Review: Always Never Yours

34092885

Always Never Yours by: Emily Wibberley and Austin-Siegemund-Broka

My Rating: 4 Stars

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script.

Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Cheating, slut-shaming, mention of parental abandonment, mention of divorce, and aftereffects of divorce. 

Always Never Yours was really hard to miss. Back in December 2017 it was everywhere. I was pulled in because of the synopsis and cover. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Megan is always the girl before. Over her high school years she’s come to terms with that. After all her best friend Madeleine is dating her ex-boyfriend of six months Tyler. Regardless of the situation the two best friends are as close as ever.

Megan’s dream is to go to SOTI her favourite university. Thus far Megan has met the directing requirements. The only thing she needs is an acting credit. Jody (the drama teacher) is holding auditions for Romeo and Juliet. Megan has never acted before therefore she safely assumes that she’ll have a small role. Much to Megan’s surprise she is going to be Juliet. 

I’m so happy that I liked this book! I was a bit hesitant at first but all in all it worked out. The book is written in first person following Megan’s point of view. There are chapter numbers, text messages, and at the beginning off every chapter there are quotes from Romeo and Juliet.

If I could describe this book in one word it would be ‘Natural’. Always Never Yours felt so real! Everything just made sense in the way the story progressed. All the conflicts felt realistic and also in the way said conflicts were handled. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the large emphasis on plays’! It wasn’t just Shakespeare, Megan and her drama friends mention various plays. It was fun to read about Megan’s directing experience and her skills.

I really liked Megan! She wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. Even if it meant her love life. I was surprised and pleased by how mature Megan was! She thought through conflicts realistically and didn’t look to blame everyone but herself. Her friendship with Madeleine was amazing! They supported each other through and through. It was nice that Madeleine didn’t judge Megan for her relationships.

Owen was so sweet! His interactions with Megan were so good! They really saw through each other. The two start off as friends then gradually grow to be something more. It did take awhile and I enjoyed how slow-burn it was.

Megan and Owen agree to help each other. Megan will help Owen with his play, while he will help Megan to get the attention off his friend Will. They really did bring out the best in each other. Their growth due to their relationship was amazing! Most off their conversations were so funny too!

There was diversity! Owen was Japanese, Anthony black and gay, and Alyssa Spanish. Each of the characters identities were integrated so well into the story. You do have the chance to see Megan’s exes. And see kind of a pattern with her relationships. Even in her new crush Will. It was interesting to see the difference between Megan’s relationship with Tyler vs. Madeleine’s.

All the main characters’ had fantastic development! It was nice to read about Anthony’s relationship woes alongside Megan’s. I liked how conflict arouse with her friends in the beginning of the book. Usually it happens towards the end but not here. Their conflicts made all them stronger and their relationships with one-another improved. I felt for all of them. 

Family also played a huge role. Megan’s parents are divorced. With her father remarried and half-siblings. Her mother was in a relationship, but Megan assumed her mother hadn’t moved on from the divorce. She truly believed that she was replaceable. As Megan’s step-mother was pregnant. Megan struggles with this for a majority of the book. I was happy when Megan realized she was wrong. I enjoyed reading about her relationships with each member off her family. Especially her half sister Erin. 

I did have some problems with the book. I was pretty mad at Owen for cheating on his girlfriend. I can’t believe it was Megan who had to remind him off Cosima! There was so much cheating. I didn’t expect that at all. And despite Megan being comfortable with herself there were still people who slut-shamed her.

I don’t really know how to feel about the Alyssa situation. Part off it felt like a cop-out. Just an easy way for Megan to the opportunity to play Juliet. While I do understand that Alyssa cut it close to the checks, it just wasn’t portrayed that well. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I recommend it for contemporary fans.  

Advertisements

Review: Children of Blood and Bone

38480225

Children of Blood and Bone by: Tomi Adeyemi

My Rating: 4 Stars

The B&N Exclusive Edition includes six pages of handwritten, behind-the-scenes material plus a map of Lagos, the capital city of Orïsha. The city map shows the Royal Palace, the marketplace, and the diviner slums that ring the marketplace.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Genocide, slavery, torture, abusive parent, discrimination, assault, colorism, and oppression.

GR Ultimate Summer Reading Challenge: Sand Between My Toe’s, Hook ‘Em, and Sports-a-holic. Tome Topple Readathon Round 6.

Last year I got a sample from Netgalley. I was so intrigued and thoroughly enjoyed reading the sample! Naturally I bought the final version. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

11 years ago King Saran ordered the murders of the former Maji. The same day that the Maji lost their powers leaving them defenseless. Zelie witnessed her mother being murdered. The King also ordered all the dead Maji to be put on display. So as to make the diviners fear him.

In secret Zelie and other girls in her village get training from Mama Agba. Mama Agba teaches them how to defend themselves with a staff. To further make the diviners miserable the King increases the diviner tax. In an attempt to be brave Zelie angers the guard and nearly gets herself killed. Much to Zelie’s surprise Mama Agba allows Zelie to graduate and awards her with a metal staff.

Zelie arrives to terrible news. Her father nearly drowns in an attempt to keep her from becoming a slave. Zelie agrees to sell fish in Lagos which is the capital city. While there she runs into the princess who is on the run from her father. Zelie, Amari, and Tzain (Zelie’s brother) then embark on a journey to bring magic back.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read such an intense fantasy! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The B & N edition comes with an annotated chapter, and the map of Lagos. The hardcover is also a different color. Narrated in first person the book follows Amari, Zelie, and Inan. There is also a one page prologue and an epilogue. The point of views’ are actually written well! You can tell that their different people.

The world-building and magic system were incredible! Zelie lives in a very gruesome and tough society. When magic makes a vague comeback it got really intense! I enjoyed reading about the journey to all the sacred temples. And the I really liked that there were objects tied to getting magic back. There a huge part that mythology and religion plays into the story. I found the whole concept to be original. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the culture. Such as food, clothes, and language.

I’m just going to say this first: I understand why people don’t like Zelie. Zelie spends a majority of the book being angry. And she usually took it out on Amari and Tzain was always stuck fixing the mess. The reason I actually liked all the characters is because they were understandable. While Zelie could be a real pain, I understood where she was coming from. And she did actually develop throughout the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading from Amari’s point of view! It was lovely to read about her journey and struggles. I liked how Binta was a strong motivation for Amari. In some books said dead character usually disappears 20% in. That didn’t happen. From the beginning to the end Amari is always thinking about Binta. I also liked how Zelie and Amari came to be friends. Their chapter together was fantastic!

I found Inan’s chapters to be the most insightful. His character was very interesting. I enjoyed watching him develop and reading about his outlook on the world around him. While he did a lot of questionable things I understood his motivations. I look forward to his journey in the sequel. 

I’m kind off hoping that for the sequel we’ll get Tzain’s point of view. I would love to read his thoughts! And hands down Tzain is my favourite character. He’s serious while also showing a goofy side. And he’s a very fair person. 

I really liked how there was a large focus on family! As someone who has siblings it was so much fun to read about the relationship’s between Amari and Inan, as well as Zelie and Tzain. Even the King’s relationships’ with his children. Mama Agba was a mother figure to Zelie and Tzain. And I really loved Zelie’s father! He was so sweet.

Onto the romance! I loved Amari and Tzain together! They developed such a sweet relationship and get along so well. They bring out the best in each other. I would love for them to be official in the sequel. As for Inan and Zelie I felt nothing. Yeah they got along but it came it off nowhere. It’ll be interesting to see where the sequel will take them.

I liked the involvement of Zu’s crew as well as Tzain’s opponents. They made the story and the journey to get magic back so interesting. I am really looking forward to reading about them again in the sequel! 

There are some deaths’. Starting from the beginning of the book. I appreciated that the author didn’t hold back. I’m sort of weary and curious as to who will die in the sequel.

I only had one problem. I honestly did not understand Zelie and Inan’s relationship. They spent a good bit of the book hating each other. Inan was trying to kill her. They had an opportunity to work together. Which lasted two days. And somehow in those two days they were basically in love. They moved very fast. It was very surprising.

Overall I really liked Children of Blood and Bone! I high recommend to fantasy fans.    

Review: One Fell Sweep

32938039

One Fell Sweep by: Ilona Andrews

My Rating: 4 Stars

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!!

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning: Mention of war, death, and mention of annihilating a species.

Despite being a tad disappointed in Sweep in Peace I was still looking forward to reading One Fell Sweep. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it!

It’s been a few days since Sean and Dina went to the movies together. Gertrude Hunt has become quite. Sean and Dina are attempting to form a relationship. At night Dina senses a presence. It turns out to be Sean. Sean explains that he had a really bad feeling and came to the inn. A wormhole appears in the sky and a supernatural being emerges. Sean and Dina quickly deal with the situation.

The supernatural being is a Ku who has come to deliver a message to Dina. The message turns out to be from Dina’s sister Maud who is in trouble. Dina requests Arland to take her to Maud (who is on a different planet). All three then go to retrieve Maud and her daughter Helen. This journey will be the last of Dina’s problems.

I’m so happy that I enjoyed One Fell Sweep! The book is narrated in first person following Dina. There are some more pictures. And new characters. As well as an expansion on the world.

One Fell Sweep was more action packed! I enjoyed the additional new characters. Maud and Helen were awesome! I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship Maud shared with Dina. It gave readers an insight to Dina’s life before the book series. Helen was so cute! I really enjoyed reading about her interactions with all the characters.

The Hiru and Draziri situation was well done! The Draziri believe that if they kill one Hiru then they are guaranteed a place in heaven. It is not stated in any records why it is that the Draziri God’s preach this. A Hiru comes to Dina requesting help. The Hiru states that they have found a solution through the Archivarian. A sentient being of intelligence. In order to accomplish this the Hiru says that they will need to gather all the Archivarius. Once all the parts are gathered then they’re home free. In return Dina will get to ask the Archivarian a question. 

Dina wants to help but can’t really put her guests in jeopardy. The Draziri are known to not obey rules. And will likely reveal themselves to her neighbors. Which goes against the Earth treaty. However she ends up accepting as the Draziri launch an attack on her inn for housing the Hiru. Dina decides to ask the Archivarian about her parents.

Maud’s character was very intelligent. Maud’s ex-husband was a vampire who pulled a lot of stupid actions. This resulted in them being sent to Kahari an almost dead planet. Maud’s husband was murdered for his actions, leaving her to fend for Helen. Her insight into politics was awesome to read about! Also she was such a great parent!

The romance was really good! Maud and Arland had some of the best interactions. Arland falls hard for Maud. He’s also really great to Helen. Sean and Dina were adorable in this installment! I actually felt something for them. I didn’t feel much in the second installment. Sean’s parents also come in. They were actually really nice to Dina. Which I really appreciated.

George should truly get a medal for all his scheming. It’s revealed that George is the one that gave Maud the Ku and sent the Hiru to Dina. It’s really amazing how much he can accomplish in the name of good. Officer Marias gets involved in the supernatural war. He takes the information about the supernatural pretty well and proves to be helpful towards their cause. The Assembly and Ad-Hal is expanded upon. I really like how in every book that is some world-building. 

I really appreciated all the quirks in this installment. Gertrude Hunt, Olasard (Dina’s cat named by Helen), Caldenia, Beast, and Orro. Each off these characters made such a great addition to this installment. I especially loved Gertrude Hunt’s role. 

I’m just going to clarify something: One Fell Sweep is not a final book. It ends on a cliffhanger. Dina doesn’t find her parents (she does get some information), the Assembly summon Dina but you don’t get to meet them, and there is something that is hunting the Ad-Hal’s.

Considering how popular these authors are, I don’t think they mean to end the series on a cliffhanger. This series is self-published and over the past two years they’ve been really busy with other releases. There will likely be more books. It’ll just take some time. Thus far (on their website) they are working on a short story with Arland and Maud. I do still hope that it comes soon though.

Overall I really enjoyed One Fell Sweep! I highly recommend this series.       

Review: Sweep in Peace

19504964

Sweep in Peace by: Ilona Andrews

My Rating: 3 Stars

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death and mention of war.

After finishing Clean Sweep I was excited awaiting my turn in my library. Sweep in Peace had a lot of expectations to meet. I am happy to report that I enjoyed it! 

Sweep in Peace begins with a prologue from a new characters point of view. Said character has just murdered somebody due to personal reason. The unknown character is confronted by Klaus (Dina’s brother) and offered a job. The character’s name is revealed to be George. George accepts Klaus’s job offer.

Life has become boring for Dina. There’s no Sean or Arland, and just nothing to do. Caldenia mentions as much and suggests Dina should do some better advertising. Much to Dina’s surprise an Artibrator whose name is George asks for her help. George needs an inn to host a peace summit. Dina is a bit reluctant at first as it will be quite difficult to maintain all the parties of the guests arriving. However she agrees once she sees the amount of money she’ll earn. Dina does not anticipate just how taxing this peace summit or George can be.

I enjoyed reading Sweep in Peace! The story follows Dina’s point of view in first person. There are pictures throughout the book. The book opens with a prologue in third person following George. New characters are introduced.

As the new characters were introduced the world building was expanded upon. I really enjoyed reading about the situation on Nexus and how it affected the vampires, the Hope-Crushing-Horde, and the Merchant Clan. I was surprisingly interested in all the politics. I usually don’t care for politics. So this was a nice change.

There was an emphasis on understanding everyone’s side in the story and realizing that everyone has emotions. Which I appreciated and thought it was really important. Considering the different sides of the war.

As usual Dina was fantastic! She really does get better every time I read about her. Of course Caldenia played a vital part in the story. I’m also really surprised that Caldenia is treated very well for a criminal. All the new characters respect her and when speaking refer to her title. Orro and Dina’s cat were my favourite new additions!

Orro is a former chef that Dina hires to cook for the peace summit. The descriptions of the food he made was fantastic! It can really get you hungry. Orro himself is quite the character. Very dramatic but truly cares for people and what others think off him. The cat was a bit of surprise to Dina as well. I enjoyed reading about their interactions.

Sean does come in but much later on. And there was a plot twist regarding his appearance. He goes through quite a few changes in this book. It did hurt but it also made for good character development.

George, Jack, Gaston, and Sophie are some of the new characters. They play a major role in the book. George was extremely intelligent and manipulated a lot of the situations that occur. His role as an artibrator allowed him to get away with most things. Of course it came to a point where Dina stopped taking his nonsense. The Sci-Fi elements are expanded upon as George is from another Earth.

I did have some issues. I thought that because Klaus was introduced in the prologue that he would make an appearance. That didn’t happen. It almost felt like the prologue was written for the purpose of enticing the reader, but the information was never expanded upon. The mind games that all the guests (mostly George) partake in became very frustrating. When it all came together it made sense, but that didn’t really help.

Overall I enjoyed Sweep in Peace! I highly recommend the series.     

Review: Defy the Stars

34852001

Defy the Stars by: Claudia Gray

 Nate Begle (Narrator) and Kasey Lee Huizinga (Narrator)

My Rating: 4 Stars

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: War and death. Dystopian society.

Part of Defy the Stars was read during #rimpysreadsathon. 

Defy the Stars was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Elise! Click on her name to read her review. When I heard that Claudia Gray was releasing a new book I didn’t particularly care. I’ve never read any of her books nor did I care too. Then I came across Elise’s review and was instantly captivated! Listening to the audiobook sample sealed the deal. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

Noemi along with the rest of the pilots is about to go on a suicide mission. She isn’t necessarily comfortable with this, but is still ready to die. However Noemi is considered with her adoptive sister and best friend Esther. Plunged early on into the an attack from Earth Noemi sees Ether’s ship in the far distance. Steering herself to it, Noemi comes across an abandoned looking ship.

The two land on the ship, while Noemi quickly tries to save Esther’s life. In the process she runs into Abel. A mech that has been abandoned for the past 30 years. Abel swears himself to Noemi and proclaims that he will follow her every order. Thus shenanigans ensue.

Defy the Stars is a unique Sci-Fi! I had a lot of fun reading. It is narrated in third person omniscient following Noemi and Abel. There are some flashbacks. The narrators did an excellent job bringing the characters to life! Nate Begle was especially impressive as he did a monotone robot like voice for Abel.

Let me start off with saying that Defy the Stars is a journey book. I mean this in a literal sense. Abel and Noemi travel to many different planets. This took up a good 20 percent. So if you don’t like that then I would suggest that you read another book. Or you could finish this, as each planet had it’s own culture and religious views. Which was written beautifully!

My other point is that there is a large focus on religion. Noemi identifies as a Christian and throughout the book she is questioning God’s existence. And how she fits into this world. I personally thought that the author did an excellent job! It was relatable and I do think that others would relate. There are also several other religions and races. Yay for well done diversity!

And lastly Defy the Stars deals with refugee’s, assimilation, and the messy war. Each planet has a different culture and in order to fit in to said planet you have to assimilate to said culture. Also when Earth was in terrible condition they migrated to the other planets and assimilated. The refugee’s actually had a name but because I was listening to the audio I have no idea how to spell it. The refugee’s travel the galaxy and try to find a home. The Liberty War and all the different sides was handled excellently! It was messy and really great to read about all the different sides and opinions.

Defy the Stars is very similar to most YA dystopian books. I personally think that this book is much better than a lot of dystopian books. Earth is the villain, which is a surprise because most books have another planet as the main villain. There is a man made disease, a rebellion, and a war. Regardless all these points are handled really well where as some books aren’t.

Noemi and Abel’s relationship was fantastic! They don’t agree with each other at first. And all Abel is to Noemi is a tool and a means to a mission. As they spend more time together Abel grows to genuinely care about Noemi. From her health to her mental well being. Noemi too grows to really care for Abel. They develop a really great friendship! The romantic aspect doesn’t come until the end of the book. I appreciated that the author develops Noemi and Abel through their friendship. 

Noemi’s relationship with Esther and Esther’s family is a huge part of her character. She thinks that she’s always angry and not compassionate. Abel is the one to point out that isn’t true. Noemi overcomes a lot of her misgivings with the Gatson’s and tries to move on with her life. Her parents and baby brother died in a car accident. Noemi is a Lationa! Her culture isn’t mentioned but her religion is.

Abel’s fatherly relationship with his creator Mansfield is a huge part of his character arc. Abel truly loves Mansfield and wants to see him one day. Throughout the book Abel comes to terms with the fact that he has feelings. And even begins to question Mansfield and his motivations. This is partly due to Noemi. Also Abel’s sarcasm was really funny! And it was surprisingly sweet to read about his love for Casablanca. 

While on their journey Abel and Noemi come across various people. They come across the Razors. A group of hackers who aid Noemi and Abel. The leader of the Razors is Virginia and she was awesome! Her and Noemi’s friendship was really sweet to read about. Also Virginia is implied to be LGBTQ. Virginia’s lines were some of the best. Like so on point and hilarious. 

Harriet and Zayan are a biracial couple. Harriet a black and Zayan an Indian. They were so nice! Riko and Ephraim are a part of Remedy which is a rebellion. Both were very interesting as was their relationship to one-another. All the side characters are useful to the plot and have their own back stories. Which is quite rare in YA.

There are multiple hints throughout Defy the Stars about Mansfield’s questionable motives and the reason behind creating Abel. I still have to admit that I did not see that plot twist coming! I look forward to reading about more of his motivations in the sequel. 

The book does end on a sort of cliffhangers. Noemi and Abel are separated. With Noemi being back on Genesis and Abel seemingly starting up a business of sorts. Considering how high the stakes are I am excited for the sequel!  

I only had a few problems with Defy the Stars. I wasn’t invested in the first 20%. This is a character driven book, so in the beginning I wasn’t that into Abel and Noemi’s story. However the more I read the more I grew to love Abel and Noemi! Seriously those feelings kind of snuck up on me!

With the amount of POC and religions I was really surprised that there wasn’t any racism. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just kind of odd. And logically speaking it doesn’t make sense. To be honest I didn’t really mind while I was reading. But now that I’m typing this review I’ve come to realize this. Maybe this will come up in the sequel. We’ll have to see.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Defy the Stars! I am looking forward to the sequels. I highly recommend it! 

 

Review: Hero at the Fall

35406534

Hero at the Fall by: Alwyn Hamilton

My Rating: 3 Stars

Once, in the desert country of Miraji, there was a Sultan without an heir.

The heir had been killed by his own brother, the treacherous Rebel Prince, who was consumed by jealousy and sought the throne for himself.

Or so it was said by some. There were others who said that the Rebel Prince was not a traitor but a hero…

In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything she believes in, but with the rebellion in pieces, and the Sultan’s armies advancing across the desert plains, who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: War and death. The LGTBQ characters have been killed off.

Buddy read with Tova! Click on her name to keep an eye out for her review. Part of this book was read during Kimi’s (GR friend) 24 hour read-a-thon. Tova and I also buddy read Traitor to the Throne. Considering how much I enjoyed that one, naturally I finished the sequel. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Amani is woken up from her nightmares and told to follow Sara. The two make their way up to the roof and notice a sort of glow. Amani realizes that it’s fire and likely has something to do with Leyla’s latest invention. The rebels are a mess. Amani has taken leadership and is struggling. Amani and the rebellion need to come up with a plan to defeat the Sultan.

I’m really happy that Hero at the Fall was a solid conclusion to the series! Like the previous installments, Hero at the Fall is narrated in first person following Amani’s point of view, and third person omniscient. There are chapter numbers and some chapters have titles. And lastly there is a character list and a map.

I may as well mention this first: some of the characters from the previous installments do die. I’m not going to mention which one’s die. That’s way too spoilerly even for me. Looking back on it now I probably should have predicated those deaths. Although I am still sad. I genuinely like all the characters in this series.

More information is revealed about the Dijinn’s. Some of the tales come into question, when Amani meets another dijinn. There was a huge focus on stories, choices, and the truth vs. what you’re told. Morally grey characters as well. As Amani herself is a questionable character. I really liked how well the author handled all these points!

I loved Amani’s character development! In the beginning Amani is in charge of the rebellion. She’s trying to make do but realizing that she isn’t fit to run a rebellion. Amani constantly berates herself, as she feels that she’s not well versed enough to be making such decisions. Amani also meets her aunt Farrah as well as Noorsham. Throughout her interactions with them, Amani comes to realize that she does matter. It was really beautiful to read about!

As per usual Amani’s relationship with Shazad, and the twins was fantastic! Her relationship with Hala even improved. Though I was anxiously waiting for some interactions with Ahmed. After everything that happened in the Harem I was wondering what would happen between the two of them. Ahmed actually took Amani seriously when she gave him suggestions. Their interactions were sweet and very important for the events in the last chapter.

When Amani meets her aunt again she is very nervous. To top it off Amani had to tell her aunt that Shira is dead. Through some rough patches, they sort of come to an understanding. In a sense the two move. This is largely due to Amani telling her aunt about Shira’s son. Something is better than nothing though. Amani and Tamid also make up. While they aren’t really friends anymore, they still care for each other and continue to do so.

Noorsham now rules over Dustwalk almost like a God. The people see him as their savior. Amani and the rebellion are taken to Noorsham first. Noorsham uses this magical object to see into their intentions, in order to deem them worthy or not. I’d say as I character Noosham definitely improved. His and Amani’s interactions really did read like a sibling relationship. I’m glad that he was introduced again and that the author did a good job with Noorsham’s character!

The rebellion getting an army was so much fun to read about! Amani tries to make some alliances in Ahmed’s place. Shazad’s father spread the word of Ahmed’s return and several people decide to join.

Jin’s backstory is expanded upon more. There is a chapter in his point of view. Wherein it starts with a flashback and ends with the present. I enjoyed having some insight into his thoughts. Really made some things clearer about his behaviour. Blissfully Jin and Ahmed do make up.

Amani’s relationship with Jin was strong throughout. Jin was the one person she actually got advice from. I also appreciated that Amani and Jin would call each other out on their faults and still be okay. I truly felt that their relationship grew stronger. It was lovely to read about!

I did have some issues with Hero at the Fall. I was very uncomfortable with Noorsham’s God-like rule. He treated himself like a God as did the rest of the people. Amani was still stupid and reckless in the beginning. Unfortunately this affected how she ran the rebellion. While I understand this was intended, it really wasn’t the that great to read about. Hero at the Fall wasn’t as engaging as Traitor to the Throne. It took me awhile to get invested into the story. The ending was rushed and anti-climactic. All of these points prevented me from giving Hero at the Fall a higher rating.

Overall I enjoyed this book! I highly recommend this series. 

Review: Clean Sweep

19090384

Clean Sweep by: Ilona Andrews

My Rating: 4 Stars

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Beware spoilers ahead! 

Trigger warning: Gruesome animal murders, descriptions of murders (fantasy creatures), and abusive behaviour.

Ilona Andrews is an author pair that I have been hearing about for years now. The duo are well received within the paranormal and adult community. I was in the mood for a strong female character book, so I found Clean Sweep. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

One of Dina’s neighbors dogs has been murdered yet again. Although this time the body is nearby her Bed and Breakfast. The neighbors leave Dina to talk to said neighbor. In the process Dina confronts new neighbor Sean Evans about the murders. The conversation doesn’t go well with Sean calling her crazy. That night Dina sees an unknown monster. Presuming this is the monster attacking the dogs, she attacks and kills it. Dina then finds herself facing something that she may not be prepared for. And she can’t do it alone. 

I had so much fun reading Clean Sweep! The book is written in first person whilst in Dina’s point of view. There are chapter numbers as well as pictures. The pictures are in color. I really liked how the authors added that. You don’t really see many adult books with pictures in color.

The world building was incredible! It was a perfect blend of paranormal romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. There are actual planets that Dina has traveled through. The vampires and werewolves have their own residing planet.  I have never read a book as such. The magic system was unique! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Dina’s role as an innkeeper and the rules behind the world. I even enjoyed reading about the broom, the house, and Dina’s dog Beast.

Dina was such a breath of fresh air! She had a no-nonsense attitude, was highly intelligent, hilarious, and very relatable! And she read like a 24 year old. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the disappearance of her parents. It’s only barely touched upon in this book. While Dina wasn’t aware of everything that was happening, she knew enough about her the magic system. Breaks the stereotypical females in fantasy.

Sean was previously in the army and has recently retired. He moved to Dina’s neighborhood for a peaceful life. Of course this gets disturbed when the attacks start happening. Sean really grated on my nerves in the beginning. A majority of his behaviour was abusive. He did get significantly better as the story went on and apologized for his behaviour.

Sean’s interactions with Dina do cause him to grow. Dina is the one to explain the world his people comes from and the magic system. I have to admit that he did grow on me. Also his military knowledge was useful whenever they needed to plan anything. 

There isn’t much to say about Arland (the vampire). He has a very esteemed position in the army. The plot actually does revolve on him and some of his connections. He was smart and a charmer. That’s all I can think off. Arland is introduced towards the end of the book. Not much was revealed about him.

Caldenia is the only guest at Dina’s Bed and Breakfast. Holding a high position of sorts, she is a wanted murderer. Caldenia has killed thousands and for her own safety she is sent to Dina’s inn with the orders off never leaving. She actually paid Dina a lifetime worth of stay. In her own right she is also mysterious. Not that much is known about her. Caldenia knows quite a bit and was able to piece everything together before anyone else. Some of the best lines come from her. She was seriously funny.

The highlight off Clean Sweep is how well Dina managed to handle everything. She never resorts to anger. While she does get angry here and there, she is able to maintain a level head. She handled both Arland and Sean excellently. I just really love and appreciate Dina!

I had two problems with this book. I felt that the love triangle bogged everything down. Arland and Sean actually have fights over her. Usually which way is best to protect her. Although I appreciated that it was because of her lack of combat skills. Not her good looks. I also felt that Sean’s feelings for Dina were rushed. I felt no chemistry between them. While I would prefer for Sean to be end game, I mostly felt mutual respect and friendship between them. Not a crush. Had it not been for these points I probably would’ve rated it 5 stars otherwise.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Clean Sweep! I am looking forward to the next book. I highly recommend this series.