Book Reviews

Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst

Fire and Heist

Title: Fire & Heist
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society–a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

This was my first heist novel and it did not disappoint! What was really cool about this novel was that it was set in modern times. A modern time where were-dragons exist. WHAT?! Sky, our protagonist, and her family embark on heists in order to keep rank within the were-dragon community and make a living for themselves. However, Sky’s mom goes missing on a heist of her own. The failure of the heist brought the were-dragon world down on Sky and her family, hoping to make no mistake and create their own demise. But are things as they really seem? Where is Sky’s mom? And how can Sky and her family earn their rank back?

I am Sky Hawkins, and I’m a were-dragon. I’ve been called stuck-up both in the tabloids and in the hallways of P. Murphy Hugh, a poor little rich girl who surrounds herself with false friends and shallow dreams. Arrogant. Conceited. Egotistical. Haughty. Self-absorbed. All the synonyms, I’d heard them. But they were wrong.

It’s not arrogant to know who you are.

It’s powerful.

And I am powerful.

Sky is a likeable protagonist, while immature and egotistical at times, she is also level-headed. The writing was easy to follow and not overly descriptive. Durst made it easy to imagine every scene and every setting. The novel was action-packed and the characters were well-developed. While only a standalone (such a relief lately), a part of me wishes it were a duology.

My friends and my family are my treasure.

They are my gold.

Fire and Heist is the perfect standalone if you like adventure, suspense, and a hint of love.

Book Reviews

Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake

Analiese Rising

Title: Analiese Rising
Author: Brenda Drake
Rating: ★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Half-Blood meets Antigoddess in a thrilling, romantic new series from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Drake.

When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world—from herself.

This is a love story centered around mythology. And it all started when Analiese was a good samaritan and helped an elderly man with a task she promised him during his last breaths. The man was carrying a bag to his grandson that Analiese was now tasked with doing. After opening the bag to figure out the old man’s grandson’s address, she finds what looks to be a hit list. After a closer look, she realizes that her name is also on this list. 

Initially, I was really excited for this novel. For me, there was not enough focus on the plot and too much focus on the romantic element. There was so much potential, but I don’t feel like the novel was executed to its full extent! I found it hard to connect to the characters. 

The reason I was most disappointed was because there was a lost opportunity with the clues Analiese and Marek were left to figure out. It would’ve made the book if the audience was able to see examples in the novel and try to figure it out themselves. I remember Chasing Vermeer did that when it came out during my dreaded middle school days. That would’ve been an awesome incorporation!

There was a lot of potential, but this novel just fell short for me.

Expected publication date is January 8, 2019.

Book Reviews

2019 Beat the Backlist

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This reading challenge, hosted by Austine @ NovelKnight, is all about knocking off those older books from your to-read list. Any genre, any format, any length. My goal is to read 20 books for this challenge.

 

GUIDELINES

The book must have been published in 2018 or earlier to count. It can be in any format (including an ARC/eARC) as long as the release date is earlier than 2019.

You have to start and finish the book in 2019 to count it. Any books started in 2018 and finished in 2019 do not count. Any books started in 2019 and finish in 2020 also do not count.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019
(your local time)

Please keep in mind that while this reading challenge has several different community elements to it, reading through your TBR comes down to you! I wish you the best of luck!

 

HOW TO JOIN

POST your backlist TBR for the year somewhere online! This can be in the form of a blog post, instagram photo caption, Twitter thread, Goodreads shelf, YouTube video, whatever works for you! You are NOT locked into these books, it’s just something to get you started! Make sure to share a link to this page somewhere in your post so others can find the challenge!

SIGN UP using the form below! Sign-ups will stay open all year long so you can join at any time.

READ backlist books and knock them off your TBR!

SHARE your updates on social media!

 

OFFICIAL CHALLENGE TAGS

#BeatTheBacklist     #BeatTheBacklist2019

Sign Up Here

 

My TBR Backlist
2019 Beat the Backlist TBR List

Book Reviews

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl

Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Rating: ★★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Jessica Farris is a twenty-eight year old makeup artist. At her last appointment of the day (two valley-girl college girls), Jessica stumbles upon an opportunity to make some extra money. She overhears one of the girls talking about a study on morality and ethics. Also overhearing that her client will not be attending after a long night out, she feigns being one of the college girls. With her disabled sister on her mind, she welcomes the opportunity.

However, things go bad quickly when more is slowly asked of her. But with that comes more money to support her sister and family.

Unfortunately, I have yet to read The Wife Between Us. So, I had no idea what to expect coming into this novel, but of course, I was pleasantly surprised. My only complaint was that there was so much deceit (which always makes for a good story). Not one character could be trusted, so you never knew what to expect yet, or what was the “true” story at any given time.

Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

An Anonymous Girl is thought-provoking, suspenseful, and gripping. This novel will challenge your morality and ethics!

The expected publication date is January 8, 2019.

Book Reviews

Manga Classics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Title: Manga Classics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: Stacy King
Rating: ★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Chafed by the “sivilized” restrictions of his foster home, and weary of his drunkard father’s brutality, 14 year-old Huck Finn fakes his own death and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is soon joined by Jim, an escaped slave. Together, they experience a series of rollicking adventures that have amused readers, young and old, for over a century. Their peaceful existence ends abruptly, however, with the appearance of the King and the Duke, an incorrigible pair of con artists who take over the raft. After many difficulties, Huck and Jim escape their tormentors, and with the help of an imaginative rescue by Huck’s old friend Tom Sawyer, Jim gains his freedom.

Manga Classics breathes new life into this American Classic with a faithful adaptation (complete with original text)of Mark Twain’s masterpiece Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I think what I struggled with a lot was the dialect. Whenever Jim spoke, I understood what he was saying less than half of the time. Plus, bad grammar is a pet peeve of mine. 

The story seemed a bit detached from the reader. One chapter, one thing was happening and then the next, a completely different thing. It seemed like it was an accumulation of a lot of different stories, almost like a novella. Granted, I have not read the novel prior, so maybe it would make a little more sense had I read it.

Also, the characters seemed entirely childish and unrelatable. I couldn’t connect with any of them and some things were completely unnecessary or lacked all common sense (which should be taught at schools today because most people seem to be lacking it).

I don’t think this manga was for me, unfortunately. But I can definitely see how many others would enjoy this, especially if it was true to the novel.

 

Book Reviews

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

White Stag

Title: White Stag
Author: Kara Barbieri
Rating: ★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a buddy read with Breanna from Paws and Paperbacks.

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

Janneke/Janneka entered into the Permafrost after her entire village was destroyed. For the last 100 years, she has been living with goblins. With only the hope of once again returning to the human world, she bears the suffering she has been given. One day, the white stag leaves the current Goblin King, meaning he no longer bears the most power. In a race to power (and to kill the white stag), no one is safe. 

We are all monsters in some ways.

On initial thought, this reminded me of the Wintersong series. A girl is taken “prisoner” into the goblin world, only to fall in love with the person she serves. However, the goblin in this story, Soren, I actually adore. He cares more about Janneke than having power over her, even if it means losing a large majority of his power, and possibly death. 

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the growth the reader experiences from Janneke. We see her become a strong, confident woman who faces her fears instead of running from them like she did in the past. She embraces the idea that every person (or goblin) has their own fate. Not only that, but not everything is as it appears. The novel ends with Janneke becoming an inspiration for those around her.

This started out fast, slowed some, and then sped up again. I wish there were more details in the last battle, because we only received the viewpoint of Janneke, so we didn’t know everything that happened in the battle (and I love battles!). Overall, this was fulfilling, didn’t contain too much romance (yay!), and gave the supporting characters some love. This would be a perfect read for those who enjoyed the Wintersong series and The Cruel Prince.

Expected publication date is January 8, 2019.

Book Reviews

The Flash: Starting Line by Brian Buccellato

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Title: The Flash: Starting Line
Author: Brian Buccellato, Francis Manapul (Illustrations)
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Flash: Starting Line (DC Essential Edition) features an outstanding collaborative storyline from creators Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, and collects The Flash #0-12 and The Flash Annual #1. Featuring gorgeous, brand-new cover art, The Flash: Starting Line (DC Essential Edition) is a definitive entry point to the DC Universe’s vast library, perfect for new readers and longtime fans alike.

Ever since he was struck by a bolt of lightning and doused in a potent mix of chemicals, Barry Allen has kept the streets of Central City safe as the Flash–the Fastest Man Alive! But thwarting crime has earned him a powerful and eccentric Rogues Gallery. Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Golden Glider, the Trickster and Weather Wizard have now united in their hatred for the Scarlet Speedster, and they won’t quit until they put the brakes on his crime-fighting ways.

The DC Essential Edition series highlights the best standalone stories the medium has to offer, featuring comics’ greatest characters. These trade paperback editions focus on the easiest entry points DC has in its vast library, with seminal, groundbreaking tales that transcend the printed page. Start with the Essentials.

Man! Introductions of all of our favorite villains showed up in this comic! But things don’t look good for the Flash when they all unite to defeat the Flash.

What is great is that the reader get a little bit of background to each villain and how they came to be, while also incorporating an overall plot line conducive to the story line of the Flash. The art is beautiful and true to the prior comics. This is a great beginner comic for fans of the TV show.