Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an audiobook copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson is a standalone YA Fantasy, releasing on October 2nd 2021. Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who ferries the dead and prevents that from turning into vicious souls that kill the living. When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia awakens an ancient spirit. Now, bound to the spirit, Artemisia begins to uncover a sinister mystery that could destroy everything and everyone. Without any options, Artemisia has to betray everything she knows by putting her faith in the spirit with the hopes that it doesn’t betray her first.

I loved Sorcery of Thorns so my excitement for this off the charts. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Margaret Rogerson’s writing style shines in this. It’s captivating, honest and so brilliant.

Anxiety, trauma and PTSD play a really important role in Artemisia’s story. Because of the way these hard topics were handled, the story really resonated with me. I could feel Artemisia’s pain in everything she did. More than that, despite not living through what she had, I completely understood it. Through all of her actions, the little things and the big decisions, to the things she said (or even didn’t say), it was really easy to understand her. And what made her the way she was.

Artemisia was such a complex character, with layers and layers. I wish this was a series so I could see more of her. The development arc we did get in this story was a delight. I loved reading about her growth and would’ve enjoyed it even more if I could stay with her in more books.

I was really happy with the pacing for this. It’s fast paced and full of action. We’re constantly on the move and constantly fighting to survive. It was simply exhilarating. So much was packed into this without it overwhelming.

One thing that catch me by surprise, was the absence of romance. I completely adored the romance sub plot in Sorcery of Thorns so I simply expected it in this. But it wasn’t, which is probably a good thing. There is so much to this story that I don’t think there was room for more.

I can see how everyone wouldn’t be able to appreciate this, but I highly recommend giving it a go. Especially if you’re looking for a fast paced fantasy that is unlike what you’ve read before.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Social Queue by Kay Kerr: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an audiobook copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Social Queue by Kay Kerr is a young adult, contemporary novel releasing tomorrow! Zoe Kelly is finally done with High School, and she’s so over the bullying and autistic masking. With an internship at a media company, Zoe ends up writing an article on her non-existent dating life which ends up going viral. Turns out, Zoe had just been missing the signs. Now, with a list of contenders from her past, Zoe’s spun away in a ride full of confusing signals, old sparks and new articles.

This was such a heart warming and fun read. It definitely delivered what the synopsis sold.

I loved Zoe’s character and found it easy to root for her. I can quite easily get bored with monologues but I found Zoe’s thoughts pretty fun to follow. She was a refreshing and quirky character.

Zoe’s relationships with the people around her (beyond romance) was a delight to read. I loved getting to know her sister. I didn’t enjoy the romance as much as I had expected. It’s not to say, I didn’t like it, I just wasn’t that invested in. However, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment for the story, I still cared a lot about where Zoe’s story went.

I was really happy with how the social anxiety portion of this story was handled. It felt honest and authentic. Personally, this was such an insightful read. I haven’t read a young adult book with autism rep (mc) before, so I’m glad we’re getting more neurodiversity.

I really liked the writing style. It was easy to read and enjoy. There was a great balance of dialogue and monologue. There were some moments that tugged at my heart strings and did make me emotional. They were probably some of my favourites.

If you’re looking for a refreshing coming of age story that tugs at the heart, I highly recommend this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Books Perfect for Halloween

Halloween isn’t too far away so here are eight books that I think will be perfect for October. There’s everything from ghosts to unreliable narrators.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson is a young adult, paranormal fantasy.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. After awakening an ancient spirit, Artemisia unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

This has ghosts, do I need to say more?

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas was one of my favourite books that I read in August. When Yadriel summons the ghost of Julian Diaz who refuses to leave, Yadriel is forced to help him uncover the mystery of Julian’s death.

I can’t explain how good this book is. It is so much fun and hooks you in all the way to the end. The characters are so loveable and is perfect for Halloween.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is one of my all time favourite reads.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

A darkly funny story about real and imagined monsters that will stay with you for a long time.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is a unique and dark story about Allison who survives by scavenging for food and her hatred for vampires. When she gets turned into one of them, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike.

I read this a long time ago and couldn’t get over how impressed I was by the more twisted take on vampires. This was fast, fun and hard to put down. I’ll be picking this up for a re-read in October and I recommend that you do too!

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie is a fun, enemies to lovers book that has a heavy focus on friendship.

Ailesse and Sabine are best friends, they’re also bone criers – those with the sacred duty of helping the dead pass over. This responsibility comes with a sacrifice, they must kill their one true love.

Bastien’s father died at the hands of a bone crier and he’s determined to get revenge. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is unlike anything you’ve read before. It takes a little bit to get into it, but when you do, it’s so worth it.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, he is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab is a haunting tale where the dead, called Histories, rest on shelves like books. Mac, is a keeper, responsible for making sure violent Histories don’t awaken and escape. When someone begins deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters, Mac has to piece together what remains, in order to prevent the Archive itself from crumbling and falling.

A few years ago, I was obsessed with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. This Halloween, you can be too.

Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital with no memory about what happened the night her friends died – and she survived. As Mara falls apart, everything around her does too. People alive seem dead, and the dead seem alive.

This is psychological thriller is twisted, intriguing and an incredible ride. Be prepared to find a new book boyfriend to add to your favourites.

Do you have some books that you think are perfect for Halloween? Drop them in the comments. Will you be picking any of these up?

After the Ink Dries: Book Review

After the Ink Dries by Cassie Gustafson is a young adult novel that released in July this year. Sixteen-year-old Erica Walker is a webcomic artist who wants to fit in at her affluent new high school. After a party, Erica wakes up half-clothed, and discovers words and names drawn in Sharpie in intimate places on her body—names belonging to Thomas’s lacrosse friends and his own. Told in alternating viewpoints, Erica seeks to uncover what happened while battling to keep evidence of her humiliation from leaking out, as Thomas grapples with his actions and who he thought he was. Woven throughout, illustrated graphic novel interstitials depict Erica’s alter ego superhero, Erica Strange, whose courage just might help Erica come through to the other side.

First of all, I’ve never read anything like this. The story alternates between the survivor’s pov and one of the perpetrator’s perspective – something I’ve never read before. This was a really unique idea that was executed really well.

This is not an easy read, but it’s one I encourage people to pick up (do check trigger warnings). This tackles assault in every aspect – the trauma, the guilt, the frustration. Reading about Erica was heartbreaking and angering. There were several points where I cried. Even a time, where I was so frustrated, I thought I was going to chuck my phone across my room.

Watching this unfold from Thomas’ perspective and seeing how the families of the perpetrators reacted, was interesting to the say the least. By no means was Thomas a character I liked or had sympathy for. But it was a really important perspective.

It reminded me how horrible high school could be for some and just how cruel teenagers could be.

The illustrations woven in through the story added another unique touch. They were so beautifully done by Emma Vieceli. They added another dimension to the book and were just as relevant as the writing.

I was really happy with the direction this book went in. The only thing that would’ve made it more satisfying would be a bit more closure – but I suspect that may have been the intention.

This is one that I highly recommend and will not stop talking about for a long time.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Lesson in Vengeance: Book Review

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee is a young adult new release that’s been pitched by the author as ‘dark academia but make it lesbian’. We follow Felicity Morrow, who after the death of her ex-girlfriend, has finally returned to Dalloway School. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds. As Ellis Haley, a prodigal and methodic writer, turns up at Godwin House, Felicity is roped into researched the Dalloway Five. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

I want to start by speaking about the characters. Felicity and Ellis were such great characters. They felt so real to me, they had personalities, flaws, and motivations that weren’t just driven by the plot’s demands. There were parts of them that were twisted and complicated and I just wanted to sit down and untangle it all.

The entire plot is brilliant and wicked. It’s a great concept that was executed really well. There were a few points that took me by surprise and I loved how they were executed.

I really enjoyed Victoria Lee’s writing style. It’s a combination of sophisticated and also very haunting. The writing style created a brilliantly twisted atmosphere and characters. You can tell how intelligent Ellis and Felicity are by their choice of words – not just dialogues. The words are chosen deliberately to create tension. Even in scenes where there wasn’t much happening, the vibe itself had my heart racing.

The most well-done part of this book is the atmosphere it creates. The vibes that the characters, the writing style and the plot give are so dark. Which contributes to making this a true ‘dark academia’.

My only complaint was the slow start. This took me a little bit to get into but my patience paid off. Despite the slow beginning, when it kicked off, it kicked off.

Going into this, I was under the impression that this was more fantasy than suspense (thanks Goodreads). This did disappoint me a little, but that’s a me problem and not a book or writing problem. I’d recommend going into this not expecting a fantasy element but more dark academia and suspense.

In closing, this is an incredible book that you must pick up. If you’re looking for something that’s dark academia, sapphic and has gothic vibes this is it for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Daughter of Sparta: Book Review

Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews is a young adult, Greek mythology, fantasy. Daphne has been training her entire life so she can accepted by the Spartans. When Artemis, the Goddess of the hunt and moon, turns up with a mission to restore the nine stolen items from Olympus, Daphne has no choice but to accept. If she fails, the gods will lose their powers and Daphne’s brother will lose his life. Alongside Apollo, Daphne begins an empowering journey filled with action, Gods, and mythological legends.

Going into this, I had low expectations. I love Greek mythology but rarely do I find a retelling or mythology inspired book that I thoroughly enjoy. But Claire M. Andrews understood the assignment. This reinterpretation of Daphne and Apollo was so well done.

The entire journey was exhiliarating and I was so invested. This is a fast paced story filled with action, that hooks you from the start and never lets you go. I loved the characters we met along the way, to the allies we made and to the foes we fought.

The characters were all lovable and multi-faced. Daphne is a complex character that felt real. I cared about her and was so scared for her in so many scenes. I was really happy with her development and the direction her character went in. Apollo’s character was also handled really well. It was a great combination of the sinister actions the Gods are known to make and a refreshing take on his character.

The romance between Daphne and Apollo was swoon-worthy. The slow burn, hate to love arc was die to for. The tension was described really well and I was really happy with its development.

The banter was really funny. Not just between Daphne and Apollo, but with all the other characters we meet.

I loved how the story wrapped up and I was really satisfied with the ending, despite all the questions I have. I’m so excited for the sequel and I can’t wait for it. Why does it have to be so far away?

I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a fast paced fantasy with a badass heroine. If you love Greek mythology, you need to pick this one up.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Books with Numbers in the Title: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is run by That Artsy Reader. You can click the button below to be redirected to the page to know more.

10.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

9.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

8.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

7.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

6.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

5.

(a childhood favourite)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

3.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

2.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

1.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Let me know what your favourites are!

Slanted and Disenchanted: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Slanted and Disenchanted by Lisa Czarina Michaud is a young adult, coming of age story releasing on September 21st 2021. We follow Carla and Pete, two teenagers that are unsatisfied with their lives, as they start a rock band. Just before they’re set to begin their tour, a tragedy occurs, making them reconsider all of their choices.

I had to think about my feelings for this book for a few days. On one hand, this is a witty book that reads like a love letter to music. You can tell the author is really knowledgeable and passionate about music. On the other hand, I found it really hard to connect with the characters and the story just didn’t resonate with me. I’m not crazy into music, like the characters are, and I wonder if that’s where the issue was.

Everything about this book was honest. From the problems the characters had, to the awkward interactions. I think the coming-of-age aspect was handled and executed really well. From the language, to their thoughts and worries, all of it felt realistic for their age.

I won’t spoil the ‘tragedy’, but it wasn’t one I was expecting. I do think it was handled well. There were some emotional moments that touched me.

This is a witty book with some heartfelt moments but something in it failed to fully engage me. I think anyone who’s really into their music will enjoy this.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2021

We had the years biggest publication days this week and it got me really excited for some upcoming books.

The first book on my list is Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson. This comes out in October and I’m so lucky to have an arc for this. I’ll be picking it up in a few days and I’m so excited to share my thoughts.

I read A Sorcery of Thorns last month and completely fell in love with it so I have some really high expectations for this one.

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber sounds magical. There are dangerous bargains, legends and the lengths people will go to for a happy ever after.

The blurb for All These Bodies by Kendare Blake has hooked me in.

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere.

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to.

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

I’ve read The Lunar Chronicles and Renegades series by Marissa Meyer so naturally I’m excited for her upcoming release, Gilded. I don’t believe that Marissa Meyer is capable of writing anything that I won’t fall in love with. Especially, if the cover is this stunning.

I loved A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, so I’m counting down for the sequel, A Psalm of Storms and Silence. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

I don’t find myself reaching for sad books often, but there’s something about this one that intrigues me. I’m ready to get my heart broken. From what I remember, Julie’s boyfriend, Sam dies. As she misses him, she dials his phone, hoping to listen to his voicemail to hear his voice one more time. But Sam picks up, and suddenly Julie has another chance at goodbye.

The cover is so beautiful too. I’m so scared but excited for this.

I’ve read three books by Karen M. McManus and enjoyed all three so You’ll Be the Death of Me is another highly anticipated read. I love the title too. I don’t even know what this is about, but I’ll be pre-ordering it soon and that’s all that matters.

What are some books you’re excited for?

My Comfort Reads: Book List

Everyone always asks me why I buy so many books. Short answer: so I can re-read them. There are some authors and stories that I find myself reaching for more than others. These are my comfort stories.

Disclaimer: there’s going to be A LOT of Jennifer L. Armentrout

The first set of books in my list, is the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I know what you’re thinking, but Hasnita, these covers are atrocious and you only judge a book by it’s cover.

That’s how much I love this series.

In Obsidian, we meet Katy who’s just moved to Virginia with her mum and is stuck with a hot, brooding neighbour. Who happens to be an alien. Daemon infuriates Katy and drives her up a wall. Until they’re attacked and Daemon ends up freezing time to save them, marking Katy as a beacon for other aliens.

This series is amazing, the first book isn’t the best, but I love the rest. This is my ideal series: so much humour that your stomach hurts, endless amounts of sexual tension and pent up angst, and supporting characters that are just as exciting.

I have gone back to re-read this series whenever I need something funny and exciting and this always satisfies. Just typing this makes me want to pick it up and read it. If something is holding you back from picking this up, just do it. TRUST THE PROCESS. Daemon is still one of my top book boyfriends. Daemon in Origin makes me faint.

Two Jennifer L. Armentrout series back to back, what’s wrong with me? Candidly, a lot. This is an oldie that’s a goldie.

A Greek Mythology fantasy where the descendants of Hematoi (children of Gods and Mortals) are divided into Pure-Bloods (who have godlike powers) and Half-Bloods (who either protect Pure-Bloods or live as their slaves).

Alex, a half-blood, is training to be a guard for the Pure-Bloods but her chances of slumming start to look higher when she falls for Aiden (a pureblood). Fun fact: relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

This book has always been compared to Vampire Academy, and I do agree. If you enjoy one of these series, you’ll probably enjoy the other.

I love this series so much. I love how badass Alex is, and I just love everything about Aiden. Another one of my top book boyfriends who has survived the strife of time. This series has forbidden romance, kickass action and incredible world building. It is also so funny like anything Jennifer L. Armentrout writes. What more could you ask for?

If you’re a YA reader, you’ve heard of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. This book starts with Celaena Sardothien, a notorious assassin currently chained and slumming it in a salt mine prison. When the Prince turns up and offers her freedom in exchange for participating in a competition, it’s a no brainer. She agrees. But as the participants start dropping dead and weird (understatement) things start occurring, Celaena has to figure it out before she’s next.

This is my all time favourite fantasy series. I would die for these characters. I just want to say, this story goes places. It’s so funny, witty and the romance arcs are swoon-worthy. It’s such a fun series that I always go back to. It always delivers. Despite the parts that make me sob.

While we’re on the topic of Sarah J. Maas, I’ll mention A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in a new adult/adult fantasy series. This book specifically is one I find myself reaching for frequently. This is a nicely wrapped bundle of enemies to lovers and found family – two of my favourite tropes. If I had to choose one book to read for the rest of my life, this would be it.

Wait For You by J. Lynn/Jennifer L. Armentrout is a new adult, contemporary series that follows different characters in each book. This is full of characters I will never stop gushing over, adorable romance and witty scenes. This is done while dealing with intense backstories and hard topics. Even when I’m not reading, I’m reading this.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead was one of the first series I fell in love with. I read this in early high school and couldn’t get enough of these characters. A well-developed world of vampires, forbidden romance, amazing friendships and so much great banter. It’s action packed and full of badass characters.

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is an oldie that I’ll never stop picking up. Alex Fuentes is a masterpiece and one of my first fictional crushes. This is high school rivalry tied up with enemies to lovers and a sprinkle of ‘forbidden’ romance.

I love all of these stories so much. What’s a comfort series/books that you find yourself reaching for? Have you read any of these? Let me know so we can scream together.