ARC Review of Coral by Sara Ella

I received an e-ARC of Coral by Sara Ella!

“I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”

So for those who haven’t heard of Coral, coming out in December ’19, here is a quick blurb:

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—tale, “The Little Mermaid,” Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.

There is more than one way to drown.

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

 

My Review:

☆☆☆☆☆ / 5 Stars

 

Coral interested me for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to see how well it handled the topics of depression and suicide.
  2. Mermaids are cool. (Have you not seen my Instagram?)

Clearly, one reason is more adult than the other. Did I feel like I got what I came for? Yes, because hello, MERMAIDS.

Okay, slightly more serious talk now.

I’d call Coral a hard-hitting contemporary with an essence of magical realism. In real life I’m close to people who struggle with these sorts of problems and so I felt the topics were handled well in the story and it was insightful.

The story has three points of view it jumps between, Merrick, Brooke and Coral (the mermaid). All three POVs seem unrelated at first and so the book does require some patience, it’s not massively fast-paced but a story that lets you get to know the characters and makes you root for them to solve their problems.

Coral is our fantasy element, a mermaid who is worried to feel because that’s not what mermaids do.

Merrick is struggling to mend his broken family, or at least the pieces he cares about and tries to do the best he can.

Brooke is struggling with depression and perhaps the hardest point of view to read but the people she meets throughout makes it so much more rewarding to read about as we see how they affect her as a character.

Overall the story comes together like a puzzle, which makes it a fulfilling read at the end. I loved it by the end, it’s one of those novels that’s a journey. Sara Ella handled the topics brought up well. I seriously loved the book quotes Hope and Brooke share, they’re from modern stories like Divergent and it made the characters feel more modern and rooted in the real world.

 

 


On another note, why is this blog a little quiet?

I’m mainly active on Instagram as Ensworldofwords. I talk about bookish things nearly daily and take loads of pics, so go take a look! I’m updating my blog when I read mostly ARCs and updates about my own novels.

Love the mermaid featured? It’s a custom by UndertheSeaCrochet on Etsy. You can also find more examples of her work on Instagram. Use ENSWORLD15 to save on a mer of your own! 🙂

Review of Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

I received an eARC of this novel in return for an honest review! 🙂 Here’s the blurb below it comes out 1st October! ( I can also not believe I got this so early.)

43611226IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.

When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields—though has yet to fully understand—Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her friends begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

 

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

3.5/ 5 Stars

 

I was super excited to get an eARc of this book as the blurb made it sound right up my alley. Warrior princess must fight a demon to save her country with the help of her friends? Consider me intrigued. Also the cover is beautiful.

Asterin was needless to say, awesome. She learnt how to swordfight, she’s a powerful mage and she doesn’t give a damn about the rules.

Luna, Asterin’s friend and basically magicless was strong in her own way. She was soft where Asterin wasn’t and had a relationship with the Elite’s captain. I loved reading about this girl’s soft strength.

Rose is just an utter badass.

Orion was sweet but I wish we got to see more of his relationship develop with Harry. It just sort of happened and I’d rather have liked to see it rather than it be kept secret from the reader as well as his friends for part of the time – and they all worked it out pretty fast anyway.

I didn’t really love the other characters so much. There were a lot of them introduced to us in the beginning and I feel this really affected the pacing of the novel. It felt slow in the beginning, as Asterin didn’t receive her ‘call to arms’ until about a fifth in to the book. It made the plot meander in the beginning and while I enjoyed learning about the characters I was just wondering where this was going if it wasn’t for the blurb. Then in the middle again the story seemed to really dragon on as they searched for the demon.

I wanted to root for Quinlan and Asterin, but they were very hot and cold towards each other. It was fun at times to read and others, I just couldn’t work out why Asterin was suddenly fuming at him. Also Quin’s level of cheesy made me embarrassed for him at times.

Overall I liked the story but the pacing was what really got to me. If you perhaps don’t mind a bit of a slower read then you’ll probably love this book. The magic system in this book was a real gem to read about and I liked how fleshed out the world’s history was too.

 

 

Review of Kingdom of Ash, the end of the Throne of Glass Series

I finished Kingdom of Ash around two weeks ago now and I was at a loss for words for so many reasons. For the start I’ve been a fan of this series since only the first book was out and the prequel short stories.

*ahem* Spoilers ahead for the stories up to Kingdom of Ash, so if you haven’t read the first five books look away, or be spoiled.

I loved the character Celeana Sardothien, I thought she was fun and badass. She was the character my seventeen year old self at the time felt energised reading about. I loved how the story grew and took this massive turn in Crown of Midnight that I could never have expected ever – hello Aelin. The story plunged in to the world of the fae and this huge plot to stop the Valg demons. IT became HUGE. And I loved it. Heir of Fire was awesome. Honestly, I need to sit down and do a thorough re-read of this entire series when I can finally get all my books in one place.

Aelin/Celeana always had these mad plans that were fun to read about and usually only became apparent to the reader by the time her plan was in action. It was fun to read but I grew tired of these wild surprises by Empire of Storms. I still liked the surprises but I began to want to be in the know. She always felt a bit distanced. I don’t know if this was because I changed as a reader (I’m 23 now and I like to think I’ve changed and I know my tastes in books have too).

I was never a Chaol fan, he grew more intolerable for me as the books went on and so I was distraught at the idea of an entire novel for him. I tried to read Tower of Dawn and I did DNF it and then reaped the spoilers online so I was ready for Kingdom of Ash. I did quite like Yrene in the short story before she got Chaol-ed (it’s a verb now).

In the same vein there were aspects to the stories that irked me, how everyone was beginning to pair up and find love. This is a fantasy series so my disbelief is somewhat suspended but not to the point everyone finds love. So when people began to break up in Kingdom of Ash I mentally cheered that on for some damn realism. Heartless? Perhaps.

This is series amazing and evolves with every story. Celeana Sardothien even read differently from her prequels as an assassin. Sarah J Maas is amazing at writing books about characters who change, even in her other series the characters are so effected by the world and the events that transpire. Sometimes authors don’t capture this and their characters seem almost like they’re made of rubber. So I don’t think Kingdom of Ash could be reviewed as a standalone, it definitely wasn’t written as one. I like to try and rate books apart from what transpired before as if they could stand alone in their own awesomeness. But I don’t think I can with Kingdom of Ash because this was an awesome series and while I didn’t love Kingdom of Ash it is the end of a series that I would and will still call one of my favourite series of all time.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas

3.5 / 5 Stars

I read someone else’s review on Goodreads and they summed it up perfectly for me, but their comment has long since been buried and I can’t find it. What they basically said was, “they go to war…. and then another….and another war….and another war….” The story really hammered in the fact this is basically a WORLD WAR and everything is HOPELESS but we fight with HOPE. The odds weren’t in Terrasen and its allies’ favour. I felt that was very hammered in. I also don’t enjoy books about wars so it really wasn’t for me (I haven’t even read Lord of the Rings). I also didn’t like how a character who only appeared not so long ago was integral to ending the damn war.

It was LOOONG. So Long. Too Long. I agree with a lot of people that some of these tiny battles could have been cut out.

Aelin’s torture was brutal and that’s another thing with these books. They change so much I honestly don’t know what I was going to be reading. Like brutal torture, or pretty detailed sex scenes. I don’t mind reading sex scenes but I like to know that I’m going to be? Throne of Glass wasn’t detailed – I don’t recall it becoming detailed until Queen of Shadows was it?  Correct me if I’m wrong.

Speaking of those kind of scenes, I liked the evolution of Elide and Lorcan’s relationship as well as Lysandra and Aedion. I honestly just loved Aedion as a character and his struggles in the war and just rallying Terrasen. This book developed such a love for the idea of Terrasen.

I enjoyed the take on the gods. I like how they were perceived as gods and beyond the characters comprehension. But how they could potentially be just powerful beings from another world. I also liked how those gods’ histories also felt like legends and fairytales for Erelia.

Which brings me to the prophecy. Harry Potter inspired my love for a good ol’ prophecy. I like how we see how effected Aelin is by it and how it weighs on her as a character.

I love that we got some Aelin and Rowan. Aelin deserves all the damn happiness in the world.

Aelin was still a badass, swords and plots and fire-breathing bitch queen magic.

Dorian was awesome and his part in the story was amazing. He personally helped me understand Manon better and grow to like her journey.

The ending was fitting.

So overall, I rated the book 3.5 stars. I wouldn’t read this again if it wasn’t for the novels before this as the style of story wasn’t for me. The novel was also so damn long and could have really been 200 or pages shorter. However, I was invested in the characters and as a whole I felt it wrapped up the series fairly well. It can’t be rated as a stand alone and this rating doesn’t reflect my feelings on the entire series which I suppose I’d give a …

4.5 Stars

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas

Renegade by Mallory McCartney ~ Review

I got free copy on NetGalley in exchange for a review.

This book is a prequel to Black Dawn that came out earlier this year. I’ve never enjoyed reading prequels as they were meant to be read and always found myself loving the prequels when I hadn’t read the main series first. I think the Assassin’s Blade is the only exception to this for me. Renegade followed that rule as I loved the novel as story of itself and plan to read Black Dawn soon. I would rate this novel….

★★★★

Renegade by Mallory McCartney

Image result for renegade mallory mccartney

Six years before the Black Dawn Rebellion, Adair Stratton and Emory Fae are following in their parent’s footsteps and living at The Academy, a home for those who are gifted. The pressure to uphold the future of their parent’s dream falls on them. An outcast and feared by most, Adair longs to break away from the expectations dictating his future. Even if Emory tries to make him see differently. An unexpected group of friends keep him there, but as whispers of unexplained disappearances start reaching from the capital, Adair starts to doubt The Academy is all it seems.

An unexpected visit ignites new tensions as the roguish king from across the Black Sea, Tadeas Maher of the Shattered Isles, and his heir, Marquis Maher sail to Kiero. Notorious for their pirating and wrath- for the first time in years, they demand the Fae’s listen to their proposition for a new treaty, holding the news of Nei’s father’s abrupt death over them. Caught in the middle of politics- Adair and Emory, with the help of their best friends Brokk and Memphis search for the one thing that matters most- finding out the truth.

 

Why I loved this book:

  • The world was rich and full of magic, which left me wanting to know how it worked and how everything was linked. I liked the idea of the teens searching for answers on their own, it had this Harry Potter like charm. And I especially liked Emory’s cunning, which also showed it was something they all did often.
  • There was mystery to this magic filled world that the characters were unaware. I liked the fact we got to discover it (and its evil sides) with the characters.
  • It had a cute magic school vibe, but teamed with the fact the characters were so in tune with their surroundings so it was also a little ‘break out of their surroundings’, which I loved.
  • If you have heard anything about Black Dawn then you’ll probably know Renegade is about how a villain becomes one, I kinda found this out after researching hesitantly. I didn’t let myself know who would be the villain and this made it an even more interesting read as I spent a while guessing. The three guys; Memphis, Adair and Brokk all could have swung that way at different times and really hammered in the idea their choices defined them. I loved this.

Image result for the internet is dark and full of spoilers

The doom and gloom – Negative Points:

  • I think there were maybe two scenes that had Emory’s point of view and I fell in love with her voice instantly. So this makes me really want to read Black Dawn but also made me wish I would hear more from her in the prequel.
  • I didn’t like Brokk, in the beginning I really dreaded hitting his point of view. He struck me as a bit too whiny, but I found I grew to stand him later as he matured and had to face things.
  • Lastly, I struggled to keep up with a few of the fight scenes. I re-read certain parts to see if I missed something but I still couldn’t seem to work out how some characters or their magic moved from one place to another. I get it that battle is hectic and all that but it took me out of the story as I struggled to work this out.

 

Overall it definitely makes me want to pick up Black Dawn!

Book Hangover Prep

Kingdom of Ash is coming out October 23rd and like nearly every Sarah J Maas book I’ve ever read I know I’m going to have a super book hangover after it is finished. To top it off it’s going to be the end of her amazing series, so a book (or maybe a few) will be dearly needed.

Book hangover? What is it?

If you’re such a lucky soul, or perhaps the reverse and in fact the most cursed to have never read a book so good you possibly can’t ever consider forgetting those amazing characters and picking up another book that doesn’t have any of those characters because it would be sacrilege against that amazing book / series. Then you need to clearly read a book so amazing it ruins your life. I recommenced either of Sarah’s series or Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows!

Symptoms of a Book Hangover via Epic Reads

I feel like this picture from Epic Reads sums it up pretty well!

 

Book Hangover Cures

Anyway I always find an amazing contemporary YA is the best cure. These are some of my favourite go-tos for such an occasion:

Image result for eliza and her monstersImage result for emery lord when we collidedImage result for i'll give you the sunImage result for eleanor and parkImage result for we are okay

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

This contemporary felt almost like it teased being fantasy related, but it isn’t as it’s about a famous online comic writer coming to terms with her potential fame and anxiety. I liked Eliza’s voice and the double life she lived.

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Vivi is another character with an amazing voice and is just so upbeat she’s fun to read about. On the flip side I also liked Jonah because he was more grounding and sweet. It’s a romance but also copes with grief and mental illness.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The cover is flipping yellow, it already wants to cure you of that book hangover just by looking at it.  The characters have these big personalities and their problems are so very not fantasy related that it’s refreshing after a huge heart destroyer like Kingdom of Ash (that ending better be good). I also found the characters and the romances that bloom between them all really sweet.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I feel like this novel should be considered a YA classic at this point, almost everyone seems to have read it or heard of it. I was late to the bandwagon too. This novel is about fitting in school, relationships and family, with all that feel good cliche of mix tapes.

We Are Okay by Nina Lecour

Hard hitting and may also rip your heart out. (Why did I suggest this?) The cover is beautiful and its about real people problems (not a magical evil fae queen and the demon kings). It could be refreshing. But its a damn good book and you should check it out.

 

What am I reading for my book hangover?

I’ve got a line-up. My contemporary read is going to be Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi . The cover seemed pretty cool and it’s about two characters striving for their dreams in difficult situation and they collide. I’ll drop the description below:

Image result for emergency contact by mary h.k. choi

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to lear

n how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

~ ~ ~

Then to ease myself back in to fantasy I’m thinking Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney. I’m reading the prequel now and I’m loving it so far. Black Dawn is also only 99p on Kindle right now, so I super recommend grabbing it if you’re interested!

Image result for black dawn by mallory mccartneyThe end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne. 

With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

~ ~ ~

I also  feel really inspired after reading an amazing book, so I hope to really delve in to my writing and finish up the final draft of book 2 of The Gem Experiments.

 

I’m super prepared for Kingdom of Ash, how about you guys?

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

5/5 stars

Image result for bright we burn

Bright We Burn is the third and final book in Kiersten’s trilogy about the female Vlad the Impaler, Lada. I originally picked it up as I have always rooted for crazy-strong and battle-ready YA heroines. The And I Darken trilogy promised that with Lada and it did not disappoint, but it also shows that side of her to an extreme. It was based off of history and I’m no historian in order to compare how truthful it was but, wow. Lada was ruthless. It is gory and she is an empowered hype train but the novel is also emotional, Lada has feelings, she experiences tough things and her character changes over time and within the final novel of the series. She was no cookie cutter tough girl.

Now I Rise did suffer a slight lull in the pacing I found, Radu stuck out more to me as a character who changed in that book. In Bright We Burn it seemed like almost every character reached a just conclusion. No one felt too open-ended unless it was done so specifically.

Radu continues to evolves as a character and as we reach the end of the book, it took a turn I did not expect, but also respected. Perhaps those who are familiar with Vlad the Impaler’s history knew what was to come but I am not so. The novel felt like it had to end like this (I’m talking about the last 50 pages) and I felt like I wasn’t cheated from an ending. It shows Radu and Lada on two opposite sides and…

Possible kind of spoiler ahead – basically me talking about how I felt.

It was almost sad to see Lada like that at the end. But it was also essentially what she wanted. The novel says as much.

I almost wanted to hate Radu because of the comparison to Lada and how I could identify with his happiness so much more by the end. Radu was a character that irritated me for being weak originally and still somewhat in Now I Rise. But I liked him by the end and was once again reminded of that by Bright We Burn.

I also found it funny how I wanted Lada to change and become someone almost more human at the end, but that was never who she was. – It was all so fitting.

 

Favourite Quote:

What sustains you?”

“The blood of my enemies.” – Lada.

 

I feel like we need more books like this. That changes norms in a way that almost feels fantastical but also somewhat grounded in history. I like how religion featured in characters lives and not a fantasy religion thats used to show how open and different a fantasy world is. These are religions that matter to characters and I dont see enough of that in YA literature unless its branded as religious.

I want to gush about this series in greater detail, something I will hopefully get to do in the weeks to come when I’m less likely to spoil those who follow this series.

 

 

An unpopular opinion? – A Court of Frost and Starlight Review

I actually read this the moment it came out but for a number of reasons I never got to post a review and then I though I’d do a video review… and chickened out!

IMG_2568

 

So unpopular opinion of A Court of Frost and Starlight – I loved it. From what I’ve seen online not many people did because it was like, hello, where’s the plot? And I get where people are coming from when the rest of the ACOTAR series has been about WAR. But the blurb of this novel and Sarah pretty much said it was about the after. So I was fully prepared for something softer.

Overall, it was a pretty laid-back novella (its not a novel. I think it was slightly miss-marketed, or at least not Sarah J Maas size novel). It felt like a contemporary romance novel to me but set in a fantasy world. The topics covered could have been felt by a normal human, worrying about Christmas presents and family and love.

I was really taken aback by the size of ACOFAS (does the shortened title sound like a sneeze to you too?). I thought it would be a novel and before I’d opened my Amazon box I thought they’d sent me the wrong thing! However, I think it was perfectly the right size for this story.

The story itself… I’m a massive ACOTAR fan so I loved it. The novella was basically fan service and I love the fact this could get published because enough people loved the stories and the characters and wanted more.

So I would say get it if you want to read more Feysand and just read about the daily lives of these characters after the tragedies that befell them. There are no huge huge fights. But also don’t get it if you’re not super in love with these characters.

I rate it a 5/5 stars because, yes, I am biased. But I knew what I was getting in to.