Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Book One of the Rebel of the Sands series
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

What I Liked:

Ahhh, I can see why this book has received so many stunningly positive early reviews so far, and why it's set to be a huge success worldwide. This book was magical! And such a fun, exciting fantasy novel. So many YA fantasy books today are so heavy and gloom-and-doom-y, save-the-world-and-claim-the-throne kinds. This book has certain elements that are typical of YA fantasy novels, but nothing like your average YA fantasy, in my opinion.

Amani desperately wants to escape the small desert town of Dustwalk. She's excellent with a gun, and she's hoping to use those skills to win some prize money and get out of the town, before her uncle marries her off. With a little help from a handsome foreigner, Amani escapes into the world outside of Dustwalk. But she isn't expecting the wild adventure that follows, tangling her up in rebellion and revolution and magic she has never seen before. 

My expectations have been super high, ever since seeing this book's cover (the original one AND the new one!). It's not always smart to be excited about a book solely based on the cover, but in this case, I was justified. Kickbutt fantasy + amazing synopsis + gorgeous cover? This book has been calling to me! So I'm even more excited that it did not disappoint, because my expectations were crazy high!

Amani surprised me from the very beginning. I know we in the YA book world like to throw around phrases like "kicka** heroine", how some heroines are tough and feisty and spunky and whatnot. But Amani is a different kind of tough. She's so incredibly mouthy, and she stands in the face of danger and does not back down. I love her wild spirit, and how unafraid she is to show her temper's claws. Not that she has an angry temper - but her personality is very fiery. I love her to pieces! Her character development was a very important part of this book; as she matures as she discovers the world beyond Dustwalk.

The world-building of this book is incredible! Desert fantasies are nothing new in YA, but this desert fantasy is a little different. Guns and trains and other technology totally exist, and yet, so does Djinni and ghouls and magic. The world is also highly patriarchal, and polygamy is very common. Amani's uncle has many wives who all live together with their children... it's just of awful to read, and a bit heartbreaking. The Sultan himself has, and I quote, "more sons than there are hours in the day" (ARC, 170). While no one will like this polygamous aspect (I hope!), everyone can agree that its presence helps the authenticity and richness of the world-building.

Did I mention how much I liked the setting? No? I love desert settings. I like how the author made this desert setting very unique and almost modern, but totally not modern. We're not stuck in Dustwalk for very long, and Amani travels through many places. This book takes place over many months (at least two), and I like how the pacing felt. 

Our male protagonist is Jin, who is the foreigner mentioned in the synopsis. Jin! Ah! I liked him a lot. He's charming and funny and adept in a fight. He's handsome and muscular and extremely intelligent. We don't know exactly who he is for a good part of the book, but when we find out, it came as a bit of a surprise to me. I LOVE that the author does not take a cliche route with Jin. Jin is one of my favorite characters in the book, and I was cheering him on just as much as I was cheering on Amani.

We meet many of our secondary characters in the latter half of the book, and I adore so many of them! Shazad is another strong female, in a different way. Hala too. Bahi is such a sweetie! I love the twins too. The author does an excellent with the development of the secondary characters - and what a lovely cast of characters they were.

The story captivated me, and I love how the author moved the plot. The book never seemed slow, or overwhelming. This book is the first in a trilogy, so the author did not get into the heavier parts of the fantasy in this particular book. We are introduced to the political conflicts and there are some key moves made in this book. But I liked that, despite all of that, this story remained fun and adventurous. I'm sure it'll get more calculating and threatening and fearful in the next two books, but I'm savoring the adventure that was this first book.

There is a subtle and sweet romance in this book! The synopsis alludes to it, and I'm happy to say that I love the blossoming relationship between Amani and Jin. I LOVE that they are slowly coming to understand their feelings - there are no "I love you"'s thrown around, and no one is making rash decisions for the sake of each other. The romance is so sweet, and yet, so sneaky. I foresee more swoony scenes in future books, but this one kept the romance light and sweet. Also, no love triangle in any way shape or form! Not an insinuation or speck or whiff.

No cliffhanger either! Small mercy there, because I have been hit with so many cliffhangers recently. Phew! I'm sure there will be a cliffhanger at the end of book two of the trilogy (as it usually happens), but we're safe for now!

Have I said enough to convince you? I'm going to wrap up my review a little, because I could probably go on and on. I loved this beautiful story and cannot wait to read the next book!

What I Did Not Like:

Nothing that I can think of at the moment! Maybe that we have to wait for the sequel?! Personal request there - more kissing!

Would I Recommend It:

Whether you're a YA fantasy fan or not, this is definitely NOT a book to miss. The ending is not cliffhanger-y at all, so it wouldn't hurt to start now! I so want to reread this book and experience it all over again. What a fabulous story!


4.5 stars -> rounded up to 5 stars. I can see this being a favorite at the end of the year! I don't give the five-star rating often, but I'm thinking this book deserves it!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

The Giveaway:

5 winners will receive: hardcover of REBEL OF THE SANDS, PenguinTeen tote bag, and a Shimmering Hourglass. USA only.

Promo and Giveaway: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Hi, lovely readers! Today I've got a fun post for you. I'm helping promote Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, a book that I've recently read and loved. Find out what I think my blogger reputation is (I feel like I have a few?), and enter to win an AMAZING prize pack!

My review is HERE!

My blogger reputation:

I had to think about this. I feel like I could potentially be known for a lot of things, like

- getting mathy
- getting sciencey
- sharing swoonage every week
- being suuuuuper honest in reviews
- writing lengthy reviews
- reading a lot of books

In the end, I decided that The Eater of Books! blog is... *drum roll*

Revered for Reviewing Tons of Books!

Just scroll through my Review Archive, yeah? I currently have 629 reviews on my blog (that are tagged with "review" - I have review posts that review 2+ books). This is over a three-year span! I review 3-4 books a week. Typically I review everything I read, and I've read:

- 181 books in 2013
- 211 books in 2014
- 216 books in 2015
- 22 books in 2016 (so far)

(I'm not counting 2012.)

My reviewer ranking is #3,506 on Amazon (which is not bad!), and I have 735 reviews on Goodreads (some are pre-excitement reviews, some are reviews I wrote before creating my blog). My average rating on Goodreads (for 937 ratings) is 3.61! I do not rate books before reading them.

Do you all agree? Am I known for reading/reviewing a lot? 

About the Book:

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Book One of the Rebel of the Sands series
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

The Giveaway:

5 winners will receive: hardcover of Rebel of the Sands, PenguinTeen tote bag, and a Shimmering Hourglass. USA only.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#162)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, January 24th to Saturday, January 30th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Thank you, Penguin!

WITH THE ORIGINAL COVER! Thank you so much for the trade, Raquel!

From @Celeste_Pewter - thank you so much!

I won this bundle from Veronica on Twitter! If you don't follow her there, you should. :)

WITH THE ORIGINAL COVER! Penguin and their cover changes. Guys, I loved this book so much. Thank you, Jennie, for the trade!

From Edelweiss:

Got this one on a whim because I ADORE Dimon's books!

The only book I downloaded from Edelweiss, from this recent Harper drop!

Not a bad week! The snowstorm was pretty rough last week, and classes started on Wednesday. I'm trying to find my footing with spring classes, so bear with me for the next few weeks.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Dare To Run by Jen McLaughlin and Unexpected Rush by Jaci Burton

Dare To Run by Jen McLaughlin
Book One of The Sons of Steel Row series
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

The New York Times bestselling author of the Out of Line Novels takes readers to Boston, where one gang of criminals knows how being bad can be so good...

She knows what he’s like on Boston’s mean streets. Now she’s going to find out if he’s got some heart.

Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he’s ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission—even if he is one of the boss’s top men. Plus someone’s placed a hit on him. And then there’s that feisty little bartender who’s going to cause him even more trouble.

Heidi Greene knows to keep her distance from a ladies’ man like Lucas—even if she can’t keep her eyes off him. When he rescues her from an attack in the alley outside her bar, she’s forced to stay by his side for safety. But the longer she spends time with him, the greater her chances are for getting hurt in more ways than one.

What I Liked:

This is definitely going in the books as one of my favorite romance novels of the year! It's early yet, but I'm very confident in the statement. I've already reread this book at least a dozen times already. (not only my favorite parts! The whole book!) I simply do not have time to reread books these days, so you know it must be a good one, for me to reread it! What's more, I picked up this book on a whim. It wasn't part of my reading schedule or review pile! So much love for this book.

Lucas Donahue is one of the baddest Sons of Steel Row, one of the boss's right hand men. But he wants to have a more normal life, even though he knows he can't leave. One night, he witnesses several men from the Bitter Hill gang approach the feisty bartender of the bar near his apartment, and he doesn't think twice. He saves her from an almost brutal attack, but now she's stuck with him. Heidi doesn't like being strong-armed into living with the sexy redhead who has been visiting her bar and now has saved her, but there is something good about him that draws her to him - not just his rugged charm and good looks. But the Bitter Hill men are not the only ones with their eye on Lucas and Heidi - someone else is out to hurt them.

DID I MENTION HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS BOOK?! All caps are totally necessary! I didn't know much about this book when I decided to give it a shot. It was a Friday night and I was bored at home... I started reading this book and literally did NOT stop reading until a few hours later, when I finished the book. Sweating, might I add. (This book was super sexy but also the ending was nerve-wracking and so unexpected!)

Lucas has been recently released from prison, and he wants to change his life. At the same time, he's one of the higher men in the food chain of the Sons of Steel Row, and he's promotion-bound. I love how macho and tough Lucas is, and how he THINKS he is those things (which he is, in all fairness). It doesn't necessarily come off as cocky or arrogant - he is commanding and alpha and completely confident and accepting of who he is. If that makes sense? He also trusts no one and tries not to get involved with anything or anyone - which is why it's a surprise to even himself, when he saves Heidi from being raped.

I adore Heidi! She is incredibly feisty and spirited, a potty-mouthed, tough-as-nails bartender who owns the bar and takes no s**t. She isn't so feisty to think that she can take own four guys who are trying to rape her, but she refuses to go down without a fight. I love how tough Heidi is, throughout the entire book. The attack didn't slow her down, she never let it have power over her. She picks herself up and continues to be the kickbutt lady that she is. Heidi never lets Lucas boss her around (at least not without a good reason), so it's funny to see them butt heads (because he is VERY bossy).

The pair has SUCH great chemistry! They meet before Heidi is attacked - Lucas has been coming to her bar for a week, before the attack happens. There is sexual tension swirling between them before they even know each other's names, let alone start living together. And when Heidi relocates to his place... get ready to fan yourself! Heidi dodges him and he doesn't want to get involved with her, but the attraction is there and the chemistry is pretty overwhelming. I loved seeing them lose control with each other!

So, yeah, the steamy parts of this book are REALLY steamy. This book is on fire, people. McLaughlin definitely knows her way around some really hot scenes. I read all kinds of romance novels but this one... *fans self*

The chemistry was wonderful but I'd also like to mention that the romance was equally wonderful. I loved watching Heidi and Lucas fall for each other, bit by bit. Heidi realizes that she loves him kind of quickly, but given how powerful their connection and attraction is, I was on board with this. And Lucas, being the stubborn, willful alpha that he is, admits to nothing for as long as possible.

While the romance and steamy chemistry are really important in this book, the other aspect - the crime/gangs part - is very important as well, and very well-written. Often with romance novels that aren't strictly contemporary romance, you'll find that the romance is very "there" but the other aspect of the book (paranormal, suspense, historical, thriller, etc.) might not always be as solid. In this book, the crime world is well-written and the story very structured and intriguing. We're trying to figure out what Lucas's brother is up to, what the Bitter Hill men are up to, and who is after Lucas and Heidi... well, it all shakes down to be very, very exciting.

And unexpected! The climax and the ending of this book shocked me! I can't believe McLaughlin got the drop on me - I'm usually very intuitive about these things! Well done, author. Nevertheless, the ending is pretty great, all things considering, and Lucas and Heidi's story wrap up well. I can't wait to read the next book!

What I Did Not Like:

Just a small thing - I'm so irritated with one specific character! I think we'll get to explore his mind in future books but ah! How could he! I can't be any more specific than that, so you'll have to read the book and see what I mean. In any case, this was well-written by the author, but I'm a bit hurt over here! I liked that character. *Liked.*

Would I Recommend It:

Guys guys guys I SO recommend this book! Get the ebook version if you can't deal with the cover (mmm, that abdomen though). This is easily a 4.5-star read and a favorite! Given how many times I've reread it in its entirety - I would highly recommend it!


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. Only because of this one thing (that will bother me until I read future books) is this book getting a star knocked off. It's so good though! Romance-reading friends, please don't miss this one! Read it if only to meet Lucas!

Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Unexpected Rush by Jaci Burton
Book Eleven of the Play-By-Play series
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of All Wound Up, a football hot shot and his best friend’s sister are breaking all the rules.

All the Right Moves

For Barrett Cassidy, playing defense for the Tampa Hawks is a dream come true. And now he may have discovered his dream woman. Harmony Evans, once the sweet, gawky teenage sister of his best friend and teammate has grown into a smart, gorgeous woman with moves he finds hard to resist. But he knows he can’t get involved with his best friend’s sister—it’s guy code.

Harmony has always gone after what she wants with single-minded determination, from her independence to her education to her career in social work. She never expected her youthful crush on Barrett to develop into something deeper. And she’s not about to let some ridiculous man rules or her brother stand in her way.

When the chemistry is this combustible, lines tend to get crossed. And when Barrett and Harmony’s secret gets out, it just might be game over...

What I Liked:

I think this book just wasn't necessarily for me. I love Berkley's books (did you catch my review of Dare To Run by Jen McLaughlin?), and I thought I would enjoy this one. Sports romances are totally my thing! And I love football. And the fall-in-love-with-the-best-friend's-little-sister romance trope. But this book fell a little flat for me. 

Harmony has always had a bit of a crush on her older brother's best friend, Barrett. Barrett and Drake are not only best friends, but also defensive linemen on the Tampa Hawks, a professional football team. Barrett knows the bro code better than anyone - do not go near your friend's sister. Even if the attraction and interest is mutual. But Barrett and Harmony can't seem to stay away from each other, bro code or not. If Drake finds out about his sister and his teammate, it might all be over.

At first I was going along with this book, kind of just reading and seeing what would happen next. I wasn't disinterested, but I wasn't necessarily hooked. Still, I was never in danger of not finishing this book, which is always a plus.

I liked the diverse nature of this book! You don't often see interracial couples in romance novels (though it's becoming more prevalent these days than in the past).

Hmmm, I can say that I liked that there was a happy ending? You can't *always* expect that in romance novels, but this one had a happy ending, if not a little cookie-cutter perfect (see below). But a good ending is still a good ending! I'm glad Harmony and Barrett got a HEA. Moving on!

What I Did Not Like:

I don't think I liked Harmony at any point in this book. She doesn't stand up for herself at all! If I had an older brother that literally WENT AFTER my exes, or a man that touched me even slightly inappropriately, I would have already punched my brother in the face. There is no need to act like it's the fourteenth century or something. Harmony "gets mad" at Drake, but she never really makes it clear how much she hates how apes**t crazy he gets.

Which, by the way, was a total turn-off. Drake is the CRAZIEST care of overprotective older brother I have ever encountered. The man is absolutely bats**t crazy. Who goes after his little sister's ex-boyfriend, when the breakup was mutual? Let her fight her battles! You're only babying her further, directly and indirectly!

I didn't necessarily dislike Barrett, but he felt one-dimensional to me. I never loved him or swooned over him or anything. He was a caricature, a mold of your typical sexy male hero in a romance novel. There wasn't anything that made me fall for HIM.

I dislike how hypocritical Harmony is. She doesn't want Drake to know about her attraction to Barrett, but she constantly gets mad at Barrett for him not talking to Drake. Hypocrite much? Also why can't you go talk to him yourself, if it's bothering you so much?

We never really get to see how the attraction plays out initially, before they start hooking up. WHY do they like each other, or are attracted to each other? It's kind of just a once-upon-a-time-wham-bam-two-people-are-attracted kind of thing. Like, the foreplay isn't there. Hopefully I'm explaining myself clearly!

Speaking of foreplay - the steamy scenes were pretty repetitive, sadly. The first time, it was pretty steamy, but then it seemed like the same scene was stuck on repeat. Mix it up, please! Make some of Barrett's fantasies (or Harmony's fantasies) happen!

I just wasn't interested in the story beyond what I was waiting for in terms of Harmony and Barrett's relationship. Like a layer was missing - there was definitely something missing. Maybe there needed to be more football in the book, or something. Family is a huge part of this book, but I found myself not caring about the family aspect. It felt like there were way too many characters and not enough personalization (that's not a word?!) of each character.

The ending was SO overly perfect. It was cookie-cutter perfect in a cheesy, every-hold-hands-and-sing kind of way. I love a good HEA but it felt like there was no work involved, in this HEA! It felt like this book wasn't building up to anything.

I'll stop there! I think this book just wasn't for me.

Would I Recommend It:

I personally can't recommend this book, but maybe fans of the Play-by-Play series will still enjoy this book. I've not read any of Burton's novels before (this is my first), so I can't say if this one was better or worse than hers usually are. I didn't enjoy the book but my issues could be very exclusive to me! I read this book after reading a YA novel, so I don't think it's because I've been reading too much romance novels. I think it was the book, it just wasn't my thing! 


1.5 stars -> rounded up to 2 stars. I'm sad to see this rating make an appearance, but 3 stars seemed too generous and not at all representative of my dissatisfaction upon finishing this book. I may trying another Burton book in the future, but it's not likely to be one of this series. Again, it could very well just be me and my tastes!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Welcome to the blog tour for The Impostor Queen! If you've met me, then you know how big a Sarah Fine fan I am. I adored this new YA of hers, and can't wait for the sequel! Today, I get to share Sarah's top ten heroines in YA epic fantasy - and there is a giveaway!

Sarah Fine's Top Ten YA Epic Fantasy Heroines

Katsa from GRACELING
Mare from RED QUEEN

So many good choices! I personally love Katsa, Karou, and Shahrzad. All ten of these books are excellent and you should check them out ASAP! :)

About The Impostor Queen:

The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Book One of The Impostor Queen series
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Official Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

Map of the Kupari Peninsula:

Artist: Leo Hartas

About the Author:

I’m the author of several books for teens, including Of Metal and Wishes (McElderry/Simon & Schuster) and its sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, the Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing), and The Impostor Queen (McElderry, January 2016).

I’m also the co-author (with Walter Jury) of two YA sci-fi thrillers published by Putnam/Penguin: Scan and its sequel Burn. My first adult urban fantasy romance series, Servants of Fate, includes Marked, Claimed, and Fated, all published by 47North in 2015, and my second adult UF series — The Reliquary, kicks off in summer 2016. When I’m not writing, I’m psychologizing. Sometimes I do both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.

The Giveaway:

Follow the Tour:

Week 1:
1/18: Two Chicks on Books - Q&A
1/19: The Irish Banana Review - Guest Post
1/20: Bookmark Lit - Cover Colors
1/21: Bibliobibuli YA - Review
1/22: No BS Book Reviews - Polyvore Collage

Week 2:
1/25: What Sarah Read - Review
1/26: Supernatural Snark - Review
1/27: Paperback Princess - Review
1/28: The Eater of Books - Top 10
1/29: Lili's Reflections - Review

Review: The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
Book One of Eurona Duology
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kill the beast. Win the girl.

A strange beast stirs fear in the kingdom of Lochlanach, terrorizing towns with its brutality and hunger. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity understands her duty to the kingdom though it pains her to imagine marrying a stranger. It would be foolish to set her sights on any particular man in the great hunt, but when a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention, there’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not keen on marriage. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast and protecting his family—yet Princess Aerity continues to challenge his notions with her unpredictability and charm. But as past secrets collide with present desires, dire choices threaten everything Paxton holds dear.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale, “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, outlawed magic, and a princess willing to risk all to save her people.

What I Liked:

This is my first Wendy Higgins book, so I can't compare this one to her Sweet series, or her self-published novel. I can say that I was pretty pleased with this book, despite its crushing ending. (Sorry! It gutted me though.) What is holding me together (and making me not rate this book down) is the fact that this is book one of two, and I'm almost 90% confident in Higgins not to steer me wrong in terms of certain... things. I'm taking a leap of faith, I suppose.

Lochlanach is under attack, by a strange and dangerous beast that has been attacking at night, ripping soldiers and villagers to shreds. The king is desperate; with his oldest daughter's reluctant permission, he issues a proclamation that whichever hunter kills the beast will have his daughter's hand in marriage. Aerity always wanted to marry for love, but she knows the safety of her kingdom is more important. But she can't help falling for Paxton Seabolt, a mysterious, grumpy, brooding hunter who is bent on killing the beast to protect his family and Lochlanach (i.e. not for her). Paxton isn't all that he seems, but then, neither is the beast, or what is really going on in Lochlanach.

I've never read "The Singing Bone", but I have a huge copy of the works of the Grimm Brothers so I will definitely be reading it when I get the chance! I love fairy tale retellings, and I'm sure Higgins did a beautiful job of twisting the tale into her own story.

I thought the world-building was well-written! I love how this book starts - in a horrifying, eye-opening way. A true hook, in my opinion. 

I also really like how important family is, in this book! The king has three kids (Aerity, Vixie, Donny), and his two younger sisters have an army of kids as well. The oldest cousin is Wyneth, who is one year older than Aerity, and whose betrothed was killed by the beast. Wyneth has been in mourning, but clear how much Aerity and Wyneth love each other and are best friends as well as cousins. Their friendship is so strong, throughout the book!

This book is written in third-person limited, so we get Aerity's third-person POV, and Paxton's. I liked Aerity, though at first I didn't really connect with her. She's a good person and a selfless princess. I love how much she cares about her family, and her kingdom. I liked Paxton almost immediately - grumpy, silent, and somewhat moody heroes are my favorite. Especially the ones who are noble and yet have something to hide! Paxton is a fierce hunter and a selfless, brave man. He and his younger brother, Tiern, enter the Hunt, but both are more concerned with killing the best than marrying the princess.

I have seen a lot of people struggle with the pacing, or the writing, but I personally didn't have any trouble reading this book. I'll admit, the beginning, after the first scene but before the hunters gathered for the Hunt, I had to muscle through a bit. But once the Hunt was called, I was zipping through this book.

The romance is so sweet! It's the slow-burn type, and kind of hate-to-love, which are two of my favorite tropes in romances. I say "kind of" hate-to-love because the attraction is instant, for both Aerity and Paxton, but Paxton is doing everything he can to avoid Aerity, and Aerity is convinced that Paxton does not like her. Nevertheless, I liked the romance; no love triangle, and it's a pretty straightforward romance, at least until the ending. You'll see my thoughts on the ending in the next section.

The climax of this book something that I both dreaded and looked forward to - and I got exactly what I was expecting. Higgins ups the ante, and she sets up a bigger picture for book two really well. Of course, I abhorred the ending (you'll understand why - vaguely - in the next section), but Higgins did a good job of writing the ending. The ending makes sense, even if I hated it. 

What I Did Not Like:

Okay fine, I hated the ending. It's a huge cliffhanger, in terms of several different aspects. The Hunt has just gotten super complicated (trust me, this is VAGUE), a new player has entered the game, and the romance... oh my heart. Just thinking about the proclamation, and the whole premise of this book - you can probably figure out why I hate this ending in terms of the romance. 

If this book ended with all of the OTHER cliffhanger aspects MINUS what happened in terms of the romance, then I would give this book five stars, hands down. But it's getting 3.5 stars - which I am willing to round up to 4 stars - because of that cliffhanger.

Would I Recommend It:

Despite the cliffhanger, I enjoyed the entire book. It's one of those cases in which I LOVED the book up until the ending. What's keeping me strong is that I'm pretty sure Higgins loves a good HEA, and she wouldn't have spent so much time in those two specific characters' heads otherwise... right?

Maybe wait until book two publishes, to binge-read the series. Man, I love duologies. Though the wait is still the same, for the next book, it's only one book to wait for!


3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I'm hoping that there will be a good ending to the series! I think I trust Higgins with this HEA but... I'm pretty anxious now! Still, she has guaranteed at least one person who can't wait for the sequel, because of the ending of this book!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Swoon Thursday (#157): The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins!

The princess rose to her toes again, circling his neck with her wet hands, and pressing her mouth against his. He jolted in surprise before reacting. This time, he did not remain still.

Paxton's free hand rounded her waist and pulled her body firmly against his. His mouth took over, his lips moving against hers in a heated rush of ownership that caused her entire body to react.

He growled against her lips. "Will you never cease to surprise me?"

Aerity was overwhelmed and could only cling to him, her eyes stinging with emotion as she soaked in all he'd held back, all he'd tried to keep hidden. She hadn't been a fool after all - he'd felt this thing between them as much as she had.

- eARC, 73%

This was a really pivotal moment in the book, not just in terms of the romance! I adore the romance - my only wish is that book two will have more swoony scenes, and preferably in-depths ones! ;D

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#161): Empire of Dust by Eleanor Herman

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

Empire of Dust by Eleanor Herman
Book Two of the Blood of Gods and Royals series
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Summary (from Edelweiss):

In Macedon, war rises like smoke, forbidden romance blooms and ancient magic tempered with rage threatens to turn an empire to dust. 

After winning his first battle, Prince Alexander fights to become the ruler his kingdom demands—but the line between leader and tyrant blurs with each new threat. 

Meanwhile, Hephaestion, cast aside by Alexander for killing the wrong man, must conceal the devastating secret of a divine prophecy from Katerina even as the two of them are thrust together on a dangerous mission to Egypt. 

The warrior, Jacob, determined to forget his first love, vows to eradicate the ancient Blood Magics and believes that royal prisoner Cynane holds the key to Macedon's undoing. 

And in chains, the Persian princess Zofia still longs to find the Spirit Eaters, but first must grapple with the secrets of her handsome—and deadly—captor. 

New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy to reimagine the world's most brilliant ruler, Alexander the Great, in the second book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

I thought Legacy of Kings was pretty decent, definitely worthy of continuing the series. I hope this sequel does not disappoint!