Review | Aerie

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Title: Aerie
Series Details: Magonia #2
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: Harper
Release Date: October 04, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 307

Blurb from Goodreads:

Where is home when you were born in the stars?

Aza Ray is back on earth. Her boyfriend Jason is overjoyed. Her family is healed. She’s living a normal life, or as normal as it can be if you’ve spent the past year dying, waking up on a sky ship, and discovering that your song can change the world.

As in, not normal. Part of Aza still yearns for the clouds, no matter how much she loves the people on the ground.

When Jason’s paranoia over Aza’s safety causes him to make a terrible mistake, Aza finds herself a fugitive in Magonia, tasked with opposing her radical, bloodthirsty, recently-escaped mother, Zal Quel, and her singing partner, Dai. She must travel to the edge of the world in search of a legendary weapon, the Flock, in a journey through fire and identity that will transform her forever.

My Thoughts-01

Magonia was a weird, bizarre, and slightly confusing read, but I enjoyed it. Its world was unique, whimsical, and magical. The romance was cute, and charming, and fun to read. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Aerie. This sequel is completely unnecessary. It would’ve been fine—more enjoyable even—if Magonia was a standalone. Aerie has got a gorgeous cover that I could stare for hours but that’s about all. The content is sadly disappointing. It only spoiled my interesting and peculiar experience with Magonia because everything I liked from the first book had gone straight-out flat in this one.

I go into this without rereading the first book. I was just relying on the bits and pieces that I remembered from reading my review on Magonia . But the author really made a good job in reminding her readers of all the important parts of the last book. It’s quite easy to go back into Magonian world with Headley smoothly guiding us back to it.

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Review | Crystal Storm

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Title: Crystal Storm
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #5
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 379

Blurb from Goodreads:

The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.

In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

My Thoughts-01

This book is a party and we have the dead, the dying, the possessed, and the resurrected, in attendance. This is, by far, the best book in the Falling Kingdoms series. It was sweet and exciting, at the same time, dangerous and ruthless. It still uses greed, vengeance, blood magic, and deception, as key ingredients just like the previous installments, but Crystal Storm captured and held my attention far longer than the other books in this series did. It’s a short book—less pages but more thrill and action, more evil beings ready to cause destruction, and there was no shortage in deaths if that’s what you’re here for.

To be honest, the writing style wasn’t very impressive, but Morgan Rhodes sure knows how to keep her readers reading. She knows how to make you want the next book. Badly. Aside from the endings, the Prologue is my favorite part of every book in this series. Either we met new characters worthy of our time and attention in there, or we see flashbacks of our villains so we get to understand where all the greed and thirst for power came from. In this particular release, the writing is noticeably better compared to the previous books. Even the world-building has improved a little in this. It’s like there’s a new weight to the writing that promises some bad stuff is coming and it’s going to be good. And skies above! Morgan Rhodes sure knows how to deliver such promises. Even now—weeks after finishing this book—I’m still not okay with that ending. It was wicked!

As usual in this series, the book is told in multiple POVs. Our characters are scattered all across Mytica and its neighboring empire, Kraeshia. Although I never really felt that they’re that far away from each other. Mytica was rather small. This series’ entire world was rather small. All of the characters seem to have only grown a little, which I think is a result of having this many POVs in a short book. But plotwise, this book has taken huge interesting steps forward.

“Love is pain. Love is death. And love strips one of their power.”

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Review | The Naked Truth

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Title: The Naked Truth
Author: Vi Keeland
Publisher: Vi Keeland
Release Date: July 23, 2018
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 300

Blurb from Goodreads:

It was just a typical Monday.

Until the big boss asked me to make the pitch for a prospective new client.

After two years on shaky ground at work because of my screw up, an opportunity to impress the senior partners was just what I needed.

Or so I thought…

Until I walked into the conference room and collided with the man I was supposed to pitch.

My coffee spilled, my files tumbled to the ground, and I almost lost my balance.

And that was the good part of my day.

Because the gorgeous man crouched down and looking at me like he wanted to eat me alive, was none other than my ex, Gray Westbrook.

A man who I’d only just begun to move on from.

A man who my heart despised—yet my body obviously still had other ideas about.

A man who was as charismatic and confident as he was sexy.

Somehow, I managed to make it through my presentation ignoring his intense stare.

Although it was impossible to ignore all the dirty things he whispered into my ear right after I was done.

But there was no way I was giving him another chance, especially now that he was a client
…was there?

My Thoughts-01

This! This is how I like my adult romance novels—flirty, scorching hot, off the charts chemistry, ever present sexual tension, with just the right amount of steamy scenes placed in all the right places. It was full of lust and passion but it doesn’t overload us with the sex scenes. I like that the story revolves not just on sex like many other books in this genre. There were truths, lies, and surprises. There were big decisions for the main characters to make, and there’s enough drama to stir things up.

Gray and Layla are generic characters, to be honest. He is the alpha male type, possessive, dominant, intimidating, and rich. She is workaholic, independent, and she knows how to look out for herself. Even the storyline wasn’t very unique to me. I’m sure I’ve had this kind of story a few times before. But Vi Keeland handled these clichés nicely. The story was delivered in a way that wasn’t dull and boring. And I like how it gets more and more complicated, pushing both Layla and Gray to a spot where they were forced to make hard decisions that affects their relationship.

“Life threw him a curveball. I get it. But you don’t stop swinging. You firm up your grip and smack it out of the park.”

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Review | A Date with Darcy

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Title: A Date with Darcy
Series Details: Book Boyfriends #1
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: ABRAMS
Imprint: Amulet Paperbacks
Release Date: May 01, 2018
Genre: ContemporaryRomance, Young Adult
Pages: 392

Blurb from Goodreads:

In this contemporary YA, a teenager’s favorite literary heroes woo her in real life

The first of two books in an intended paperback original series about a girl whose classic literary crushes manifest in real life. Merrilee Campbell, 16, thinks boys are better in books, chivalry is dead, and there’d be nothing more romantic than having just one guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. She’s about to get the chance to test these daydreams when she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer into Reginald R. Hero High, where all their fantasies come true—often with surprising consequences.

My Thoughts-01

Yawn. This is definitely one of those times when I hate being that girl who won’t DNF a book, because to me, leaving a story unfinished feels like pulling the machine’s plug before it’s done with the laundry. Or like cleaning your room and leaving it halfway through. I know. I’m a bit weird that way. That’s why I’m a little choosy with what I pick up, but sometimes what you thought was cute and unique from the blurb could turn out to be too cliché for your taste. This was one of those books.

“First impressions often don’t tell the whole story.”

The problem with this book is that it took too long before the focus is finally on Merrilee and her true love interest. Half of it sits with the Romeo and Juliet stuff, which wasn’t the main story, and definitely not what I signed up for. I’m here for Mr. Darcy, not Romeo. The second half of the book is where the true romance takes place. It was cute and kinda fun. Unfortunately, I was already too bored to care at this point. Sadly, the cute romance and the sweetness of it all wasn’t enough to pull me back into the story.

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Review | Frozen Tides

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Title: Frozen Tides
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #4
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 413

Blurb from Goodreads:

Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen.

MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people.

LUCIA: The young sorcercess has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge.

JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred.

KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea.

My Thoughts-01

This series has got me conflicted. Every time I start with a new installment it’s like, Why did I ever decide to continue with this series? The world-building is lacking, the characters weren’t very complex, there were some plot holes you can poke at, and it moves at snail’s pace! Sometimes the grip is there. Most of the time, it drags. But every time I finish reading I’m like, Damn, I need the next book! It’s like there’s a strange force underneath everything that I find dull, and it pulls me in, just before the book ends—making sure I’ll consider picking up the next installment.

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Review | Gathering Darkness

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Title: Gathering Darkness
Series Details: Falling Kingdoms #3
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Razorbill
Release Date: December 09, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 407

Blurb from Goodreads

Love, vengeance, and greed spark a deadly quest for magic in the third book of the Falling Kingdoms series.

Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred—the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic. . . .

THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia’s overpowering magic—all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

The only certainty in these dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica. . . . but the four element gods of the Kindred have other plans.

My Thoughts-01

What. Just. Happened? I decided to continue with this series but with lowered expectations because of my many issues with the first two books. I certainly wasn’t expecting shocking reveals, intense action, and so many lies peeled off to uncover the truth beneath. This book will reconstruct everything you thought you knew from the previous books—from the myth, to the characters’ motives, down to the characters’ feelings. And it was all so unexpected. I was totally blindsided.

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Review | Legendary

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Title: Legendary
Series Details: Caraval #2
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 451

Blurb from Goodreads:

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts-01

When you enter the world of Caraval you’re signing up for magic, deception, and romance that would sweep you off your feet. I’m pleased to announce that Legendary didn’t fail to deliver all that. It took a while to build up the magic and the mystery around the whole new setting of Caraval. I, too, was bored during the first half of the book. But soon as Tella got into the thick of things, the story proceeded in a faster pace, the magic bloomed, the villains grew more and more threatening, and my curiosity won’t stop banging my brain willing it to read more.

“Every good story needs a villain.”
“But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”

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Review | Jar of Hearts

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Title: Jar of Hearts
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Minotaur Books
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Pages: 311

Blurb from Goodreads:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

My Thoughts-01

Murder, concealment, and secrecy are the main ingredients of Jennifer Hillier’s suspense novel, Jar of Hearts. Topped with tastefully complicated relationships between characters, this book is a recipe for one great read. This is solidly entertaining, chilling, and wonderfully twisted, page-turner! But be warned—aside from the murders described in gruesome details, this book also contains other unsettling things like violence, abusive relationship, and graphic rape scenes which could be extremely uncomfortable to read.

In every story, there’s a hero and villain.
Sometimes one person can be both.

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Review | I Believe in a Thing Called Love

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Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336

Blurb from Goodreads:

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

My Thoughts-01

I’ll be honest and go straight to saying I wasn’t thoroughly shipping Desi and Luca. I wasn’t rooting for them. Nor was I convinced by the romance. But damn if this book wasn’t funny! It’s light-hearted and hilarious like most K-drama series I’ve watched. This is actually the first book I’ve read that involves K-drama and so I find this unique in that way. It reminds me of those days when I would stay awake binge-watching these Korean series while everyone else in the house is snoring. That was before I became a full-on bookworm.

Desi Lee is an over-achiever. She is quite successful in everything she puts her mind into but there’s one thing she fails terribly at—getting a boyfriend. It’s kind of cute watching Desi try to put an end to her “flailures” by making a K-Drama based guideline on how to get the boy. But I hated how she took it very seriously to the point that she became controlling and manipulative. I understand that in most Korean dramas the heroines were always put in extreme situations, does extreme measures to survive, which leads to the heroes taking notice of them. But does Desi really have to put her life and someone else’s life in harm’s way for the sake of romance? Not once but three times! If I was Desi’s love interest, the things she did would have sent me in the opposite direction and never come back. Because that was just sick.

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