City of B

Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1) by Kristina Pérez

Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1) by Kristina PérezSweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez
Published by Imprint on June 5, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.


So I’m a complete mess right now. I’m stuck between wanting to scream or cry. Maybe I’ll just cry very, very loudly, because I’m angry and so intensely sad. The ending of Sweet Black Waves shattered me. This book is loosely based off of Tristan and Eseult, a story that I’m not entirely familiar with, except for the fact that it’s a tragedy. I knew going into Sweet Black Waves that it wasn’t going to end with sunshine and daisies, but ugh, I still didn’t expect it to hit me so harshly.

Branwen is a complex character, who I loved immediately. She’s got a huge heart, always giving, and putting everyone, especially Essy, first. Sometimes I was mad at her, because she kept harmful secrets and made dubious decisions. I wished that Branwen had been more forthcoming sometimes, and let herself lean on others, instead of always letting them lean on her. But that’s not in her nature. She wants to fix everything, and everyone, herself, and her constant love and sacrifice made me love and care about her even more.

The Tristan and Eseult connection wasn’t what drew me to Sweet Black Waves. I immediately knew I wanted to read Sweet Black Waves, because it was described as being a book that fans of The Mists of Avalon – a huge favorite of mine – would love. I’m also obsessed with the Mabinogion, which some of the characters and their stories in Sweet Black Waves, are loosely based on. I loved Pérez’s new spin on this beloved literature of mine! You can tell that she also really loves the Mabinogion.

I thought the story was dragging a bit during the last third of Sweet Black Waves, but then thankfully two hugely significant things happened. One that thrilled me, because I never ever expected it, and I’m really excited to see how it plays out in the future books. The second thing completely broke my heart. Even though I knew something of the sort was coming, it still caught me unawares.

I read an ARC of Sweet Black Waves, but fully plan on buying a finished copy for myself.

four-stars
City of B

Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi [Blog Tour] Review

Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi [Blog Tour] ReviewAlways Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi
Published by HarperCollins/HarperTeen on June 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
four-stars

When Betts meets Aiden at the candy store where she works, their connection is like a sugar rush to the heart. Betts already knows the two of them are infinite. Inevitable. Destined to become an us.

Betts has only ever kept one secret from her best friend, Jo, but suddenly there’s a long list of things she won’t tell her, things Jo wouldn’t understand. Because Jo doesn’t see how good Aiden is for Betts. She finds him needy. Possessive. Controlling.

She’s wrong. With a love like this, nothing else matters.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png  photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg    


Heads up: If you can’t handle, or don’t want to read stories with physical, emotional and verbal abuse, don’t pick up this book, because it explores all those things. Also, this book is mature, not just because of the abuse, but also because of the sexual content.

My thoughts

Always Forever Maybe wasn’t an easy book to read, because of its dark nature. I’ve never been in a dangerous relationship like Betts, and I’ve also never personally known anyone who has, but I could tell that the author was depicting one perfectly. I understand that those types of unhealthy relationships can escalate quickly, and that the victim doesn’t even realize something’s wrong until something really bad happens, and even then, most times the victim is still blaming themselves.

Before starting Always Forever Maybe, I knew that Betts was going to be a victim, but even so, I couldn’t stop disliking her. I felt sad and scared for her constantly, but I also felt irritated because she kept making bad, careless decisions. She locks eyes with a cute guy, and before she even knows anything about him, she’s hopping on his motorcycle, taking off to an unknown destination. Betts thought she was being spontaneous, and that by being in a relationship with an older guy, made her an empowered young woman. No Betts. No!! You were being reckless and ignorant. It got even worse when she started lying to her parents and best friend. It felt like deep down Betts knew something was wrong with the whole situation, but she couldn’t see past her puppy-love and new feeling of “empowerment”.

I was nervous the moment Aiden was introduced, because we knew that his relationship with Betts was eventually going to take a turn for the worst. Aiden was a ticking time bomb, and it was only a matter of time before he would explode and show his true colors. It was a scary and thrilling wait for all hell to break loose.

Always Forever Maybe was a short, fast read, which was great, because I remained enraptured the entire time. Plus, the speed fit the plot perfectly, because Betts was quickly spiraling into a dangerous relationship with a guy she thought she loved and knew completely, and the fast pace made it feel even more authentic.

This book was sometimes hard to read, because in reality there are a lot of people in the world who have, are, or will eventually enter a dangerous, and even deadly relationship like Bettes did, and this book forces you to think about it.


About the author

     

Writer, storyteller, editrix. Author of the Anna, Banana chapter-book series, the picture book The Teacher’s Pet, the forthcoming YA novel Always Forever Maybe, and more. Fan of dogs and ice cream.

Anica Mrose Rissi grew up on an island off the coast of Maine, where she read a lot of books and loved a lot of pets. She now tells and collects stories, makes up songs on her violin, and eats a lot of cheese with her friends in Princeton, New Jersey. As a former book editor turned full-time writer and storyteller, Anica has spoken with kids and adults across the country about all pieces of the writing process. Her essays have been published by The Writer magazine and the New York Times. She tweets about bookish things and her dog, Arugula, at @anicarissi, which is also her handle on Instagram. Find out more at http://anicarissi.com.


Click here to follow the rest of the tour!


Enter below to win a copy of Always Forever Maybe! (US only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

four-stars
City of B

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura SebastianAsh Princess by Laura Sebastian
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on April 24, 2018
Genres: High Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


It took me longer than usual to finish this book. I picked it up and put it down multiple times, not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but because  other books came along that I wanted to read more, like A Court of Frost and Starlight. I’m glad I finally sat down and finished Ash Princess, because it was a good start to what I think could be a great series.

Here’s two things I liked about Ash Princess, and one thing I didn’t.

I liked:

The love triangle. I know, I know, bleh love triangle – but hear me out! This one wasn’t so bad. I think I was easily able to get on board with it, because it didn’t drive the story. Ash Princess mostly focused on Theo’s journey to rising from the “ashes”. Theo had been beaten down (physically and emotionally) for ten long years, and in the process, lost sight of her true self and her true purpose. Once a fierce will is rekindled in Theo, she constructs a plan to reignite her people’s will to rebel against their conquerors, the Kalovaxians. Theo’s not a bad-ass warrior like say, Throne of Glass’ Aelin, but she’s incredibly clever, and knows when to verbally push, and when to back off. Strengths come in all forms, and it was nice to see a new type of heroine kick ass with words instead of swords.

The magics. Yes, it was the commonly used elemental-variety, but it was also achieved in new, unique way. There’s some individuals who have the innate ability to summon elemental powers, and the others who can’t, can still accomplish some magic by holding special gems that have been imbued with elemental power. I loved this new take on magic!

I disliked:

The first third (maybe closer to half) of Ash Princess. The brutal opening with Theo being forced to harm one of her own people, was shocking and made me want to dive right into the story, but then what immediately followed was pretty boring. I didn’t really get into the story until Theo started plotting her people’s rebellion, and when she started spending time with the swoon-worthy Soren. So far Soren is my favorite character in this series, and not just because I’m #teamThoren. He’s complex, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where his story is headed in the future books. 

Overall I thought Ash Princess was a solid first book. I’m eager to read book two, because the ending of Ash Princess had a huge WTF moment and I think it’s gonna make book two even more intense and high stake.

three-half-stars
City of B

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1) by Soman Chainani
Published by HarperCollins on May 14, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 488
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
four-stars

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?


I read The School for Good and Evil many years ago, and had always meant to continue on with the rest of the series, but one thing led to another, and I sort-of forgot all about it. Well, after spending some time removing books from my Goodreads TBR list, ones that I knew I’d never actually get to, I came across book two in the The School for Good and Evil series. I recalled enjoying book one, so then and there I decided I wanted to finally continue with the series. However,  first I needed to re-read book one, because it had been so many years, and I definitely knew I didn’t remember enough to read books 2, 3, and so forth.

And, wow! It only took about 50 pages, before I remembered that I loved The School for Good and Evil. This series is a delicious, magical dish, concocted with clever, hilarious, heartwarming, and at times, very dark ingredients. It explodes with creativity and magic, and I hated having to put it down for silly things like work, sleep, etc.   

The School for Good and Evil is a shining example of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. You have two girls, one dark, sullen, and macabre, and one who’s vivacious, bright, and constantly called extremely beautiful. You’d think it’d be obviously as which girl belongs in which school, but not so fast! Looks can be extremely deceiving, and in a surprising move to everyone in this book, the melancholy girl is dropped into the school for good, and the angelic-looking one, the school for evil.

I loved how this book was all about shades of gray.  There’s no such thing as perfect. Everyone has their own strengths, flaws, and weaknesses, and hard choices to make, and those choices are what defines you, not your appearance and/or personality. Being beautiful doesn’t make you good, and being ugly doesn’t make you bad.

I’m so glad I reread this book! It’s got magic, budding romance, and lots and lots of fairy-tale characters and creatures. Plus, it’s all about sisters before misters. *high five*

four-stars
City of B

Deception So Deadly by Clara Kensie

Deception So Deadly by Clara KensieDeception So Deadly (Deception So, #1) by Clara Kensie
Published by Snowy Wings Publishing on August 15th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Romance
Pages: 360
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Goodreads
four-half-stars

RUN. It’s all sixteen-year-old Tessa Carson has ever known. Hunted by a telepathic killer, Tessa and her family have fled home after home, hiding behind aliases to survive. Her scars are more than just physical, and as the only one in her family without a psychic ability, she lives a life of secrets, lies, and fear.

After the Carsons flee to a new hideout and take on new identities yet again, Tessa meets confident, carefree Tristan Walker. Their attraction burns fierce, but she runs from him too, knowing their love can never be true when she can’t even tell him her real name.

But Tristan has secrets as well—secrets that will either save Tessa, or destroy her. The only way Tessa can save her family—and uncover the real reason they’ve been hunted all these years—is to forget everything she’s learned from a lifetime of running away, and run straight into danger head-on.

 

This book is a whirlwind of action and suspense. I was addicted from page one!

Tessa is the only member of her family who doesn’t have a psionic ability. Her dad has the ability to  see people, what they’re doing, where they are, at any time of the day, and her mom, brother, and sister are telekinetic. Tessa and her family are constantly on the run, hiding from a vile man who is trying to kill them. They’ve been on the run for so many years, never able to stay in one town for more than a year. It’s hard to form any type of relationship when you might have to abruptly leave, and can never return.

Tessa’s family is overprotective of her, because she doesn’t have any powers. They think she’s too fragile and needs constant supervision. This treatment has made Tessa extremely introverted, a recluse who shuts herself off from everyone she meets. She’s so afraid she’ll say the wrong thing. Afraid that she’ll make a connection, and will be devastated when it eventually has to be severed. She’s also angry that she can’t tell people something as simple as her real name. Tessa thinks that there’s no point in connecting with people, if she can’t be her true self.

Tristan is such a sweetie! He sees that Tessa struggles with anxiety, and other fears, but doesn’t address it. He doesn’t ask questions. He just accepts her for who she is,  and tries to protect her, but not in a smothering or pitying way like her family does. Tristan believes Tessa is strong and tries to help her believe it too. Their budding romance is sweet and steady.

The last quarter of this book shocked the hell out of me. There was a huge turning point that turned everything upside down. It made me question everything I thought. I didn’t see this crazy, surprising twist coming, and it gave me chills. It was dark, agonizing, and so, so juicy. It was awesome!!

The ending of Deception so Deadly was major, and a great setup for the next book. I hope that there’s just one more book, because this series could easily wrap with two, and I’d hate for a third, or more to drag the series down.

four-half-stars