ARC Book Review: The Babysitter’s Coven by Kate Williams

Book: The Babysitter’s Coven by Kate Williams

Expected Publication Is September 17, 2019 by Delacorte Press|Expected Number Of Pages: 368

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: The Babysitter’s Coven #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed novel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil.

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria cooking. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

I liked The Babysitter’s Coven but like a lot of the books I’ve read this year…I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

For some reason, the book felt like it should have been middle grade and not YA  I kept forgetting that the characters were around 17, and it would be interesting to see this book as a middle grade series.

I can’t speak to the comparisons to Buffy or Adventures In Babysitting, since I haven’t seen Buffy or Adventures In Babysitting.  I kept thinking about the Babysitter’s Club, though, if they were witches and trying to defend against demons and whatnot.

Esme wasn’t always my favorite character, and Cassandra wasn’t either, but maybe they’ll grow me, should I pick up the sequel.  I’m not sure if I will but we’ll see when the next one comes out.  I did like Janis, though.  And I did like the backstory for Esme’s mom.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but I did like it.  Pig was great too, and it’s so hard not to love.

I was expecting expecting babysitting to have more of a connection to the weird goings-on.  It would make a great cover but it didn’t go that way at all.  Still, it was fun to see what adventures they got themselves into, and I liked seeing them try to figure things out with pretty much no information.

I do wish they struggled a little more than they did, because things were pretty easy for both Esme and Cassandra.  They did figure things out pretty fast, and they seemed to do things really well after practicing a handful of times.  I think it would have made their achievements a lot more fun and it would have been a little easier to root for them.  But maybe that’s just me.

There was this 90’s teen movie vibe to it, which was fun.  Now that I think about it, I can totally see this book being a Disney channel series/original movie.  It would be pretty fun to watch, and it’s certainly light and fluffy enough to work well as a movie or tv show.

The outfits sounded pretty cool too, and that, more than anything, made me think of the outfits that Stacy and Claudia would wear in the BSC.  Which I now feel like reading, by the way.  A movie would bring the outfits to life, and it would be pretty cool to actually see the outfits.

3 stars.  I liked The Babysitter’s Coven, but I honestly thought it sounded younger than I expected.  It was a fun read but I had my issues with it too.

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ARC Book Review: Vow Of Thieves by Mary Pearson

Book: Vow Of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

Expected Publication Is August 6, 2019 by Henry Holt & Co|Expected Number Of Pages: 480 pages

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: Dances Of Thieves #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor’s Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor’s Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.

I really liked Vow Of Thieves!  I was really excited to get an ARC of it, and I liked it just as much as I thought I would.

I thought the story was great in this book.  I liked seeing what was going on with Kazi and Jase, and things were not easy for them in this book.  I wanted them to be okay, and there were times, especially at the beginning, where I thought things wouldn’t be okay.  Things turned out just fine, of course, and I’m glad it did.  They really deserve it after everything they’ve been through.

I really liked Kazi in this book and she’s such an amazing character.  She had some tough decisions to make, and I thought she handled things the best way she could.

As for Jase…I did like him a little bit more in this book than I did in the previous book.  He’s really trying to keep his family together and to protect his people.  I wanted him to be okay, but with everything that happens, it wasn’t easy for him.  Still, he was able to make his way back to his home and family, and with Kazi, they were able to do what they needed to do in order to get Tor’s Watch back to what it was before the attack.

I thought things were wrapped up really well.  I was wondering where the story was going to go, and we definitely found out in this book.  I’m sad it’s only a duology, because I really wanted more of this story and this world.  Even though things are wrapped up and this particular story is over, there’s room for a lot more story in this world.  With how the book ended, it makes me wonder what else is on the horizon.

Things may have been resolved in this book, but there’s a lot more that can happen.  I hope it doesn’t, but you never know.  I know I’ll be waiting to see if we’ll be getting more books in this world, and who it might focus on.  It is a great end to the series, and it was definitely a page-turner.

Like the previous book, it took a little bit to get into the book, but once I did, it was hard to stop reading.  This series, and the Remnant Chronicles, are worth reading.

4 stars.  I really liked Vow Of Thieves, and it’s a great end to a great series.

ARC Book Review: House Of Salt And Sorrows by Erin A Craig

Book: House Of Salt And Sorrows by Erin A Craig

Expected Publication is August 6, 2019 by Delacorte|Expected Number Of Pages: 416

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next. 

I liked House Of Salt And Sorrows!  Not as much as I thought I would but I still liked it.

It very much reminded me of the tale of the 12 Dancing Princesses.  I don’t know if it’s a re-telling of that story, because I couldn’t find actual confirmation that this is the case.  Either way, I liked that they were cursed, and the reason behind what was happening to Annaleigh’s sisters was interesting.

I don’t know how I feel about Annaleigh.  She seems to be the only one who knows what’s going on, which doesn’t surprise me.  Considering how things go, and what’s really going on, it’s not surprising.  I hope things work out for Annaleigh and her sisters, and it seems like things end in a pretty good place for them.  Hopefully, nothing horrible happens to them, and they can all live happily ever after.

I wish we got more with her sisters, but with so many of them, it’s not a surprise.  You get a pretty good sense of the world they’re living in, and how suffocating it is to be in mourning all the time.  You see what people think of them, and how hard it is for them to move past it and move on with their lives.

The setting is pretty haunting and very gothic.  I mentioned how suffocating it was for them.  You definitely feel all of that throughout the book, and how hard it was for Annaleigh when her father decided days after another funeral that they were no longer going to be in mourning.

I’m not sure what else to say about House Of Salt And Sorrows.  I liked the world and the setting but I wasn’t in love with the characters.

3 stars.  I liked House Of Salt And Sorrows but I didn’t love it.

Book Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Book: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Published May 2019 by Flatiron Books|416 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Caraval #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series! All games must come to an end…

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates were freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella saw Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finally, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun—with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything.

I was really nervous going into Finale.  I really liked Caraval, and Legendary was just okay, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I ended up really liking it!

Both Scarlett and Tella narrate the book, and we see what’s going on with both of them.  Scarlett learns a lot about her family, and trying to decide between Nicolas, her former fiance, and Julian.  Tella, on the other hand, is keeping watch on her mother and is dealing with Legend’s impending coronation.

There’s a lot going on, and I wondered how everything was going to get wrapped up.  Between Scarlett’s love life, and the Fates, I wasn’t sure where things were going to go.

We learn a lot about Scarlett’s family, and it was not what I expected.  The Fates get defeated, and how that happened was interesting.  I wasn’t expecting it to happen the way it did, but it did make things interesting.  Everything really was leading to this book, and I liked seeing it all come together.  The history we get was really interesting, and I’m glad we got more of it.  I liked seeing more of the fates and the destruction they cause.

I really liked Scarlett, and she’s always been a great character.  I really felt for her, and all of the family stuff she had to deal with.  Tella was just okay, though I liked seeing her interactions with both Julian and Jacks.  While I’m glad we got her side of things, I also would have been fine if the book had just focused on Scarlett.  Still, Tella’s story needed to be wrapped up, so I was fine with both her and Scarlett narrating.

I was surprised by the ending, and I really want to know what it means for Legend and Tella.  It makes me wonder about the future of Caraval, and if it will come back.

I like the world, and it’s gotten bigger and bigger with each book.  It’s come to life, and it’s so vivid and magical.  I’m curious to see this series as either a movie or a t.v. show, because I’d love to see the world of Caraval on the screen, but at the same time, I’m worried it wouldn’t be as magical as the books.  And I don’t know how all of the letters and notes would translate to the screen.  At any rate, the world is pretty magical.

4 stars.  I really liked Finale, and it’s a great ending to the series.

Book Review: We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Book: We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Published May 2019 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux|472 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Sands Of Arawiya #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

I really liked We Hunt The Flame!  It was a great read, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Arawiya is a very vivid place, and it felt so real.  Like it was a living, breathing place, and it really had a life of its own.  Arawiya was the perfect backdrop for the story, and it really felt like it was a character as well.  I could picture everything that was happening so perfectly, and Faizal did such an amazing job at describing everything.

Zafira and Nasir were both interesting, though I liked Zafira a little bit more than Nasir.  I’m not sure why, but I felt like we got to know Zafira a lot more than Nasir.  I was definitely a lot more interested in her story, and I really felt for her.  She had a lot going on, and she really wanted to do right by her people.  Still, both Nasir and Zafira have their own really unique stories and I could definitely tell that Faizal put a lot of thought into their backgrounds and how it informed them as people.

The names and places did get a little confusing at times, and I did have some trouble keeping up with who was who.  I don’t know if it’s because it took me quite a while to read it, or if I wasn’t paying enough attention when I was reading it, but sometimes I had a little trouble with names and places.

The world is pretty distinct, and while some elements of the story is pretty familiar- you read enough YA fantasy, and eventually, everything starts to blend together- the world stands out.  I don’t think there are many worlds like this one, and I don’t know if it’s because of how it’s described or just the world in general, but it’s pretty distinct, at least for me.

The story does move pretty slow, but there’s enough going on that I stayed pretty interested in what was going on.  And with how the book ended, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

4 stars.  I really liked We Hunt The Flame, and I thought the world was very vivid and unique.  I did have some trouble keeping some of the characters and places straight but We Hunt The Flame is a great read!

ARC Book Review: Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Book: Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Expected Publication Is July 30, 2019 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|Expected Number Of Pages: 400

Where I Got It: I got an e-ARC of Spin The Dawn from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own

Series: The Blood Of Stars #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.  

I ended up really liking Spin The Stars!  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I’m glad I kept reading.

The description of Project Runway meets Mulan had me a little nervous.  I’ve never watched Project Runway but I do know what it is, and Project Runway meets Mulan isn’t a horrible description.  Once a tailor was chosen, though, it felt like that aspect was pretty much gone.

I would love to see the dresses and everything else Maia came up with.  Honestly, this is one book I would love to see as a movie, for the clothes alone.  Or for when Maia is working on her final three dresses.  That part of the book was really vivid, and I could imagine it really well.

The book went in a completely different direction than I thought it would, and that’s actually a good thing!  It kept me interested because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

I really liked Maia!  She seemed really good at tailoring, and while she does have a lot of obstacles, she more than proves she’s worthy of being a master tailor.  I will say, though, the romance I wasn’t completely into.  I wasn’t surprised by it, and had a feeling things would work out the way they did.  It was fine, and it worked, I suppose, but I think I would have been just as fine without it.

I also really loved how the title fit in with the book.  It’s referenced several times throughout the book, mostly at the end, and I don’t know why but I really liked the moment when the title made sense.  It was really nice to see, and I’m not sure why.

4 stars.  I really liked Spin The Dawn, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review: Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway

Book: Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway

Published February 2019 by Tor Teen|480 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Glass Alliance #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

Dark Of The West is another book that sounded interesting but turned out to be just okay.

I was really bored reading it, and I couldn’t quite figure out what Hathaway was going for.  The world itself felt like it was a fantasy, though there are fighter planes and pilots and there seems to be technology.  There’s a lot of politics and war and invasion, and I don’t know if that part made it feel like fantasy or if it just had this World War 2 set in an alternate world feel to it.  It did feel like World War 2, at least a little bit, and I’m wondering if that inspired the author at all.

Names and places were thrown at me, and I felt like I was reading a history textbook with no context.  The places could easily have been solved by referring to the map, but there were so many names that I had trouble keeping track of who was who, and how they were connected to each other.  I don’t know if things will become more clear later on in the series, but I didn’t have the patience or energy to figure things out.

It was a struggle to get through, and by the end, I didn’t really care what happened.  I didn’t particularly care about the characters or the fact that they were torn apart by politics.  Though I couldn’t remember if there was an actual romance, or if we were just building up to it.  Honestly, there’s not a lot I remember, so I couldn’t give a lot of details about this book.

2 stars.  Dark Of The West just wasn’t for me.  I don’t remember enough of it to give it a lower rating, but I also can’t go higher for the same reason.

Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Book: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Published February 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent. 

When I first started reading Four Dead Queens, I wasn’t sure about it, but I ended up really liking it!

Initially, the perspectives and timelines were a little weird.  Most of the queens seemed to be a lot older than Keralie, and that was a little weird to me.  Granted, their ages were never outright stated, except for one queen, Stessa.  Margeurite’s age was never given but it seemed like she was the oldest, and the other two, Iris and Corra, fell somewhere in between.  Some of them had pretty decent length chapters, and while it gave perspective to what was going on, it still felt a little odd to me.

The timeline made sense towards the end of the book, once the mystery of everything started unraveling.  For most of the book, it seemed like Keralie was trying to figure out what happened to them.  The timeline definitely surprised me, and there were some things I had completely guessed wrong.  Once things got going, and I got further into the book, I started liking it more.

It was an adventure, and I really, honestly felt like I was with Keralie the entire time.  I liked her, though I would have loved more of her backstory.  You get bits and pieces and references, but not much is said outright.  Even though the story focuses on her unraveling this plot, she seemed like a blank slate.  It does make it easy to see yourself as Keralie, but I also couldn’t tell you a whole lot about her.  A couple of moments would have had more weight to it had we had more of her backstory, in my opinion.

The world was interesting, and we get such a great idea of how the four queens came to be, and what each quadrant represents and believes in.  I still had trouble keeping all of them straight at the end of the book, but it did help that that there was something at the beginning of the book that had something about each quadrant.  I also liked the queenly laws at the beginning of the book, and we see those at the beginning of each chapter narrated by one of the queens.

I’m glad this book isn’t part of a series, because it worked really well as a stand-alone!  I think Scholte could tell a lot more stories set in this world, focusing on other characters, but this particular story is pretty complete.  I’d also LOVE to see this as a movie.  I pictured everything perfectly, and she really did write it in a way that made it so easy to see how everything would play.

4 stars.  I really liked Four Dead Queens, but I didn’t love it.  The timelines and perspectives took some time getting used to, but once I did, it was fun to see how things unraveled.

Audio Book Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud, Narrated by Rasha Zamamiri

Book: Mirage by Somaiya Daud, Narrated by Rasha Zamamiri

Published August 2018 by Macmillian Audio|Length: 8 hours, 58 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Mirage #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

I liked Mirage!  Originally, I wasn’t sure about it, because I had a hard time getting past the first couple of chapters.  I ended up giving the audio book a try, and I’m glad I did, because I don’t think I would have made it very far otherwise.

Even with switching to the audio book, I had a hard time getting through the first few chapters.  Once I got past it, I was fine, but initially, I didn’t care about what was going on, and it didn’t really get my attention.  It took a while to get into Mirage, but once I did, I ended up liking it.

It’s your typical brutal empire takes over a planet meets being a body double for the hated princess story.  It’s a story I’m pretty familiar with, especially since the brutal empire and the rebellious people they’re ruling over seems to be pretty popular right now in both sci-fi and fantasy.  I think, if I hadn’t read other books like it, I would liked it a lot more.  I still liked it, of course, but I just wanted to like it more.

I liked Amani, though it took me most of the book to remember her name.  I completely forgot that she was her own person for a good portion of the book and she didn’t really stand out as her own person.  I wish I could say a lot more about her, but I’m having a hard time with that.  Amani and Maram felt like the same person, which was the point, but I wish there had been more to distinguish Amani as a person with her identity.

The narration pretty much saved this book for me.  Zamaimri did a great job at narrating Amani, and what she was going through.  She was great to listen to, and while I thought Amani didn’t particularly stand out as someone with her own personality, Zamamiri did add to her character.  There’s something about her Amani’s voice that worked a lot more for me, and I think it’s because I did feel like Amani was telling me her story.

3 stars.  I didn’t love Mirage, but I still liked it!  I’ll probably pick up the sequel, just to see what happens but I’m not in any rush to read it.

Book Review: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Book: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Published March 2019 by HMH Books For Young Readers|373 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Bloodleaf #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

I loved Bloodleaf!  I loved the world and the characters, and it’s really great YA fantasy!

Aurelia was a great character.  She worked so hard to hide her magic, and I loved the reason why she was able to do it.  She’s in a world that executes people like her, and I was glad she was able to leave.  She’s quirky, but she has a really good heart.  She changed a lot over the course of the book, and she went through a lot.  Things weren’t easy, but I liked her determination to get through it.

I also liked Zan, and while we don’t get enough of him, in my opinion, I still really liked what we saw.  I don’t have as much to say about him as I do Aurelia, but I really like him.  And I really like them together.  I didn’t mind the romance at all, and it felt really natural.

I loved the world and the stories.  The magic was interesting, and I wish we saw more of it, and more of what it could do.  Since Aurelia was still trying to gain control, we learned a lot but I also feel like there’s more to it.  I feel like we’ve barely touched what the magic in her world can do.

I loved the ending, and it had me sobbing.  It really made me wish we saw more of Aurelia’s mom.  It felt a little random, and it was definitely out of the blue, but that didn’t stop me from crying.  I think it would have had a lot more to it had we known her mom a little better.

One thing I’m wondering is what other stories are left to tell in this world.  It’s the first book in the series, and I’m wondering how this story is going to continue because everything was wrapped up really well.  I don’t usually say this with fantasy, especially with YA fantasy, but it would have worked really well as a stand-alone.  The story is so contained that I’m honestly not sure where we’re headed after this.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book, and I’m definitely going to read the next book.  I just wish I had more of an idea of where it was headed.

5 stars.  I loved Bloodleaf and thought the world and mythology was really unique.