Thursday, August 22, 2019

ARC Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Pages: 432
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For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie. 

Crown of Coral and Pearl came onto my radar a few months ago when I saw the gorgeous cover and read a synopsis that promised an incredibly unique fantasy novel. I love the idea of a village in the ocean and forbidden romance is my favorite trope! This book had so much potential to be amazing, but sadly turned out to be one of the most generic fantasy books I've read in awhile.

Nor and Zadie are twins in Varenia, a village on the ocean that values beauty above all else. Nor was unfortunate enough to have a run in with some coral that resulted in a scar as a child, making her less desirable than her sister. Zadie is ultimately chosen to be sent to Ilara to marry the prince, but doesn't want to go, while Nor desperately wants to see more of the world. When Zadie is injured, Nor gets her chance.

All of that - that one paragraph - took over 30% of the book to get through. Almost 150 pages in and Nor is only just getting ready to leave for Ilara. When I read the synopsis I expected that actually getting Nor to Ilara would be a very small part of the story, especially since it's all laid out in the synopsis, but it dragged on. The writing (especially the dialogue) also left a lot to be desired.

The slow pace would have been fine if I was able to connect with any of the characters, but I just didn't care about any of them. There's a romance plot not mentioned in the synopsis that I just couldn't care less about and the instalove between Nor and Talin was already apparent when she was getting the warm fuzzies after literally seeing him once for a few minutes.

Varenia was really the one saving grace, but I really would have loved if it had been developed a bit more. It took me several chapters to realize it was apparently a city built on stilts. That is an amazing idea and I would have loved to see more done with it!

I wanted to love this book so much! There was so much potential here, I just wish it had been executed better. I went back and forth over whether to finish this, but after seeing that many people thought the first third was the best part, I knew this just wasn't the book for me.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Special editions are out of control: Caraval & The Cruel Prince

In 2017, way back when only Caraval was out in the wild, I made a post discussing how out of control it seemed special editions were. Oh, what a sweet summer child I was. At the time of that original post there were only 12 editions of Caraval but I'm back with an update! Buckle up, collectors!

I'm here again to talk about the ridiculous number of special editions on the market for books that have been out for a very, very short time. Today I'm focusing specifically on two of the series that seem particularly out of control at the moment: Caraval and The Folk of the Air. Correct me if my math is wrong. Numbers are hard. (Again, I'll be sticking to US and UK editions for the sake of time.)

Caraval: 13, Legendary: 11, Finale: 11

This time around all three books in the series have been published and they are all fantastic! While Finale was the weakest of the three in my opinion, I still collected each one in both the standard US and UK editions. I also ended up with some extras of Finale since the publisher and book boxes all decided to go off the deep end with that one. I did not collect the UK paperbacks, but they're out there too. 

It isn't unusual to have separate hardcover and paperback releases, nor is it unusual to have different covers in different countries. There were also B&N editions of Legendary and Finale. So far, so good. 

But. UK editions of the Caraval editions are more than they appear. 

Each UK edition is actually FOUR editions - each one has four hidden covers. In fact, there were five editions of Caraval: four "standard" hidden covers and one Tesco exclusive.

But wait, there's more! All three books had Goldsboro releases, which were signed, numbered, and had sprayed pages. In addition, there was a misprint Goldsboro release of Caraval that is also a collector's item. You might think that's enough, but no!

There are even more exclusive editions! Caraval received multiple special edition paperbacks in the UK while Legendary received a Waterstones exclusive paperback edition. Finale was the real icing on the cake, though. On top of the US and UK editions, Goldsboro edition, and B&N edition of Finale, Fairyloot and Owlcrate both had their own exclusive editions.


As if all of that wasn't enough, there has recently been an announcement of a new deluxe edition set by Fairyloot! For whatever reason, there will be three new books with three new covers. I am honestly baffled at this new set, but I digress.

The Cruel Prince: 6, The Wicked King/The Queen of Nothing: 5 

I hadn't actually started reading The Cruel Prince when I made my first post, but now I'm sucked into that series, so it has found a place today. When the first book was published, Owlcrate immediately jumped on board and created different covers, so they're going to be included with the standard editions here. 

For whatever reason, the UK cover of The Cruel Prince had a very slightly different cover than the US version, but that hasn't happened in the other two releases. Each one had a B&N exclusive cover and each has an Owlcrate cover as well. 

For the release of The Queen of Nothing Fairyloot has thrown its hat in the ring with a new edition. This will include an exclusive cover and sprayed edges. Of course, you know they'll be selling matching editions of the first two later on!

Then, for REASONS, Illumicrate is also releasing their own special edition of The Cruel Prince! This one will have an exclusive cover and special dust jackets. Obviously there will also be editions of the other two to match on sale next year. Literally who asked for all of these?? This series has been out for LESS THAN TWO YEARS!

I just. Why? I have seen other bloggers complain about the entitlement of the people who do set out to own each and every edition and that is NOT what I'm here to do. If this is your passion and you can afford it, by all means!

I am a book collector and I am obsessive when it comes to my favorite series. While I do not have any intention of collecting EVERY edition of Caraval, I actually do have six copies of it including advance copies. But what I don't understand is why there are so many special/exclusive/collector's/deluxe editions of books that have been in the world for under three years!

I'm not sure exactly why, but it makes me uncomfortable to see publishers engaged in what seems to be a blatant money grab by allowing so many exclusives to be published at once. And honestly, how special are they really when there are just SO many? 


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #252: All the tropes

Today's Topic: 
Tropes I Love and... Not

Happy Tuesday! This week it’s all about tropes and I definitely had to think a little for this one. The topic was supposed to be tropes we love but I branched out to include some that I am not the biggest fan of also. Let’s see how unpopular some of them are. 😅


Love Triangles (when done right)
Enemies to Lovers
Strong Female Friend Groups
Secret/Unknown Royalty
Villain Gets the Girl (sue me)


Outlawed Magic (SO overdone)
Not Like other Girls™
Conveniently Missing Adults
Group of Misfits Save the World*

*One exception to this is There Will Come a Darkness, which I LOVED.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, August 19, 2019

ARC Review: There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

Title: There Will Come a Darkness (Age of Darkness #1)
Author: Katy Rose Pool
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Pages: 496
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//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it... or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? 

What. A. Ride. I requested a copy of There Will Come a Darkness without knowing much about it, but I had a gut feeling that I was going to love it. It actually took me a couple tries to get into this book, but once I did, I was all in!

There Will Come a Darkness is told from five points of view. Hassan is a prince living in another city after his is taken hostage. Ephyra is the Pale Hand, a healer who has the power to take lives. Beru is Ephyra's sister, sick and in constant need of healing. Anton has the gift of sight and is on the run from his past. Jude is the leader of a faithful army that hasn't been seen in a hundred years. They're all affected in some way by the Witnesses, a radicalized group looking to wipe the Graced off the planet.

I'm usually not one for multiple POV stories, but this one was a perfect balance. I'm not quite sure how Katy Rose Pool won me over, honestly, but she made me care deeply about each of these characters and their stories. I loved that this wasn't one of those books where every single thread comes together into a perfect little bow. Each character wasn't important to the story, but as individuals also. I did really enjoy that no romantic plot overshadowed the story, although there was a little romance sprinkled throughout.

In addition to five incredible characters, the world is also wonderfully crafted. There are several distinct cultures and each one is clearly defined. There seem to be inspirations from multiple real cultures although I can't put my finger on them and I don't want to try in case I end up saying something dumb. The mythology of the Prophets was really interesting and the magical system of the Graced was definitely unique.

As I mentioned, this book took a little bit to get up to speed, but once it did I was fully invested. The story isn't non-stop action, but switching between POVs made it feel like there was always something important happening and I never felt bored. The ending was certainly a bit of cliffhanger, but it was wrapped up nicely enough that it didn't absolutely kill me.

If you are a fan of interesting magical systems, well built worlds, and dark fantasy, you're definitely going to want to pick this up! I'm not sure how I'm going to wait a whole year because I'm already dying to see what happens in book two!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Weekly Recap: 8/11 - 8/17


Hi everyone! This week has continued my reading slump. I've picked up and put down three books before finally settling on A Heart So Fierce and Broken, which I think has done the trick! I hope. This week's haul are both older books, one given to me by a friend and another picked up at a used bookstore. Hopefully I can make time to read them both soon!

In other bookish news, I shared the rules and sign up sheet for the Indie Love Read-a-Thon, which is coming up at the beginning of September! If you're a fan of indie books or would like to read more of them, please sign up! I promise there will be tons of awesome prizes!

Last week I mentioned that my doctor had ordered a bunch of tests because of back pain and, apparently, weakness in one arm that she was able to detect but that I don't notice. The good news is almost every test came back normal. The bad news is one test called an ANA test came back positive for antibodies. The other good news is they already tested me for two major autoimmune diseases and those came back negative. One test could also mean absolutely nothing, but now I have to go to a specialist to determine if there's actually anything going on. It's a lot to process, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's nothing to be concerned about. Please send happy thoughts my way!





Monday ARC review of Wild Savage Stars
The topic was characters I want to be friends with for Top Ten Tuesday
On Friday I went back down the TBR hole
On Saturday I shared the sign up for the Indie Love Read-a-Thon


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, August 17, 2019

Indie Love Read-a-Thon 2019

Welcome to the Indie Love Read-a-Thon, a blogging event celebrating indie books! The goal of this read-a-thon is to read and share as many indie books as possible over ten days. There will be a scavenger hunt and mini-challenges (with the help of some amazing participating blogs), Twitter chats, and tons of prizes! You can participate as little or as much as you'd like, but the more you participate the more chances of winning you'll have.

  • This read-a-thon will run from Sunday, September 1st at 12:00 am (your time zone) through Tuesday, September 10th at 11:59 pm (your time zone).
  • Link up below.
  • Create a goals post on your blog, Bookstagram, Booktube, Goodreads account (a shelf in this case), etc. and link back to this post.
  • Read as many indie books as you can! (An indie book is a book that is self published or published outside of the Big 5 publishing houses and their imprints.)
  • Books must be at least 100 pages to count and can be physical copies, ebooks, or audiobooks. 
  • Post a review to Goodreads, your blog, etc. and link it in the Rafflecopter for an entry. (Short reviews of a paragraph or so are fine.)
  • Complete the scavenger hunt for extra entries. 
  • Join the Twitter party on Saturday, September 7th at 3:00 pm (EST) to meet bloggers and authors, talk about what you've been reading, and win prizes. 
  • Tweet your progress using #IndieLoveRAT
  • Challenge schedule and grand prize rafflecopter will be posted on September 1st at 12:00 am EST. 
  • Rafflecopter will remain open for entries until September 2nd at 11:59 pm EST.