House of Salt and Sorrow 💫 Spoiler Free Review

Title: House of Salt and Sorrow
Author: Erin A Craig
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery/Horror
Publication Date: August 6th, 2019
Pages: 416
Publishers: Delacorte
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Firstly, this was the first book I have finished in ages! Not only have I been super busy but I’ve also been in a reading slump. I’m still not out but this book was helpful as it was super gripping! I also haven’t written a review since the end of September. So please bare with me.

Let’s start with the negatives and get those out of the road. I had one main issue with House of Salt and Sorrow which was that certain parts felt a bit rushed. There were parts throughout that felt rushed and were hard to follow. I found myself having to reread sections to really understand what was going on. The ending also felt a bit rushed. There was all this build up and then it ends pretty quickly with not a tonne of problems.. The book still ended fine and it all made sense, but it could have been executed a bit better.

Now for the good stuff! This book is SUPER atmospheric and creepy. I loved the feel and setting of the book however, I would have enjoyed a map just so I could figure out the placement of certain places like Highmoor, the Mausoleum & the lighthouse. I also loved the premise and whole idea of this book. It was very unique and also really well developed, especially considering it is a standalone. This one actually worked really well as a standalone with everything wrapping up in the end. It was also mostly unpredictable. There were a couple little things I guessed but for the most part I was kept on my toes wanting to know what happens next.
The characters were also really well done! All the sisters and step mother were very fleshed out. They all had their own feel and personalities that shown through. It did throw me off a couple times with the triplets. I kept thinking they were younger than they were because of how the other sisters referred to them and how they acted sometimes. Then we would get a reminder that they are actually like 15 or something like that. It just threw me off a couple times. I also really didn’t like Camille. I’m not sure if she was meant to be unlikable but she just rubbed me the wrong way..

So overall, I enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrow but it did have a few issues for me. I’m keen to see what Erin A. Craig comes out with next though! I’ll definitely be grabbing that one if it sounds interesting.
Recommend if you’re a mystery, fantasy & horror fan as this book combines those 3 beautifully.

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Immunity by Erin Bowman 💫 Spoiler Free Review

Title: Immunity
Series: Contagion
Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2019
Pages: 434
Publishers: Harper Teen
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

Survivors of a deadly planetary outbreak take on a new, sinister adversary in the sequel to Contagion.

They thought their nightmare was over, but Thea, Coen, and Nova’s rescue was only the beginning. After being imprisoned on a ship they thought was their ticket to safety, it’s clear that the threat they left behind isn’t as distant as they’d hoped—and this time the entire galaxy is at risk.

Now that threat is about to be unleashed as an act of political warfare. To prevent an interstellar catastrophe, the survivors must harness the evil they faced on the planet Achlys and learn to wield the only weapon they have left: themselves. 

So let’s start with the positives this time as I usually get the negatives out of the road first.

So to begin with there is just something about Erin Bowman’s writing that I find extremely gripping! I just couldn’t put the book down! Contagion I read in 1 day! While it took me a couple days for Immunity, that was more because I’m (hopefully) coming out of a reading slump and I was busy, so didn’t have a day to just dedicate to reading!
Immunity was also fast paced and action packed, just as Contagion was! It was also unpredictable and I think those 3 things are what adds up to the book being very gripping! There is always something going on and there is always the anxious wait to find out what is going to happen next!
I also really enjoyed the POV in Immunity. The multi POV is done very well. Each of the characters have their own unique voice within the writing of their sections. There was also a different POV that was separated from the main 4 which I really enjoyed. I won’t say who because that’s spoilers!

Now for the negatives. Which my main one is the genre! Contagion was a YA Horror with a Sci-Fi setting. It was creepy and atmospheric which just bought the story to life! Immunity on the other hand it just a Sci-Fi. It lost that Horror element which just gave it that push from a good book to a great book in Contagion! So that was disappointing.
Then there was the ending which I just felt was unsatisfying. There was a bit of a big action scene but it felt slightly flat and then it was all over and the happily ever after part was happening. I just feel like there could of been so much more to the conclusion but as it is it just felt too easy!

So overall I still enjoyed Immunity but it definitely didn’t live up to Contagion! If this was a book on it’s own it probably would of worked well but as a conclusion to Contagion it just wasn’t on the right level. I’m super curious to see what Erin Bowman releases next and hopefully they live up to the level of Contagion.

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A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab 💫 Spoiler Free Review

Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Series: Shades of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2016
Pages: 512
Publishers: Tor Books
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

So I may as well get my negative out of the road first and then we can look at the positives. The pacing & not being as action packed as expected was my 2 negatives. This book was fairly slow reading which was impacted by not only the pacing but with the minimal actual fast paced action.

Now as for the things I liked, firstly the word & the world development! The Shades of Magic world is very vivid & fleshed out. V.E. Schwab has a way of describing worlds that just come alive on the page and it’s one of my favourite things about her writing!

Then there was the POV. In this book we follow many POVs which is more than book 1 I believe. It’s been a long time since I read book 1 but I think it was only from 2 POV, I could be wrong though. Anyways, the multi POV in this one was done very well. The characters that we had many chapters from had a distinctive voice to the writing. They felt individual and the characters personality came through. I also just enjoyed that we had so many points of view. It added an interesting twist to the story line that we wouldn’t of gotten with just 1 or 2 POVs.

Next I really enjoyed the plot of this one! I hadn’t read a synopsis going in and I just loved this game/challenge aspect that was introduced. It was very different from book 1 but also had that underlying plot which has continued from book 1 which I enjoyed. Even though it didn’t fell super action packed the story itself was intriguing and I’m super keen to find out where this is all going!

Lastly we have the characters! Much like the world all the characters are very fleshed out and well developed. This was helped with having the multi POV as you get to learn about the characters from their own view point as well as the views of others. My favourite character is definitely Lila. She is just super interesting and stubborn and kinda badass and I love her! I do also of course love Kell but Lila is my fave.

So overall I really enjoyed this one and I’m keen to get to book 3, which I hoping will be a bit more action packed! Now I just need to read it soon rather than waiting a couple years like I did between books 1 & 2!

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Wilder Girls by Rory Power 💫 Spoiler Free Review

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Genre: YA Mystery Horror
Publication Date: July 9th, 2019
Pages: 353
Publishers: Delacorte Press
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

So, firstly this book was just super disappointing for me! I’ve heard a fair amount of hype for this one & I expected to really enjoy this one! A dystopian sounding mystery? I was in! But overall it was just a nope for me in the end.

So for the thing that I did enjoy to start off with. I really enjoyed the setting of this one. It was super creepy & eerie feeling and it had so much potential if the rest of the story had followed through.

So mostly I think it was the writing that overall let this one down. To begin with the writing just felt super flat! I didn’t feel engaged in the story or hooked to it in anyway. Because of that I ended up not really caring what happened or about the characters. As for the characters I just couldn’t connect with them at all. Again they were just flat. It didn’t really feel like they had a personality or individuality that we were meant to connect with. The MC described the other characters & their personalities but it didn’t really follow through to what we actually saw of those characters.

Then there was the kind of romance I guess you could call it. You guys know that I’m not a huge romance fan but in this case I don’t believe it was just my dislike of YA romances that was an issue. The romance was just bad. The romance was just completely pointless and did not anything to the story. It felt forced and like the author was kinda only half going for it. To some degree it felt like the romance was just there to make sure you understood that the 2 girls were not straight.. I love a LGBT feature in a book but it wasn’t necessary to throw this not very thought out and forced romance in there just to prove the sexuality of the two characters. We believed it perfectly fine when the MC mentions it, it didn’t need to be anything more.

Then lastly I just want to talk about the plot. So, the plot was unpredictable but because the writing was so flat the ‘big reveals’ just left me thinking ‘oh, yeah okay’ and not ‘holy shit I didn’t see that coming’. There just wasn’t that anxious excitement of wanting to know what would come next.

So overall there was only one thing I really liked about this book. This one just really disappointed me! It had so much potential between the setting and the overall idea/synopsis of the world/plot but the writing just let it down majorly!

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As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows 💫 Spoiler Free Review

Title: As She Ascends
Series: Fallen Isles
Author: Jodi Meadows
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 11th, 2018
Pages: 550
Publishers: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

Mira, the Hopebearer

Mira Minkoba is on the run with her friends after a fiery escape from the Pit, where she’d been imprisoned for defending the dragons she loves. And she wants answers. Where have all the dragons been taken? Why are powerful noorestones being shipped to the mainland? And did the treaty she’s been defending her whole life truly sell out the Fallen Isles to their enemies?

Mira, the Dragonhearted

As her connection to the dragons—and their power—grows stronger, so does Mira’s fear that she might lose control and hurt someone she loves. But the only way to find the truth is to go home again, to Damina, to face the people who betrayed her and the parents she’s not sure she can trust.

Home, where she must rise above her fears. Or be consumed.

BEFORE SHE IGNITES REVIEW

So firstly, if you have seen my review for Before She Ignites then you may have noticed that I rated it 5 stars. However, I definitely believe that As She Ascends was a lot better than Before She Ignites. I wrote the review for Before She Ignites AGES ago, well before I really figured out my rating system. I’m also more critical now than I was when I reviewed Before She Ignites. Looking back now I would probably only rate Before She Ignites a 4 stars.

So, as I said I enjoyed As She Ascends even more than Before She Ignites! This book is full of unpredictable twists and turns that kept you guessing the entire book! As She Ascends also felt a lot more fast paced than Before She Ignites which made it more engaging and kept you wanting to know what would happen next.

I enjoyed how this series including As She Ascends plays with time & POVs. In this one we get the past from the POV of one of the side characters leading up to the events of Before She Ignites. Which I thought was quite interesting. I enjoyed learning more about them & it helped you develop a better understand on this world & that character.

I also enjoyed that we got even more into the political side of things in this book. I imagine it will be even more prominent in book 3, When She Reigns, which I can’t wait for. It helps develop the world and the background and adds another interest factor.

Also just the development in this book, from the plot to the characters everything to flowed and grew in this book. I love learning about this world which is developing more and more with each book. The character development as well was really well done. We learn more about the characters and see them develop together as a team & as people.

Lastly, from by review of Before She Ignites, I still think this book needs a map! This would be the perfect book for a map displaying all the islands & there placement. There is a fair amount of boat travel in this one and it would be nice to get a better idea of that journey with a map

So overall, there is so many elements in this book that I enjoyed. From the characters, to the world, to the writing. It’s just all done so damn well! I can’t wait to get my hands on Book 3, When She Reigns which I ordered about an hour ago! Hopefully it will arrive soon and I can jump straight in!

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The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman 💫 Spoiler Free Review

Title: The Devouring Gray
Series: The Devouring Gray
Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Genre: YA Diverse Fantasy
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Pages: 368
Publishers: Titan Books
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

This was a bloody amazing debut! This book was an intense & creepy read that I just couldn’t put down! In the beginning this book was a little confusing. You are thrown straight in with no background which usually would irritate me but I think it was done really well. There was enough that left you curious & interested. Then slowly you are given background and this world blossoms around you.

This book was extremely atmospheric! You couldn’t help being engrossed in this world and the setting. It was creepy, vivid and very well developed. The setting & atmosphere of this book was probably my favourite part of the book. The plot and characters were great but the atmosphere is what really made this book for me.

The plot was very unpredictbale! There were plenty of twists and turns which kept me gripped to this story the whole time! I just didn’t want to put it down .

All of the characters were very well developed as well! They all felt fleshed out and realistic. I also really enjoyed the multi POV of this one! Even though there was no direct indication of whose POV you were reading from at the time there was no confusion. Each of the POV felt very individual to the character, with their own personality.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for book 2! Everything was very well developed, from the setting to the characters. The book was gripping and I just couldn’t put it down!

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One Word Kill by Mark Lawerence – Spoiler Free Review

Title: One Word Kill
Series Name: Impossible Times
Author: Mark Lawerence
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy
Publication Date: May 1st, 2019
Pages: 201 (Paperback)
Publishers: 47North
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

So just a little note, I actually read this back in July. I was planning on reading book 2, which I also had from NetGalley soon after & review them together as they are very short books. But here I am in September and I still haven’t read book 2. So I finally decided to review this one. I am basing this review on my memory of a book I read a couple months ago, so it may not be super indepth.

At the time this was the first book I had read by Mark Lawernce and I was not disappointed. The author created this very mysterious but vivid world full of time travel and other odd sci-fi stuff but with the background of the 1980s and blended it all together brilliantly. Everything is in this 200 page book was thought out and very well developed. Of course there was mystery but that’s the whole idea.

Also this super short book kept me hooked from page 1 to page 201! It was full of twists & turns, none of which were predictable. It was gripping and just dragged you into it with full force.

I really enjoyed the strong friendships that Lawerence built in One Word Kill. You felt like you were part of them and it made you care about the characters just as much as they did each other in the story. The characters were very well developed as well which made it easier to connect with them as they felt more real. There was of course a blossoming romance which I didn’t hate. It developed well and didn’t feel overly tropey in any way which is a plus.

I will say that there is a trigger warning for Cancer, however it’s not a major part of the plot, it’s just apart of that characters life and it comes up throughout the book.

Overall, for a book this short it well and truly packs a punch. I recommend picking this one up and I can’t wait to have time to continue the series.

Thank you to NetGalley & 47North for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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