Review: The Afterlife of the Party by Marlene Perez

BOOK STATS

Rating:
Title: The Afterlife of the Party
Author: Marlene Perez
Series: Afterlife #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: sexual assault

SYNOPSIS

The bestselling author of the Dead Is… series is back with a snarky, hilarious take on the vampire romance novel.

When my best friend Skyler told me about this party in the Hollywood Hills, I was less than enthused. As it turned out, my feelings were more than justified. That party ruined my life.

Tansy didn’t even want to go to the party. It’s hard enough living in one of your best friend’s shadows and secretly in love with your other best friend.

And now she’s leaving it a vampire.

Now her best friend Skyler is stuck on the road trip from hell, on tour as a groupie with a literal band of vamps. Tansy sets out with Vaughn, her other BFF turned maybe more, to save Skylar’s life and take down the band. But when they find themselves in the middle of a vampire war, will Tansy be able to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her friends?

MY THOUGHTS

I thought this would be a fun and cheesy paranormal romance featuring vampires and witches (along the lines of Crave), but it was just not good. The writing was not good. Tansy’s internal monologue was cringey. The romance was very immature. The world and supernatural lore were underdeveloped and confusing. All of the characters were very flat and illogical; they always either overreacted or underreacted to everything. It was quick read, but it just didn’t make sense to me. I almost DNF at about 100 pages, and I probably should have.

Review: The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Page

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: The Ravens
Author: Kass Morgan & Danielle Page
Series: The Ravens #1
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Sophie Amoss
Length: 11 hours (400 pages)
Publisher: Clarion Books; Recorded Books
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Source: Library
Content Warnings: cancer, death

SYNOPSIS

Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches.

For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate—that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet….

When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.

MY THOUGHTS

I loved the premise of this book: a college sorority as a front for a powerful coven of witches to recruit new members, some who do not even know they have magic. Despite the witchcraft and murder, this book portrayed sorority life pretty positively as a place for friendship, belonging, and support. It made me very nostalgic for my own college sorority days.

I liked both of the main characters, Vivi and Scarlett, and the book did a great job of showing how people change and grow into themselves at college. However, the story was a little lackluster for me due to an unnecessary love triangle and some predictable plot twists.

Review: Namesake by Adrienne Young

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: Namesake
Author: Adrienne Young
Series: Fable #2
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Emmy Lysy
Length: 9 hours (363 pages)
Publisher: Wednesday Books; Macmillan Audio
Release Date: March 16, 2021
Source: Library
Content Warnings: kidnapping, death of parent

SYNOPSIS

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

MY THOUGHTS

I went with the audiobook for the second book in this duology, and while I once again enjoyed it, overall this series didn’t wow me like I expected it to.

It was nice to learn more about Fable’s mom and her abilities as a gem sage, but the truth about Fable’s heritage was farfetched. West behaved like a completely different person. I didn’t think that all of the plot events were necessary or fit together cohesively.

Once again, Saint stole the show. He is by far the most fascinating character in this duology, and his arc is worth reading.

This had a really sweet and heartfelt ending, but for me, this book relied on too many typical YA tropes.

Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: Fable
Author: Adrienne Young
Series: Fable #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 357 pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: pirates, All the Stars and Teeth
Content Warnings: child abuse, abandonment

SYNOPSIS

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

MY THOUGHTS

I enjoyed Fable, but it did not live up to the overwhelming hype for me. I expected to swoon for this pirate fantasy, but I just liked it.

Adrienne Young created a vivid, brutal world where everyday is a fight for survival, but the world building and “magic system” were fairly simple for a fantasy book. I liked the characters and the Marigold crew’s found family, but I would’ve appreciated a little more depth to the character development. The most interesting relationship in the book was by far Fable’s complicated relationship with her father Saint. I honestly didn’t think the inevitable romance was necessary in this story.

My book club read this book based on my suggestion, and while I liked it and thought it was well written, I don’t think the story particularly stands out amidst the sea of YA fantasy books.

Review: The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Title: The Broken Ones
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #0.6
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Eric Michael Summerer, Erin Moon
Length: 9 hours (267 pages)
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Audible subscription
Recommended for fans of: The Malediction Trilogy
Content Warnings: miscarriage, fatal disease

SYNOPSIS

Lovers of Romeo and Juliet’s tale of star-crossed romance will be swept away by this breathtaking retelling full of fantasy and magic.

Cursed to the confines of their underground city, an ancient rivalry between the most powerful troll families has reached a fevered pitch. At the heart of it is Pénélope d’Angoulême, a talented artist and the eldest daughter of a power-hungry duke. When Pénélope accidentally destroys her sister’s chance to become queen, her father gives her an ultimatum: find proof that Marc Biron, the right hand to their family’s greatest enemy, is guilty of treason. Or die trying.

The trouble is, she’s in love with him.

Together, Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics and dangerous magic of their world. Powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at happiness.

Except being together will be the greatest risk of all…

THE BROKEN ONES takes place in the magical world of the USA Today bestselling and Goodreads Choice finalist STOLEN SONGBIRD. A star-crossed romance, THE BROKEN ONES is certain to break the hearts of fans of Holly Black. Readers new to this world may begin here!

MY THOUGHTS

The Broken Ones is a prequel to The Malediction Trilogy about Marc and Penelope’s star-crossed/forbidden romance. According to the author, it can be read as a standalone; however, she recommends reading it after book two as it spoils some things in the main series. On the other hand, the series definitely spoils the events of this book. I read it after book 3.

This book gives us an insider’s perspective of the aristocracy and politics of Trollus. It was interesting to see Tristan as a side character with the spotlight on his cousin Marc. I enjoyed diving deep into this backstory and learning more about the characters’ pasts, but knowing how it would end the whole time took the suspense out of the story, a common problem with this type of spin off book.

Review: Warrior Witch by Danielle L. Jensen

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Title: Warrior Witch
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #3
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Eric Michael Summerer, Erin Moon
Length: 13 hours (395 pages)
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Source: Audible subscription

SYNOPSIS

Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.

MY THOUGHTS

A LOT goes down in this conclusion to the Malediction trilogy. In a war between troll, humans, half-bloods, witches, fae, and a dragon(???), no character is safe. NO ONE.

The story was exciting and fast-paced with high-stakes action sequences and political maneuvering, but when I think back on the story, there are a few plot points that don’t fully add up for me.

The ending was absolutely heartbreaking, and I did not expect this series’ conclusion to make me so emotional! I definitely recommend this series for fans of Danielle L. Jensen who want to see where her writing started.

Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Title: Hidden Huntress
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #2
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Eric Michael Summerer, Erin Moon
Length: 16 hours (500 pages)
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: Audible subscription

SYNOPSIS

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted.

MY THOUGHTS

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first one in the series for a couple of reasons: 1) Cecile and Tristan were separated for a big chunk of the book and I missed their romance, and 2) I figured out the main mystery WAYYYYYYYYY before the characters did.

While most of book 1 took place in Trollus, book 2 explores the human city of Trianon, so we get to see more of the world. Cecile must navigate a complicated relationship with her mother while secretly developing her powers of witchcraft. Meanwhile, Tristan deals with politics in Trollus, which are as fraught as ever.

Even though I figured out a major twist, there were still some surprises for me at the end that made me very excited to pick up the next book.

Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Stolen Songbird
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Eric Michael Summerer, Erin Moon
Length: 14.5 hours (469 pages)
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Source: Audible subscription
Recommended for fans of: Dark Shores, Margaret Rogerson books

SYNOPSIS

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain—time enough for their magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophecy has spoken of a union that will set the trolls free, and when Cécile is stolen away to fulfill it, she enters a world that is both magical and deadly.

Cécile has only one goal after being bonded to the prince of the trolls: escape. Except while awaiting the perfect opportunity, she discovers there is more to the mysterious crown prince than anyone realizes.

As rebellion brews and the political games escalate, Cécile becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes the hope of a people—someone who has the power to change Trollus forever.

MY THOUGHTS

I’m so glad I finally took the time to read one of my favorite author’s first published series! This is more of a traditional YA fantasy than Danielle L. Jensen’s current series, but it had the world building, character development, and emotions I expect from her writing.

This French-inspired fantasy world features the unconventional choice of trolls as the main mythical creature, but don’t let that turn you off! These trolls, cursed to live under the mountain in the city of Trollus, share a lot of lore with classic fae, and the world also includes witches.

Jensen is a queen of writing slow burn romance. I was so here for Cecile and Tristan’s enemies to lovers forced marriage in an attempt to break the curse on trolls. Tristan is the morally gray love interest with a heart of gold that we all know and love. I also picked up on some Beauty & the Beast vibes in this book, but I don’t think it was meant to be a retelling. This book had a few slow moments, but overall it had great scheming and surprises!

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Cursebreakers #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Davis Brooks, Kate Handford, Matt Reeves
Length: 15 hours (507 pages)
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Source: Library
Recommended for fans of: Beauty & the Beast retellings
Content Warnings: violence, death, cancer, chronic illness

SYNOPSIS

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

MY THOUGHTS

This book is so highly rated by so many reviewers I follow, and I usually love fairy tale retellings, but I thought it was just okay. I tend to not like portal fantasies that begin in our modern world as much as high fantasy, and I’m starting to lose interest in a lot of YA fantasy tropes that were prevalent in this book.

I struggled to get into this story. Harper is NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS. The foundation is laid for a love triangle that I just do not have time for. I will say that I never fully bought Harper’s feelings for Rhen. The uncertainty that lingered at the end annoyed me. I can’t say I was ever too surprised by any of the plot points.

It is refreshing to see such great disability rep in a YA fantasy book. The fast pace kept me interested in the story, but I’m not sure if I’m interested enough to continue the series. I think I would’ve loved this book a few years ago, but it doesn’t work for the reader I am today.

Review: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Good Girl, Bad Blood
Author: Holly Jackson
Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2
Genre: Mystery
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 401 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: Veronica Mars, Karen M. McManus
Content Warnings: death, references to rape, gun violence, knife violence, child abuse

SYNOPSIS

Pip is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

MY THOUGHTS

My Veronica Mars loving heart cannot get enough of Pip Fitz-Amobi! This is a really great YA mystery series. For whatever reason I am ALL ABOUT books about fictional podcasts, and I love the epistolary content that brings Pip’s investigations to life.

I didn’t think this mystery was as compelling from the beginning compared to book one (I honestly thought the premise was a bit ridiculous), but by the end I was shocked, horrified, and fascinated by the twists and turns. I also wanted more Ravi in this book. He’s still a major character, but I just didn’t feel his presence as much throughout this book.

Pip has a lot of character development in this book as she figures out who she is and what her priorities are. I can’t wait to read the conclusion of this series!