watch it on YouTube (spoiler alert if you’ve never watched the show, because it’s season 3). I don’t know why, but I kept picturing the scene where they conga down the hallway.

I loved the descriptions of the different mages! The magic in this book was so intriguing and, in some cases, a bit wild and untamed. I loved that the rules could be broken and the magic had different manifestations.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book. The ending was super intense and had me flailing! Again, I’m REALLY hoping for a book two because I want to see what happens next for these characters! I love where all their stories ended in this book, but their stories are FAR from over! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves castles, court and intrigue. And to anyone who enjoyed Long May She Reign and The Breakfast Club.


Review: Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis (Blog Tour + Giveaway)

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis (Blog Tour + Giveaway)Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 6th 2015
Pages: 336
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.


Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis! I’m very excited to be a part of this blog tour! I absolutely loved this book and I hope you enjoy my review!


According to the synopsis, Spinning Starlight is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans. I’ll admit, I haven’t read that one and have no idea what it’s about. But I’ll say this: In my opinion, Spinning Starlight was The Little Mermaid meets These Broken Stars and full of awesome. With intriguing characters, epic world-building and Lewis’ signature writing, this companion to Stitching Snow (one of my top reads of 2014) will take you on a wild ride!

I really liked Liddi. She’s burdened with a heavy responsibility from a young age, yet it never really goes to her head. In fact, it has the opposite effect and she actually doubts herself and her abilities. She puts a lot of pressure on herself to live up to other people’s expectations. She’s incredibly loyal to family and the love she has for her brothers – and the love they had for her – was amazing. Often, you see siblings fighting in YA and not getting along, so this was a very refreshing change of pace. I would have loved to get to know her brothers more, though. We definitely didn’t get to see enough of them and their interactions with Liddi!

In the journey to save her brothers, Liddi ends up being in a constant state of danger. She was almost always in an unknown place or situation and, without an easy means of communication, she had to fight to be understood and to survive. In my mind, that makes her brave, loyal and fierce.

The only thing that annoyed me, in regard to Liddi, was the process by which she and Tiav communicated in the beginning. Deciphering the weird syllables of Liddi’s robotic/computerized voice was a bit annoying and it often slowed down my reading pace.

I liked Tiav for the most part, especially in the beginning and end – though he lost some brownie points in the middle for some of his behavior! But in the beginning, when he first met Liddi, he was very level-headed and open-minded. He was quick to trust Liddi, though he remained cautious, but he was kind and very protective and accepting of her. Like I said, his behavior in the middle portion of the book kind of ticked me off, but from his perspective, I get why he acted the way he did, so I won’t come down too hard on him for it. And he definitely redeemed himself in the end.

There were a LOT of secondary characters in this book. As with Stitching Snow, I admired Lewis’ ability to make us care for characters that we didn’t really have a lot of time to get to know. Some note-worthy characters (for both good and bad reasons) are Garrin, Quain (who I liked but didn’t always trust), Shiin (again, liked her but didn’t trust her), Minali (don’t even get me started), Dom and Kalkig. But they are/were all wonderful characters that I loved reading about and, in some cases, would have liked to read about more and get to know better.

The Spinning Starlight world was WAY more elaborate than the Stitching Snow world – which is weird to say because I know it’s supposed to be the same world, since this was a companion novel. But Lewis definitely upped the world-building in this book and I love how detailed it was. At the same time, there was more action in Stitching Snow versus this book and the pacing of Stitching Snow felt faster, though I still read this book pretty quickly. The ending for both books felt slightly rushed, but I noticed it more so in Spinning Starlight. I really would have loved an epilogue, something to make the ending feel more complete.

The only two complaints I really have are with the flashbacks at the end of each chapter and some of the tech talk. The flashbacks were a bit confusing because they felt very random and I couldn’t figure out what they had to do with the chapter they proceeded. The formatting of this eARC was a bit off, though, so I’m wondering if they make more sense in the finished copy of the book. As for the tech talk, I really felt very lost and confused with a lot of the technology and the explanations for the Khua, conduits, etc. And not understanding a lot of that meant I was confused for a good portion of the book, so that took a bit of enjoyment away from reading.

But overall, this book was epic and a fun read. I love Lewis’ writing. I love the worlds she creates. I love the characters she develops. I just really love her books and can’t wait to see what she does next! And, of course, I highly recommend this book!


And now for the giveaway! 1 winner will receive a signed finished copies of STITCHING SNOW & SPINNING STARLIGHT. US Only. To enter, complete the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author:

R.C. Lewis teaches math to teenagers—sometimes in sign language, sometimes not—so whether she’s a science geek or a bookworm depends on when you look. That may explain why her characters don’t like to be pigeonholed. Coincidentally, R.C. enjoys reading about quantum physics and the identity issues of photons.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Instagram | Goodreads | Tumblr



Tour Schedule:

Week One:
9/28/2015 – Fangirlish – Interview
9/29/2015 – A Backwards Story – Review
9/30/2015 – Supernatural Snark – Guest Post
10/1/2015 – YaReads – Review
10/2/2015 – Two Chicks on Books – Interview

Week Two:
10/5/2015 – Pandora’s Book’s– Review
10/6/2015 – Bookhounds ya – Guest Post
10/7/2015 – Just Commonly – Review
10/8/2015 – Mundie Moms – Interview
10/9/2015 – Please Feed The Bookworm – Review


Review: Alive by Chandler Baker

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Alive by Chandler BakerAlive by Chandler Baker
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 9, 2015
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Stella Cross's heart is poisoned.

After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.

Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.

Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?

After all, the heart never lies...does it?

From the moment I heard about Alive, I was incredibly excited to read it – it sounded amazing! But when I first started reading it, I had a lot of trouble getting into it. The first 46 pages were incredibly slow and flat. I was tempted to DNF, but I kept going because I snuck a peak at a semi-spoilerish Goodreads review and what I read had me intrigued! In the end, I stayed up until 3:30am to finsh it – In total, I read 311 pages in 7 hours – because I couldn’t put it down!

I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the characters. Usually for me, not connecting with the characters is an automatic DNF. But the story itself intrigued me enough that I kept going. But I had a love/hate relationship with these characters throughout the whole book. First of all, I have no idea how any of them were friends or how any of them could hang out in the same group – They were all so nasty to each other! I know friends fight sometimes, but wow! They almost never stopped being rude and mean to each other. It was ridiculous!

Sometimes, Stella was great. In the first chapter, I felt her panic so intensely, it was like I was the one going in for surgery! But at other times, she was rude and mean, abandoning her friends for a guy she barely knew and saying the nastiest things. Henry kept pressuring Stella to define what their relationship was – Um, dude! She just went through heart transplant surgery!!! Let her breathe!!! But other than that and his intense dislike for Levi, he was actually the calmest/nicest of the characters and I felt bad for the way Stella was treating him. And Brynne was just snippy and brutally honest.

I liked Levi a lot at first. He seemed really great and I loved his chemistry with Stella. But it quickly became clear that something wasn’t right. He lied to Stella a lot and he became very possessive. At one point, he even becomes a bit abusive. But then there’s a major twist with his story and.. Wow.

This is not your run-of-the-mill contemporary. I don’t know how much to say without spoiling it, but it has a lot of supernatural elements to it, especially in the second half of the book. I had so many crazy theories running through my head, it made me dizzy. And every few chapters, my theories changed. In the end, I was half-right. But the mystery and suspense of it kept me awake until well after 3am. I don’t scare easily (I LOVE horror and scary things!), but at one point, I was actually super creeped out. And I don’t think I could have gone to sleep even if I’d tried! Plus, I was so desperate to discover what what happening, there was no way I could put the book down until I was finished.

Overall, this was a really intriguing book. It started out slow, but once it picked up speed, it never slowed down. It kept me hooked with twists and turns, kept me guessing and theorizing, until the very last page. Like I said, 311 pages in 7 hours… *Nods.* So I definitely recommend this one, especially if you like creepy/scary and books with supernatural elements. If you go into this book thinking it’s a straight-up contemporary, you may be disappointed. But give it a shot – try to push past the first 50 pages and give it a chance! I’m very excited to see what this author does next!

PS: The only thing I could have done without – seriously!!!! – was the detailed sound description of a one-year-old throwing up. I actually had to put this book down for a bit because it made me feel physically sick. Scenes in books and movies with people throwing up make me gag and feel like I’M gonna throw up – I blame it on the fact that I got Strep 3-4 times a year from the time I was 18-months-old until I was 10-years-old and, without fail, I threw up each time I was sick. So even though I know that NO ONE likes to throw up, it’s particularly triggering for me. So yeah. Just a little pet peeve of mine! *Shudders*


Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland StoneEvery Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 16, 2015
Pages: 368
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

The second I heard about Every Last Word, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. I’ve never read a book where the main character has OCD and it seemed unique, intriguing and – for me – a bit personal. I’m not ready to share why yet, but I found I was able to relate to Sam a LOT. To a certain extent, I felt like I was reading my own story. And reading this book made me feel less alone.

Sam was such a relatable character. Even without the OCD, who doesn’t feel like one person during summer and another during fall? Or like one person with one group of friends and another with a different group of friends? We’ve all had those moments. I know I have! So even if you don’t have OCD, you can still relate to Sam and a lot of the things she goes through.

And man, does she go through a lot of things. She has this huge, epic journey she goes through and the amount of growth she experiences from beginning to end is incredible. We see a whole new side of Sam every few chapters and it’s amazing to see her come out of her shell and be bold and brave. Whether she’s dealing with her OCD, trying to make new friends or learning to stand up to her old ones, she’s making progress and finding her voice. She’s brave and I adore her. She’s definitely one of my Top Favorite YA MC’s ever.

“Telling someone with OCD to stop obsessing about something is like telling someone who’s having an asthma attack to just breathe normally.” -Sam

Caroline was an amazing character and friend to Sam. She was exactly what Sam needed and she showed up when Sam needed her the most. She helped Sam step out of the shadows and become the person she was meant to be. She was the sympathetic ear, the shoulder to cry on, the confidence booster, the encouragement in the face of something terrifying – I could keep going here! Really, she was everything Sam needed and everything she wanted to be. She introduced Sam to Poet’s Corner, something that changed her life. And then the twist at the end… HOLY CRAP! Completely mind blown!!!!!! Like.. I almost stopped reading and started the book over again because I was so shocked and thrown and confused and WHOA!

“What you see… It isn’t me.” – Sam

And then there’s AJ! I absolutely adored AJ and I seriously shipped him and Sam! I loved the slow and steady progression of their friendship and relationship. It was so realistic and a breath of fresh air from all the insta-love – which I actually don’t mind (if it’s done right), but it’s still nice to see! I loved the way AJ evolved and the way he dealt with his problems. He was a very direct person and often said what he was thinking without holding back. I loved the way he was there for Sam, even after he found out the truth.

I really loved the members of Poet’s Corner – Sydney, Emily, Abigail, Chelsea, Jessica and Cameron (and of course Sam, AJ and Caroline). They were all awesome and unique in their own ways. Outside of Poet’s Corner, you might not even expect any of them to be friends. But Poet’s Corner was like their safe haven and they all opened up and became like a little family. It made me wish my high school had something like that when I was attending – it would have been nice to belong to a group that had my back.

I especially liked Sydney. She seemed like someone I could relate to, like someone I would have been friends with if I’d known her in school. Emily seemed really sweet, too. Despite all the stress she had at home, she was still a good friend and always there for the members of Poet’s Corner. Abigail’s poem (entitled “As If”) really moved me, as well.

On the opposite side of things, I really couldn’t stand the Eights – Alexis, Kaitlyn, Olivia and Hailee. I especially couldn’t stand Alexis and Kaitlyn and my dislike intensified during certain scenes. They were all just so sobby and superficial. Sam was good at hiding her OCD and I’m not saying they should have guessed what was wrong, but if they were true friends, they should have at least noticed that she was unhappy or upset, that something was bothering her. But it was always about them. When she was upset or doing things on her own, they’d accuse her of abandoning them and being selfish. Like, really? Great friends *Rolls eyes.* Alexis sort of redeemed herself in the end.. And Hailee wasn’t nearly as bad as any of them were at any given point in the book, plus she redeemed herself in the end for the few times she WAS just as bad as the others.

The ending of this book threw me into a complete tail-spin. I was mind-blown, shocked and fully prepared to re-read it immediately! The twist was huge and absolutely unexpected, but completely epic and insane. My feels were shattered multiple times and I just.. I just can’t. I can’t recommend this book enough. Whether you have OCD and need someone to relate to or don’t have OCD and just feel alone and like you’re hiding who you truly are from your friends – this book is a MUST read that I’ll never stop pushing on people.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell from my insanely fangirly review, this book was amazing. It was my first Tamara Ireland Stone book and I can assure you, it won’t be my last. I think this is one book I need to make sure I collect multiple copies of because I’ll for sure be re-reading it over and over! As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, it’s not easy to talk about myself or share personal things. But this book really hit close to home and I needed it. I needed to feel less alone and this book really helped me with that. So, Tamara: thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for writing this wonderful, amazing book!


Review: MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: MARY: The Summoning by Hillary MonahanMARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Series: Bloody Mary #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 2, 2014
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

When I first saw this book at BEA, I snatched it up so fast, I nearly toppled the whole pile of books. I’ve always been fascinated – and totally creeped out – by the Bloody Mary myth. I remember trying it when I was younger. I stood in front of the mirror, said the words… and officially freaked myself out. Of course, it didn’t work. But I was ten and terrified to turn my back to the mirror while I walked out of the bathroom. I had to walk out backwards… Anyway, while this book definitely had a couple of creeptastic moments, it fell short of my hyped-up expectations.

I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Which, for me, is a major point against a book, since I’m very character-focused when I read. I felt like the characters were very stereotypical and cliche. There was the mean girl leader who gets her way because everyone is afraid to say no; the fat girl with zero confidence; and the peacekeeper. The guys were very cliche, too: the jock who wasn’t very smart and the jock who was big and beefy.

Shauna kind of grew on me as the book went on, but not by much. She kind of reminded me of the girl in horror movies who runs up the stairs instead of out the door. In the beginning, she didn’t do much to help herself – she was scared and made poor choices. All the girls made poor choices, to be honest. They had the crap scared out of them the first time, yet were stupid enough to do it again. Shauna got better in the end, but all she did, essentially, was get back at Jess, not fully save herself.

Jess was insane. We find out part of the reason behind her fascination with Mary at the end, but not why she’s so obsessed and crazy about it. Or whose side she’s actually on. Did she mean for those things to happen? Did she do it on purpose? Supposedly this is only the first book in a series, so I guess we’ll find out more in book two.

Kitty was the fat girl with no self-esteem and I’m kind of tired of that stereotype in books. All that does is make girls like her feel worse about themselves. She did have some amazing moments where she was really brave and stepped in to fight by Shauna’s side when the others wouldn’t. She also suffered the greatest loss and I felt very bad for her. Anna had no personality. She was only good for two things, one of which was fighting with Jess and the other, I can’t say because of spoilers.

Like I said, though, there were some pretty creepy parts in this book. The first night I read it (I finished it in about two days), I actually had trouble falling asleep and kept looking back at the mirror behind my door. I even jumped quickly into bed so nothing could grab my ankles! So if you’re looking for a book that has that creep-factor to it, then you should definitely give this book a shot.

Overall, despite my issues with the book, I still recommend it. If you love horror movies and horror stories, if you’re fascinated by the Bloody Mary myth, or even if you just want a creepy Halloween read, this book is for you. I still think the author has a lot of potential and I think she’s going to do great things. Though I’m uncertain if I’ll continue this series, I’m keeping an open mind and I’d be eager to see what happens next, especially after the way this book ended.


Review: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Stitching Snow by R.C. LewisStitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 14, 2014
Pages: 338
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Stitching Snow was an epic Snow White retelling that will satisfy fans of Marissa Meyer. The world is intriguing, Essie was a kick-butt character who refused to sit on the sidelines and the Snow White parallels were really interesting and so fun to spot. R.C. Lewis is an amazing writer. The story just came alive for me and I was completely absorbed in it until the very last page.

I really loved Essie. She was strong, independent and smart – qualities I love seeing in a main character. From the very first page, it was established that she was not some maiden in distress who needed rescuing. That’s definitely a far cry from the fairy tale this story is based on. I guessed her “secret” early on in the story, too. It was pretty obvious, but I still loved the reveal. Essie had to grow up a lot along the way. She matured, accepted her past and embraced her future. Basically, she was just a very strong character, in my opinion, and she became stronger as the story unfolded.

My feelings towards Dane went back and forth several times. I loved him in the beginning, then I hated him, then I _______ him. It’s tough to talk about without spoilers, honestly. But I will say that I loved him and Essie and I loved his character development from the beginning to the end. He has such a tragic back-story and I feel so bad for him. But in the end, his story really feels complete and I’m happy with how everything ended for him.

I looooved the Seven Drones (a.k.a the Seven Dwarfes!). This was such a fun, creative way to incorporate the original fairy tale into a sci-fi retelling. I loved it, loved it, loved it! Fans of Marissa Meyer who adore Iko will adore Dimwit, who was by far my favorite of the seven.

The “evil queen” character was beyond evil. I mean, she gives the queen from Snow White a run for her money! The things she did and tried to do.. But believe me, she gets what’s coming to her in the end! As does the king. Again, I wish I could be less vague than that, but this book is a spoiler minefield and I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone!

I loved, loved, loved Kip! Right from the beginning, he became one of my favorite characters. As we learned more about him, his backstory and some of the explanations he gave for his actions, I liked him even more. He was like a father-figure to Essie. At times, he was a bodyguard and at times he was a friend. But he was always there for her, one of the few people I always trusted.

There were a LOT of secondary characters in this book. I admired Lewis’ ability to make us care for characters that we didn’t really have a lot of time to get to know. Some note-worthy characters are Petey, all Seven Drones (though, as mentioned, Dimwit stood out for many reasons), Laisa and Theo. Some of them had wonderful happy ending, others had.. Well, not-so-happy endings. But they are/were all wonderful characters that I loved reading about and, in some cases, would have liked to read about more and get to know better.

I think my only complaint with this book is that there were a few sections that dragged a bit – but very few. And there were a couple minor plot points left dangling – again, very few. Otherwise, this was an amazing, amazing book and I can’t say anything bad about it.

I believe Stitching Snow is going to be a stand-alone. And if so, I absolutely loved the ending. It was the perfect combination of realistic ending (tragedy mixed with triumph) and happily ever after. I was very satisfied with how it ended and where all the characters were at the end. The last 20 pages or so were insane, epic and my absolute favorite part of the book. I truly can’t wait to see what R.C. Lewis comes up with next – I’m definitely hoping for another fairy tale/sci-fi retelling!

If you couldn’t tell from my gushing review, I definitely recommend this book! And I highly, highly recommend it to fans of Marissa Meyer.


Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la CruzThe Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
Series: The Ring and the Crown #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 1, 2014
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys' magic, Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen's Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she's always dreamed of--the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only one rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one.

The Ring and the Crown was one of the most amazing books I have read in a long time. Before I picked it up, I was in a reading slump that began after I finished an incredible, heart-breaking book in early March. I only managed to read four books in March because of this reading slump and I feared it would never end. The Ring and the Crown completey blew me away and ended my reading slump.

This book was a perfect blend of historical fiction and fantasy. There was court intrigue, a season in London, beautiful ball gowns, romance and courting. But there was also magic. Though the historical fiction side of things was enough to pull me in (I love books set in this time period), the magic added something extra that really grabbed me and refused to let go.

There were a lot of characters introduced throughout the book, but they had such distinct voices, I never really felt confused as to who was who. My absolute favorite character was Ronan. Just two pages in to her story, and there was something about her that intrigued me. She was the outsider, the outcast American. She wasn’t always likable – she could be vain, shallow and a little bit snobby – but she was always relatable. She definitely experienced some growth and maturity from beginning to end, though I was really upset with how certain things turned out for her. I wanted her to have her happily ever after and, in some ways, she did still get it. She was smart and resilient and never backed down, no matter how many times she was pushed.

Another favorite of mine was Aelwyn. She was fascinating, willing to give up so many things so her friend could be free. The magic, the darkness within her, the conflict she felt, all added to her character and personality. And the twist at the end? Wow. I definitely would have liked to see her more in the story – Not that she wasn’t a prominent character, but I would have liked to learn more about her background and see more of her and her powers.

I wasn’t crazy about Isabelle at all. She did nothing for me, though I did feel bad for her and the way her story ended. And though the story centered on Marie, I found her to be boring and selfish in the beginning. I definitely feel that Marie had the most character growth of all the characters, though. As I said, she started off so selfish princess in the beginning and by the end, she was a selfless queen, accepting her destiny and her heritage.

I loved, loved, LOVED Wolf. So much! I could just sit here and fangirl over him because he was that awesome and swoon-worthy. I loved all the scenes with him and Ronan on the Saturnia. It reminded me of Jack and Rose in Titanic. It was just amazing and epic and.. Did I say amazing?

There are so many characters worthy of a mention, I could go on forever. But real quick, here are some characters worthy of an honorable mention: Gill was kind and his heart was in the right place, but his attitude at the end was selfish. I never trusted Leo, and with good reason! Louise… Oh, I can’t even… *Sniffles*. Archie and Perry were adorable and hilarious. Eleanor and Emrys creeped me out.

There were so many twists and turns in the end, I feel like I have whiplash! One twist after another, one shocking reveal after another. So many things I never saw coming! Not everyone got their Happily Ever After and I definitely had hoped for some different outcomes. But overall, though The Ring and the Crown didn’t end how I hoped it would, it was the perfect ending for this book and for the characters. Any other ending would have felt forced.

Melissa de la Cruz is amazing. I loved her Blue Bloods series and her Witches of East End series. With The Ring and the Crown, de la Cruz stepped up her game and wrote an incredible story that, I think, will touch many people. I HIGHLY recommend it!


Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

I received this book for free from a blogger in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 10, 2013
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: a blogger
Buy on Amazon

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.


A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

These Broken Stars was an epic tale of survival and romance. It was described as “Titanic in Space.” Disney Hyperion called it “A little bit Titanic, a little bit Lost, a little bit Battlestar Galactica.” And though I haven’t watched much of Lost or BG, I can definitely tell you – from what I do know – that those descriptions are all perfect and right on the money.

I loved Lilac and Tarver. Lilac definitely had her bratty moments, but she had such an amazing story-arc and she grew, matured and changed so much, you couldn’t help but like her. It got to a point where I just rolled my eyes and let it roll off my back – Being bratty was just her defense mechanism. I’d love to say she outgrew it, but she never really does, though – again – she matures a lot.

Tarver is almost always in survival mode. He is the practical one and sometimes that got frustrating, especially when he didn’t believe Lilac during certain scenes when certain things happened. I mean, it was realistic but very, very frustrating!

I really appreciated the fact that this didn’t feel like insta-love or “love at first sight.” They’re relationship had a slow build-up to it. They needed each other to survive, which forced them together more quickly than they would have liked (in my opinion), but they still didn’t fall madly in love for some time. I loved the banter between them. There were definitely some laugh-out-loud moments. And then, about 35% into the book, there’s this moment between them and you can absolutely feel the shift in their relationship.

There were DEFINITELY some creep-tastic moments that made me go “What’s going on?? I NEED TO KNOW!!!” This was the most tempted I’ve ever been to peak at the ending of a book. I was so curious! I had my suspicions – some of them were wrong and several were right. It was incredibly intriguing, trying to figure it out before it happened and I was relieved it wasn’t completely predictable, and still had me on the edge of my seat. Even with the moments when I was right, I was still shocked when the truth was “revealed.”

And, holy crap! There were definitely some HUGE shocking moments in there. Like… I was pretty much screaming at the book, demanding to know what had just happened a few times! I mean, if you follow me on Goodreads, you know. But if not, this was me:

Picture 2

Yep. I was just… mind-blown!

Throughout the book, we hear from Lilac about how controlling and manipulative her father is. Near the middle/end, we REALLY see just how.. evil (for lack of a better word) he is. But, one of my favorite parts of this book? Lilac stood up to him and gave him a piece of her mind. Loved it!

I had a few minor issues with this book, which is why it got a 4 instead of a 5. I won’t go into those reasons in this review, just because they were really minor and might have just been me and my state of mind. But overall, I loved it and found it to be original and enjoyable. I can’t wait for book two in this epic trilogy.