Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

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: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinneyA Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Published by Imprint on September 25, 2018
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice's handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

I honestly don’t even know how to begin this review. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2018 and it was SO GOOD. It exceeded my expectations in every way. I loved the world – this version of Wonderland was original, incredible, dark and creeptastic. I loved the characters – heck, I even loved the villains!!! How does THAT happen?!?!? I loved the writing. And I loved that it had a black heroine because YA books need more strong WOC. I don’t want to talk too much on that, though, because I don’t want to speak outside my lane; instead, I recommend you check out Goodreads, where there are a number of reviews by own voices reviewers.

As for the rest of my review.. Wow. There really are no words, so please ignore my babbling. I’ll start with the characters, since you all know I’m very character driven and the characters in this book were all so amazing.

Alice was strong, fierce, snarky, and sassy. She also cosplayed Sailor Moon, so she’s a girl after my own heart! Like, Alice saying “cosmic moon power” to psych herself up gave me life!

I LOVE The Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat, so whenever I read an Alice in Wonderland retelling, I’m always eager to see how they’ll be represented. I’m not 100% sure who this book’s version of the Cheshire Cat was (maybe Chess?), but Addison Hatta made for an EPIC Mad Hatter. He was described as being a “punk rock Prince Charming.” So, naturally, I swooned. But the thing that really sealed the deal for me? THE REVELATION ABOUT HIS PAST!!!!!!!!!!! I KNEW IT BUT IT WAS STILL A SHOCK AND I TOTALLY LOVED IT!!!!!!!!! I can’t go into further detail without spoilers but SO GOOD OMG!!!!

In my opinion, Maddi was this book’s Caterpillar. I was super intrigued by her, and I’m eager to learn more about her – what she is, who she is, her background – especially after THAT ending. WTH?!?!?!?!

Dee and Dem were clearly Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and THEY WERE DESCRIBED AS BEING TEENAGE VERSIONS OF SPIKE FROM BUFFY, I’M GONNA CRY!!!!!! Like, at one point, Dee said something and it was such a Spike thing to say, I actually saw and heard Spike saying it in my mind, bahaha!! Also, can we talk about the Duchess and the fact that she was basically Anastasia?

I should NOT like the Black Knight. He’s the VILLAIN! But he was so cheeky and hilarious and there’s DEFINITELY something more to him than we’re seeing so far. I want to know who he is, where he comes from, why he’s doing this, who he works for – like, I NEED to know. Now. Please? I NEED TO KNOW!!!

And let’s not forget Xelon and Odabeth and all that adorableness!!!!!!! Also can we talk about the Frubbles and how badly I want one?!?!?!?!?!

I mean, honestly, this book was just perfection, and so were the characters. I LOVED this version of Wonderland. Figment Blades. Nightmares. The Veil. The Looking Glass Pub. I loved that nighttime in Wonderland was so creepy and dangerous – it was very fitting. Also, HER TWO CATS ARE NAMED LEWIS AND CAROL LIKE COME ON HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS BOOK AND THIS WORLD??

The pop culture references gave me life. Obviously there were Alice In Wonderland (duh), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (duh) and Sailor Moon (duh) references. But also, like I said, it had Anastasia references and Harry Potter (!!!!) references.

And then that ending. Wow. Like… Whoa. Like… I don’t think I assumed this would be a stand-alone, but I didn’t think about it in terms of it potentially being a series, either. So now that we have a cliffhanger ending and I know there’s potential for a second book, I’m SERIOUSLY FREAKING OUT!!! Like, I NEED IT, GUYS!! I NEED IT ASAP!!!!

Obviously, if you couldn’t tell from my flailing, fangirly review (seriously, if you couldn’t tell.. are you okay..?), I HIGHLY AND COMPLETELY AND 100% recommend this book to everyone. It was utter perfection and everyone needs to read it. Don’t argue with me, just do it! Now! ASAP!!! Seriously, you won’t be disappointed – especially if you love Alice in Wonderland retellings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sailor Moon.


Review: Freya by Matthew Laurence

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: Freya by Matthew LaurenceFreya by Matthew Laurence
Series: Freya #1
Published by Imprint on March 14, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Freya is myth. She is legend. And she’s about to make one hell of a comeback.

Sara Vanadi is more than she appears to be.

In her prime, she was Freya, the Norse goddess of love, beauty, war, and death. Now all that’s left of her legacy is herself. Her power comes from belief, and for an ancient goddess in the 21st century, true believers are hard to come by.

She’s been lying low for a few decades, when all of a sudden a shadowy corporation extends an offer: join them and receive unlimited strength and believers—or refuse and be destroyed. Sara chooses neither; she flees with the help of a new friend named Nathan.

With a modern power rising that wishes to bend the divine to its will, Sara decides to fight back—but first she needs some new clothes.

When I finished Alex & Eliza and went to pick this up, I fell into a reading slump. I had a lot going on and I was super stressed and just couldn’t focus on reading. I didn’t read for nearly a month! And then a 6 hour flight forced me to read and I FINALLY picked this up and got into it and HOLY CRAP I LOVED IT SO HARD!!!! This was definitely one of my favorite reads of 2017! The cover is gorgeous, the writing is amazing and the characters are epic!

I loved Freya (the character) so much. She has so much personality and spunk! I love that she’s so body positive (“Body-image apocalypse.” Bahaha!) and that she embraces beauty and fashion. She’s hilarious, too. I loved the juxtaposition of her “goddess of love” and “warrior goddess” personas. It’s like she’s at odds with herself, yet she’s two perfect halves that make a fierce whole. As far as heroines go, she’s up there with Feyre, Celaena, Alina and Suze, in my opinion.

Nathan is an interesting character. In the beginning, he was cool, but nothing fantastic. As the story went on, however, I really started liking him. He was so loyal to Freya, despite her insane life and how it put him in danger at every turn. I also loved the role reversal that went on. Usually it’s the human girl running after the vampire boy or whatever, but this time the human boy is running after the goddess. Nice change of pace!

Dionysus is effing hilarious, if not arrogant and cocky. He reminded me of Casanova from Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series. In fact, the entire vibe of this book reminder me of the Cassie Palmer books. So if you were a fan of those, I recommend this book! Following that train of thought, I loved that their “hideout” was at a Disney theme park. It was like a kiddie version of Dante’s!

Another character I liked was Sekhmet. She was cold and calculating, but in an intriguing way. I can’t wait to see more of her in the sequel (Because yes, there’s a sequel and I fangirl about that in the last paragraph, so see below!)

I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology, but lately, I’ve just wanted to read books about ANY and ALL mythologies, so I LOVED being introduced to so many pantheons in this book. There were so many gods and goddesses (Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Hindu, Hawaiian) I’ve never heard of and now want to research and read more about, like Izanami (Izanami-no-Mikoto), a Japanese goddess. She’s Queen of Yomi and mother of the gods. “Once giver of life, now its destroyer,” as described in the book. Now I want to know her full mythology!

The ending of this book was INSANE and EPIC and I’m SO, SO, happy that there’s a sequel, but WHY IS IT NOT COMING OUT UNTIL MARCH 2018, THAT’S TOO LONG A WAIT!!! *SOBS!!!!*

So, yes, I HIGHLY recommend this to fans of mythology and to fans of the Cassandra Palmer books!