Review of The Reader by M.K. Harkins

Rating: 3/5

Recommend: Possibly

Review:

I want to start off by saying that I really liked the premise for this book. It had a cool scifi/fantasy vibe that I was immediately excited about. While there were some parts I quite enjoyed, overall, I was kind of disappointed by this book. It all felt a little too cliche for my taste.

The characters had so much potential. Ann seemed like she was going to be a tough, smart, sassy young woman. And I think that was what Harkins was going for. But, sometimes she came off as a bit too whiny for my taste. And I started to get really annoyed by the amount of times she talked about how beautiful all the other mind readers were. But, of course, she couldn’t understand why anyone thought she was beautiful (even though they all told her how gorgeous she was on multiple occasions). It just got a little too much at times.

And love triangles. This is more of a personal preference, but I generally have a really hard time with love triangles. Most of the time they feel pretty unnecessary, and I think this was a case where that was true. Actually, in this case it was more than just a love triangle. More of a love square? Either way, I didn’t particularly care for it. But, if those are your jam, you might really like how it’s done in this book. Again, that was more of a “It’s not you, it’s me” thing.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book. It annoyed me at times and I wish certain elements had been different/done better. But, I’m glad I gave it a read. The plot itself is pretty interesting, and the world Harkins created is really cool.

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Review of An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommend: Yes!

Review:

I knew very little about this book before diving in. I’d read a little blurb about it in an article talking about diverse fantasy books and decided on a whim to get in from my library. AND I’M SO GLAD I DID!!! Oh my goodness, this book was so good! I mean, I’m a sucker for a good portal story (partially because I’m still holing out hope that I can fall into a portal of my own some day). But, aside from vicariously living out my fantasies, the book itself was so well written. You guys need to check it out!

One of the things I really appreciated about this book was that Meadows did a great job showing the gritty, “darker” side of this world, while at the same time not overloading the reader with a billion scenes of death and sadness. The world created is not a totally good world, nor is it a terrible pit of doom. It felt very real. As did the characters’ reactions to the events in this world.

So now on to what’s normally my favorite part of a story: the characters. First off, HELLO DIVERSITY! I loved how many different, diverse characters were portrayed here. There’s bi characters, lesbians, polyamory, lots of different ethnicities and skin colors, and a whole lot more! Plus, each character themselves was so unique and individual. It made me so happy. Gwen was definitely my favorite, although I do love almost all of the rest too.

Ok, so I’ve gushed about all the many things I loved about this world. There were a few little aspects I was less fond of though. First, I felt like the “bad guys” weren’t quite fleshed out enough. I get that they were supposed to be evil, but sometimes it was hard to figure out exactly why. And there were a few other plot points that also needed a little more development/explanations.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It was so much fun to fall into a world of magic, intrigue, and delightful characters. If you like fantasy books, and have always dreamed of finding your own Narnia, do yourself a favor and check this out!

Review of Suspended by Sarah Noffoke

Rating: 3/5

Recommend: Probably

Review:

I think this book had a really cool concept and the characters had a lot of depth. And overall, I enjoyed reading it! But, I think sometimes the plot itself got a little hard to believe. This was a pretty good book though, and I enjoyed reading it for the most part.

So let’s talk about the characters first. I loved how unique and developed each characters was. Zuma was so much fun and Jasmine was one of my absolute favorites. Titus was another character I really felt invested in. I got a little annoyed with Finley and Jack, but most of the time I found them endearing too.

Alright, the plot. I feel a little conflicted on the plot. I said in the beginning of this review that this was such a cool idea for a book. But I feel like sometimes things were a little too forced. Like, Noffke knew she wanted certain things to happen so she just put them in without as much development and explanation as they needed. And there was a bit of insta-love. Plus kind of a love triangle going on. Personally, I’m not generally a fan of either of those.

Despite some of my negative comments, I really did have fun reading Suspended. It took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did, I found myself really interested in what would happen next. I definitely want to read the next book and see how things progress!

Review of Curiosity and Arawn’s Penance by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Rating: 4/5

Recommend: Yes

Review:

This was such a great way to end a fantastic series! I have to admit, when I started this final book, I wasn’t as invested as I normally am. It was hard at first to keep track of exactly what was going on. There seemed to be a bit of jumping back and forward. So much was going on and being explained that I think the story itself got a little lost in the process. But after the first couple chapters, I fell right back into this world. And by the end I was so sad to see it all come to a close.

Gabrielle’s growth throughout these four books was so wonderful. I loved seeing everything come full circle, as she grew from a scared young girl to this awesome, powerful heroine. It was so much fun to see how far she’s come throughout the years.

And speaking of fun characters, there are so many new additions that I absolutely love. Not to mention an old favorite that I was thrilled made an appearance toward the end. There are some points in the book where I felt like the plot got a little muddled, but I loved the characters so much that it made up for any issues I might have had with the plot (and they were relatively minor issues anyway).

If you haven’t checked out this series yet, I would highly recommend giving it a read. Chopchinski has created such a delightful, engrossing story with these four books. And this was a great way to end it. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

Thank you to the author, Zachary Paul Chopchinski, for providing me a copy of this arc in exchange for an honest review!

Review of Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Rating: 3.5/5

Recommend: Yes

Review:

I was really excited when I had the chance to read Nyxia. I mean, when a book has space, aliens, and an interesting premise it’s obviously going to have quite the potential. and I have to say, overall, this book did not disappoint. I would have loved more alien interactions, but I’m hoping that will happen in book two (and based off the ending, I’m assuming my hopes will be rewarded).

I will say, I’m starting to get a tiny bit tired of the whole competition trope. It seems like so many stories center around a group of young people fighting in a ruthless competition for some prize. I think Reintgen did a good job changing things up a bit so it wasn’t so predictable. But I did feel like there were some elements I’ve seen way too many times. There were also a few pacing issues and some parts felt a bit forced.

The characters definitely made up for any frustrations with the plot though. I loved the development and interactions of them all as they trained and competed. Each person had their own unique personality and backstory. Which was so great. I found myself rooting for almost everyone at one point or another. I just wanted to give them all a giant hug! Well, maybe not all of them, but most.

I think this book did a really good job setting up the scene for the next book. There were a few parts I thought could have been done better, but all in all, I really enjoyed reading Nyxia. If you’re a fan of YA science fiction books, I would definitely recommend giving Nyxia a read.

Review of Love from Mars by J.P. Cawood

Rating: 2.5/5

Recommend: Not sure

Review:

As many of you know, I love all things space-related. I’ve always found the idea of our universe and all the incredible possibilities out there fascinating. So when I found out about this book, I knew I needed to give it a read. But, I feel I should also say that I’m typically very picky about my romance books. So if you’re more of a romance  and scifi fan, this might be a perfect fit for you.

As it was, this wasn’t quite the book for me. The concept was really interesting. I thought it was pretty unique to have a reality show that decided who the first people to colonize Mars are. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of that. I do think the implementation of that plot could have been better, and there were quite a few plot holes though. Whenever you read a fiction story, you always have do a little bit of suspending disbelief, but in this case it went way too far. Like that ending. I’m seriously so confused about what happened. But in general, I thought the main story was good.

Also, and again this might be my pickiness with romance coming through, I thought the romance itself was a bit too instantaneous. I’m not generally a fan of insta-love, although I do understand why it needed to happen in this story. But, that being said, I did think Emma and Ryan made a cute couple. I liked a lot of parts of their characters and relationship.

So, overall, this wasn’t quite my cup of tea. I didn’t expect the romance to be quite as heavy as it was and some of the plot points were too much for me to believe. But, the idea is really cool and the characters were solid. Again, if you like romance and scifi, I would recommend giving it a read yourself. I definitely don’t regret trying this book out!

Review of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Rating: 4/5

Recommend: Yes!

Review:

I’ve been hearing a loooottt of good things about Mask of Shadows. Which made me both excited and a bit nervous when I finally got my hands on it. Sometimes books with a lot of hype turn out to be amazing and I fall completely in love…other times not so much. So I approached Mask of Shadows with some trepidation. But I am thrilled to say my nerves were completely unnecessary. BECAUSE THIS BOOK WAS SO MUCH FUN! I loved it! And I really need more. Right this second, please.

As per usual, I’m going to talk about the characters first. I could probably spend a few thousand words talking about how great these characters are, but since I don’t want you guys to die of boredom, I’ll keep it short and sweet. First off, DIVERSITY and complex characters. I rarely see genderfluid character, much less one that is the lead. And it was so well done too! Plus, Sal is just a gem of a character. I will say, though, there are a lot of characters in this book. It was a little hard to keep track of everyone, especially the ones who were referred to by a number. But that wasn’t a huge issue most of the time.

The plot was a little predictable at times, and I would have liked a few more details on some things. But overall, I thought it was really well done. It kept my interested up until the very last page!

If you haven’t guessed, I definitely would recommend this. If you like fantasy and slightly amoral characters, you should give this one a read!

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review!