Reverie by Ryan La Sala

GoodReads Summary:
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.
As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.
This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.
ReverieReview:
I picked up Reverie because the author will be at the NoVaTeen Book Festival. I’ve seen lots of promotion about this book before its release but never any actual reviews. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed this book.
Reverie was interesting and compelling. I thought it was incredibly unique and I couldn’t get enough. The main character Kane is dealing with memory loss and was honestly rather unlikable. But he grows, and his growth was really well done and I ended up liking him by the end of the story.
The concept of this book is that there are things called ‘reverie’s’ and Kane and his friends have abilities that keep them lucid and also allow them to keep the reveries from getting out of control. The reveries were a little confusing at first, but they were explained a bit better as the book went on. They’re essentially dreams that come from the subconscious. I’m still not totally sure how they come to be or why, but I’m not overly bothered by that.
Overall, this was a super enjoyable book. The writing was beautiful. The characters were interesting. I definitely am excited to meet the author and hear him speak. I will be recommending this one for sure.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

GoodReads Summary:
Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.
In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)Review:
Let’s talk about disappointment friends. So, I flew through this story because Kemmerer is an incredible writer and can draw me into the story even if I don’t particularly care or like what I’m reading. So many books that I’ve read in the last few months have fallen into the trap of one of the sequels (sometimes the second and sometimes the third book) completely undoing the events of the previous book. It seems like Rhen just completely undoes all of the character development that we saw in the first book. He’s cruel and horrible, even after finding out the identity of the heir. I hated him and hated that Harper was staying with him.
The next biggest issue I had was that it really felt like…nothing happened? Like I said above, Kemmerer is an amazing writer, so the story is paced well and I never felt bored, but I finished the book and honestly wondered what the point of the book was being really nothing happened aside from the heir deciding he wanted to be the heir instead of hiding or dying.
Despite these issues, I still enjoyed reading it? I know that doesn’t make any sense. I liked Lia Mara. I liked that she could see what was wrong with her country and how things could be better if only things other than cruelty and viciousness were valued.
Overall, I’ll probably finish the series when the third book comes out, but I won’t have very high expectations.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Spellhacker by M.K. England

GoodReads Review:
In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.
No pressure.
SpellhackerReview:
After reading The Disasters last year, I was very excited about England’s 2020 release. I was even more excited to see that they will be at the NoVaTeen Book Festival.
Spellhacker was diverse and funny. It was full of found family and diverse characters overcoming hardships. I loved every page. The group we follow are friends that are all very different but love one another anyway. They come from different places and manage to make the best found family. That was one of the big differences between this and The Disasters. This friend group had a past and in England’s first book the friends were strangers when they met. I think the backstory of the characters and how they met was well done and believable. Their history wasn’t info-dumpy, rather it was given to us in bits and pieces at the perfect moments.
Diz was an interesting main character. There were times I really didn’t like her. The conflict between the friends somehow was simultaneously silly, but also very understandable. Some of the fights seemed totally blown out of proportion but then we would hear from another character and it didn’t feel that way anymore.
I also loved the magic. It was interesting but there was so many different kinds so I was grateful for the guide of what each one did at the beginning of the book. I would have liked to explore the limits a bit more, but I didn’t think there was anything left unexplained or that didn’t make sense.
Overall, this story was so much fun. The banter was enjoyable. Though there was a certain betrayal I saw coming from a mile away. Part of me was waiting for it the whole time and another part kept doubting the first part would ever happen. I loved the characters and their relationships. The diversity was wonderful and I loved the little romances that came about. This is definitely one that people should be talking about.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch

GoodReads Summary:
As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: he’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again.
Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago.
Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God?
As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts . . . or lose their futures forever.
These Divided Shores (Stream Raiders, #2)Review:
Okay honestly, I’m not even sure where to start with this review. This book was large. And overall, I really enjoyed it. There were a few little things that I didn’t like. The main one being Lu’s attitude. She had a few revelations about her past and they’ve really hit her hard. I can understand being thrown and upset by this for a little while, but she was made miserable the whole book, whiney and lost in herself. I honestly wouldn’t have cared if it had been for like the first half of the book at most. But it wasn’t really resolved.
I loved Ben and Gunnar. Their relationship and its development were 100% the best part of this book. They were two people from such different backgrounds and despite that, wanted to be together. I loved every word of their flirtation and ultimate coupling.
I’m going to keep this short because I took forever to write this review so I don’t have that much to say. I thought the political issues were wrapped up really well and I was very satisfied with how everything ended. I will definitely continue reading the work of this author.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)Review:
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, though they are companion novels and not truly a series. I loved this second book much more than the first. All of the things that made me not totally adore the first book were resolved in this book. I’ll stop being vague and get right into it.
First of all, it’s an enemies to lovers trope which is always a good time for me. Gauri is the princess of her kingdom and Vikram the prince of his. They are at war. When Vikram gets invited to the magical Tournament of Wishes, but is told he must find and bring his partner. The moment he sees Gauri, he knows she is the one he was told about.
I loved Vikram. He seems like he doesn’t take anything seriously, but he does. He just has that positive personality that means he makes jokes at the wrong times and is just generally an upbeat person. I really loved him. I think the contrast of Gauri’s character was so well done. She’s a warrior and all she wants is to be the leader to her people she knows she can be. I really enjoyed both characters accepting their desires and facing their fears.
Their banter had me cackling. I really loved their constant teasing and shots at one another. It was definitely my favorite part of this story. We really got to see their relationship for and develop together as we also got to see them grow individually. This was something I missed in the last book because the characters already had a past together. Also, the timeline wasn’t at all confusing like it was in the first book which I appreciated. I also really loved that we get to see bits and pieces of the previous book. The characters didn’t play a huge part, but we saw them and I enjoyed that.
I loved this world that we were in. The magical and the mythical were well explained and honestly so fascinating. I was completely captivated by this world and all of the characters in it. I adored the romance, especially the ending. I have loved everything I’ve read by this author and I’m not really excited to pick up the first book in her newest series.

Quotes:

“A story had no owner ship. A story could break its bones, grow wings, soar out of reach and dive out of sight in the time it took just to draw breath. It meant we weren’t walking a cut path. We carved it into existence with
every step.”

“It felt silly to say that he couldn’t bear to lose her. He never had her. She was not a thing to be possessed. But her entrance in his life had conjured light. And losing the light of her would plunge him into a darkness he’d never find his way out of.”

“Surviving isn’t just about cutting out your heart and burning every feeling into ash. Sometimes it means taking what ever is thrown at you, beautiful or grotesque, poisonous or blissful, and carving out your life with the pieces you’re given.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Beholder by Anna Bright

GoodReads Summary:
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.
But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.
From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.
The Beholder (The Beholder, #1)Review:
Honestly, I was really hoping this would be a new favorite or at least a four-star read. Sadly, I gave it three stars, but I could have given it two. I really just couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be historical fiction or fantasy and there was potential for a retelling aspect as well. It was just confusing. There were real places used, like England. Then there were “fantasy” elements that were very clearly based on Norse mythology of Asgard and Yggdrasil. Along with the main character being from Potomac, which may or may not be a real place in history but if so, it’s not one I’m familiar with. I just wanted some consistency. It’s one thing to borrow from history or mythology but to borrow from both in one story is too much.
Another thing I had an issue with was the main character, Selah. I listened to this on audio so I don’t know how to spell her title. But she’s the equivalent of a princess without actually being one. She’s next in line to lead her people. But I don’t know how she plans to do that because she is extremely naïve and also a huge pushover. She doesn’t even really object much when her stepmother informs her that she’s being sent away.
Then we get to the journey and Selah shows how much of a thirsty girl she is. She flirts with the ship’s captain. She has weird feelings she isn’t sure how to deal with. Then she gets to England and she “falls in love” with the English guard that is assigned to her. (By the way, I guess the plot twist with this like a day after she got to England.) She finds out some things and she’s embarrassed and “turned into a joke” which was just so ridiculous and overdramatic. I was so annoyed with her because the reasoning for the deception in England was honestly good and she acted like a child. After she arrives in Norge, suddenly she’s in love again. How does a girl fall in love (like deep, serious love) with two people she’s never previously met in the span of a month? It was annoying and very unrealistic. But then things happen and she has to leave the second prince that she’s fallen in love with.
Torn from the man she loves; she must continue on. She knows something is going on with her father and instead of, I don’t know BRINGING HIM A LEGITIMATE DOCTOR, she just continues on the journey she’s been assigned. I don’t know if I’ll continue. I liked the narrator and the book went by fast and I am a little curious as to how this will all come to an end. A lot of things bothered me in this book, but it was still kind of fun.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.
The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)Review:
After reading Roshani’s middle-grade books, I was interested in picking up one of her YA releases. I loved her writing in her other books and short stories that I’ve read so I was excited about this one.
I did really enjoy The Star-Touched Queen, despite the few points that had me wildly confused. I liked our main character, Maya. She was the outcast daughter because of the horoscope she was born with. Most of the others avoided her and blamed bad things on her. Regardless of this, she’s trying to work on skills and learn. She spies on her father’s meetings and keeps up with the local politics. So, she already knows when her father comes to tell her that she must choose a husband. I really liked Maya. She’s swept up into an unfamiliar place and does her best to stay positive and figure out what she’s gotten herself into.
I also really liked Amar. I liked that we didn’t really know what he was hiding either, but that we were given hints to try and figure it out. I wish there had been an easier way for this pair. At first, I thought their relationship was sort of insta-love, but after learning the memories that Maya had lost, I really loved them together.
My biggest complaint about this book was that sometimes I found myself just wildly confused. I felt like the timeline was never very clear and that made bits and pieces of the story really confusing. It got better in the second half of the book.
I love the world and the mythology involved in this story. I really enjoyed all of the mythical beasts that were talked about and introduced. I also really love Kamala.
Finally, Roshani’s writing is absolutely stunning. I could have highlighted half of this book if I had gone into the story intending to annotate. I didn’t, but I love the writing. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and it would have been a five-star read had I not been so confused in the first half of the story.

Quotes:

“I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones. I wanted the impossible, which made it that much easier to push out of my mind.”

“The truth,” said Amar, taking a step closer to me, “is that you look neither lovely nor demure. You look like edges and thunderstorms. And I would not have you any other way.”

“My star-touched queen,” he said softly, as if he was remembering something from long ago. “I would break the world to give you what you want.”

“The worms do not take heed of caste and rank when they feast on our ashes,” the Raja said. “Your subjects will not remember you. They will not remember the shade of your eyes, the colors you favored, or the beauty of your wives. They will only remember your impression upon their hearts and whether you filled them with glee or grief. That is your immortality.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.