Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

Kiss of the Royal
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Paperback, 400 pages, Entangled Teen
Genres: YA, Fantasy

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.

My Review

A fantasy book about magical kisses? Sounds like a cliché Sleeping Beauty, right? WRONG. Okay, yes, there is some cheese to this book, but boy was it good cheese.

I went into this one expecting a light, quick-paced YA fantasy read, and that’s 100% what I got. Ivy is a Royal, which means she has a magical kiss. Okay, so at first I was very put off by the kissing aspect. I think I forgot between reading the synopsis and requesting this book for review on NetGalley that power smooching was a thing. However, after I got used to the idea, I picked the ebook back up, and I was hooked.

Ivy meets Zach, an unconventional Royal and wants to partner with him so they can be the most powerful couple in the world. Mwahaha. No, I’m kidding. Ivy just wants to save her people from the Evil Queen and her evil creatures. Honestly, Ivy and Zach’s dynamic was so entertaining. I loved it. Zach is kind of a dreamy goofball/bad boy combined. It was sad, though, that some of their romantic tension fizzled out a little towards the end of the book. But that’s how most YA romances go as they progress.

As for the plot of the story, it was fun. Various dwarves, griffins, and mythical creatures that typically aren’t depicted as evil and menacing was a cool concept. The only I problem I saw with the plot was how a certain character’s introduction and mysterious secrets were rather predictable, but even then, I couldn’t guess the major details.

All in all, if you’re looking for a book to give you a rest between all those giant fantasy sequels like Reaper at the Gates, War Storm, etc., Kiss of the Royal is probably perfect for you. It’s easy-to-swallow fantasy that has a swoon-worthy love interest and a unique, if awkward, magic system.


*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review via NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

June Wrap-Up and July TBR

Well, the first half of the year is officially over and we are now in the midst of summer. I can’t believe we’re only six full months away from 2019. Craziness.

But, anywho, it’s time for June’s wrap-up. June was a really good book month, so I’m excited to share all the things I read, bought, and got over the past thirty days.

Books Read and Reviewed in June



War Storm: 4 stars
Buffy Season 9 Volume 3: no rating
Kiss of the Royal: 4 stars (review will be up July 2)
And I Darken: 4 stars
Buffy Season 9 Volume 4: no rating
Now I Rise: review to come
Crooked Kingdom: review to come
Exquisite Captive: reread, no rating

Like with last month, I’m surprised by how much I read. Not only that, but I read things I’ve been wanting to get off my TBR for oh-so-very-long. Such as Crooked Kingdom and the reread of Exquisite Captive. I’m actually excited now to pick up some of my backlist TBR books, so I think I’m going to hold off on the amount of book-buying I’ve been doing lately. Although, most of the books I acquire tend to come to me freely, so I’ll still be adding to that giant TBR stack. Ugh.

Books Bought in June


I only bought six books this month. Three of which were special circumstances and one of which is not getting to me until August. Boo. Warcross and Smoke in the Sun were purchased during the Penguin Teen signing I attended, and Royals during BookCon. I bought Allied randomly during my lunch hour when I went to visit The Strand. It was only $9. I also got an ebook of Running With Lions, and I preordered Maas’s Catwoman book, the UK edition, from the Book Depository. Unfortunately, Book Depo already charged me for it, even though I won’t be getting the actual book until August.

Books I Received for Free in June


There were so many free books this month. Some were from BookCon, some were from work, and one was from my roommate’s work. Basically, my TBR pile is a giant catastrophe right now.

Book Budget Status for June

Warcross & Smoke in the Sun: $39.28
Royals (at BookCon): $19.59
Catwoman UK ed. (preorder): $15.89
Running With Lions (ebook): $3.50
Allied: $9.80

So I said earlier this year that any BookCon purchases would not count towards my book budget status. That means Royals is not being added to this grand total. However, all of the rest of these books equal to $68.47. Unfortunately, I overspent last month, which meant my normal $75/month budget went down to $68 for the month of June. This means I went over the budget by a whopping $0.47.

Now, I can only spend $74 and some change during the month of July. I’m hoping, though, that I don’t buy any books except two I’ve been planning to get: the UK editions of Now I Rise and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White. I want to read some of the books I own before I buy more. We’ll see if I stick to the no-buying issue. I don’t really think I will, but I’m not enforcing the ban. As long as I’m below $74 when July is over, I can’t complain too much.

June Events Attended

The beginning of June was a very busy time.


First, was the June 1st Penguin Teen signing where I met Renee Ahdieh and Marie Lu for the first time.


Then, there was BookCon on July 2nd and 3rd. That was craziness in and of itself.


And the last, non-book-related event actually happened towards the very end of the month. I finally saw The Incredibles II. I should have a movie review up for this one sometime soon.

Currently Obsessed With

Well, I’ve finally moved on from my Buffy phase, even though I would still like to read the comics. I’m just not devouring fanfiction like I was, nor am I re-watching the episodes. I’m also dying down a little on the Game of Thrones fanfiction and video-watching. It’s still there, but the urge isn’t as strong as it was during the month of May and beginning of June.

Right now, I’m super obsessed with two things: Jason Todd and Animal Kingdom season three. For Jason Todd, I’ve been reading fanfiction. For Animal Kingdom, I’ve been obsessively thinking about the current season and wishing all of the episodes were out already so I can know what’s going to happen.


Oh, and big news! The Titans TV show, which I guess is supposed to release sometime this fall on a DC app/subscription service thing, let the actor who plays Dick/Robin share a photo. And HOLY COW does he look amazing! And apparently, Jason Todd is going to be in the show! I’m so freakin’ excited! This brings me to my next “Currently Obsessed With.” I’ve been catching up on Supergirl and Flash since their latest seasons are now available on Netflix. I’m also dipping into the Black Lightning show. Maybe I’ll start the latest season of Legends of Tomorrow just to round it all out. (Just in case anyone asks, I stopped watching Arrow a long time ago.)

Currently Reading/July TBR


As of today, I’m currently trying to finish The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine. It just started to pick up around page 120, so I’m thinking I should be able to finish it this weekend. I also started Wild Hunger by Chloe Neil, since it’s a review copy I received from NetGalley. During the month of July, I’d like to read Blood Passage and Freedom’s Slave, and I know I’m going to read Bright We Burn. Other than those, I’m hoping to keep my TBR pretty open.

July Events

There’s only one event I know of that I’ll be “attending” in July.


That’s right. I’m 75% certain that I’ll go see Ant-Man and the Wasp. However, I think I’m just going to see this one by myself, simply because it’s not a movie that’s worth the hassle of trying to find someone to go with me. I just want to get in and get out and not make a big deal of it. Does that make sense?

So yeah, other than that movie, I’m doing zilch. My roommates will be going to San Diego Comic Con, but I’m too cheap for such endeavors. I’m actually pretty excited to have the apartment to myself for a few days, though.

***

Okay, well, that’s the month of June, plus some July sneak peeks, all wrapped up into one post. Do you have a wrap-up post for this month? If so, share in the comments!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Stacking the Shelves: The Lots of Books Edition

 "Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

So, it’s actually been a really good book week. I finished three books, and, as you’ll see in this post, I acquired way more than I’ll be able to read in the entire month of July. But that’s the life of a book hoarder.

As for my life in general, I’m in kind of a slump. A life slump. Not a book slump. I’m reading all the things. I’m actually pretty proud of not only the amount of books I’ve read this month, but with the titles I’ve read this month as well. I’ll talk about that more in my wrap up (which should go up on Sunday, but no promises). Basically, I just don’t want to do anything but watch Netflix and read. I feel like a giant blob. I don’t even feel like going to the gym or blogging. That’s why I didn’t post anything this past Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

I’m hoping that, with a few days of rest, I’ll want to get back in the groove of things, but, only time will tell.

Oh, I also found out that my office has/had bed bugs. Apparently a couple were spotted on my floor, and no one thought to email the second floor that the critters were there. The building managerial people brought in people to take care of it before I knew it had happened, but I’m so paranoid and grossed out right now. Ick.

But, happier news, I’m going to see The Incredibles II on Friday (I’m writing this post Thursday night). I’m also going to the dentist on Friday, so that kind of balances out the fun. Boo…

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Allied by Amy Tintera
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
City of Lies by Sam Hawke

So Vicious and City of Lies were books I asked a work friend to send me. So, thanks work friend! The Love Interest was part of my office’s Pride month book giveaway. They gave away different LGBTQ+ books, and this is the one I grabbed. As for Allied, I bought it at The Strand for $9. Its purchase made me go over my budget by like forty cents.

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
The Queen Underneath by Stacey Filak
The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas
Caraval & Legendary by Stephanie Garber (ARCs)

So the first four listed were all on my work’s Take Shelves. I was so excited to see some new hardcover books there. Caraval and Legendary were in a recycling bin full of ARCs, so I nabbed them, since I don’t have copies and everyone tells me I should read Caraval.

Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Blood Passage by Heather Demetrios

What?! Blood Passage, the library edition, is on another one of my Stacking the Shelves. How surprising! Not. But this time, I’m actually going to read it. I checked it out of the library again because I’m actually almost done re-reading Exquisite Captive, and I wanted to dive right in to book two without forgetting any major details. As for Now I Rise, I finished And I Darken earlier this month and LOVED IT! I couldn’t wait to buy my own copy of Now I Rise in July (because my book budget balance was too low to get it in June), so I just borrowed it from the library. Expect to see purchased copies of Now I Rise and Bright We Burn in a future book haul.

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the pic.


I think this shot captures 95% of what the show is about: the boys in flannel with dopey, confused looks on their faces. Gotta love it.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2018 Edition

Well, it’s almost July. Another year of good books, and even not-so-good books, has halfway passed us by. Thus, I thought it fitting to do a tag that I’ve seen popping around across the online book world: the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. This tag was created years ago, by who, I have no idea. But basically, it’s all about discussing your reading history for the first six months of the year. And I’m ready to dish all about my 2018 reads.

***

1. BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2018

This is a tough one, so I’m going to pick two that I rated the same at 4.5 stars. (I haven’t given any book 5 stars yet.)


Sky in the Deep and Rebel of the Sands are two books set in totally different worlds, but they both have similar themes of female kicka$$ery and swoony boys. It’s no wonder I liked them both. ;)

2. BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2018

This one was hard. I have mixed relationship with sequels since sometimes the sequels just aren’t as captivating as the first book. That’s even true of the book I chose for this questions—Alwyn Hamilton’s Traitor to the Throne.

3. NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO

Easy answer: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown. However, I’m debating on whether or not I should hold off until all three books are out. That’s how I read the Red Rising trilogy.

4. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

The one I’ve been foaming at the mouth to get early with no success is Sara Raasch’s These Rebel Waves. After that, I guess it would be Sarah J. Maas’s Kingdom of Ash, so I can finally be done with that series.

5. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

If we’re going with series-enders, I’d choose either Victoria Aveyard’s War Storm or Alwyn Hamilton’s Hero at the Fall. Both books were alright, but they weren’t what I was hoping for. For series-starters, though, The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout was just not at all what I wanted.

6. BIGGEST SURPRISE


This was a recent read, but Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga was a super light and easy-to-read fantasy book.

7. FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR

She’s just new to me, since I only picked her series up this year, but Alwyn Hamilton is the only name that came to mind.

8. NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

Fiske from Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deep. He’s an a$$hole, but I couldn’t help but fall for him in the end.

9. NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER


I just finished Now I Rise last night, so I have to go with Radu from Kiersten White’s And I Darken trilogy. He’s just such a cinnamon roll. I feel so sorry for the poor boy.

10. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I teared up a little towards the end of Taran Matharu’s The Battlemage, but no major waterworks so far this year.

11. BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

Rachel Hawkins’s Royals is the light-hearted contemporary that I didn’t know I needed until I read it. It also got me out of a pretty big reading slump.

12. FAVORITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION YOU SAW THIS YEAR

I haven’t actually seen a book-to-film adaptation so far this year. Does Avengers: Infinity War count? If so, that was awesome!

13. FAVORITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR

It might sound weird, but my review of Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian was one that I thought really hard about. That book had so many mixed feelings for me, so it’s a review I like to go back and re-read every once in a while.

14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE RECEIVED SO FAR THIS YEAR


I bought myself a copy of Ash Princess because I love the cover. It’s a gorgeous book.

15. WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR

Such a long list. Here’s five of them to keep it short.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Blood Passage and Freedom’s Slave by Heather Demetrios
This Shattered World and Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

***

Alright, there you have it. My Mid-Year Book Freak Out answers. What would your answers to these questions be? Let me know in the comments section.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Young Adult 2019 Cover Reveals

It’s only been a week since my last cover reveal post, and I already have more for you. I guess it’s just that time of year.

Only a Breath Apart
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Hardcover, 368 pages, Tor Teen
Genres: YA, Contemporary

Are our destinies written in stone? Do we become nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophesies of other people's opinions? Or can we dare to become who we believe we were born to be?

Jesse Jameson is in line to inherit the land that's been in his family for generations--there's just one catch: to prove his maturity, he has to win the approval of his former best friend, Scarlett Copeland, and her father. But when Jesse finds out that Scarlett's father is abusing her, he must decide what truly matters most: his family's land or helping the girl he's fallen in love with.

My Thoughts

So contemporary covers are usually pretty boring, simply because they’re either normal people posing or large fonts on a plain background. However, every once in a while, I get a contemporary cover reveal that I very much enjoy. And this is one of them. I like the soft pink and white color scheme in combination with the green grass. It’s a subtle cover. The models also look very great together.

***

Circle of Shadows
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Hardcover, 400 pages, Balzer + Bray
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

My Thoughts

I like some aspects of this cover, but not others. The blue colors are nice, and the font is cool. The armored knights also look very intriguing. I don’t care for the castle though. It’s just too much. Also, I’m unsure about the white cloud thing. But otherwise, it’s a perfectly acceptable cover.

***

The Blood Spell
(Ravenspire #4)
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Hardcover, 400 pages, Balzer + Bray
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling

Blue de la Cour has her life planned: hide the magic in her blood and continue trying to turn metal into gold so she can help her city’s homeless. But when her father is murdered and a cruel but powerful woman claims custody of Blue and her property, one wrong move could expose her—and doom her once and for all. The only one who can help? The boy she’s loathed since childhood: Prince Kellan.

Kellan Renard, crown prince of Balavata, is walking a thin line between political success and devastating violence. Newly returned from boarding school, he must find a bride among the kingdom’s head families and announce his betrothal—but escalating tension among the families makes the search nearly impossible. He’s surprised to discover that the one person who makes him feel like he can breathe is Blue, the girl who once ruined all his best adventures.

When mysterious forces lead to disappearances throughout Balavata, Blue and Kellan must work together to find the truth. What they discover will lead them to the darkest reaches of the kingdom, and to the most painful moments of their pasts. When romance is forbidden and evil is rising, can Blue save those she loves, even if it costs her everything?

My Thoughts

This is another cover that I have mixed feelings for. While I like the background (I can’t tell if that’s glass or snow, but it’s pretty), I’m on the fence about the font and pumpkin. The title font should be carved into the pumpkin like the apple for the first book’s cover, instead of just laid on top of it. I’m also not big on the red font. Oh, and I was hoping the cover would be a different color than the previous three books, since The Wish Granter was already blue—a dark blue, but still.

***

The Queen’s Resistance
(The Queen’s Rising #2)
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Hardcover, 432 pages, HarperTeen
Genres: YA, Fantasy

At long last, Brienna is a mistress of knowledge and is beginning to settle into her role as the daughter of Davin MacQuinn, a disgraced lord who returned to Maevana to reclaim his house. Though she’d just survived a revolution, one that will finally return a queen to the throne, she faces yet another challenge: proving herself trustworthy to the MacQuinns. But as Queen Isolde Kavanagh’s closest confidant, she’ll have to balance serving her father’s house as well as her country. And then there’s Cartier, a wholly separate but desirable factor in her new life.

Aodhan Morgane, formerly known as Cartier √Čvariste, is adjusting to the stark contrast between his pre-rebellion life in Valenia as a master of knowledge and his current one as the lord of a fallen house. During the castle’s restoration, he discovers a young boy named Tomas, whose past and parentage are a complete mystery. So when Cartier’s former pupil Brienna is as taken with Tomas as he is, he lets his mind wander — what if he doesn’t have to raise him or his house alone?

As the Lannon trial swiftly approaches, Brienna and Cartier must put their love aside and stay focused on the most vital task at hand — forging alliances, executing justice and ensuring that no man, woman or child halts the queen’s coronation. But resistance is rumbling in the old regime’s supporters, who are desperate to find a weakness in the rebels’ forces. And what makes one more vulnerable than deep-seated love?

In this follow-up to The Queen’s Rising, Rebecca Ross weaves political intrigue, complicated relationships and love to create a story that readers won’t be able to put down.

My Thoughts

I like this cover. One, it matches the first book, and two, it’s orange. I don’t know why, but I’ve become kind of obsessed with YA fantasy covers that are orange. It’s just so rare to see them. Most YA fantasy covers are black, gray, red, or blue. But anywho, I still haven’t read the first book, so I’m unsure of the symbolism behind the marks in the corners, or even who the characters are in the circle. Doesn’t matter, though, ‘cause it’s orange.

***

Through the White Wood
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Hardcover, 384 pages, HarperTeen
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Katya’s power to freeze anything she touches has made her an outcast in her isolated village. And when she loses control of her ability, accidentally killing several villagers, she is banished to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev.

At the castle, though, she is surprised to find that Sasha is just like her—with his own strange talent, the ability to summon fire. Instead of punishment, Sasha offers Katya friendship, and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it.

But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies have organized their own army of people who can control the very earth. Bent on taking over the entire world, they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed everything.

Katya and Sasha are desperate to stop the encroaching army, and together their powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, leaving destruction in their wake, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will they lose everything they hold dear?

My Thoughts

I’m so over the crows/birds on covers trend. Please publishers, save me from this ugly trend. I don’t understand why it’s a thing. Ugh. Thankfully, this bird is at least white and a pretty eagle, or maybe it’s a hawk? Can’t really tell. I like the color scheme of this cover, but the overall design is inhibited thanks to the avian creature on it.

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Those are some recently revealed covers. What do you think? Do you like them?