Renee’s review of Madly by Amy Alward

23309862When Princess Evelyn is poisoned, a Wilde Hunt is called in search for the cure. Samantha Kemi participates in the intense hunt for a curing potion in hopes that she can save her family business in alchemy.

I loved Madly. What made me fall in love with it instantly was Sam Kemi, the protagonist. She’s strong, capable, and smart. Another strong point of the novel was that it kept me completely absorbed with its action and intensity. I was invested and really, really enjoyed the ride. The only part I found a little weird was that the ending was a little quick. It wasn’t rushed and didn’t feel unrealistic, but as I was approaching the end, I looked at how many pages were left (there weren’t many) and was little confused on how Alward was going to wrap it up in the amount left. She did manage to finish the book very nicely and the story was complete, but I still felt as if the author had been given a set amount of pages, and she had written freely until she reached about the last 10% of the novel, and then thought, “Oh shoot, I’ve gotta wrap up because I’m almost at my page limit.” But the story was definitely whole and complete, and I finished it feeling satisfied. Madly was a very good read and I highly recommend it, especially to those who enjoy strong leads and fast plots.

Renee rates this book 4.5/5 Stars

Kulsoom’s review of These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

24187925Set in the early 1900s, this eloquent story follows Josephine Montfort as the untimely death of her father unravels her entire life. When here father is found dead in his study, Josephine doesn’t quite agree with the the officials have to say. Intent on finding out the truth for herself, she sets out on the adventure of a lifetime, filled with love, betrayal, secrets, and lots of lies. This story will leave you frantically slipping through the pages, and will leave you with a very satisfying ending.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and historical fiction along with sweetheart love. It takes the definition of normal and puts it upside down.

Kulsoom rates this book 5/5 stars.

Cassandra’s review of Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

14061955Siege and Storm is the second book of the spectacular Grisha Trilogy. When Mal and Alina escape from the Shadow Fold, the Darkling gains a terrifying new power and strives to find them in order to accomplish his plan of uniting all three of Morozova’s amplifiers. Just before the Darkling can claim the second amplifier, a notorious privateer rescues Mal and Alina and escorts them back to Ravka to recover the country after the Darkling’s unsuccessful coup d’état. As the new leader of the Grisha Army, Alina must battle against her growing distance to Mal and her terrifying thirst for more power.

Siege and Storm would be great for anyone who likes fantasy, romance, and action. The plot is very fast-paced, and many new characters are introduced. I would recommend reading the first book, Shadow and Bone, before reading Siege and Storm. I, personally, enjoyed Shadow and Bone more than Siege and Storm, but the second book is integral in the overall plot and character development. Siege and Storm nicely transitions to the final fight against the Darkling.

Cassandra rates this book 4.25 of 5 stars.

Renee’s review of The Diviners by Libba Bray

7728889As Wikipedia so nicely stated, “The plot follows seventeen-year-old Evie O’Neill as she helps her uncle Will – curator of the fictional ‘Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult’ – uncover the killer behind a mysterious series of murders.”

The story is well written, following several plots. The murder mystery case is thrilling and scary and intense. Evie is incredibly charming and likeable– I love her. The Diviners is captivating; I couldn’t put it down. The only thing I find a little annoying (just a little) is that I expected Bray to close up all of the stories she followed, especially because the book is so fat (400+ pages). There were so many storylines, and I thought she would tie them together, but instead the strands stayed separate. Some met, but the stories never fully merged and came together. I guess she’s saving it for the sequel. I spent the entire novel super excited to see the characters finally meet, the puzzle finally pieced together, and have all of their knowledge shared, but that never happened, so looking back at that lack of climax is a little disappointing. But it’s not a big deal, because this book is amazing, and I know the strands will all be tied together in the sequel. It’s really such a small flaw (not even a flaw really), and the novel is so enchanting and immersive, that it doesn’t change how much I enjoyed the Diviners. The Diviners is exciting, keeping you completely invested until the very end. There were parts where I was on the edge of my seat, barely breathing, waiting to see what would happen. It’s a thrilling read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fun, realistic characters and intense mysteries (and also a few history lessons thrown in!). I will definitely, definitely be reading the next one.

Renee rates this book 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cassandra’s review of Steelheart and Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson revolves around a boy named David who tries to take revenge on a powerful epic named Steelheart, who killed his father. The story takes place in Chicago after Calamity comes and bestows ordinary people with amazing superpowers. Those people are proclaimed epics. David is trying to take down one of the strongest epics the world has ever known, and he has a strategy. David is the only survivor who has seen Steelheart bleed, and he is eager to see him bleed once more. With the help of the secretive Reckoners, the only force that strikes against the epics, David seeks his revenge.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy and stories that have a lot of action. Steelheart is filled with plot twists and suspenseful moments. The Reckoner’s plans make logical sense and the specifics involving weaponry are discussed. Additionally, David is a very smart and funny character. (He always comes up with the most hilarious metaphors.) I especially like the interactions between David and Megan, a fellow-member of the Reckoners. Steelheart would be enjoyed by anyone.

Cassandra rates Steelheart 4.75/5 stars.

Firefight is the second book of the awesome Reckoners series. The story continues after David avenges his father. David leaves Newcago in pursuit of the high Epic Regalia who rules Manhattan. Manhattan is completely different from Newcago. There is a Venice quality to it and the inhabitants live life in a very carefree manner, indifferent to the powerful Epics who from time to time demolish whole regions of the city. In Manhattan, David must make use of his enormous improvising and strategizing skills in order to take down Regalia and her Epic underlings. As David tries to uncover the Epics’ weaknesses, he finds things about Epics that can bring an end to Calamity.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action and comedy. Firefight takes place after Steelheart, and it continues its suspenseful and fun tone. I liked Firefight better than Steelheart since David is less revenge-driven and becomes even more likable. New characters are introduced and a lot of team development occurs. (Not to mention the wonderful relationship between Megan and David.) The Reckoners are clearly a force not to be reckoned with.

Cassandra rates Firefight 5/5 stars.

Renee’s review of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

the-coincidence-of-coconut-cake-9781501100710_hrLou is pursuing her dream of running her own restaurant, Luella’s. They’re new, but they’re growing. Al Waters is a food critic under the pen name A.W. Wodyski who is notorious for the harsh reviews he writes. Things are going alright until Lou catches her fiancee with another girl (gasp!) and completely screws up in the kitchen that night, the night Wodyski chooses to visit Luella’s. He absolutely demolishes Luella’s in his review, effectively killing Lou’s business. Of course, Lou and Al meet. Neither has any idea who the other is, and as they grow closer bits of the truth are revealed…what’s going to happen?????

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a love story and nothing more. I had thought it would be more focused on Lou working hard for her restaurant, but it wasn’t. I also thought the whole love at first sight, “she’s the most beautiful creature in the whole universe and absolutely leaves me breathless” thing going on from Al’s point of view was very….cliche, dull, unrealistic, etc. I usually read more sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian kind of thing, novels with more action and intensity, so when I look at this book from that point of view it was rather boring. But when I judge it for what it is (a chick lit love story) it was pretty good. It had romantic moments, although the novel did call to mind the manic pixie dream girl trope. It also had good characters and development. They were understandable and relatable and made me care. There was also a very jaw-dropping reveal toward the end which I really loved, because it spiced things up. For all of these reasons I couldn’t put the book down and finished it in one sitting. It’s definitely lacking the action aspect that I need in a book, but…it did what it did well. It was a cute love story, so I would recommend it to those who like that kind of thing. I don’t particularly, but I still enjoyed the novel!

Renee rates this book 2.5/5 stars.

Cassandra’s book review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo focuses on the life of Alina Starkov, an orphan and apprentice mapmaker, after she unleashes an incredible power. When Alina’s army regiment is forced to enter the Shadow Forge, filled with terrifying monsters, Alina reveals a dormant power while trying to save her childhood friend and crush, Mal. Immediately, Alina is taken away and sent to the royal court in order to be trained as a Grisha, magical people led by the Darkling. As Alina grows more attached to her new life and the Darkling, she discover a deadly secret that shatter the world she lives in…

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy and romance. Alina is a very interesting main character who has to battle a lot of things in her mind. I like the fact that Alina is not afraid to speak her mind. I also really like the different Grisha powers and the descriptions of the Ravka court. Shadow and Bone is filled with fun twists and turns that create a great plotline.