Category Archives: Series

A Vow So Bold and Deadly

Finished A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer; it is the final book in her Cursebreakers trilogy.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.”

I loved the first two books so much and I’m going to be honest, I was excited and nervous for this one. I adored Rhen so much in the first but then the second one put me firmly on Grey’s side and I didn’t know what was coming in this one, but I knew that it would be hard and that I would probably cry a bunch of times.

Which…yes. But also my loyalty kept flipping and it didn’t take me long for me to just decide that somehow I wanted everyone to be alive and happy, even though I had no idea how that would happen and also I doubted it was even possible.

This book was wonderful and intense and I loved every page (even the ones I also hated because Brigid Kemmerer is maybe not always the nicest to her characters or readers). This is a finale that’s somehow even better than the other two.

I can’t wait to see what she writes next, but I hope I see it soon. Highly recommended.

Concrete Rose

Finished Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. This is a prequel to The Hate U Give; I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.”

So like pretty much every single actively literate person I know, I loved Angie Thomas’s first two books (The Hate U Give and On the Come Up) and when I learned that we were getting a prequel to The Hate U Give, I was pretty sure I couldn’t possibly be any more excited…until I learned it was going to be about her dad, Maverick.

I didn’t even know.

This is her best book yet, by a lot. And that’s a bold statement because her other books are beyond amazing. But this is just the best book I’ve read in ages. To put this in perspective, I read it in under 24 hours, and I couldn’t even tell you the last time that happened. Pre-COVID, for sure.

I was completely drawn into the story immediately and getting to see Mav and Lisa and Mav’s mom and Seven…it just felt like such an amazing gift.

This is going to be one of the best books of 2021 and I’m so grateful I got to read it early.

Highly recommended.

Concrete Rose

Finished Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. This is a prequel to The Hate U Give and will be released on January 12; I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.”

So like pretty much every single actively literate person I know, I loved Angie Thomas’s first two books (The Hate U Give and On the Come Up) and when I learned that we were getting a prequel to The Hate U Give, I was pretty sure I couldn’t possibly be any more excited…until I learned it was going to be about her dad, Maverick.

I didn’t even know.

This is her best book yet, by a lot. And that’s a bold statement because her other books are beyond amazing. But this is just the best book I’ve read in ages. To put this in perspective, I read it in under 24 hours, and I couldn’t even tell you the last time that happened. Pre-COVID, for sure.

I was completely drawn into the story immediately and getting to see Mav and Lisa and Mav’s mom and Seven…it just felt like such an amazing gift.

This is going to be one of the best books of 2021 and I’m so grateful I got to read it early.

Highly recommended.

Dear Justyce

Finished Dear Justyce by Nic Stone. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the stunning and hard-hitting sequel to the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American prison system.

Shortly after teenager Quan enters a not guilty plea for the shooting death of a police officer, he is placed in a holding cell to await trial. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, the protagonist of Dear Martin, Quan’s story unravels.

From a troubled childhood and bad timing to a coerced confession and prejudiced police work, Nic Stone’s newest novel takes an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.

I finished Dear Martin last night and I was so happy to be able to start Dear Justyce right after. I tore through this sequel and I ended up loving it even more than Dear Martin.

In Dear Martin, we didn’t really get a good sense of who Quan was, only what he did. We knew that he shot and killed a police officer and that he was in a gang, Getting to know him was a really valuable thing for me. We see him as a kid and we see just how much he wants to take care of his younger siblings and how desperate he is for family. (His dad is in prison, his mom is pretty much checked out and her new boyfriend is awful.)

Quan is almost the anti-Justyce. Both teens are incredibly smart, but Justyce has a good support system and that’s something Quan didn’t have. Between the lack of concerned adults in his life and his longing for family, it’s understandable how events unfolded as they did. We also see the effects of racism on him (he got a 98 on a math test and his substitute insisted that he must have cheated; no one believed that he just studied hard).

When I finished Dear Martin and realized the sequel centered around Quan, I was a little disappointed. I was so, so wrong.

I definitely need to read everything that Nic Stone has ever written. Her books are incredible.

Highly recommended.

Majesty

Finished Majesty by Katharine McGee. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Is America ready for its first queen?

Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we’re looking at you Daphne Deighton.

As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.

A new reign has begun….”

This is an incredibly fast-paced and easy read. It’s effortless to get drawn into the intrigue and drama of this world.

I have two problems with this book, though, and they’re pretty big ones. The more important one is that this is an incredibly white world. The royals are white and in the first book, there is no mention of anyone of color (with the possible exception of one woman who may have been Hispanic–I didn’t remember this at all, but my friend Julia mentioned it). I think someone may have discussed it with the author, because in this one, we learn that after slavery was abolished, the now free people also developed a separate monarchy, which was eventually merged with the Washingtons while the former Black kings and queens received much lower titles. I would’ve liked more information about this, but it really isn’t covered very extensively.

The other problem is that the first book is entirely discounted by events in this one. Every single relationship is different. Samantha, who’s in love with Teddy? Not anymore. Beatrice loves her guard, Connor? Nope. Now she’s all in with her planned marriage to Teddy and they love each other. They got a dog and everything. (I will be honest; I actually love Teddy and Beatrice together.) Nina is now with Ethan and not Jefferson; Daphne loves Ethan and not Jefferson. Samantha doesn’t love Teddy anymore; she’s now dating a descendant of one of the African kings, which was initially to make Teddy jealous, but…

And OK, I do like that it explores the fact that sometimes you don’t want what you thought you did. It’s OK to change your mind and that’s not always explored in fiction. But I don’t think that’s what was going on.

I know it sounds like I hate this book and I really don’t. It’s a fun series to read and I get so immersed in the world (and I’ve not been reading that much this year, so when I tell you that I flew through this, it means something because I haven’t been flying through anything).

If there’s a third book, I hope it’s more diverse and we learn more about the other former kingdom and also that Daphne gets the result she deserves. Because she’s very Cruel Intentions and manipulating everything and she keeps getting away with it.

The City We Became

Finished The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.”

I don’t read very much science fiction or fantasy. It’s not really a genre that I’m comfortable with (give me real situations, please and thank you). I was a little uneasy when my book club picked it for August, and I’m so glad it did. Otherwise I would never have read this and that would’ve been awful.

It took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on, but even from the first few sentences, I knew that I was along for the ride and happy to go wherever the book went.

I didn’t know very much going in, and I think that really helped me; it’s what I’ll do for you. But absolutely get this book and read it. It’s so, so good and I really don’t know how I’m going to survive the wait for the second book (which currently doesn’t even have a title or release date).

Highly, highly recommended.

Party of Two

Finished Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist–it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble–not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?”

I think this has replaced Royal Holiday as my favorite! (Royal Holiday is a close second and her others are now all tied for third.)

I love everything about this book. I love the focus on how surreal it would be to be dating a politician, and the way that it affects everything about their relationship. I love Olivia (she is the actual best) and I love how Max, although he’s white, acknowledges his privilege and the ways that Olivia’s life is harder than it would need to be.

What I really love, though, is how things are woven through this story. Max’s views on criminal justice changed and improved as he got older and started to think that we could focus on rehabilitation instead of making it so that one mistake would ruin someone’s life.

Jasmine Guillory’s books are romance, yes, but they’re also much deeper than that. It was a delightful experience (although warning: if you have a sweet tooth, you’re going to want to have cake or pie or both nearby, because it comes up A LOT) but it was also thought-provoking. (I love her books so much and I’m now just waiting for her next book.

Highly recommended.

The Heir Affair

Finished The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Making it up the aisle was the easy part: After marrying the heir to the throne, Rebecca “Bex” Porter must survive her own scandals as she adjusts to life in the glamorous British royal family, in this “highly anticipated” follow-up to The Royal We, the “fun and dishy” bestseller and NYT Summer Reading List pick inspired by Will and Kate’s romance (People).

After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca “Bex” Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world’s judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they’d placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick’s brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten — nor forgiven.”

I absolutely loved The Royal We and I was beyond excited at the news that we were getting a sequel.

If you ALSO enjoyed the first novel, you’re going to enjoy this one, too. It has the same feel and the same flow to it. This one is over 450 pages, but it feels like it’s much shorter.

I love Bex and Nick. I loved them all through The Royal We and I loved them so much through this book. I just wanted everyone to have a happy ending, and so a lot of this book (and its predecessor) was fairly stressful for me.

An absolute highlight though was getting to spend time with Marta and Eleanor. (Eleanor is mostly how you remember her but she also mellows a bit. A very small bit, but it’s still very fun. If I could get a spinoff focusing on her and if she could somehow meet Emily Gilmore, I think I would literally die of joy.)

Highly recommended. These books are just delightful.

Lobizona

Finished Lobizona by Romina Garber. I received a copy for review and I am excited to be part of its blog tour today!

Summary (from Goodreads):

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.”

I don’t read paranormal stories very often anymore, but this makes me want to change that. Lobizona has fantastical elements but is very much set in the real world. (For most of the book, ICE is the real villain and is still very much a major evil as the story progresses.)

I loved seeing Manu starting to learn about her culture and her history. She shouldn’t be a person that exists in the world and yet, she is and she does. The way that Romina Garber builds on mythology for this book is absolutely breathtaking. I completely adore the world-building in this and trust me, you don’t want to know anything more than you already do before you start reading this book. It’s full of surprises in the best way, and this is guaranteed to be one of my top 5 favorites this year and is very likely to be my absolute favorite.

This is such a strong opening to the series and I cannot wait for the next book. It’s going to be amazing. Highly recommended.

Blood for the Sun

Finished Blood for the Sun by Errick Nunnally.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“After more than one hundred and forty years, Alexander Smith is suffering from memory loss that plagues him like a supernatural Alzheimer’s. He has lasted longer than most by clinging to the love he has for his adopted daughter, the vampire Ana, and puzzling out cases of missing or murdered children. Without them, he wouldn’t be able to ignore the ghost of a child from his guilty past or fight the whispers goading him to kill. On his latest job, he’s stumbled upon a vampire conspiracy that has left a trail of child murders up and down the East Coast-a conspiracy that promises inoculation against the sun. If true, the conspirators’ success would mean a bloody conflict, altering the balance between humans and the supernatural forever. Losing more of his mind every day, Alexander has two impossible tasks ahead of him if the world is to survive: stop the vampire coven and reconnect with his humanity.”

Alexander is trying to figure out what’s going on and why children along the East Coast are being murdered in violent and occult-oriented ways. This is made more difficult by the fact that he has sort of a supernatural Alzheimer’s (because he’s been alive for so long; extra-long life doesn’t change his physical appearance but it does affect his mental faculties. This is an update to the mythology that I absolutely love) and he forgets things on a regular basis. This also makes the idea of who he can trust to be incredibly tricky.

I am of the very firm opinions that vampires, werewolves and all sorts of supernatural creatures should be scary and not romantic heroes. I want blood and terror and in this book, I got both. And a LOT of both. It’s also a lot of fun.

The second book in this series comes out soon and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here. Highly recommended.