In book review dream foolish kingdoms natalia jaster review reviews


Title: Dream
Author: Natalia Jaster
Genre(s):  Romance, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Release: February 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"I want you because you're kind, generous, and playful. 
I want you because when it snows, you say the stars are falling. 
Because you choose joy over bitterness. 
I want you because you choose to believe in things you can't see. 
Because you choose to dream."

Hello guys, it's me, Julia, and I'm back with another review. This is a special one, because this is the conclusion of one of my favorite fantasy series, and also one of the most underrated gems when it comes to books (in my humble opinion!). 

I discovered the Foolish Kingdoms series by Natalia Jaster at the beginning of last year because of some fanart I saw darting around my Tumblr dashboard. I decided to pick it up because as we all know I love me some good romance + fantasy combination. However, this series took me by complete surprise. So much so, that it flew to the top of my favorite fantasy book pile and made me vow to read everything Natalia Jaster has written.

More than a year down the line, I can now say I have absolutely devoured each and every one of Natalia's books, the Foolish Kingdoms books especially. For those of you who have never heard of the Foolish Kingdoms series, let me explain in short what these books are about.

"You're a whisper," he said. "A tender soul. May I call you that?"

What is this book about?
So, the Foolish kingdoms are set in a world where there are four kingdoms; winter, spring, summer and autumn. Every book takes place in a different kingdom (Dream is set in winter as the cover suggests, Dare in Summer, so on) and features characters from different lands. The first book, Trick, introduces Poet, a court jester, and the princess of Autumn, Briar. The books each follow a separate love-story, but include cameos of different characters from previous books in the series. Foolish kingdoms deal heavily with ableism but is set in a fantasy setting, which is unlike anything I have seen in the YA fantasy genre. Now, then, to get specific, Dream, in particular, centers around Nicu, the son of Poet and Briar (yes, the protagonists of Trick!), who is deemed a "fool" for his unconventional way of speaking and thinking as well as his inability to come to terms with the concept of spaces. However, Nicu meets a roguish boy called Lyrik, and the both of them clash. The tropes this book can be categorized under are second chance romance, and a little bit of hate-to-love (which is what Natalia is known for!). 

"If you open your mouth, you can swallow the stars."

What did I think of Dream?
First of all, let me just reiterate that Dream is such a special book to me, (the whole series is, c'mon...), but Dream and Trick in particular are my favorite ones. Poet and Briar are my favorite couple of the series, and the both of them have such a heart-warming relationship with Nicu. From the first book on, I've fallen in love with the three of them, so, to see them return (as a family!) had me overjoyed and in mental shambles.

Now, for the writing of Dream, Natalia has such a unique and whimsical way of writing, which fits within the theme of the books. I think her writing style and word-choice is GORGEOUS. The book is filled with metaphors and Natalia manages to create a beautiful poetic atmosphere. A nice thing to note is the difference in the way both Nicu and Lyrik's POV's are narrated. Whereas Lyrik has a first person narration and is a lot more direct, Nicu speaks in third person and uses very whimsical language. I loved this added touch to the novel, and it highlights the stark difference in character between the two!

To come back to the romance plot in the book. I thought this was amazingly done. I was curious to see how the two of them would work after their debacle in Lie, but I adored them together. Lyrik's rogue exterior but his soft attitude towards Nicu made me so giddy, I love dynamics like that. And, yes, I know I keep saying I love Nicu, but I LOVE NICU SO MUCH. Their relationship had such a supportive nature, so nice to see this happen in a genre like this. 

As a character, Nicu owns my whole heart. I absolutely love this boy. His unique way of talking and thinking was such a unique experience to read. I loved how Natalia gave him an animal sidekick in this book, once again, which added to the fairy-tale like atmosphere of the series. 

Also, I loved the cameos of previous characters in this book. All of the previous protagonists in the series came to say hello and banded together to give the story closure. I loved reading how all of them ended up post-book. I just love them all a lot, okay? 

I love how Natalia handles the theme of disabilities and ableism within her books. When I first read Trick, I felt so overcome with how unique and intricately crafted the story was. For Natalia to keep giving me this feeling book after book is such a feat as an author. Each and every book in this series was a treasure I will keep close to my heart. I love this whole universe and I can't believe it's over now.

Each and every one of these books provided a magical feeling and had me engaged and moved like not many books have done before. All of the characters, Poet, Briar, Jeryn, Flare, Aspen, Aire, Nicu and Lyrik brought their own uniqueness to this large story and I can't wait to see what Natalia writes next. If you haven't read the Foolish Kingdoms series yet, please do so because it truly is such a wholesome experience. This whole series deserves a solid five stars. 

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In 99 percent mine 99% mine arc book review books review sally thorne the hating game

REVIEW: 99 Percent Mine

Title: 99 Percent Mine
Author: Sally Thorne
Genre(s):  Romance, Comedy, Adult, Chick-Lit, Fiction
Release: January 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"I put my hand on the side of his neck and stroke down to the hard bar of his collarbone. 
His skin is hot satin. His pulse nudges me.
Mine, mine, mine. One thousand percent mine until the end of time. He looks like he agrees."

With less than one week to go until this gem releases, I thought I would share my thoughts on here about this funny, quick and romantic read. If I had to pinpoint one particular romance book that I could re-read and re-read over and over (and over) again, it'd be The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. The Hating Game singlehandedly managed to get me out of a 2 year reading-slump in 2016 (it was bad guys!). The release of that book marked when I rekindled my love for reading and fell in love with Sally Thorne's writing. Needless to say, I've been anxiously anticipating The Comfort Zone (The book teased at the end of The Hating Game) for 2 long years. That one, however, was pushed back, and 99 Percent Mine took its place. 

What is this book about?
99 Percent Mine centers around the lively and restless Darcy Barrett. Darcy has been in love with her brother's best friend Tom since he walked into his life because Tom Valeska is The. Perfect. Man. Darcy's life is chaotic. If she's not off traveling the world, she lives in the dump of a house she inherited from her deceased grandma. When it is decided the house has to be fixed-up and sold, she calls in Mr. Perfect Tom Valenta and his company to do the job. What she doesn't realize is that Tom is newly single and doesn't approve of her current (kind-of?) boyfriend. 

What did I think of 99% Mine?
Because The Hating Game is my forever love when it comes to romance books, I didn't want to hold this book to an impossible standard. I went in with a fresh mind and decided to approach it as I would any new romance release to give it a fair review.

The strength of The Hating Game, however, definitely lies in Sally's writing-style (the characters too, of course), which also did not manage to disappoint me when it comes to 99 Percent Mine. This book continues the comedic tone that made The Hating Game so enjoyable. Darcy's POV especially was made all the more relatable due to the comedic undertone in Sally's writing. This made the book a quick and enjoyable read, which is something that I really like. 

I really enjoyed the characters too. I loved how different Darcy was when it comes to romantic protagonists. Darcy's Take-No-Shit attitude sharply contrasted Lucy's, but not in a negative way at all. I admired how strong and refreshing she was, even suffering from a heart-condition. Tom, who, at first glance, seems to be Mr. Perfect, also was incredibly likeable and surprisingly layered. I really liked how imperfect and human he was revealed to be and the ending of the book was very satisfying when it came to his character development, in my opinion.

The plot itself was also very nice and original. The house renovation was again something totally different from the corporate setting in The Hating Game and I enjoyed both equally as much. However nice the setting was, the real strengths of the book came at the end for me. I really liked the conclusion of the story and the revelations regarding Tom and Darcy. 

I know I said at the beginning I wouldn't try to compare it to the Hating Game which feels odd considering how often I've mentioned that title in this review. I very much enjoyed this book in its own unique way. Now, would I say it's better than the Hating Game? Apart from the comedic tone of Sally's writing it's totally different. Would I recommend reading this book? Yes, 100% yes. 5/5.


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In book review hafsah faizal review we hunt the flame

REVIEW: We Hunt the Flame

Title: We Hunt the Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: May 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"If I told you my name, would you bow?” 
His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. 
He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. 
“Or would you flee?”  

So, I've been anticipating this book since last year. Of course We Hunt the Flame took a spot on my Most Anticipated of 2019 list, because I was just so excited to read it. Now, let me tell you guys, for all the expectations I had of this book, it did NOT disappoint one bit. The premise of this book is very compelling and immediately made me fall in love with the concept of this novel.

What is this book about?
We Hunt the Flame is set in a world that is inspired by ancient Arabia, and follows the huntress Zafira. Zafira is infamous for being the only hunter to brave the Arz forest, but, the people of Arawiya don't know her identity, and they certainly don't know their hunter in fact a woman. Her caliphate is suffering, so Zafira sets out on her most important hunt yet; to discover an ancient artifact to restore magic to her kingdom as was once before. However, the assassin Nasir (also dubbed the Prince of Death) is tasked to assassinate everyone who gets in the way of his father, the leader of Arawiya. When Nasir is told by his father to kill the hunter and retrieve the same artifact, intrigue, danger, (and maybe even romance) ensues!

What did I think of We Hunt the Flame?
Okay, so I can't say my expectations for this book weren't on the higher side. The premise sounded AMAZING. I used to dislike the enemies to lovers trope, unless done well (which this 100% was!), but I've recently been warming up to it. The setting of this also sounded super intriguing, I tend to love Arabia inspired fantasies and since this is an own voices novel, I trusted it would be done right. The world-building is so intricately done that it's hard to put the book down from the very first chapter. Anyway, guess what? This book was amazing. 

First of all, the writing in this is GORGEOUS. The book is filled to the brim with beautiful and empowering quotations and poetic metaphors. I also loved the Arabic words sprinkled throughout the text. I really liked the touch these phrases provided, because they really added to the whole experience and setting of the book. (I also used to be a language major so languages just really intrigue me! 😍) 

"All right is when you're bleeding black, but it's not as bad as bleeding red.
When the world crashes, but you're not alone when it does. 
When the darkness is absolute, but you hunt down the smallest flame and coax it brighter. When you carve the good out of every bad and claim it a victory."

As for the plot, We Hunt the Flame did everything it promised to do! The story was filled with excitement, plot-twists, and well-developed character moments. All of the plot-twists were surprising, and out-of-the blue, which is something I appreciate when it comes to a good book. I really enjoyed the story-telling from a dual POV because it helped the reader to get to know both these characters better. Also wanna quickly say I loved how fast-paced this was, you guys know how I feel about slow books, but this was not at all dragging in any way. I devoured the whole book in (almost) one sitting! And, ugh, THAT ENDING! Cliffhangers are torture but I love them.

To come back to the characters, let me just say that both the protagonists (and their relationship) stole my whole heart. Nasir, oh boy, Nasir; this guy has amazing development and is such a multi-layered and complex character. He is one of the morally-grey variety, which a lot of authors gravitate towards nowadays and has become a popular trope in YA lit, but Nasir can in no way be roped in with the cliches. Zafira, too, was such a compelling female protagonist; empowering, independent, and brave, but also very human and relatable. She lives in a patriarchal world but doesn't conform to any of its standards. She is a really inspiring character, and I loved both of them. 

When it comes to the romantic subplot, Hafsah did not rush their relationship at all, which I really appreciate. It made Nasir and Zafira's scenes very special to read and resulted in a lot of beautiful quotes when it came to their relationship. I ship them so much, you guys, their dynamic is so interesting and I do love myself a good slow-burn romance most of the time! I really can't wait to see where their relationship goes in the next one.

“Maybe the tiny lions were merely ornaments, 
a display of pride for the victory over a man who defied men,
 only to be slain by women.” 

In conclusion, We Hunt The Flame genuinely made me feel so happy. I love diverse reads like this, especially when most of the Young Adult Fantasy genre is still set in Eurocentric universes. We Hunt the Flame marks a very very strong and refreshing debut novel and I can't wait to read the next book in this series. This book is a solid five star read and I can't wait to see what it does when it's out in the world! Such a gem.

Thank you to Hafsah Faizal and Macmillan for providing a Review Copy!  


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In books like us new-adult review romance tangled like us

REVIEW: Tangled Like Us

Title: Tangled Like us
Author: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Genre(s):  Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Release: January 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"And while I'm in his protective, warm clutch, while we're alone, I feel safe to ask him anything. "I have so many questions," I say softly, thinking aloud. "I want to know all about you, but I can't ask fast enough- and when I think about you, I wonder what your hands have held. what your eyes have seen." My pulse ha skyrocketed, but I keep speaking. What your ears have heard and where your feet have landed.""

Hello guys, back with another review! This time it's a book I've been anticipating for over 2 years, ever since the first book in this series came out. This is my second most anticipated romance of the series, so I can't wait to dig into this review!

What is this book about?
Tangled Like Us is set in the Addicted universe, which has been going for a long time. The series (previously titled Billionaires and Bodyguards) is a spinoff of the original core six characters and settle around their children and families. Whereas the first three books were Maximoff's (Lily and Lo's son) romance with his bodyguard Farrow, this one centers around Jane Cobalt (Connor and Rose's daughter). When an ad appears in the newspaper that Jane Cobalt is looking for her Prince Charming, she is stalked by numerous suitors who want nothing more than to take her on a date. Her bodyguard, the stoic and protective Thatcher Moretti, needs to device a plan to keep her safe from the public madness. The two start a fake relationship to get the media and her stalkers off their backs, but what they don't anticipate is the attraction they both have for each other. 

What did I think about Tangled Like us?
While I thought the first three books were kind of disappointing, it's no secret, you all know. I thought this one was VASTLY different from the earlier intalments in the series. Moffy and Farrow's relationship did not work for me. I thought their banter was annoying and they had no build-up. They felt kind of forced and made me roll my eyes numerous times. The authors also had trouble reconciling the characters' sex life with their character development because .. the latter wasn't positive. 

That being said, Tangled Like us might be my new favorite KBR book. I genuinely think the problem is their inability to write healthy M/M relationships, because this book had none of the issues that previously bothered me. Jane and Thatcher's relationship was to die for. The promo for this book made me apprehensive that this story would verge on erotica, and it did contain numerous sex scenes, but none of those were cringe-y or insanely sexualised. They were actually really soft? This book reminded me of why I fell in love with this universe in the first place. 

"Her ability to be comfortable in her own skin, it's gorgeous. 
Flat-out, and for once, I allow myself to think it without reprimand."

Thatcher and Jane have a very healthy relationship together. Their love is supportive, healing, and sweet. I especially liked that Thatcher wasn't in any way afraid to let Jane take the lead in their relationship. At one point, he makes a comment that both of them are alpha males, which actually made me laugh because Jane soooo has him wrapped around her finger! Like I said, I was afraid they'd paint Thatcher as the stereotypical alpha-male who thinks with his genitals and turns into a possessive asshole 80% of the time, but this wasn't the case AT ALL. Instead of making him into some alpha-male archetype, KBR wrote him a lot more nuanced. I would even venture out and say he's the perfect romantic lead for me. His respect and carefulness when it came to Jane was to die for. He was SO attentive it wasn't even funny anymore. As if my standards for men weren't high enough. Their dynamic is one I really like and tend to go for when it comes to New Adult. I like it when characters contrast and compliment each other. Thatcher's stoic nature went really well with Jane's bubbly and soft personality, and made it easier for each of them to open up. Anyway, I love Thatcher Moretti and he's successfully managed to snag the spot of my favorite KBR love-interest (up until now)! 

Speaking of Jane, let's talk about her, shall we? I AM HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH THIS GIRL. Jane Cobalt is one of the best protagonists the authors have ever written. She made me so happy as a reader. Jane is the only Cobalt who hasn't found her passion in life, which, at 23, isn't a weird thing to experience. Her situation was so relatable to the point I nearly cried. She also doesn't conform to the stereotypical standard of feminine beauty and speaks very openly about this. There is a bathroom scene where, even though she genuinely loves her body and her shape, she sometimes has insecurities about her stretch-marks. She addresses how those don't fit within the perfect picture and still sometimes manage to make her feel uncomfortable. I thought this was so human, I nearly teared up. I just really really like her and it reminded me how KBR's strength mostly lies within their characters. 

"I just see all the side of Jane Cobalt.
Bold and soft. 
Outlandish and unabashed.
Feminine and eager.

That being said, I do think these books still don't carry a lot of plot, so if you're looking for a plot-heavy book, you might want to skip this series all together. However, if, like me, you like character-driven books and romantic storylines, this is the perfect book for you. It's on my list of favorite NA romances, ever. 

Lastly, I just want to mention my loves, Sulli and Akara, who are hopefully getting their own love story written out next year? Yes? Please? Whereas previous books I used to read merely for their tiny scenes, I found that wasn't necessary with this one because I loved the main couple so much, HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that I didn't love them any less. Their story is finally taking shape, and they're setting up their story very nicely for future books. Also, while we're on the topic of future books, the one relationship I'm not fully on board with (and probably never will be) is Luna and Donnelly. I can see where their story is going, I do, but Donnelly's character is just... badly-written. He has the personality of a fifteen year old boy who's dying to lose his virginity so acts like every woman in the world would want him, when in reality he's just ... not all that. Also don't get me started on his derogatory comments and behavior... no thanks. The only Tangled Like Us moment I didn't like included him (if you've read the book, you probably know the one).

However, to conclude, even Donnelly wasn't enough to not get me to give this book 5 stars. This is everything I look for in a good soft romance, and reminded me why I fell in love with this universe and these characters in the first place. I heard Sinful Like Us is supposed to come out in 2019 also, so I'm looking forward to a "cobaretti"-filled year.


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In book review books review

REVIEW: The Wicked King

Title: The Wicked King
Author: Holly Black
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Release: January 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. 
“Kiss me until I am sick of it.” 

So... you know those books that kind of have your attention but you go in not thinking much of them and they manage to take you completely by surprise? That's The Wicked King for me. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I ended up doing. But... Oh my God.

What's this book about?
The Wicked King is a continuation of Holly's Black's insanely popular The Cruel Prince and the second instalment in The Folk of the Air series. We follow Jude again, who has now managed to get her enemy, Prince Cardan, on the throne while she blackmails him to pull the strings behind his back. Amidst all the political intrigue within the faerie court, Jude has to keep Cardan in check, but also manage to stay alive in the middle of chaos. But does she really hate Cardan as much as she initially thought, or will she find an unlikely ally in him?

What did I think about The Wicked King?
So, first of all, I really did go in with lower expectations than most. While I loved The Cruel Prince, I did so mostly because of Jude. Cardan was just... not my kind of character. I thought he was a spoiled annoying rich boy  who did the bare minimum, so the reason why I primarily finished The Cruel Prince was because I really loved Jude.

This book, then, took me by complete surprise. Could it be... that I liked Cardan? The Wicked King added a depth to his character I was missing in the earlier books. His dynamic with Jude as well as the plottwist at the end of the book did that for me. Jude, again, remains the superior character for me, but I’m finally starting to see the potential everyone initially saw in him.

The highlight of the book, however, remained Jude for me. As soon as I opened the book and read the first paragraph, I was in love again. She is just such a well-developed, strong, and interesting character. I adore her. There were multiple instances in the book that made me go “AH!.” I also immensely enjoyed her dynamic with Cardan, and even though I knew they were going there, the romance took me completely by surprise (in the sense of how much I ship them!). I thought the combination between the political plot and romantic subplot was really well-balanced.

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. 
The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.” 

While I think romance is an essential aspect for me when it comes to fantasy (I enjoy some kind of combination the most!), I did really enjoy the political plot of The Wicked King. The story kept me on the edge of my seat and I found it harder and harder to put the book down the further I read. Whereas I thought The Cruel Prince suffered some pacing issues, in the sense that the story was very slow, The Wicked King had absolutely none of that. The very first pages threw the reader right back into the world of Faerie and the action immediately started.

Now, for Black’s world-building, I do really like the universe, I do. But, sometimes I find I have trouble picturing the characters because of her descriptions. This isn’t anything that disturbs me from reading, but I did wonder how I was meant to picture some of the characters in the Faerie world.

Also, CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT PLOT-TWIST? I really hope Black brings out a novella in Cardan’s POV like she did with Jude’s sister. I would love to read more about him and get into his head now that his character has peaked my interest.

Even though I think morally-grey characters are interesting, I do think they can be overdone now that every YA fantasy author is including those types of characters within their stories. Black manages to keep her characters away from the cliche and the way she writes her characters is interesting and refreshing, which I think she deserves credit for.

“I hate you," I breathed into his mouth. 
"I hate you so much that sometimes I can't think of anything else.” 

In the end, the combination between characters, plot, romance and the intricately build universe made this a solid 5 star read for me. I'm glad I didn't end up reading the ARC because I can't imagine having to wait more than a year until the release of Queen of Nothing. Seems that I finally understand the hype when it comes to these books!

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In arc books review spin the dawn

REVIEW: Spin the Dawn

Title: Spin the Dawn
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: July 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

Hello my name is Julia and I might have just found one of my new favorite fantasy series! 
In truth, I've been anticipating Spin the Dawn for a while now, in fact, I mentioned it in my list of my most anticipated releases for 2019. The premise describes it as "Mulan meets Project Runway", which, as an artist whose favorite Disney movie of all time is Mulan, sounds like my exact cup of tea, doesn't it? The book is a Chinese-inspired fantasy that takes place along a re-imagined version of the Silk Road. It also doesn't hurt that the cover is absolutely GORGEOUS, look at it! That being said, let me quickly get my thoughts in order.

What is this book about?
Spin the Dawn follows the tailor's daughter, Maia Tamarin. Maia lives in a kingdom that has just gotten out of a war, a war in which she has lost two of her brothers. Her third brother is left crippled and her father is in no state to resume his job. Even though women aren't allowed to perform any kind of "manly" work and are expected to be married off, Maia takes on most of the sewing in her father's shop. Despite the tailoring shop, Maia dreams of becoming the Emperor's tailor. When the emperor's current tailor passes away, a contest is announced to become the new royal tailor. Maia has no choice but to go after her dream, so she disguises herself as a boy and enters the competition under her brother's name. Together with twelve other tailors, she is asked to perform almost impossible tasks in order to win her spot at court. During the competition, she encounters the enchanter Edan, who takes an interest in Maia. When the final challenge of the competition entails sewing three legendary dresses, a feat no one has ever accomplished before, Maia has to set out to do the impossible to full-fill her dream. 

What did I think of Spin the Dawn?
Okay, so like I said, what first drew me to this book was the unique concept. The combination between mythology and history plus the competition plot as well as the creative aspect all fit perfectly into my alley. Because the book is filled with so many elements, Lim has divided the book into three parts, which provided a clear structure, and also gave the reader an idea of what to expect. Because of this, I thought the pacing of the book was perfect. Never once did I find myself skimming sentences or hoping the story would move faster or slower. I literally devoured this book, people, especially towards the end. I absolutely loved it!

Whereas the concept of Spin the Dawn initially appealed to me, what really made me stay was the writing. From the first sentence on, I was hooked. Her writing has something about it that makes you keep reading. The book is filled with beautiful quotes and poetic language, but isn't confusing or overdone at all, which I find sometimes other books can do. I thought the writing was absolutely gorgeous and perfectly fit the concept, and the world-building was exquisite too. It also made the book easy to get through.

The characters were easy to relate to and realistic. Maia has endless devotion and perseverance. She refuses to give up her dream at all times, which is something to be admired. I also really admired her refusal to confirm to patriarchal norms just because of her sex, which made this an empowering story, and indeed very Mulan-esque. Her devotion to her job, her family and Edan really made me fall in love with her as a protagonist.

The romance between her and Edan, too, wasn't rushed and nicely developed in my opinion. I tend to go for the cocky characters who have a soft-spot so I found him to be really likeable as a love-interest and character overall. The interesting contrast when it came to Maia and Edan made them very compatable and intriguing to read about. 

I thought the book ended on a very interesting note, and I can't wait to see what the rest of this series has in store. I think Spin the Dawn has just become one of my top favorite YA fantasy books, and I'm eagerly anticipating the next instalment (even though it's probably more than a year away, rip). Go read this awesome gem when it releases in July. I can't recommend this enough. 5/5!

Goodreads | Amazon

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In books review spectacle

REVIEW: Spectacle

Title: Spectacle
Author: Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult, Mystery, Historical
Release: February 2018
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

My initial interest for this book spiked because the premise reminded me a lot of one of my 2018 favorites, Stalking Jack the Ripper. Upon reading this, I realized the two are actually quite different!

What is this book about?
Spectacle centers around the young reporter Nathalie, who writes for the Parisian newspaper. Her job requires her to make continuous visits to the morque. When bodies won't stop coming, and word of a serial killer starts spreading around, Nathalie is put right in the middle of this dangerous scenario. She  discovers she has the ability to see visions about the victim's death, and is thus pulled into a murder mystery about the Dark Artist killer who is terrorizing the streets of Paris. Mystery, magic and mayhem ensues!

What did I think about this book?
First of all, let me say I liked the concept of this book well enough, while not a major fan of the crime/mystery genre, I was so intrigued by the premise and the setting of historical Paris (I blame you, The Gilded Wolves!) to give this a chance. I think the plot is very original in that sense and the book wasn't as comparable to Stalking Jack the Ripper as I initially thought.

Character-wise, I also really enjoyed the main character and her personality. The way Nathalie goes against societal constraints, the way she handles her newfound ability and her job as a journalist are nothing but admirable and everything I tend to look for in a strong female character. I think the writer really did her a solid.

The aspect where this book loses points for me, however, is the writing. The writing is kind of too to-the-point, and the pacing, I find, could be kind of off in the sense that things happened a little fast sometimes. I normally like a fast-paced book, but this in combination with the writing left me a little 'meh' at some times. I also sometimes had trouble connecting to the main character at points in the story because of the writing. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is, but something about the writing struck me as a little distant, which in turn, distances a reader from its characters.

However, all in all, I did end up enjoying this book a lot. The plot-twists in this were plot-twists you ACTUALLY didn't see coming, which is also a plus when you normally guess every single 'plot-twist' in history ever because they tend to be predictable. The mystery aspect in this was so well done, I, who is normally not a mystery lover, ended up loving the mystery in Spectacle. Aside from the occasional very sporadic and to-the-point writing, I ended up giving this book a solid 4 stars which makes this a good debut novel in YA fantasy!

*review copy kindly provided by Netgalley

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In books rec recs

Most anticipated 2019 releases!

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great New Year's eve. I'm starting the year fresh and organized by making a bunch of lists. With new year's resolutions comes a new 2019 reading goal. I set my Goodreads challenge to 200 books this year, which is the highest it's ever been. For this ambitious goal, I plan to read some new releases in 2019 to help my reading number along. If you're interested in seeing what's on my TBR list for 2019, here's a list of some of my most anticipated reads for the coming year!

The Wicked King by Holly Black
The Wicked King is the second instalment in The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, and the sequel to the highly popular The Cruel Prince (which was released in 2018). The Cruel Prince was a book that managed to sneak up on me and I only really started to appreciate after I'd finished it. I look forward to seeing what the sequel brings. Also, I just want to read more about Jude :'). 
The Wicked King will be released on January 8th.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
I received an ARC of this earlier in 2018, but didn't expect this to leave such a lasting impression on me. Despite already having devoured this, The Gilded Wolves might be on the top of my 2019 Releases list. It is filled with intrigue, historical nods, and diversity. This was such a joy to read. Dare I say, this is already one of my 2019 favorites, and, a bonus, it releases the day after my birthday!
The Gilded Wolves will be released on January 15th. 

Tangled Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie
I've read all their novels up until this point, and I'm certainly not about to quit now! Tangled Like Us is the start of Jane Cobalt's romance (a character previously encountered in The Addicted Series as well as the Like Us Series!). I wasn't a massive fan of the previous books in the series, but this one certainly sounds like my cup of tea! This features the fake dating trope, which is one of my favorite tropes EVER! I'm excited to sink my teeth into this book pretty soon!
Tangled Like Us will be released on January 17th.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
99 Percent Mine is the second book by Sally Thorne, author of one of my favorite books: The Hating Game. This book I've technically already read, but deserves a place on this list regardless. Also, the physical copy that releases in January contains an epilogue featuring the characters of The Hating Game, something I've been wanting to read for 3 years. I couldn't be more excited if I tried!
99 Percent Mine will be released on January 29th. 

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Bardugo returns to her well-loved Grisha-verse with her next series King of Scars! King of Scars centers around King Nikolai this time. While I wasn't an enormous fan of her Grisha trilogy (I was fond of certain characters, though!), I absolutely devoured the Six of Crows duology, and would say it's one of my favorite fantasy series. I'm excited to see these characters make a reappearance in this new duology (in particular Nikolai and Nina) and see where Leigh's writing takes us!
King of Scars will be released on January 29th. 

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
This 2019 release is a high fantasy novel by a debut author. The concept of this book is so enthralling; in a world where Phoenix riders are a legendary tale, Veronyka wants to become one. This book promises kick-ass ladies, legends, and a web of lies. I can't wait to pick this up and read it. I also quickly have to mention how gorgeous the cover for this is. I know they say don't judge a book by its cover but it's always a nice plus. 
Crown of Feathers will be released on February 12th.

The Risk by Elle Kennedy
This is another romance book I'm infinitely excited for. The Risk is set in the Briar U series but can be read as a standalone, and this time focuses on the daughter of the Briar U hockey coach named Brenna. The Risk is Brenna and Jake Connolly's love story, and features the enemies to lovers trope. I don't normally love this trope unless it's done well, but Elle has proved time and again that she has the ability to make any romance amazing. Also, shoutout to the cover, I love when authors feature women on the covers!
The Risk will be released on February 18th

Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi
After a splendid year for Tahereh (with the release of not one, but two books!), the fifth book in the Shatter Me series is coming our way. Defy Me continues Juliette's story, who is trying to navigate her personal and professional life as Supreme Commander. This is my number one favorite fantasy series of all time, so I can honestly say I've never been more excited for a book to come out. Kenji's novella is also releasing earlier in the year, so the wait will be even shorter!
Defy Me will be released on April 2nd. 

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
This 2019 romance release is written by one of the breakthrough authors of 2018. I loved Hoang's debut novel The Kiss Quotient, and would even count it as one of my favorite romance novels, so to get to read another book of hers that partly features the same characters had me ecstatic! This book centers around the autistic Khai, and features an arranged marriage plot. This is an own voices romance novel and, like The Kiss Quotient, features an autistic main character as well as that it delves into Vietnamese culture. I'm endlessly excited for this one!
The Bride Test will be released on May 7th

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal
High on my To-Read list this year is this amazing Arabic inspired fantasy. This novel focuses on a hunter who disguises herself as a boy, and a prince of death. Both face a detrimental danger: one cannot be discovered she is a girl, and one cannot be revealed to have compassion. Both go on the same mission and all types of intrigue ensues! This book sounds so exciting and original, I can't wait to read this own voices book!
We Hunt The Flame will be released on May 14th

Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao
This is another one of those books where the premise just completely enthralled me. A dark Anastasia retelling set in a high fantasy universe? Sounds insanely appealing to me. You all know by now I have an Anastasia obsession, so this sounds right up my street. I can't wait to see how the author handles this incredibly intriguing concept!
Blood Heir will be released on June 4th.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Robinson
I first learned of this book through one of my favorite independent artists, Charlie Bowater, who designed the gorgeous cover for this book. I've also seen nothing but stellar reviews by people who've already read it, so Sorcery of Thorns has slowly but surely moved to the top of my 2019 list. The premise promises magic, fantasy, a lot of intrigue, and maybe a little bit of romance, which are all definitely up my alley. Cannot wait for this 2019 release from the author of An Enchantment of Ravens!
Sorcery of Thorns will be released on June 4th.

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson
This book is by another debut author and is set in a world filled with magical crows that are taken from the people. The premise describes the plot as a mix between Eragon and And I Darken which are both books I have not read, but have heard great things about. It centers around a fallen princess (with a mental illness!) who devises a plan to gain back the crows and with that her kingdom.
The Storm Crow will be released on July 9th.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Elizabeth Lim's novel Reflection has been on my TBR for two solid months, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, however she has a new novel coming out in 2019! The premise for this book sounds AMAZING: Project Runway meets Mulan. A girl enters a tailoring competition dressed as a boy to sew three dresses filled with magic. I love this concept and can't wait to sink my teeth into this original and creative tale. 
Spin the Dawn will be released on July 30th.

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco
This is the fourth and last instalment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, and focuses on Audrey Rose and Thomas' last adventure. Contrary to the earlier English and European settings, this one is now taking place in historical US, so I'm excited to see what she does with this new concept. The Ripper series was one of my favorite discoveries of 2018, and I'm gutted to see it's coming to an end. However, Kerri has hinted she might write more books in the universe, so all may not be lost after all!
Capturing the Devil will be released on September 26th. 

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
I know, I know I said I wouldn't read any more Cassandra Clare books this year, but this one actually focuses on The Infernal Devices characters, so how could I possibly skip this series? The Last Hours is a new series that takes place in Edwardian London and centers around Will and Tessa's children as well as Cordelia Carstairs. Upon seeing the cover, I instantly fell in love with it, so naturally I have to read this now. Thanks, Cassandra Clare.
Chain of Gold will be released on November 19th.

If it were up to me I'd make this an infinite list of new releases, but unfortunately a lot of the books have not been fully announced yet. I'm of course looking forward to the next instalments in series I've already read, and I can't wait to discover new series in 2019! 

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