There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.
Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
I have to start this review off by sending a thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest (and very late) review. I’m glad to have gotten this one, even if it was approved only days before the release date because I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get around to buying it. Now that I’ve already read (and loved!) it, I’m planning to go buy my own copy this weekend.
The Guinevere Deception is a retelling of the myth of King Arthur and Camelot, but with a more feminist focus. We follow Guinevere instead of Arthur. I know little to nothing about the original mythology (which I will talk about a bit later in the review), so for me, this was a fun and fantastical read with characters I vaguely knew of.
I loved Guinevere. She’s sent to Camelot to protect Arthur from something, but Merlin hasn’t told her what that something is. She has magic, which has been banned from Camelot. So she must keep her magic a secret. Of course, she doesn’t. But the few she entrusts her secret to are characters I really like. Guinevere is determined not to let Arthur down and even might fancy him a bit. But though she is his Queen, it is not real. Honestly, I was rooting for a little more romance between Arthur and Guinevere. I totally ship them and didn’t particularly care for the almost love triangle that was going on for a bit.
I loved all of the supporting characters too. Guinevere’s lady’s maid, Brangien. She was more than just a maid and I really liked that. She supported Guinevere and helped her with everything she was supposed to already know. Also, Brangien’s love interest and how Guinevere helps them see one another melted my little heart.
Now, the patchwork knight was my favorite. The mystery of their identity and whether or not they were involved in nefarious things was excellent. And I was more than pleased when we do finally figure out who the patchwork knight was.
I even liked Arthur, even though he wasn’t really center stage in this book. I’m hoping we get more of him with Guinevere in the next book because I totally want these two to love each other forever and ever.
I thought the writing was beautiful and the characters were loveable. So when I went to mark this book finished on goodreads I was more than surprised to see that it has almost a 3.5-star average. I think that has to do with how well-loved the original myth of King Arthur is. As I said above, I’m not overly familiar with it, so I wouldn’t know one way or the other how close it stayed to the original or didn’t. Many of the reviews I read that spoke negatively of this book were readers that pointed out they love the original mythology. But that wasn’t something that was a factor for me.
So, maybe don’t pick this one up if you’re a huge fan of the story of King Arthur, but if you’re like me and vaguely know it. You might love this one like I did.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.
During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.
Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.
Twice in a Blue Moon is a novel that I was generously provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I always expect that I’m going to like Christina Lauren’s books more than I do. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this one, because did. I just didn’t love it.
I really enjoyed the first half of Tate’s story when she was young. I felt like this was a good way for the reader to get to know her. I liked that we saw her younger and then flashing forward to her present. I think we got to know less about Tate in the second half, aside from her issues with her father.
I also really liked Sam. But he felt kind of generic. I feel this way about most of the characters. They have like one or two personal details, unless they’re Tate or her family.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was quick and fun to read, but didn’t blow me away.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
Survive the year.
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
The Grace Year was recommended to me by Alana @ The Bookish Chick. She and I are always sharing book recommendations back and forth. She absolutely loved this one, so I thought I would too. While I did really enjoy this book, there were a few things I didn’t love.
I really liked the concept of the story. A girl living in a society that treats her more like an object than a person. Women have a role and they are not to stray from that role. If they do, they may potentially be burned alive, hanged, or something else equally horrifying. It honestly made me so angry. But I think that means the author was successful with her writing. She really provoked some emotions from me.
I was fascinated by the mystery of the grace year. (Also, I’d like to know exactly how many times that phrase appeared in the book.) No one talks about the grace year, despite everyone over a certain age having gone through it. Then it’s time for Tierney and the others her age to go for their grace year. The idea is that they go away and expel all of their ‘womanly magic’ so that when they return it’s time to settle down and give their husbands children.
Things got a little wild from here. All of the facts behind the grace year were actually pretty fucked up. I think the author did so well with the drama and suspense during the time the girls are on their grace year. I was confused and dying to know what was actually going on. But I was also infuriated at the actions of some of the girls. I don’t often wish characters would die, but I texted Alana several times (in all capitals) wishing death on one particular character. The characters had such interesting personalities and they were pretty well developed. There were reasons why they acted the way they did.
Let’s talk about the romance. I didn’t like it at first, but then I loved it. Two people from completely different worlds, coming together? Who doesn’t love that? I hated how it ended though. That’s all I’ll say about that. The author did our love interest dirty and I don’t appreciate it, but I understand why it was needed for the way the story ended.
The final thing I didn’t like was parts of the ending. I went into this story thinking that Tierney was going to fuck some shit up and change everything about the way her people live. But she didn’t do this. She has the chance to spill everything about the grace year, to get the truth out there. But she doesn’t. She just keeps it between herself and the other girls of her grace year. She takes her role as wife and eventually mother. This really just annoyed me because what the hell was the point of the whole story if she wasn’t going to fix her horrifying society?
Despite this, I ended up liking the ending. She finds a nice partnership with her husband and I appreciated that. She also learns some things about a side mystery that’s been going on and I really loved that part.
Overall, this book was a wild ride. I loved the characters. I loved more of the story. I really enjoyed all the ideas and conversations explored in this story. The writing was compelling and I just couldn’t get enough. I actually stayed up until almost 3am so I could finish this book in one sitting.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
Some legends never die…
Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.
Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.
Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.
The Lady Rogue was a fun and spooky read. I enjoyed all the different elements that made this story what it was. There’s magic and murder and mystery and I had fun with it. I really liked the characters and the romance.
Our main character, Theo, was fiery and fierce. She loved without abandon, even when she was feeling betrayed. I liked her obsession with crossword puzzles and her ability to translate ciphers. She’s clever and stubborn. She’s also wary of getting hurt, and it was interesting to watch her work through that.
Then there’s, Huck. I somehow loved him and hated him at the same time. I think that was because of Theo’s feelings. I liked that they had a history that took place before the events of this book. Huck’s just a little misunderstood and I’m a sucker for a boy with issues. I liked that Huck was such a contrast to Theo. Wildly skeptical to Theo’s desire to believe in the supernatural. I loved his fierce desire to protect Theo.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The characters were likable. The story was compelling and interesting. The only thing that was off to me was some of the characters dialogue. This is supposed to be a historical fantasy novel, but the characters use quite a bit of modern slang. This was alright, but it took me out of the story a little. Despite that, I still enjoyed the story. It was fun and fast-paced and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone that likes fantasy.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down.
Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.
Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.
Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.
100 Days of Sunlight is a poignant and heartfelt novel by author Abbie Emmons. If you like sweet contemporary romance and strong family themes then you’ll love this touching story of hope, healing, and getting back up when life knocks you down.
I was provided a copy of this book to read via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 100 Days of Sunlight was so sweet and full of sunshine. I really liked this book.
We follow Tessa after she’s been in an accident. She’s lost her eyesight, but it’s likely going to come back in 100 days. She’s angry and sad and seems to be really struggling. She’s a writer and a blogger (I loved this!) and her grandparents put an ad in the newspaper to hire someone to come and help her get back to writing. She rejects everything about this.
Enter Weston. He won’t give up, even when Tessa is kind of horrible to him. He knows how she’s feeling. He lost both of his legs, but Tessa doesn’t know this. I loved hearing his story and how strong he was after losing his legs. His infectious optimism had me grinning. I loved his relationship with Tessa, but he really made me mad toward the end of the book.
I really enjoyed the set-up of this book. There are five parts, each based on the five senses. Weston tries to show Tessa that there is a whole world still out there that she can experience with her other senses until she gets her sight back.
Overall, I loved this. I hope that Abbie Emmons continues writing because I devoured this book. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves some romance alongside a little bit of struggling and life lessons.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
You mustn’t go into the Darkwood, children. Not even to get your ball. Leave it. That ball belongs to the Witches and the Beasties, now. Those wicked Witches. Stealing your ball. Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths. This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths. When her clever inventions prompt the sinister masked Huntsmen who run the country to accuse her of Witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighboring Darkwood, where all the Witches and Monsters dwell. There, she happens upon Buttercup, a Witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of Dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor. These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them. With the Huntsmen on the warpath, Gretel must act fast to help the Witches save both the Darkwood and her home village, while unraveling the rhetoric and lies that have demonized magical beings for far too long.
I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The only reason I requested this book was because Heathur @ Aphrodite Reads raved about it. I sadly, do not share that opinion. When adding this to my ‘currently reading’ shelf on GoodReads, I was very surprised to see that it’s a middle-grade fantasy. I’d only gotten about 10% into it before adding it on GoodReads, but it didn’t seem like a middle-grade story to me.
My first issue with this being middle grade is the language. There were a handful of words that I didn’t know the meaning of and others that I know but younger readers would likely struggle with. If you’re going to write a middle-grade book, you should make sure the intended audience won’t have to look up words every few pages.
The next issue was the writing style. The story jumped all over the place. It was told through the perspective of a bunch of different characters but there wasn’t really any warning when the perspective changed. It would have been different if these changes had been confined to their own chapters. But there were POV changes mid-chapter, more than once.
As for the story itself, I think there was some real potential here. There were a combination of fairytale characters that were a part of this world. The Darkwood also reminded me a bit of The Wood from Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. I was excited to see where the story was going in the first half, but the ending seemed rushed and so many things left as loose ends. I assume there is going to be a sequel, but too many things were left unresolved for my liking.
Overall, I thought this story had a lot of potential, but I didn’t love the execution. Though others have really enjoyed this story, so take my review with a grain of salt.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.
When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…
Jennifer L. Armentrout is an auto-buy author for me. She’s the reason that this blog even exists. So when I found out she was coming out with Storm and Fury I knew I had to have it. I have to send a huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book I exchange for an honest review.
Storm and Fury was everything I wanted. It was exciting and full of action but also swoony with some romance. I just adored everything about it.
The world building was incredible. This is a portal fantasy where these Wardens (basically gargoyles) exist to protect the world from demons. They’re kick-ass and can be pretty scary but I think it’s such a creative idea that I love it.
Enter Trinity. She’s living in a Warden community but she’s not a Warden. She’s also not totally human. Trinity was the best. She was sassy and funny and kick ass. She’s got a degenerative eye condition but doesn’t let that stand in her way of anything. I loved that about her. Despite the struggles in her life she still (mostly) does what she’s supposed too.
I loved Zayne. I read the other series with the Wardens years and years ago so I only vaguely remember it. But I remembered Zayne. Trin and Zayne were fiery and I loved every second of it. Their banter was my favorite part of the story. They were so argumentative and just hilarious.
I was so surprised by the plot in this story. I was blown away by the betrayal at the end. I thought the story was going to go one way and it went the complete opposite. I cannot wait to see where the next book will go. And in the meantime, I’ll be rereading the other series that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of.
Overall, this book was everything I wanted. If you want action, romance, kick-ass gargoyles, and a girl with an eye condition representing how strong she is this is the book for you.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.