๐Ÿ‰Spoiler Free Review: As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows๐Ÿ‰

Title:ย As She Ascends (Fallen Isles #2)

Author:ย Jodi Meadows

Pub. Date:ย September 11th. 2018

Genre:ย YA FANTASY

Publisher:ย Katherine Tegen Books/Harper

Pages:ย 560

๐Ÿ‰ ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review ๐Ÿ‰ย ย 

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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The sequel I’ve been anxiously awaiting is FINALLY here & it was everything ย I was hoping it would be! If Before She Ignites was the breaking down of Mira’s reality, then As She Ascends lives up to it’s name with Mira rising like the Dragon Queen she really is! In the previous book we meet our Protagonist as she come across the cold hard truth about the government in Fallen Isles. A world entrusted by the Gods to take care of their children the dragons, has turned their backs on these creatures. Mira believes whole heartedly in The Great Abandonment, the belief that if the dragons aren’t fiercely protected, the Gods would truly abandon their people and devastation would spread across the islands. The problem is, not everyone believes in The Great Abandonment. Dragons are mysteriously dissapearing ย from their sanctuaries due to unexplained illnesses and acts of violence. Mira and friends are being hunted by Altan & his group of Drakon Warriors (Once were in a position of honor for being protectors of the Isles)ย all the while they search for truths & a way to save all Dragons.

Mira’s character is one that I hold near & dear to my heart for so many reasons. Mira struggles with anxiety and OCD, we see her thrown in a jail cell without access to her medications in the last book and the effects that had on her. Here Mira is learning how to cope with her anxiety and find peace within the chaos her life has been turned into. I’m glad to see her mental health challenges weren’t written away, instead Meadows gives us a very realistic MC who isn’t made of Teflon. Mira’s strength comes from deep within, she’s caring and loving to her friends and has a maternal love for dragons that even they can sense. To see that even those saving the day in our books, can struggle with mental health issues is appreciated & frankly something we need to see more of. Seeing Mira experience many of the episodes I myself deal with felt relatable. Seeing her have a support system of friends who understand & help her through them send such a positive message.

There are so many great characters to love in this book besides Mira but I have such a soft spot for Aaru.ย Silent in movement & speech, this Idrisi has stolen my heart. Strong in his beliefs & unwilling to bend or break his faith, Aaru finds himself unable to stay away from Mira. This character intrigued me so much inย Before She Ignites,ย so much so that when I realized Meadows had given him his platform to tell his story through a series of flashbacks I was elated. I figured Aaru had to have had a difficult past but I just didn’t imagine how hard its been. On Aaru’s Island, women aren’t allowed to work and are though of as the lesser sex. This is something he can’t wrap his head around & seeing him fight for what he believes in made me respect and appreciate him all the more. Aaru is the calm Mira seeks, when they’re together the whole world is a much quieter place where Mira feels at peace.

Last but not least, for those who wanted to see more dragons in Before She Ignites Meadows delivers & honestly has me obsessing! ๐Ÿ˜ย Not only are Lala & Crystal back ๐Ÿ‰๐Ÿ’“๐Ÿ‰ย but we get introduced to more amazing majestic dragons along the way. Lala & Crystal are given personalities and we get to see Mira & her BFF/Wing Sister train & take care of them.

There’s so much positive to say when it comes to this trilogy, mental health rep being at the forefront. Having a strong support system & practicing self-care even when you think it’s not possible. I love these characters with all of my heart & every time I step into this world is a real treat. Hella diverse, our MC is a POC as is her love interest and this time around we also have a Lesbian relationship between two of the supporting characters. The character growth is A+ if you’re looking at Before She Ignites as Mira hitting rock bottom. As She Ascends sees Mira finding real confidence, growing, and breaking away from those who’ve lied to her. Surrounding herself with genuine people & discovering inner strength. Aaru also had deep character growth while some of the others found new meaning & purpose in life.

The World Building was EPICCCC!!!! between the dragons & the culture/history we got from each of the Islands and the Gods that represent them/their people, I don’t know what I enjoyed most. This time around we see how these Gods affect the people & the power/strengths they draw from their Gods. I can picture the Fallen Isles so vividly & the ending left me with chills!!! to say that I miss this world having just been in it would be the understatement of the year for this bookworm. I am so curious to see where Mira goes next & the dragons she discovers along the way…


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Spoiler Free Review: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Title:ย Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2)

Author: Scott Reintgen

Pub. Date:ย July 17th, 2018

Genre:ย YA Sci-Fi

Publisher:ย Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages:ย 400

Format:ย eGalley

Content Warning Provided by the wonderful Melanie:ย murder, death, gore, blood, violence, depiction of PTSD, abandonment, kidnapping, torture, animal death, talk of past outing, talk of past homophobia, genocide, colonization, loss of a loved one, loss of a friend, and war themes

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*HUGE thanks to Crown Books for Young Readers and Scott Reintgenย for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

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Last year I won a Twitter giveaway for Nyxia & I didn’t really know much about the book other than it was Sci-fi & I dig sci-fi so it couldn’t hurt throwing my hat in the ring. I also attended Bookcon last year & remember standing right in front of Scott Reintgen’s table as he set up for a signing & again, I had no idea what for…hadn’t won the contest just yet. Well *sigh* I did read the book & I also gently kicked myself afterwards for not having read it sooner & missing my grand opportunity to talk Scott’s ear off about book 2!

Nyxia remains one of my favorite YA Sci-Fi books & you can check out my spoiler free GUSH review (here) but Nyxia Unleashed has definitely taken over the mantle, Scott Reintgen delivered & I couldn’t be happier with this sequel! well…I could but I’m reserving that for book 3! Now onto this GUSH review…

We start off right where we left off and that means there’s a ton of hurt and pain to last a lifetime. The events from Nyxia have left Emmett and his friends rattled and looking over their shoulders. The corporation known as Babel who they’ve basically signed their lives away to in exchange for financial stability for themselves and each of their families, has many secrets. They’ve all been through the ringer Hunger Games style in the first book & are now realizing that “Space Exploration” and mining of the Nyxia substance found on the planet they’ve been shipped off too, isn’t Babels real agenda. They’re also realizing that for all the rigorous training Babel put them through, it’s not quite enough when faced with the actual dangers and species on the foreign planet Eden.

โ€œIโ€™m always surprised when people expect me to not notice the little details. So many lies are like badly buried bodies, just waiting for a little rain to unearth them.โ€

We meet the “Adamites” who inhabit Eden and have a working relationship with Babel. In exchange for access to the Nyxia naturally grown in Eden, the Adamites asked for Babel to send them only their youth. Teens like Emmett and his friends, the reason given is that their planet has no youth left. Females are almost all extinct and therefore no children have been born in recent years. If you’re raising an eyebrow at this…you are NOT alone! I was suspicious of them all the way til’ the very end! you just never know with these Sci-Fi books if they’re trying to steal your organs #jussayin haha! with the introduction of the Adamites we get layers of world building & Adamite culture from the foods they eat to their social class construct. I am a sucker for world building, details, and just about anything that can make a world come alive on the page & transport me right into its midst. Reintgen not only continued to deliver on some of the BEST character development to hit the page, he also expanded the world tenfold and in the process hooked me in once more. We also get discussion on colonization, corporal punishment, the broken prison system here on Earth, and structural racism. ย  Food for thought is always welcome especially when it mirrors much of our current day lives. Emmett has trained himself to observe as opposed to reacting right away & so we get to follow his train of thought as he realizes the similarities between Eden and Earth.

โ€œIt doesnโ€™t surprise me that Babelโ€™s out here playing the role of colonizer, slapping labels on the originals and pretending they created it all in the first place. Itโ€™s pretty standard procedure for folks like them.โ€

One of the things I love the most about this trilogy is the dialogue. From the author bio we get that some of the research for these characters came from Reintgen’s experience in the classrooms he teaches in. The language is authentic and flows very easily with a ton of personality infused in each and every one of the characters. This is a big cast & yet I always knew who was saying what just by how well fleshed out they all are. Our MC Emmett shares the leadership spotlight with his love interest Morning who is a take charge Alpha personality not really waiting to be given the reigns. I LOVED seeing these two in action & just how respectful Emmett is of Morning, he admires her strengths and bravado. Morning in turn takes a very protective role over ย Emmett. It wasn’t made to be Emmett coming to her rescue, Morning got him out of quite a few jams. Each has different strengths in character but both bring out the best in those they cross paths with. There’s a recurrent theme all throughout this sequel of a sense of shedding their innocence. They aren’t doing “normal” teen things and Emmett is very much aware of this when he self reflects. The humility is still very much there, kept alive through flashbacks of conversations with his father who sort of plays a side characters in the shadows. For the most part all of these characters have a past heavy with burden and pain, injustice and poverty. It’s their desire to want more for those they love that keep them in the game…

โ€œMy whole lifeโ€™s been rough, but somewhere I picked up the idea that it wasnโ€™t supposed to be that way. I donโ€™t know where I learned about justice, when I started thinking I deserved something more. Thereโ€™s a part of me that knows, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the world is supposed to be better, more.โ€

One thing is for certain, these characters are much stronger together than apart. I am so ready to see how certain relationships play out in the next book and whether they will endure whatever comes their way. This was such a fun read, these characters feel so familiar and alive that it really does feel like seeing old friends again after some time has passed. I am more than looking forward to returning to this cast of characters but for now I’ll just live vicariously through my hubby who will be starting Nyxia next ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€œWe walk together, shoulders touching, like weโ€™re walking home from school on a normal day. But thatโ€™s not reality. Reality is a new world. Reality is two moons hanging in the sky, bright and beckoning. Reality is what weโ€™re leaving behind as we move through an empty forest and out into a world that feels full of ghosts.โ€

*Quotes have been taken from ARC and may differ from the final publication.


Nyxia Unleashed the sequel to Nyxia by Scott Reintgen will hit the shelves July 17th!!! & your girl has already pre-ordered a copy. All I need now is some fan art, bookmarks, candles, the works inspired by this trilogy fathom?!?! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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Spoiler Free Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Title: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2)

Author: Katherine Arden

Pub. Date:ย December 5th, 2017

Genre:ย Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Publisher:ย Del Rey

Pages:ย 363

Format:ย eGalley & Physical ARC

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Words? what are they? I seriously don’t think I can do this book justice but because I feel EVERYONE should read this trilogy, I will pull myself together & let you all know why Katherine Arden is a force to be reckoned with. I thought Arden’s debut The Bear and the Nightingale was AMAZING! If this author never wrote anything again, I would’ve been saddened but also would’ve felt like I had found a diamond I could treasure for the rest of my life! a lush & vivid world I can see myself returning to on a cold winter night year after year. I was NOT expecting to be blown away by its sequel The Girl in the Tower! not only has our MC grown since the last time we saw her but the world itself has expanded & developed to give us readers a better picture of Vasya’s travels & adventures outside her small village & woods. We last left off with Vasya having no choice but to leave her only known home once she was labeled a witch. It was expected that she’d be sent to her sister Olya in Moscow to be paired off in marriage & spend her days with the other women who live in a tower child rearing & running their households. Vasya however has never had an interest in these things & could never be tied down for the rest of her days. Having always found comfort in “boys clothing” she finds she can see the world without restrictions.

Choosing instead to map out her own destiny, Vasya sets off into the woods on her horse Solovey. If The Bear and the Nightingale was mostly world-building & the fleshing out of characters, this follow-up introduces a fast paced plot while also balancing & building upon its predecessor. Villages are being pillaged and burned, their little girls are being stolen away from their families. Vasya finds herself in the middle of it all as she fights the bandits and eventually captures the attention of the Grand Prince of Moscow with her bravery. We follow Vasya as she uncovers the sinister forces threatening the kingdom all whilst keeping her true identity hidden.

Vasya- still holds the title of my Most Favorite MC in all of Fantasy! Her independence, self worth, bravery, fierceness and determination not to conform to society’s gender norms speak to my soul. In The Bear and the Nightingale we are introduced to a young Vasya who is considered very wild and rebellious. In this follow-up, we get to see how much she’s matured while still staying true to who she is at her core. I loved seeing older Vasya experience new things and emotions.

โ€Sudden anger burned out Vasyaโ€™s gathering hurt. She pushed back her chair and stood again. โ€œI am not your dogโ€, she snapped. โ€œYou May tellย meย to go home, but I may choose not to. Do you think that is all I want, in all my lifeโ€”a royal dowry, and a man to force his children intoย me?โ€ย 

ย Morozko aka Frost Demon aka King of Winter – Morozko plays a integral role in this story but it wasn’t until this follow-up that I truly grew to love this character. Think of him a mix of Father Winter & Grimm Reaper, his broodiness was on another level & for some reason I found this to be so endearing smh #dontjudgeme haha!

Solovey –ย My fave character in this whole book is Solovey who is Vasya’s horse & UGH! my heart can’t contain the love I have for this sassy four legged creature! besides the sass he is SUPER protective & loyal to Vasya which is always admirable.

Sasha aka Aleksandr –ย Vasya’s older brother who also decided to carve his own path & become a monk. This however doesn’t mean he is a peaceful monk lol, Sasha can be found protecting his cousin The Grand Prince which means swords a plenty. I LOVE the sibling relationship between Vasya and Sasha, moments where he wishes she’d just conform to the norm & marry but then quickly realizes that the thought alone sounds absurd. Sasha accepts & many times admires Vasya on the battlefield. He’s seriously the brother I wish I’d always had ๐Ÿ™‚

Olya –ย Vasya’s older sister, last we heard of her she had gotten married and left to Moscow to tend to her household. Olya has always been sort of a mother figure to her siblings so it was interesting seeing her very different relationship with Vasya. Olya loves all of her siblings & doesn’t always understand the things they do but she’s always represented home for them.

Marya –ย One of the newest characters introduced towards the end, Marya is Olya’s young daughter. Although she didn’t have a huge role in this book, we get the feeling there will be more to her story. Marya is free spirited just like Vasya & as such looks up to her aunt. I got a vivid picture of young Marya who will remind many of the Vasya we were first introduced to however, she is definitely more outspoken ๐Ÿ˜‰

Last but definitely not least are the spirits aka Chyerti you will find hidden in the ovens, bath houses, horse stables, and door yards. These are perhaps some of my most favorite characters in this world. I’m totally considering leaving an offering in my oven to see if my Domovoi shows up *fingers crossed* ๐Ÿ˜‰

It comes as no surprise that I am absolutely OBSESSED with Katherine Arden’s writing! I would’ve never guessed when I was handed a copy of the book by the author herself at Comic Con that she was giving me the BEST gift ever! I can think of no other books that better capture the magic and beauty of winter. A cozy blanket on a cold winter night is what I always use to describe this book to my book blogging buddies & wrap you up it will. Many who found The Bear and the Nightingale to be on the slower side might find themselves really enjoying the faster paced plot in The Girl in the Tower. I for one don’t mind a slow paced world as long as it’s rich & inviting like these are. Also, there is a clear cut villain this time which felt like the connecting puzzle piece & I just loved seeing it all come together. I am SUPER STOKED for The Winter of the Witch in 2018!!! as sad as I’m sure I will be to see it end, I am confident Katherine Arden will give us all a EPIC ending to this amazing trilogy ๐Ÿ™‚

*Many thanks to Del Rey, Netgalley, and Katherine Arden for the eGalley copy ofย  The Girl in the Tower in exchange for an honest review.


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GUSH Review! Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Title: Invictus

Author: Ryan Graudin

Pub. Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher:  Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Pages: 464

Formats: eGalley & physical ARC

    

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Since finishing up Invictus I’ve gone on a Ryan Graudin video binge on Youtube…this is when I KNOW I love a book! when I can’t let it gooooo! *cue Elsa/Frozen*  well in one of these videos Graudin mentions getting inspiration from Dr. Who and Fire Fly. These are shows I’ve only watched in passing & that now have immense curiosity for after finishing this book. Time travel alone has always intrigued me in Sci-Fi & that’s probably because I love History so much that the idea of traveling back to ancient Rome was SUPER appealing. We get introduced to our MC Farway Gaius McCarthy as he preps to take his final SIM exam to determine whether he is Recorder material. You only get 1 shot to pass this exam & failure means expulsion. Things go haywire during his SIM & Farway is given the boot from the academy. Being the best of the best, Farway knows his exam was tampered with however he has no real way of proving it. Faced with the reality of having all of his dreams of one day commanding his own time travel machine & crew taken away, Farway is quick to accept a offer from a Boss in the black market.

The opportunity: to man his own time travel machine in exchange for his services stealing valuable pieces from the past that will not be missed.

Translation: Stealing valuable pieces that won’t alter history & in turn alert the time travel police.

Farway of course gathers his most trusted friends from the academy and forms his crew to carry out these heists through different periods in time. When I think of my experience reading Invictus, the first word that comes to mind is FUN! popping in & out of time, wearing period fitting costumes, stealing ancient items all the while trying to stay incognito was insanely fun! Besides the awesome plot we get this great set of characters you can’t help but get attached to. I feel Graudin accomplished exactly what she said she set out to do with this crew & that was making them feel like home. By the end of the book I could tell you who was who blindfolded & that just made my reading experience all the more better. In terms of plot pacing I wouldn’t say it was fast paced however, there was never a time something wasn’t happening with one of the characters. There are also elements of parallel universes which I’ll be the first to admit intimidated the hell out of me however, I was able to follow the madness without having to double back haha!

Farway- at the top of his class, he knows he is destined for time travel. He is also well known for being born outside of times parameters. His mother is a Recorder of much fame garnering recognition for her many achievements. The truth about Faraways conception however is one well kept secret. Faraway wants nothing more than to follow in his motherโ€™s footsteps in hopes that it will lead him back to her (trying to be vague here lol). Itโ€™s hard not to like Farway, heโ€™s great with his friends aka crew and isnโ€™t scared to take some risks for the sake of time travel ๐Ÿ˜‰

Imogen- I LOVE THIS GIRL! I mean, who wouldnโ€™t love a character who wakes up every day & colors her hair in with different colored chalk? ๐Ÿ˜‚ funny, sweet, always positive, & loves her cousin Farway to pieces! She also keeps a Red Panda fur baby she named Safron who is feisty & offered up a couple of laughs along the way. Imogen is also the Historian on the crew & is in charge of researching the time periods they’ve been sent to steal from in order to dress them all accordingly.

Gram- you can find Gram at his station playing with his rubix cube & or computations to make sure they land in the exact time period desired. He is the Engineer who double majored as a recorder & basically I saw him as a Jack of all Trades. Gram is also a POC & I was glad to see this brought up by him seeing as time traveling may take them to places that would put him in danger. Gram is a very quiet character with a high IQ & the few times he was off the Invictus to aid in a mission I really enjoyed (hope to see more of this).

Priya- The medic on board & also resident beat master, Priya is known for compiling epic playlists. Her spicy Chai tea keeps everyone going & when she isn’t jamming to her tunes she can be found either patching up one of the crew members with stitches OR lending her mechanic skills to the maintenance of the Invictus.

Eliot- This character is SUPER mysterious & carries with her many truths. At first she annoyed the hell out of me but I came around to appreciate her resourcefulness. Without saying too much about this character for fear of spoilers, I will say that she kept things very interesting on board. As the source of Farways frustration I thought Graudin was writing her in as a love interest however, I’m so glad that isn’t the case & that her role is way more interesting than that.

I loved this cast of characters & the dynamic they brought to the page on board the Invictus. Although we don’t get a ton of time to delve deep into each one, I felt Graudin gave us enough to get to know them for their quirks & personalities. If you loved the cast of characters in Gemina, then chances are you’ll also love this crew ๐Ÿ˜‰

Many of my book blogging buddies have recommended Graudin’s books & until now sadly I hadn’t picked one up. I’m so glad I finally listened & found a new favorite. This was a almost 500 page book and yet it didn’t drag & actually left me flipping for more pages knowing very well that I had reached the end LOL! I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the ending & how everything led up to what isn’t necessarily a happy ending but one full of hope…these are always the best in my opinion. I haven’t seen any news of a sequel however, it was left with plenty of room to expand which again leaves me oh so hopeful! haha. In the mean time I have my imagination to conjure up ideas of where this crew could possibly be headed next, although not as good as Graudin, it will have to do ๐Ÿ˜‰

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*HUGE Thanks to Little Brown Books, Netgalley, and Ryan Graudin in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Bookworms! I’m hoping some of you out there have already read & loved Invictus cuz I am really trying not to fall into a book hangover & need some support lol! who was your fave character? better yet, do you know if Graudin is in her lair writing us a sequel? *fingers crossed*


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