Review: Unblemished and Unraveling by Sara Ella

*Note: We received these books from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

UNBLEMISHED

I knew before going into Sara Ella’s series that it was going to give me ‘Once Upon a Time’ vibes. I’d heard Sara talk about ‘Unblemished’ on her YouTube channel (where she’s done an excellent series about getting it published!) and so had some idea of what to expect.

A girl called Eliyana wakes up one day to find that the world isn’t what it seemed. With her mother’s death looming over her, suddenly everyone in her life has a different role in another world on the other side of the Reflection. This world is like a fairy tale, with queens, kings, magic and villains that are out to get Eliyana because of the large birthmark on her face.

I don’t feel like I can explain the plot more than that because from 20% into the story, you’re constantly introduced to new characters and concepts, all with the own names like the Kiss of Accord and Callings and…well, there are too many to list. The world building is intense and so is the backstory. The queen was having an affair, the king has an evil brother, Eliyana might be related to one of her love interests, she’s claimed for good, she’s claimed for evil…it was all very classic if you’re used to fairy tale worlds, but it was a lot to take on board, nevertheless. I found it difficult to find my feet with this story because every time I thought I grasped something, there’d be a new thing to learn.

There’s a love triangle – not between prince and guard, but guard and guard, which was kind of cool. Both boys felt a little one dimensional for me, and their love for Eliyana was too many words and not enough actions. For the first book, that is. The love triangle only gets more intense with the marriage proposal at the end…

UNRAVELING

And (a week later) having read the second book, I can confirm that the love triangle 100% ramps up as El has to decide which of the boys she likes best, while they fight to gain her affections. Oh, and one becomes evil. No big deal. It’s definitely an interesting dynamic and one that will bring the biggest resolve to the final book. As for who’s side I’m on, I’m not sure. Both guys have proved themselves. Ky is more stand-offish and Joshua is The Sweet One but who knows how the tables will turn.

With another quest, pirates and fairy tales, Unraveling is again a lot to take in but there’s always something go on to make you want to read just one more chapter. It’s also neat that the chapter titles are lyrics from ‘I See The Light’ from Tangled. (And the book title is the opposite of Tangled…mind blown.)

If you like fairy tales, love battles and adventures to different lands that seems way more familiar than you think, this series is definitely worth checking out!

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Review: Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power by Mariko Tamaki

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

This review is going to be short and sweet, just like this book. Lumberjanes, if you don’t know already, is a graphic novel series created by a bunch of awesome ladies about a group of awesome girls who spend their summers earning badges for doing outrageously fun things. For example, finding unicorns, or deep sea diving with mermaids. There are already five+ graphic novels in the series, and Unicorn Power is the first middle grade novel to be added to the series that takes the essence of the artwork and puts it in prose form.

The great thing about this book was how authentic it was to the already established Lumberjanes brand. The girls all act exactly how they would, and we even learn more about them in different situations because full prose allows for me background info than a graphic novel would.

As the cover suggests, April is definitely the central character of the story, so if she’s your fave, this one’s for you – but each girl gets a moment to shine.

There are also small illustrations that accompany the text and chapter headings, as well as the classic badge descriptions at the beginning of each part. Just like a GN, there are four different badges to focus on.

My favourite part of the story, though, was the introduction of Barney, who identifies with ‘they/them’ pronouns and only just became a Lumberjane after being part of the male equivalent group. This representation is so important, especially in a middle grade novel, and I hope Barney is more prominent in the next books.

Overall, this is perfect for Lumberjanes fans looking for a fun and quick read, but also does wonders to introduce an established world to new audiences. Hurrah for hard-core lady types!

Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise was one of my most anticipated sequels of the year. I absolutely loved And I Darker, though I thought the series had room to grow and, boy, did it ever!

FINALLY. Lada, murderess extraordinaire, has ARRIVED.

The first book is so beautiful with the character’s childhoods and world building being super rich, detailed and well researched. And I had the same sort of enchantment with the writing in this book. Book two definitely has more of a focus on war, with Radu being sent of to put some feelers out in Constantinople, like, we’re on the edge of a big siege. Now, this would normally put me off, but it was still resolutely based in the characters more than anything.

While I really enjoyed Lada being present and ruthless, it was Radu’s sections that I was most engaged with. Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you what Lada was getting up to other than sticking her middle finger at anyone with biased gender expectations.

Radu was going through an emotional journey and I was here for it. BUT first of all, let’s take a moment to appreciate Nadzira aka. the unsung hero of this entire series. I would read an eight book series all about her, to be honest. Even though I hate Throne of Glass, I would compare her to Nehemia, in the way she’s got her finger on the pulse of scandal and knows so much more about the social and political situations that she’s got this air of regality that no one can overlook. Nadzira and Fatima are ultimate cuties, too.

Anyway, back to Radu, who, in book one, could be summed up with the phrase ‘Mehmed please love me’ but now he’s left to deal with his previous emotions, and do some serious re-evaluation. Does he want to be a pawn? Not really, but he’s still loyal to Mehmed. He wants to know what Lada’s up to, but he’s pretty sure she thinks he’s betrayed her, so… things are tricky. I won’t go into the plot of the actual book but you can tell that he’s between a rock and a hard place, so watching him grow in this restricted situation was wonderful. Also, there’s a potential new love interest for him, and I am really looking forward to seeing Radu happier in the future, so I can’t wait to see this slow burn!

Still, I’m really intrigued with where this story is going to go because now I feel like Radu has come to some sort of resolution, but Lada’s still got a lot to happen to her, so the next book will probably be a reversal of focus.

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Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

After hearing so much hype about Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath & The Dawn duology on booktube (plus, I’m obsessed with the new UK covers!) I decided it was about time that I read something by her! Flame in the Mist is her latest release which Goodreads calls ‘Mulan meets Throne of Glass.’ I’ve also heard a few people say that it’s a mash-up retelling of Mulan and 47 Ronin, and on both occasions, ‘Mulan’ is the only thing I’m interested in, so I was looking forward to some cross-dressing shenanigans. However, as you’ll already noticed by my star-rating, I found myself a little disappointed. I think this was mostly because I’d read another ‘Mulan’ mash-up retelling recently – though this time it’s ‘Mulan meets Pitch Perfect’ – in Riley Redgate’s Noteworthywhich was A++

Continue reading “Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh”

(Spoiler) Review: Aurabel by Laura Dockrill

Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I first heard that there was going to be a sequel to one of my favourite books, Lorali, at an event that Laura Dockrill did in the spring. Since then, Aurabel has been one of my most anticipated releases, as the first book left me on quite the cliffhanger. In order to discuss everything, I’ll have to spoil some of the events, but don’t worry, asterisks will warn you!  Continue reading “(Spoiler) Review: Aurabel by Laura Dockrill”

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

33393824Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Publisher: Titan
Pages: 508
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★
Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

So, I buddy read this with my girl Lea, and I would highly recommend reading her review because she picks apart issues with consent, and being German she has A+ critique on the use of language. I will also mention now that had I not been reading his with her then I would’ve DNF around page 70. Her sass was literally the only thing keeping me going. (Example: one of the best things Lea said in our discussion was that this is more ‘Fifty Shades of Goblin’ than a Labyrinth retelling. (Go an commend her on that pun because I died.))

Continue reading “Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones”

Review: The City Bleeds Gold by Lucy Saxon

32467656The City Bleeds Gold by Lucy Saxon
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 400
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★.5
Series: Take Back The Skies (#1) | The Almost King (#2)

First of all, let’s just take a moment to die over how beautiful this cover is. THE COLOURS. This is the third book in the Tellus series, and probably my favourite of the books so far. Each story centres on a different main character in a different country of the fantastical world, and The City Bleeds Gold follows Noah, the future queen’s almost-finance, who moonlights as Daniel, who searches for truth and justice in the lower areas of the city to bring down the big bad.

Continue reading “Review: The City Bleeds Gold by Lucy Saxon”

Review: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

31671570A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 666
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) | A Gathering of Shadows (#2)
Note: We received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

I have been in love with this series for a year, and the time has finally come: the release of A Conjuring of Light. I also don’t want this to be a spoiler review and that’s going to be hard so I’m just going to do what we always do on Heart Full of Books when it’s a book we really liked and make a list. I’m going to do this slightly differently and work through some of my thoughts whilst I was reading, let’s go!  Continue reading “Review: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab”

Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

31574408Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: Arabian Fantasy
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Rebel of the Sands

I was unbelievably excited to have my wish granted on Netgalley for Traitor to the Throne because Rebel of the Sands was such an exciting debut, and even though I only gave it 3 stars, I was really pumped for the sequel. Sometimes fantasy series just take a while to get on their feet! I really really enjoyed this book. I feel like I got to know the characters more and learned more about the magic behind the world and the Djinni.

Continue reading “Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton”

Review: Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

uk-dawn-study-coverDawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin/ MIRA Ink
Pages: ?
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★
Series: Shadow Study (#1) | Night Study (#2)

This is the end of a series that’s very dear to my heart, so before I share my thoughts on Dawn Study, I though I’d give a brief history of my time with the Chronicles of Ixia. So, I first picked up Poison Study for £2 from a bargain bookstore in 2012, and they had all three books in the first trilogy but I decided to only pick up one because I’ve bought a full series and been disappointed before. I took the book on holiday and read it over a few days and I was dying for the sequel. As soon as I was back in England I bought the other books!

Then a year or so later I found the Glass series which is the sequel trilogy in the same world but featuring a minor character from Fire Study and I had those on my shelf for ages before I finally picked them up because Shadow Study was coming out and I didn’t want to be spoiled on anything just incase. So, I whipped through those three books and it felt like coming home. I adore the writing style and the world is so rich, every book is entertaining.

I requested Shadow Study on Netgalley, but didn’t get approved, and then a while after got an email from the lovely Cara at Harlequin inviting us down to their offices for a blogger party where we’d get the chance to actually meet Maria! I can still remember how excited I was getting this email and I can go straight back to the moment I saw it online (I was supposed to be doing History coursework, and whacked the guy sat next to me in my flailing excitement!) I still think that night was one of the best EVER. It was great to meet so many bloggers and Maria herself! I didn’t bring all my books to sign because I thought that would be way to many, but I wish I had now! And I’ve been following the Soulfinders series ever since! It’s definitely been hard waiting a year for each book, when previously I’ve been able to binge, but the wait was definitely worth it!

Continue reading “Review: Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder”