August 2021 Anticipated Releases

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well.

Today I’ll be sharing my anticipated releases for the month of August! I can’t believe it’s already August… this year has gone SO quickly.

The good thing about that, though, is that there are even more amazing books coming out! Let’s get to them –

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Review: Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Synopsis:

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. 

As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Fire Falling is the second book in the Air Awakens Series.


Rating:

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Fire Falling had a weaker plot than Air Awakens, but is still a solid and highly entertaining sequel.

After the events of Air Awakens, Vhalla now finds herself a soldier and property of the Crown. She resigns herself to her fate: that she will inevitably die, as the senate presumably intended by passing down this sentence. I didn’t feel Vhalla had a very large character arc in this book. She’s no longer believing her death is inevitable, but she’s not exactly full of hope for the future either. I think her main change comes from her relationship with Aldrik.

Vhalla’s relationship with Aldrik is a bit rocky in this instalment. After her trial, things are tense and awkward, each of them not knowing where they stand with each other. As expected though, they work things out in the end and we finally get some proper romance scenes!! Their scenes together were probably my favourite aspect of the book, and I enjoyed every time they got to be happy and forget about the ongoing war and all their other troubles.

Fritz and Larel, Vhalla’s friends from the Tower, get more page-time in this one too. It was nice to see Vhalla open up a bit more and begin to trust them. Larel acted as the caring friend Vhalla really needed at times, and of course Fritz was there for the occasional comic relief. We’re also introduced to Elecia who, from memory of my first time reading this series, has an important role to play in future books. It was fun seeing the tension between Elecia and Vhalla, especially as Vhalla was jealous and didn’t know who Elecia was to start off with.

There are a few plot twists in this book, but most of them are small and I didn’t feel they had a huge impact on the overall series arc. There was one towards the end though, which I had completely forgotten about, that left me quite shocked. Fire Falling also ends on a cliffhanger, setting up the next book (Earth’s End) nicely.

Overall, Fire Falling was still a highly enjoyable read with Elise Kova’s signature fast pacing. It lacked a little of the spark Air Awakens had, but should definitely not be missed.

Review: These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

Synopsis:

From New York Times best-selling author Lexi Ryan, Cruel Prince meets A Court of Thorns and Roses in this sexy, action-packed fantasy about a girl who is caught between two treacherous faerie courts and their dangerously seductive princes.

Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her back—including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.

Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie’s only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.

Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.


Disclaimer:  I received a free Advance Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review in any way, which is honest and unbiased. Thank you to Kate Keehan at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of These Hollow Vows

Rating: ★★★.5

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I really struggled in deciding what to rate this book. On one hand, I enjoyed the overall reading experience I had and I want to be nice to this book, but on the other hand, there just wasn’t that ‘spark’ for me and there were too many aspects I didn’t like. I’ve rated books 3.5 stars in the past that I’ve felt less strongly about, but I didn’t feel I could rate These Hollow Vows any higher, or closer to a 4 star. Sigh.

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Review: Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

Synopsis:

A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Crown’s Game and The Tiger at Midnight.


Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. Thank you to Harper 360 YA for sending me Sisters of the Snake!

Rating: ★  

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Though I had every intention of posting this review last Thursday, on this book’s UK release date, it didn’t feel right given that I’ve only rated it 2 stars, hence why this review is ‘late’.

Sisters of the Snake was a book I was really looking forward to reading. I remember scrolling quickly through Harper’s newsletter to find it and rushed to submit my request as though it was first come first serve. Unfortunately, pretty much none of my expectations were met with this book. The only positive thing I can really say about it is that it gave me some practice at skim reading, which I’m often loathe to do.

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Review: Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Synopsis:

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. 

Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.


Rating: ★    

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Elise Kova may not write perfect books, but they’re certainly easy to binge and highly entertaining.

This is the second time I’m reading Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series, after I first read it all the way back in 2017. I thought, as my memory is pretty foggy on what happened and it would be like reading the books again for the first time, I might as well review them.

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Review: Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

Synopsis:

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.


Disclaimer: I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher, HMH Books for Young Readers, via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher!

Rating: ★    

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At first, after finishing this book, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to rate it 4.5 stars or 5 stars. I went into 2021 deciding to be more reserved with my 5-star ratings, and only give them to books I would class as absolute favourites. That being said, I really can’t find any major fault with this book and that, coupled with the experience I had reading this, means it’s only fair that I do give it 5/5.

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Review: These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

Synopsis:

A queer retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.


Disclaimer: I received a free eARC of this book from Harper 360 YA (via Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Harper 360 YA!

Rating: ★ .5

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I absolutely adored These Feathered Flames! Ever since finishing Netflix’s Shadow and Bone (and then rewatching it multiple times), I’ve been hungry for more stories with Russian influences, and this book was exactly what I needed. Packed full of political intrigue, complicated family relationships and a dash of magic, These Feathered Flames takes the well-loved Russian myth of the Firebird and weaves it into a lush, vibrant tale I couldn’t get enough of. I need the sequel immediately!

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Review: From Little Tokyo, with Love by Sarah Kuhn

Synopsis:

Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart.

If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale–being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business–she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold.

All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness–searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe…finally finding a sense of belonging.

But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?


Disclaimer: I received an advanced finished copy of this book for free. This does not affect or influence my review in any way, which is unbiased and spoiler-free. Thank you to Sam at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy!

Rating: ★★★★

Purchase: Blackwell’s (Affiliate Link) 


It’s been a long time since I’ve read a contemporary book. A very long time.

When people ask me why I typically avoid contemporaries like the plague, my answer has always been something along the lines of “I have enough real-life problems. I don’t need to read about anyone else’s.”

That being said, when I was presented with the opportunity to read and review one – this one – there was a little voice in my head saying “Go on! Do it! Branch out a little bit. Say you’ll read the book, even if by the time it shows up you’ll have to trudge your way through it.”

I listened – and I’m glad I did. And, as a bonus? It wasn’t ‘a trudge’ either (as you might be able to tell from my rating).

From Little Tokyo, with Love is a modern-day fairy-tale with a lot of heart. It’s warm and fluffy – the sort of things you probably look for in a contemporary – but at the same time, it doesn’t shy away from anything. The book not only deals with racism, but also family and identity, and does so in a way I think all readers can see a bit of themselves in Rika.

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Review: The Cruelest Mercy by Natalie Mae

Synopsis:

In this sequel to The Kinder Poison–which People magazine proclaimed a “delicious high-stakes adventure”–the magical kingdom of Orkena is on the brink of war, and the only person who can save it is Zahru, the girl they once doomed for death.

After surviving the Crossing, Zahru has sworn off adventures. While crown prince Jet navigates the looming threat of war, she’s content to simply figure out what the future holds for them. But they’re dealt a devastating blow when prince Kasta returns with a shocking claim: he’s the true winner of the Crossing and the rightful heir, and he bears the gods’ mark as proof. Even more surprising–he’s not the only one.

Somehow, Zahru possesses the very same mark, giving her equal right to the throne. The last thing she wants is to rule beside her would-be executioner, but she can’t let Orkena fall into his merciless hands. So Zahru, Jet, and their allies must race against the clock to find a way to stop Kasta, because once he’s crowned, there’s no telling what horrors he’ll unleash to win the war.

Zahru will do whatever it takes to keep Kasta from taking the throne…but to stop a villain, is she willing to become one herself?


Disclaimer: I received a digital advance reader’s copy of The Cruelest Mercy for free. This does not affect or influence my review in any way, which is honest and spoiler-free. Huge thank you to Sam at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy!

Rating: ★★★★★

Purchase: Blackwell’s (Affiliate Link) / BookBar Denver (signed and personalised copies)

If you’re outside the US or Canada, you can still order personalised copies of The Kinder Poison and The Cruelest Mercy! You’ll just have to email BookBar at welcome@bookbardenver.com to place your order. ♥


EDIT: Please be aware this is a review for a second book in a series, and so it will contain spoilers for the first book. You can find my review of the first book, The Kinder Poison, here.

There are some books, I find, that simply demand to be talked about in full detail, spoilers aplenty.  Unfortunately, The Cruelest Mercy seems to be one of them, and so writing this review is likely to be harder than I originally anticipated and may not convey just how much I loved it. I finished it in little over 24 hours though, so I really did love it. I might even do a spoiler-filled review/discussion post once it’s out, so that I can talk about everything in a way that I simply can’t here.

I had no idea what to expect going into The Cruelest Mercy, having very few theories prior to starting it, but was equally delighted and shocked with all the twists and turns. I had to be forced to put this book down – it was that good (though I’d hope given how much amazing The Kinder Poison was, that isn’t a surprise to anyone?)!

The Cruelest Mercy begins around a month after the end of The Kinder Poison: Jet has been crowned Dommel (Crown Prince), and after spending time apart, Zahru isn’t sure of their relationship status anymore. Sakira and her team are still missing, Kasta is presumed dead, and no one knows about Maia’s death (rest in peace, my fave. You were gone too soon). Things seem to be looking up for Zahru when Jet awards her a position on his advisory team, but quickly go south again when Kasta returns, gatecrashing Jet’s coronation, announcing he has Numet’s mark – the sign he’s the victor of the Crossing. As luck would have it, Zahru has this mark too, and the Mestrah proclaims the pair must rule together. 

Continue reading “Review: The Cruelest Mercy by Natalie Mae”