Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich

I recently participated in a blog tour for this book and it was such a great experience! I loved the experience of live-tweeting and hosting a giveaway, and it’s something I want to continue to do!

But now, it is time for my own review of this book!

36572385Synopsis (Goodreads): You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.

Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.

As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.

Review: I think the premise for this book was great. However, I think it failed in execution.

As soon as I started reading this book, I felt out of sorts. This novel throws you right into the action … but with very little background. It almost felt like I was reading the second book in a series, and not the first. I kept waiting for there to be an explanation or some kind of recounting of events to explain how things got to be to the present time in the book, but it didn’t really happen. The few things that were explained were glossed over, which was disappointing. I love reading about the world authors create, but this novel really didn’t do that. No context = tons of confusion!

The novel looks like it is going to be full of action … and while there is some of that, it is mostly about the bond between Ember and Solanine. I actually liked the way the author told this. As an older sister, I could really connect with the sisters in this story and how they struggled to trust each other. The emotional interactions between the siblings was done quite well. However, apart from their bond, I didn’t really feel like the sisters had any well-developed interactions with any of the other characters in the book. Told in alternating perspectives, we read about how each sister learns to forgive themselves and move on from their guilt through the help of various other characters. But it was all so one-dimensional; I never got a feel for the other characters and the interactions were just too rushed for them to have any significance or value.

One of the characters that completely baffled me was Nightshade, who is part of the resistance (and no, this resistance is also not really explained). For someone who is supposed to be a leader, she didn’t do much of it. Nor did she have any plans. She did nothing and was swayed by her own emotions. I think this issue could have been resolved if the author had built the character better and had a more concrete backstory that was explained.

There are a lot of instances of self-harm and abuse in this novel, which may bother some readers. At first, I appreciated the author mentioning these things in the story, as it highlights how easy it is to get into destructive behaviour patterns. However, it became too frequent of an occurrence, and began to feel like the author was including these instances just for the sake of having something to write about.

Before the halfway point of the book, not much was happening. It was very focused on the sisters trying to communicate. After the halfway point, the plot started to move fairly quickly. But the lack of explanation about the way this dystopian world was set up meant I had a lot of questions and very few answers. There was a lot of redundancy in the action events themselves, with characters getting caught, then escaping, then getting caught again. It just got boring very quickly.

Overall, I think that the concept behind this novel was good but the execution was lacking. There needed to be a lot more world-building and explanations for how things work. Characters also needed to be more developed. There needs to be the right balance between theme/plot and setting/world-building, and this novel did not have that. However, since I liked the sisterly bond aspect, I’m bumping my rating up to a 2/5 stars.

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~


Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

If you didn’t already know, I’m obsessed with anything related to Every Heart A Doorway. It was the first book I read by Seanan McGuire, and it blew my mind. Every chance I get to jump back into that whimsical and twisted world, I take it. I’ve been anxiously anticipating this book, and it was such a great read! Here’s my review:

27366528Summary (Goodreads): Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Review: I’m aware that this is a very short summary of the book … but really, if any more detail was given, then the story would be ruined. Let me begin by saying that I highly recommend you to read Every Heart A Doorway before reading this one; while it may be marketed as a standalone, there are too many references and details to the original book for that to work. Reading Every Heart A Doorway will really give you a glimpse into the whimsical mayhem that is this world – or rather, worlds.

If you’ve read the other books that are part of this series, then you will most likely enjoy this one. It features a diverse group of characters, all from different worlds that come together to help Rini, a stranger who literally fell into their lives. I love all of the characters in this book; they are vibrant, and unique, and beautifully created. There is nothing I love more than good characters – and these ones are great! I enjoyed reading about the ways they interacted, how they learned to respect the differences that made each person unique, and how much they embraced their own uniqueness. Not only are the characters diverse because of their experiences in their different “worlds”, they have diverse ethnic background, gender identities, and abilities. I love that this book focused on body image and identity, highlighting the difficulties and assumptions that come with these issues as well as ways in which to feel positive about these issues. It’s important for an author to talk about real-life issues and the way that Seanan McGuire does it is phenomenal; underneath all the whimsical magic of the story lies important messages that everyone needs to hear.

I also love the setting. It is gorgeous and magical and open to every possible thing you can imagine. This book series is amazing because of the beautiful way the author describes everything – and I’m not going to say any more on this because I want you to experience it for yourselves!

The great thing about this book is that it is really short, but leaves plenty of avenues to explore and discover. I love the sense of adventure in this book and how things make no sense and yet are still logical. It was perfect and I cannot wait to see what else the author has in store for this series!

I really cannot rave more about this book. I love this series so much because it is so out of the norm. I have no idea how the author comes up with these crazy ideas … but I hope it never stops! I love that these books have deeper meanings and themes underneath the surface and features a diverse host of characters. For all those reasons, I’m giving this 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

There have been so many fantasy novels that have been coming out recently that I’m struggling to decide where to start! I’ve seen so many Instagram posts about this book, and it has such a beautiful cover that I had to select this one! Here is my review:

Summary (Goodreads): When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern King35098412dom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Review: This was an interesting book, but definitely more on the generic side of this genre.

What I loved the most about this book was the world-building. The descriptions of the setting was gorgeous and I loved that the author took the time to develop an interesting talent system. I wish there had been more emphasis on Maevan culture, as I was curious to juxtapose Maevana with Valenia; the differences that were mentioned sounded more like personality traits rather than actual cultural variations. I wanted to learn more about magic in Maevana, especially since that is kind of what makes a fantasy story, well, fantasy!

I didn’t love Brienna’s character too much because she didn’t really have much of a personality. On the plus side, she wasn’t stupid; she could put together clues and formulate plans. But I can’t really say if there was anything more to her.

I really liked the first half of the story, when Brienna was in school with her friends and trying to get scouted for her talent. It was the only semi-unique thing about the story. However, the rest of the novel was a bit … boring. Nothing really happens for the longest time. She just travels, and then waits around to meet other people, and then continues to do ordinary-ish stuff until it’s time for the real action to take place. At least if there had been more instances of magic or understanding of the Maevan culture, I wouldn’t have been as bored. But there wasn’t.

The ending of this novel was really simplistic. Everything was over and resolved far too quickly for me to be satisfied. It was just blah for me, which was disappointing since it was the scene I was most excited to read. It just didn’t work.

Lastly, I didn’t like the romance in this book. This is a personal pet peeve I have: I don’t like relationships between students and teachers. It feels weird and wrong to me, and I just can’t find it within myself to think of it as sweet or cute. Maybe others won’t be as bothered, but I certainly was!

Overall, this was an okay novel. It had some beautiful descriptions, but the story was generic, the characters didn’t have as much personality as I would have liked, and the ending was just too easy. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~


Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich [BLOG TOUR +GIVEAWAY+]

I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour! It’s my very first time and it has been such a fun experience, live-tweeting and working with the amazing host Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch!


Book Information:

Title: Crimson Ash
Author: Haley Sulich
Publisher: Write Plan
Publication date: 10 May 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Synopsis: You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.
Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.
After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year- old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé. Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.
As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.


A soon-to-be City of Graven resident appears in the middle of the room and frantically whips her head around in the dark. It’s common for people to panic. They aren’t gifted with night-vision eyes like us because they weren’t created in a laboratory. In case any of them decide to attack a soldier, we have the advantage of sight.

Once all the future civilians pack into the room with the soldiers, the Commander enters the coordinates for the City of Graven into a keypad. The moment she finishes, an electric current begins to charge the air. Sweat drips into the scrape on my cheek where a bullet grazed my face.

Not a muscle of mine twitches.

Seconds pass before the familiar flash of light and feeling of nothingness wraps around my body while we travel. Then I land on the flat roof of a building.

The new City of Graven residents turn in a circle. Their hands tremble and mouths gape open with an emotion I fail to understand. Mountains—invisible to their mundane vision in the dark—cut jagged lines into the horizon. Skyscrapers rise higher than the one we stand on. The glo-wood trees below lie evenly spaced where streets once were, and they bathe every glass structure in a pale luminescence.

This is the last city on Earth that gleams at night. Everything else died when the Devil’s Dream wiped out most of the human race. Nobody could locate the origin of the virus because it spread too quickly, taking down the strongest and even remotest civilizations. That’s why soldiers search the Earth for survivors. But this fragile society can’t function if people refuse to participate, which is why we give the Choice.

As we wait silently, the clanging of metal emanates from the nearby stairwell. A man in his late thirties appears from below. Mordecai Graven greets his new citizens while soldiers descend the stairs to the individual Alters lining the walls.

I follow the group and step in front of an Alter. Type the code to my cell.


Pushing my palm against the Alter, I feel the faint current racing through my fingers toward my chest. A flash of light. Floating.

Then I arrive in my ten-by-ten foot room. Three concrete walls and a thick sheet of glass surround me. My night vision stains everything blue.

Soldiers live in the dark.

I shed my black gear and dump it into the laundry chute before grabbing a pair of fresh clothes from the concrete shelf. Without my armoured gloves covering my hands, my heavily scarred fingers are a stark contrast to the dark clothing.

Entering the bathroom, I clean my dagger before placing my hands in the dink. Only one temperature of water ever sputters from the faucet. Boiling liquid flows over my fingers as I rinse away the dried blood. My skin blisters and turns raw.

Soldiers don’t feel pain.

Translucent liquid from the automatic curative cream dispenser on the wall begins to repair the damaged nerve cells of my hands and the wound from the bullet graze. The skin scars over, speeding up a process that should take weeks. I touch my hand to the unbroken skin on my cheek.

It’s no longer a bleeding gash.

After taking a quick shower in thirty-three-degree water—just above the freezing point to make us immune to temperature differences—I dress and lie on my bare mattress, staring at the labyrinth of cracks on the ceiling.

Links To The Book

Goodreads – ash
Amazon —
Barnes & Noble — haley-
IndieBound —

Click here to enter the giveaway for a signed physical ARC of Crimson Ash!

Be sure to check out all of the other blogs participating in this book tour!


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Ignite by Tracy Lawson – The Resistance #3

I received this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and I received no incentives. 

I’ve been continuing this series through audio books and it’s been a really great experience. I love the narrative style and the way all of the voices are changed to suit the different characters. It took me longer to get through this book compared to the other novels in this series, but that in no way means this was less interesting. If anything, I think this is my favourite book in the series. Here’s why:

30356956Summary (Goodreads): Nationwide food shortages have sparked civil unrest, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s hold on the people is slipping. The Resistance’s efforts to hasten the OCSD’s demise have resulted in disaster, with Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher taking the blame for the ill-fated mission in OP-439.

Both teens struggle to survive the circumstances that force them into the national spotlight—and this time, they’re on opposite sides. On the run and exiled from the Resistance members in BG-098, Tommy makes his way to a Resistance safe house in the capital.

The OCSD is preparing to monitor all under-eighteens with the Cerberean Link, a device that protects them against hunger and sickness and can even locate them if they’re lost. Tommy’s now living in close quarters with Atari, an operative who’s been assigned to sabotage the Link. But does Atari plan to use it for his own purposes?

Through it all, Tommy refuses to believe Careen’s loyalties have shifted away from the Resistance, and he’s willing to assume any risk to reconnect with her. Will they be able to trust each other when it matters most?

 Review: Apart from the first book that started me on this journey, this has got to be my next favourite book in this series. I was surprised that this series was not a trilogy, but after reading this book, I have to admit that this was a good decision; there is just too much to this story for it to be condensed into a trilogy.

I loved that the author didn’t shy away from describing brutality and torture, despite this being a YA novel. Many times, authors leave it up to the imagination, but not with this book! It made everything seem so much more real and horrifying, and I felt so much more invested in the story. Again, the author portrays things in such a realistic way that it scares me; the events in this book could easily become reality!

I was also really happy to see that the characters became more developed in this novel. There were still instances of insta-love but there were more struggles. The protagonists really grew up, and the interactions between all of the other characters were also more complex. The story has gotten to a point where the reader now has to question who can be trusted – and I love it!

The plot became more divided in this book as the characters took on different roles and responsibilities within the Resistance. Everything was well-developed and the crossing-over of the different story lines was done really well, keeping things compact.

Overall, this novel was really well done. I loved the depth of the interactions and the complexity of the plot and characters. This was the strongest book so far in the series, and I can’t wait to see how the adventure continues! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill

One thing I need to learn to stop doing is jumping at a book because it has a gorgeous cover. Take, for instance, Ever the Hunted. Look at this cover and tell me it isn’t pretty:


I saw this cover and immediately wanted to read it. It promised to be an interesting story. It was not.

Summary (Goodreads): Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Review: Everything you expect to find in a stereotypical YA fantasy novel is in this book. And that’s why it didn’t work for me. I like to see variation, something unique … and there was none of that.

In the beginning, the story showed some promise. There was a bit of excitement as the story started off with a bang. I could sense the desperation of Britta as she found herself in a dangerous situation.

But this excitement didn’t last too long.

I quickly grew tired of Britta’s character. For one thing, she repeats the same thing over and over again. Another thing is that she is seriously not smart. I hate when the author makes the main character unable to figure out even the most basic clues. Strong and intelligent protagonists are not a bad thing! In any case, Britta was unable to put anything together. She also seems incapable of thinking about anything other than romance because every other sentence was about how she had feelings for Cohen and whether he reciprocated. I mean, considering the seriousness of her situation, this may not have been the perfect time to wonder if he liked you.

And then came the special snowflake effect. Britta is a special snowflake. So, not only is she unintelligent and ridiculously infatuated, she is also special. And that’s supposed to make the readers connect with her.

I also thought the romance angle was nothing great. I know I’m someone who generally doesn’t like romance, but the last few books that I’ve read in the fantasy genre have had great romances. This book was not one of them. It was generic, featuring your stereotypical hot guy friend who the protagonist has a crush on. It didn’t do anything for me.

But the other major problem with this book is that there was barely any world-building. There is a war between two countries. But there is no detail into how this came to be, what the conflict is about, the political climate and the differences. The world in this novel was described with the bare minimum needed for the story to move along. And this is such a shame because fantasy novels really need to have great world-building for the story to shine.

Needless to say, I was not impressed with Ever the Hunted. It didn’t give me anything new and it was disappointing to see all of this potential go to waste. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~



The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco – The Bone Witch #2

When I first read The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, I absolutely adored it. I love that it reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha – but with a fantasy twist! I was excited to see where the author would go with the second book, considering that The Bone Witch ended on a cliffhanger … so here is my review:


Summary (Goodreads): No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

Review: Considering that it had been a while since I had read the first book, I struggled a bit to recall the different elements of the story and the connections between the different characters. But once I refreshed my memory, I was able to really enjoy the story.

This novel was a lot more action-packed than the first book, which would please a lot of people who had struggled with the slower pace of The Bone Witch. I liked that the story expanded beyond the Memoirs of a Geisha flow because it allowed me to connect with the characters in a different way than before and let me see them in action. However, there was a downside to the faster pace: I had gotten used to the detail-oriented storytelling from the first book, and having a faster pace meant that there wasn’t as much detail or world-building. With The Bone Witch, I fell in love with the world that was created. And while I fell in love with the plot and character in this novel, I still wanted more descriptions of this gorgeous universe that the story was taking place in.

Not only was the pace faster, the plot was also really engaging. I loved the action, and the fighting and the way the different characters had to work together to resolve the problems at hand. I also loved all of the romances that took place, which is a rare compliment to hear from me! My favourite parts of the story were the excerpts from the Bard’s perspectives because they showed the present situation, whereas the rest of the story told episodes from the past (but in present tense), and they allowed the reader to see Tea, the heroine, as a complex person struggling with the battle between good and evil. At times, the Bard’s passages were confusing, but it all came together beautifully to tell an intriguing and exciting story.

Overall, I think I quite enjoyed this book almost as much as The Bone Witch. It had a beautiful cover, and an exciting story with a great cast of characters. I’m glad I stuck with this series and that the sequel lived up to my expectations. I cannot wait to read the conclusion to this trilogy as I’m sure it is going to be just as fantastic as this book! I’m giving this a 4.5/5 stars!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I have been so excited for this book! Ever since I saw the cover reveal for it, it has taken everything I have to wait patiently for the book to be released. Now, I finally got the chance to read the book! Here is my review:

Fell in love with this beautiful cover ~

Synopsis (Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Review: I have conflicting thoughts regarding this book. While I finished it in just a few days, this wasn’t a perfect story for me with an equal portion of things I liked and didn’t like.

First of all, I absolutely loved the premise. It was so dark and it played perfectly with my love of dark faerie tales.

But this story took a LONG time to get going. The story begins with Alice telling us how she and her mother, Ella, have never had a stable home because they’ve been running away from this bad luck that keeps following them. When Alice’s mother gets kidnapped, Alice is determined to find her. While this is a very noble endeavour, I was bored out of my mind. There were all of these creepy hints about the Hinterland, but nothing really full blown for the longest time. It got to a point where I was ready to pull my hair out if Alice mentioned one more time about how she and her mother were always on the run. The journey she took here was far too long and could have been shortened to make the plot more interesting.

Of course, a long journey means that Alice has to have a trusty sidekick – and in this case, it is Ellery Finch. I know a lot of readers of this book love Ellery, but I did not. I couldn’t connect with him because he just seemed too forced in his behaviour and I didn’t feel like I ever got to know him. Maybe this was because the reader’s view of Ellery is coloured by Alice’s perception of him (since the story is told entirely from her perspective) but he just didn’t live up to my expectations of the sidekick.

And while I’m speaking about characters, I also didn’t like Alice for a large part of the story. All she does is get angry over nothing and complain. Oh, and judge Ellery for being rich, even though his wealth is what is aiding them in their search for Alice’s mother. Eventually, this anger issue gets resolved but it took way too long and was really not that necessary.

I know it sounds like everything I have to say is negative. But there were some things I really liked about this story.

There were moments when we got to actually hear some of the fairy tales from the Hinterland. That was hands-down the best part of the book; I love reading dark fairy tales and the author definitely delivered. I only wish there had been more of these stories scattered throughout the story because it would have made it all so much more interesting.

When Alice actually gets to the Hinterland, I found myself enjoying the story a lot more. There was some really cool world-building, and you really needed to focus in order to figure out what exactly was going on. The story started to get whimsical and creepy, and it was what I had been hoping for from the beginning.

By the time the novel ended, I was feeling quite happy …. but I don’t know if it was necessarily enough to negate my feelings from the beginning of the book.

Overall, I think that this was a novel with a very interesting premise. I liked the dark fairy tales and the creepiness of it all. I do think that this novel ran a bit too long, especially in the beginning and it would have been more enjoyable for readers if that had been cut down. I’m going to give this a 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3 …. but I am curious to see if there will be a sequel to this novel, and would be interested in reading more by this author.

Happy reading ~


Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

The cover of this book was absolutely gorgeous and, combined with the intriguing premise, made it impossible for me to not pick this book up. Necromancers, zombie-like monsters…. what more could I ask for? I grabbed a copy from Indigo and set to reading.


Synopsis (Goodreads): Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

Review: My love affair with this book ended as quickly as it started. While the premise was interesting, the actual execution failed to impress me.

This story seemed like it would be fast-paced, full of action as Odessa tries to figure out what is going on with all of these Shade attacks. Instead, it is about Odessa battling her grief after she loses someone she loves. Now, I have no problem with her feeling grief. But the story doesn’t set itself up well for this scenario. For one thing, we don’t ever really feel the strong romantic connection between Odessa and her partner; it’s just something we have to assume is strong. There wasn’t enough time given to develop this relationship – and then he dies. The other problem with the grief scenario is that Odessa becomes addicted to potions in order to deal with the pain. With that, my hopes of a strong heroine were dashed. Given the reputation she has (according to what the book tells us), shouldn’t she be out there trying to avenge him? Why is she succumbing to addiction? My initial thoughts were that this addiction angle might serve a different purpose later on. It does not. It could have been cut out. And the worst part about it was that this took up almost 50% of the story. That’s right, 50% of the story is us reading about Odessa’s self-pity and gloom. All this for a relationship that wasn’t even fostered deeply in the book.

Not only did Odessa turn to addiction during her time of grief, she also used this time to throw herself into the arms of her best friend. Her need for physical comfort was a little … well, I didn’t like it. I would prefer if she had been a stronger character, or at least relied on her friends in a platonic way. But she chose not to do that.

Moving on from the huge grief aspect, I also thought it was completely bizarre that so many people were willing to throw themselves at Odessa. I couldn’t see the appeal. Was it her charm – or lack thereof? Was it some history that they had had previously, which the author had failed to mention? I just found myself perplexed by a lot of the character interactions, and really wished that the author had spent some time giving them more of a backstory so I could follow along. This lack of a backstory and lack of strong world-building really affected my ability to enjoy the story. There were random details thrown in that took me aback because there was no reference to it before that point, and suddenly, it became important. I like my stories to make sense and flow, and this novel didn’t do that all the time.

I also found that the actual fighting scenes were a bit dull. When the main character is a necromancer, I expect a lot more scary things to happen, and there just wasn’t enough action to keep me engaged. All the action scenes were over quite quickly and left me filling disappointed, like that scene in Breaking Dawn where Alice showed what could have happened if there was a war … but nothing actually happened (Twilight reference for the win!!!).

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this novel. It had the potential to be dynamic and crazy. While it maintained a fast pace, it didn’t have sensible character interactions and really lacked strong backstories and world-building, which would have made this a more engrossing read. Also, Odessa is a very needy character who can’t stop falling for other people while grieving for someone who was supposedly the love of her life. It was just too much. I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars, rounded to 2.

Happy reading ~

Resist by Tracy Lawson – Resistance #2

Thank you to the author for providing me with an audio copy of this book. My opinions are my own.

After really enjoying my experience with an audio book, I was happy to continue with this series in the same format. In my review of Counteract by Tracy Lawson, I mentioned that this was a very well-written YA dystopian fiction. While the premise itself is one I’ve read about before, the way the story unfolded and the writing style really sold it for me. I was excited to see how I would find the second book in this series … here are my thoughts:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Knowledge comes with a price.

Tommy and Careen are no longer naive teenagers who believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s miracle antidote can protect them from a terrorist’s chemical weapons. After accidentally discovering the antidote’s real purpose—to control citizens’ thoughts and actions–they join the Resistance to fight back.

They soon realize that being part of the Resistance brings with it a whole new set of challenges. Not everyone working for change proves trustworthy, and plans to spark a revolution go awry, with grave consequences. Tommy and Careen’s differing viewpoints threaten to drive a wedge between them, and their budding relationship is tested as their destinies move toward an inevitable confrontation with the forces that terrorize the nation.

Where does love fit in when you’re trying to overthrow the government?

Review: Did I love this as much as I enjoyed Counteract? No. But that doesn’t mean this book was bad in any way.

I liked that this novel jumped right into the events that occurred right after Counteract ended. It was a smooth transition, and in the next few chapters, the author provided enough information to fill in the gaps to jog your memory. I would still recommend, however, that people read the first book in the series before reading this one; it will allow for better connection with the characters and their motives.

This novel, while generally fast-paced, did have its slow moments. These were probably because the story mainly took place at Resistance headquarters. This meant that there was less doing and more talking going on. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it did mean that there was less action than in the first book of the series. However, the benefit of this approach is that we got to see Careen’s character grow up and mature. She is no longer ignorant, and takes a much larger role and responsibility as a member of the Resistance. Having all of the central characters in one location also meant that there were more emotional interactions, and these were done quite well. I especially liked how Tommy struggled to understand his feelings, as it gave him more dimension. Once again, the author gave each character their moment to shine, which was awesome because we got to see how everyone was contributing – or worsening – the situation. Rebellions are a team effort! This also helped me connect with other characters that I didn’t necessarily think were important – but then they were.

The one main issue that I had with this novel was that it had the stereotypical love triangle issue. While there was a setup for it in the first book, I was hoping that it wouldn’t be carried out in the way that it did. But it happened. I think that it was one of those things that really didn’t add to the story, and I generally don’t like reading about teen angst so it didn’t work for me.

At times, the chapters had an abrupt ending. I feel like one more sentence that acted as a zinger would have been the perfect way to close it off and keep the writing tight. However, this didn’t really detract from the quality of the story.

The story ended on a cliffhanger, which means I am now going to binge listen to the next book in the series! I’m giving Resist a solid 3/5 stars!

Happy reading ~