Monday, October 10, 2016

Event Announcement: Celebrate the Book 2016

From October 17th to 23rd, Celebrate the Book, a week-long book festival in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, will be going on. I attended Celebrate the Book in 2013 and I absolutely loved the event. (You can read more about my experience here.) It was a highly organized event and featured an excellent panel of young adult authors. 2013 was the last year that they hosted the event and it was only a one day festival then. This year they have extended the event to a week-long festival. Unfortunately, I will only be able to attend the event on Saturday, October 22nd. That is the Young Adult day and YA authors Sarah Beth Durst, Jeff Hirsch, Victoria Scott, Zoraida Cordova, Diana Peterfreund, and Martina Boone will be in attendance.

I will not only be attending as a fan this year, I will also be a panelist! I will be on the first "Get Published" panel from 11:30-12:30 on Saturday, October 22nd. If you live in the region I encourage you to, not only attend the event to see the lovely authors in attendance, I would also appreciate the support. If you do end up attending, I will have my Little Red's Reviews bookmarks to give out. I will have a limited quantity of Windwitch, the sequel to Susan Dennard's Truthwitch, postcards to give out. For more information on the event, location, and schedule, you can visit their website here.

I hope some of you are able to make it to the event. It is a really great opportunity to meet some amazing authors. Please comment below if you will be attending. I would love to meet some of you. 

ARC Review: Nemesis (Nemesis #1) by Anna Banks

SummaryThe princess didn't expect to fall in love--with her nemesis.

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs? (Via

Pages: 356

Release Date: October 4th, 2016

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I cannot deny that I thoroughly enjoyed Nemesis. Anna Banks created an elaborate world with enjoyable characters and enough political intrigue to catch anyone's attention. There is no doubt that the world she created is one out of my fantasies. I have always loved studying Ancient Egypt and she created a kingdom that paralleled the ancient civilization; however, she added her own touches. The worldbuilding of Nemesis was my absolute favorite part of the novel, I would have rated the book over five stars if that would have been the only part I was critiquing; however, Nemesis has some flaws. 

The beginning of the story absolutely hooked me. I fell in love with the intricate world and the novel's two main characters. As the story progressed, however, I had some problems with the characters and how they treated one another. I will go more in depth about that in the spoiler section of the review; however, I would like to clarify that they were not abusive to one another, Tarik simply makes exceptions for Sepora that I was not a fan of. I do enjoy their relationship even though it was a case of love-at-first-sight. The book seems to take longer than the amount of time that passes so it is harder to realize; however, they do fall in love too quickly for my taste. It was also a rather predictable book; however, it was actually not a huge problem for me. I was simply along for the ride. 

I actually preordered a signed copy of Nemesis from Books of Wonder to get an exclusive art print of Tarik and Sepora. You can still order your copy and get an exclusive print, which is absolutely gorgeous, and a Nemesis bath bomb for a limited time. I highly recommend ordering a copy, the goodies are too amazing to miss out on, especially if you are a fan of the novel.

I just discovered that this is the first book in a duology. I had assumed that Nemesis was the first book in either a trilogy or a series. There are not enough duologies, especially set in a fantasy world. I am very excited for the release of the final book in the duology, Ally, that I am assuming will be released in 2017. While I had no original expectation for Nemesis, by the end of Nemesis, I was not as pleased as I had been when I initially started the novel. However, I did enjoy the novel and I am excited to see how the story develops and ends in Ally. I definitely recommend picking up a copy of Nemesis and trying it for yourself. 

I believe I might have disconnected with the story due to the long gaps I had to take while reading it. I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of Nemesis at San Diego Comic-Con this year and since then I have been busy with life and school. I originally started Nemesis three weeks ago, but my schedule with extra-curricular activities and school work took over. I had to skip reading several days a week. If I had the time to read Nemesis in a smaller time frame, I might have enjoyed it more. I also read the novel while sleep-deprived, which is never a good thing; however, the writing is easy enough to follow that I was able to understand it while running on a lack of sleep. 

Nonetheless, I am highly anticipating the release of Ally, I will definitely be preordering it once it is available for preorder. I hope that Ally will include a map, it would help in understanding the layout of the world and it would be a beautiful addition to the book. I am not the biggest fan of Nemesis' cover. It enchanted me at first and it does somewhat relate to the story; however, the cover could be so much more. I am curious to see if they will change covers in the next book. If they do not, I am going to assume that Tarik will be on the cover of Ally. This was the first book I have read by Anna Banks, but it most certainly will not be my last. I own all of her other Young Adults books and I am excited to dive into them.

The major issue I had with Nemesis was the slack that Tarik gave Sepora. She constantly spoke out of turn and defied him in the presence of his advisers and guards. I understand that he allowed her to do it when they were alone, but he should have at least talked to her about stopping her behavior. Although there are large differences between the kingdoms of Serubel and Theoria, she grew up as a princess, she knows how to properly address royalty. At one point, she even told herself that her father would beat her for one of the statements she said. I understand that Anna wanted to create a sassy and independent woman, but Sepora needed to understand her boundaries. If she truly cared for Tarik she would have treated him in a respectful manner in front of others. While he might not have minded her doing these things, it set a bad example for the others around them. Near the end of the novel, Cy even spoke to Tarik out of turn because of the example Sepora had set when the three of them would meet.

While Tarik did not mind, he still should have told her to respect him when others are around. He is the new pharaoh, others need to know that they must respect him. She can sass him all she wants when the two of them are alone, but with others she should have understood the example she was setting. Especially when Tarik refused to confront her about it. He barely even acknowledged it while others in his presence saw how wrong it was. She escaped punishments that others would have probably received. Sepora seemed to constantly make it out of trouble although she should have been punished for her actions. Life has consequences, she should have at least received some. The only true punishments she received were having more guards posted outside of her door and then she had to train Doby, which was a reward if anything.

I did like their relationship; however, Tarik seemed to overlook his rule as pharaoh when it came to Sepora. He let her get away with so much. They also fell in love so quickly. They barely knew anything about each other yet they fell madly in love. They knew each other for about four weeks but they were already admitting that they loved each other. Then they were so mad at each other that it made me wonder what they even felt to begin with. They barely knew each other and when the truth was revealed, they had problems with what they were withholding. Although I do have some complaints about Sepora and Tarik, I do truly enjoy them together. I am interested to see where their relationship goes in Ally because of the current state of their relationship. 

Like I mentioned previously, I absolutely loved the world of Nemesis. It was so intricately constructed and developed. Each of the kingdoms featured a culture that was unique yet similar to some of the cultures our world has once known. I loved that the Ancient Egyptian idea of cats being worshiped was applied to Theoria. I personally love cats and the addition was rather nice. I could only imagine having a massive cat in my household. Several normal sized cats are bad enough. In a way, the different cultures touched on some of the problems our world faces today. Sepora was rather critical of the clothing of Theoria due to her own culture's ideals until she realized the functionality they had for Theoria's climate. When studying past or present cultures, it is hard to separate from your own. It is hard to be culturally sensitive when you view your own as the "right culture." I loved that the topic was addressed in a young adult fantasy novel. It is a safer genre to address such a hot topic but it still leaves an impact on its intended audience. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Summary: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

Pages: 689

Release Date: September 6th, 2016

Rating: 5/5 Stars


Empire of Storms was a roller coaster of emotions. I laughed, I cried, and I am pretty sure my heart died. I was not initially connected to the story; however, after a few chapters I was sold on every character's point of view. I have always had mixed emotions about the multiple points of view used throughout the series because I have always favored some characters over others. However, within the first 100 pages I loved every character's journey and I could not wait for everyone's upcoming chapter(s).

I have very little to say that is not a spoiler so I will be keeping this non-spoiler section rather brief. I thoroughly loved Empire of Storms. I could not have asked for a more epic fifth book in this phenomenal series. If you had yet to start the Throne of Glass series or catch up to Empire of Storms, I highly recommend waiting for the sixth book in the series to be released before reading onward. While Empire of Storms was a fantastic addition to the series, the ending was rather brutal and I would recommend reading it when you are able to read the sixth book immediately afterwards. It is hard coming to terms with how it ended and how to survive until the release of the sixth and final book in the series. If you do take my advice and wait until the release of the sixth book, I wish you good luck on avoiding spoilers. I just finished the book two days ago, thankfully without getting spoiled, and when I woke up the following morning, my twitter feed was full of spoilers.

If you would like to read my reviews of the other books in the series, I have a review of The Assassin's Blade, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnightand Heir of Fire

Empire of Storms, and the series as a whole, has the perfect combination of romance, action, and adventure that calls to any fantasy reader. It also contains enough heartbreak and devastation that leaves its fans emotionally drained and depressed. Empire of Storms also brings back some familiar faces that leave you fangirling. I apologize for this review being a hot mess. Like I mentioned previously, I only finished Empire of Storms two days ago, so my emotions and thoughts are jumbled. Nonetheless, I absolutely loved Empire of Storms and I am so glad I am able to add it to my continuously growing Sarah J. Maas collection. 

For those of you who have yet to buy your copy of Empire of Storms, I recommend buying the Target Special Edition. It has a beautiful poster of Rowan and Celaena on the back of the dust jacket and the bonus story is a deleted scene from Heir of Fire following Rowan and Celaena. As a huge Rowan and Celaena shipper, the extra $17 I spent on it was totally worth it. I preordered the Barnes and Noble Special Edition, which is now only available in select stores and it has sold out online. While I did enjoy the fan art and short story, my heart belongs to the Target Edition. I will forever ship Rowan and Celaena. 

I have no idea where to even begin with this review. The ending has forever shattered my poor little heart. I would like to refrain from beginning this review with the most devastating part of the end, so lets talk about Lorcan and Elide instead. I had never expected either of them to ever meet. While I might have imagined them meeting when Lorcan finally confronted Aelin about giving him the fake amulet and Wyrdstone, I never imagined them to be thrown together. While Rowan and Aelin will forever be my favorite relationship of the series, Lorcan and Elide are quickly moving up the list. I fell in love with their relationship and when Elide wrote him off at the end, the remaining pieces of my heart shattered. All Lorcan wanted to do was protect Elide and he ended up loosing her instead. From what I have heard on Twitter and Tumblr, his actions at the end have caused a divide in the fandom. Many people dislike him because he led Maeve to them. While I cannot argue with their logic, I disagree that it was completely his fault. Aelin knew that he sent out a wave of power to summon Maeve and she never confronted him about it. In addition, Aelin's arrogance was what caused Lorcan to send out his signal for help in the first place. If Aelin had simply told her court and the rest of them that the armada was hers, he would have never sent out his surge of power. It is rather ironic that when Aelin arrived at Skull's Bay as Celaena and talked to Rolfe, he mentions how her arrogance led to her enslavement in the mines. Then, later in the book, her arrogance leads her to be enslaved by Maeve.

Even if Aelin had told them about the armada being on their side, the ending still could have been the same. Maeve knew their general location; however, Lorcan allowed her to precisely pin-point them. Maeve could have found them in a matter of days with or without Lorcan's help. The ending could have potentially ended the same either way. Or, the gang could have easily gotten away. Whether the ending was avoidable or not, Lorcan is not entirely to blame for the Aelin's capture. She is also at fault for her capture.

I think it is rather odd that Aelin assumed that her court would simply leave her with Maeve and move on. I understand that she might have wanted to believe that they would leave her due to the risks they would have to take to free her. She could have also been concerned about them not concentrating all their efforts on the war. However, she should have known Rowan would at least come after her. He is her mate and I am pretty sure that even the worst mate in the entire world could not abandon their mate. It goes against the DNA of the Fae. Aelin always mentions about how territorial Fae males are. I do not understand why she would think either Rowan or Aedion would leave her. It goes against who they are and the love they share for her. She should know by now that they would follow her anywhere in either life or death. The reveal of Rowan and Aelin being mates was expected; however, when she discovered they were mates was rather unexpected. Not only did that scene in Queen of Shadows warmed and broke my heart, the fact that she realized they were mates then made the moment even more special. The fact that they got secretly married was totally unexpected. It made her capture even more heartbreaking. I appreciate that she wanted to secure the safety of her kingdom by making Rowan king. It breaks my heart that he does not seem himself as a king though. He simply sees himself as her consort, when he is her mate, husband, king, and the love of her life.

"Timeshe was grateful Elena had given her that stolen time. 
Grateful she had met them all, that she had seen some small part of the world, had heard such lovely music, had danced and laughed and known true friendship. 
Grateful that she had found Rowan. 
She was grateful" 
(Page 665).

Returning to Lorcan and Elide, I loved the progression of their relationship. I was feeling so many different emotions when she told him that he would always have a home with her in Perranth, no matter the time or reason. It broke my heart when he shrugged the idea off because, while the ability for it to actually happen was impossible, the fact she offered it was so moving. When Elide jumped in front of Lorcan to save him, my heart broke. As she bled out and Lorcan told her that he had wanted to go to Perranth with her, my heart continued to break. The interactions throughout their journey left me feeling countless emotions. I am excited to eventually re-read Empire of Storms because I want to relive their happy moments. I am so thankful that they are both physically fine, but the remaining shred of my heart broke when she Elide wrote Lorcan off for causing Aelin's capture. I am interested to see how Lorcan and Elide's relationship develops in the next book since they will be working together to get Aelin back. I hope they can get over the past and look towards the future. They both deserve a happy ending.

I am still curious about what Maeve meant when she said that Lorcan claimed Elide. It is understandable why both Manon and Aelin would have claimed her; however, Lorcan's claim surprised me. I know he has feelings for her, but the term "claim", when referring to Fae males, typically refer to mates. I am curious to see if they are mates because it would explain why they were both drawn to each other. However, Manon had referred to Rowan and Aelin as one another's mate before Aelin revealed that they were. So, I am assuming Manon would have referred to Elide or Lorcan as one another's mate if they truly were. But, Manon could have simply been referring to Aelin and Rowan as mates as a generic term, not as actual mates.

I would like to note that on Tumblr, a theory has been going around that Lorcan might sacrifice himself in the next book. His last name literally translates to "save Earth." While the world in the Throne of Glass series is not considered Earth, I have read enough Sarah J. Maas books to understand that nothing is a coincidence. I do not know how he would sacrifice himself since Dorian and Aelin seem like the only options, but I am curious to see if this prediction is right. 

Another broken relationship is Aedion and Lysandra. While they have not technically become a couple, it was oblivious that they would eventually become one. I hate that Aedion is holding Aelin's plan against Lysandra. She was willing to throw away her remaining life and happiness to pretend to be Aelin to save Terrasen. I can understand that Aedion would be angry for being in the dark; however, he needs to get over it. I know that he would have done the exact same thing if Aelin had asked him to do it. Not only that, but they are currently at war. With the others on the hunt for Aelin or the other Wyrdkey, Aedion and Lysandra cannot be divided. They are the only ones who know exactly what is going on. They must be a united front. He cannot be mad at Lysandra for carrying out his queen's wishes. Like Lorcan and Elide, I hope they can get past their differences and finally get together. Since I also love reliving painful moments, I would also love to mention when Aedion said he wanted to marry Lysandra. She was struggling to stay human and heal after the attack on Skull's Bay and those words were a punch in my heart. It was such an adorable and heartbreaking moment. All of my favorite scenes from Empire of Storms caused me both pain and happiness. What has Sarah done to me?

I love the fact that Manon and Dorian's relationship is the only "relationship" that is still currently together. Although you could argue about them actually being in a relationship, they are the only pair that is in the same location and do not hate each other. When the possibility of Manon and Dorian getting together arose in Queen of Shadows, I was somewhat skeptical of their potential relationship. That was mainly due to the fact that I kind of liked Elide and Manon together; however, I jumped off that ship when Lorcan came around. Manon and Dorian's relationship is probably the most toxic relationship out of the main characters; however, I do like them together. I have nothing against them, but I find it depressing that they could both find strength in one another, yet they just used each other to forget their past. Nonetheless, I am excited to see how their relationship develops in the next book. 

Before the release of the sixth and final book in the series, I am planning on dedicating the entire month prior of its release to re-reading the entire series. While I loved the arrival of characters from The Assassins Blade, I could not remember everything about them and their relationship with Aelin since I read the book over two years ago. I also was not as emotionally impacted when they were on Skull's Bay and Aelin would remember her and Sam being there. In order to have proper closure on the series and its characters, I want to take the time to re-read all of the books. One thing that I was anticipating in Empire of Storms was the arrival of Nox, one of Aelin's opponents in Throne of Glass. I was under the impression from an interview with Sarah that he was returning in book five. I do not know if I confused that with book six or somehow made it up or simply missed his arrival (the ending was rather crazy). Please comment below if you know anything about his possible return, I would love to know!

While Aelin's capture was rather insane, the arrival of everyone that she called in favors from was insane as well. Not only did they just miss the possibility of saving her, but there were just so many armies and navies rallied to fight. As the different people began arriving, I was assuming Chaol would also arrive with help from the southern continent. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I actually enjoyed his absence from Empire of Storms. I have never been the biggest fan of Chaol and after his attitude change towards Aelin in the beginning of Queen of Shadows, I was happy for his absence. While I did grow slightly fonder of him as Queen of Shadows progressed, his absence was appreciated. However, I am excited for his return and what assistance he will bring. I am also glad he was absent because it allowed Dorian to grow on his own. Dorian suffered a lot in Queen of Shadows and while he deserved to have friends to show him the way back into the light, he was able to find his own way back. I understand that Dorian and Chaol are supposed to be best friends, but he has relied on Chaol too much. Chaol is not a magic user and did not have a Valg inside him. If anyone, Manon is better for Dorian to have around because she has been around the Valg and understands magic more then Chaol does.

One of the questions I still have is whether or not Rowan and Lyria were mates. Maeve said that she manipulated them together in order to break Rowan enough to get him to accept her blood oath. But she broke him enough that he was unable to register Aelin as his mate. After re-reading the passage, I am still under the assumption that Rowan and Lyria were never actually mates. No matter the case, Maeve is such a horrible person. Rowan was not even there to hear her entire story of manipulation. I pity that he suffered for so long because Maeve wanted Aelin. He did not live the life he should have. In addition, Lyria did not deserve the life and death she got either. I hope they are able to give Maeve what she deserves when they finally rescue Aelin.

If I am not mistaken, in Heir of Fire, Aelin showed Maeve a clip from the future that showed Aelin as the Queen of Terrasen in front of a crowd of her subjects and Rowan was among her court. If I am remembering that correctly and it stands true, they must make it out alive. I do not want Dorian to sacrifice himself to revive the lock, but I do not want Aelin to do it either. I am assuming she will be the one to do it, but she will manage to survive. Throughout the series, it is mentioned that immortal Fae frequently bind their immortality to their human/mortal mates. We learned in Maeve's speech that Aelin would turn immortal in about five years and she would live for at least a thousand more. Since Aelin's Settling has yet to take place, she is still technically mortal. Although she is not a human, I wonder if Aelin could sacrifice herself and Rowan could bind his immortality to her currently mortal self and save her. I have no idea if binding his immortality could revive her/not kill her, but it seems like it could work since he is giving up however many years he would have left as an immortal. His remaining lifespan would exceed a typical human one, therefore giving her life and allowing them to live out their remaining mortal lives together. Comment below your predictions or what you think of mine. I am interested to read what you guys think.

Every character has struggled and grown so much throughout the course of the Throne of Glass series. While I know that some of the characters will more than likely die in the final book, I hope the deaths will be of the lesser known characters. None of the characters truly deserve to die, but I really want to see the main characters live their remaining life spans in peace. I would love to see other books written about these characters, but I would not want to read them. I want my babies to be safe and out of harms way. More books following them would only lead them into more danger. However, I would love to read a spin-off series following new characters that would feature the original Throne of Glass characters, but not put them in harms way. All good things must come to an end and while I am sad for this series to come to an end next year, I am very excited to finally learn their fates.

(Sarah J. Maas and Me at San Diego Comic-Con 2016)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Blog Tour: The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill + Cat Video

Summary: Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks

At its core, The Cat King of Havana is a novel that follows a teenage boy who is discovering his heritage and his mother's past in Cuba. He just so happens to be a computer wizard that posts popular cat videos. The Cat King of Havana had so many layers to its story and I highly recommend reading it (You can enter to win a copy at the bottom of this post). Its inclusion of Cuban heritage and Cuba itself was extremely fascinating. In the United States we acknowledge Cuba; however, with our rocky relations, it seems rather taboo. This really opened my eyes to Cuba and its current state. You can read my full length review of The Cat King of Havana here.

For my contribution to The Cat King of Havana blog tour, I have created a cat video. By no means is my cat video the same quality or content as one featured in The Cat King of Havana; however, my household of seven cats inspired me to finally capture at least of one their odd habits on film. Featured in the video is my cat, Holly, playing fetch with her favorite toy in the world: a sugar packet. I know, she is a rather strange cat; however, as my favorite cat, (Shhh, do not tell my other cats that I said that...) I will defend her until the end. I hope you enjoy video and comment below if you have any cats and their weird habits. Also, do not forget to check out the other amazing posts that are a part of this blog tour! You can find the other tour stops listed at the end of this post.

3 Finished Copies of The Cat King of Havana (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tom Crosshill's fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award (thrice) as well as the Latvian Annual Literature Award. His stories have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. In 2009, he won the Writers of the Future contest. After some years spent in Oregon and New York, he currently lives in his native Latvia. In the past, he has operated a nuclear reactor, translated books and worked in a zinc mine, among other things. 

Tom's young adult novel "The Cat King of Havana" is forthcoming from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) in 2016.

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

Week 2:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

ARC Review: The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill

Summary: Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges (Via

Pages: 368

Release Date: September 6th, 2016

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Aside from the fact that the main character ran a successful website full of cat videos, I had no idea what The Cat King of Havana was about. I was a part of The Cat King of Havana Blog Tour, so I was given an eARC to read and review. If you would like to read my post for the blog tour you can read it here. It touches on a number of deep topics, such as heritage and international relations. In the United States, Cuba seems like such a taboo place because of our rocky relations. It was not only refreshing to visit a different country, it was refreshing to visit a country that I know so little about. The setting of Cuba was both the same and different from New York. The Cuba described in The Cat King of Havana may have seen more poverty and government issues than other countries that are explored in YA novels, but it had so many similarities to our home countries.

I loved Crosshill's voice in The Cat King of Havana. It is hard to say writing style instead of voice because I felt as though I was being read The Cat King of Havana. His style and tone perfectly fits the personality and thoughts of any teenager. I found myself constantly laughing at off-handed comments he would say. Not only was his writing extremely hysterical, it was also relatable. As a sixteen year old I am the same age as the main characters and a majority of the time I felt as though I was narrating the story. Crosshill completely embodied the struggles and tribulations faced by every single teenager.

While I loved Crosshill's writing, the story dragged on at points. Due to the lengthy period of time the story takes place, it was hard to see the end of the story. In the middle of The Cat King of Havana, I began to suffer a reading slump because all I wanted to read was Sarah J. Maas' Empire of Storms. I would have probably enjoyed the novel more if I had not been anxiously awaiting news on the arrival of my copy of Empire of Storms, which has still not arrived. The pace of The Cat King of Havana was great and I became attached to the characters; however, I was still left with a few questions. The book shifted in a different direction about halfway through and it was a territory in which I was not comfortable approaching. It had nothing to do with sexual assault or anything, it dealt with the government and I had myself questioning how realistic it was. 

The Cat King of Havana was a quick and refreshing read that I really enjoyed. The writing and characters were excellent and I found myself relating to both aspects throughout the course of the story. More than likely, I will never visit Cuba so this journey was a great taste of the country, its people, and their culture. I may never walk down the streets of Cuba; however, I felt as though I was walking down the streets of Cuba along side Rick and Ana. I am interested to see what Tom Crosshill writes in the future, his writing is rather addicting. The Cat King of Havana mixes a taboo culture, cat videos, and a love-struck teen in an unforgettable novel that will have leave you questioning your morals. How far are you willing to go to seek justice? 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day Zero (Arcana Chronicles #3.5) & Arcana Rising (Arcana Chronicles #4) by Kresley Cole

Summary: Arcana means secrets, and these Arcana Chronicles short stories from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole are filled with them. Experience firsthand the beginning of the end and behold the apocalypse through the eyes of characters you onlythought you knew. 

Ashes to ashes . . .
Evie Greene’s story of the Flash is just one of many. All over the world, those connected in some way to the lethal Arcana game—like Death, Jack, and Fortune—must first survive a horrifying night of blood and screams. 

We all fall down.
Some will have to grapple with new powers; all will be damned to a hellish new existence of plague, brutality, desolation, and cannibalism. Find out who they lost, why they endure, and what they sacrificed in order to live past Day Zero. . . . (Via

Pages: 168

Release Date: August 1st, 2016

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Summary: Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole.

When the battle is done . . . 
The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind--but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . . 
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter's reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future--and her chilling past--will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter's ashes, stronger than ever before?

Pages: 259

Release Date: August 15th, 2016

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


Arcana Rising and Day Zero were two of my most highly anticipated releases of this year. I had been craving anything in the Arcana world after the devastating cliffhanger of the third book of the Arcana Chronicles, Dead of Winter. While I mainly read books that are popular or somewhat well-know in the YA/NA book world, the Arcana Chronicles is one of the few underrated series I have read. Only more recently have I discovered fellow lovers of the series. The Arcana Chronicles deserves more hype surrounding it. I have a review of the second book, Endless Knight, and the third book, Dead of Winter, if you would like to read those.

Overall, I loved both Arcana Rising and Day Zero. Although I waited a year and eight months for the fourth installment of the series, Arcana Rising, the wait was totally worth it. While Arcana Rising was not my favorite in the series, I prefer Endless Knight and Dead of Winter more, I still enjoyed it very much. I loved seeing old faces and meeting several new ones. Arcana Rising with the aid of Day Zero opened up a new world of characters and conflict that I never imaged. The ending of Arcana Rising was quite shocking; however, it was not as brutal as Dead of Winter. I have my fingers crossed that Kresley Cole will never deliver a cliffhanger that devastating again.

The entire series is compiled of rather short books which make them extremely easy to binge and become addicted to. The Arcana Chronicles is one of my favorite series, each book is extremely enjoyable and fast paced. The story and characters are also unique and compelling. If you have yet to start or continue on in the series, I highly recommend doing so.

I have no idea how many books are left in the series, but I am here for the ride. I am excited to see what Kresely has in store; however, I hope the trauma she creates is not too hard to handle. The fifth installment in the series, The Dark Calling, is set to be released in spring of 2017. While The Dark Calling will be one of my most anticipated releases of next year and I plan to start it the day it is released, I do not know if I am mentally prepared for what the next book could bring. By the way, I am currently giving away a copy of Poison Princess, Endless Knight, or Dead of Winter on Twitter if you would like to enter to win a copy.

Aric is one of my absolute favorite characters and one of my book boyfriends. Throughout the series we understand how much he has suffered without human contact and interactions. He shows how horrible immortality can be, especially to someone who can kill with a single touch. I was devastated when Evie chose Jack in Dead of Winter. While I did enjoy Jack in the first book, Poison Princess, I stared to dislike him after the end of Poison Princess. His repulsion of Evie at the end of book one seemed so unlike his character and it really angered me. Nonetheless, I began to fall in love with Aric's character when he was introduced in Endless Knight and I have been rooting for him since then. 

Although I was ecstatic that Evie finally choose Aric in Arcana Rising, I have always wanted them to be together, I had a couple problems with her choosing him. First of all, she did not choose him. She thought Jack was dead, therefore, he was not competition. She simply agreed to be with him. Secondly, I hated that she got with him because she thought he "deserved" happiness. While I completely agree that Aric did deserve to be happy, I disliked that she chose his happiness over hers. She did seem rather happy with him; however she always mentioned that one of her two goals was to keep him happy. Not keeping herself happy. She agreed to be his wife because she thought it was what he "deserved," it was not because she necessarily loved him or wanted to be with him. I am not saying that she does not love him, because I believe she does, but I dislike that she "chose" him because of what she thought he "deserved." Not what she thought she "deserved." Nonetheless, I am happy that they finally got together. Everyone could tell that he was so much happier and alive. 

I had a couple mixed feelings about Day Zero. I thought the idea of seeing all the Arcana on Day Zero, the day of the apocalypse, was fantastic. The execution of the stories were also great, but I hated that a majority of the book was focused on Evie, Aric, and Jack. This was a great opportunity for Kresley to explore a new cast of characters, yet she stuck to her main crew. Evie's story was literally taken out of Poison Princess word-for-word. Instead of skipping the story of other Arcanas, like the twins or Ogen, we could have skipped hers since we have already read it in Poison Princess. I understand that it helps set up Jack's story, but Calanthe and Joules' shared a story because they were together on Day Zero, Evie and Jack's story should have been done the same way. 

I did enjoy Day Zero for what it was. It was interesting meeting some of the new characters in Day Zero and then finally meeting them through Evie in Arcana Rising. I feel as though Day Zero was particularly used against the readers to manipulate their perspectives of the new characters. I am not saying that is a bad thing. I was sold on Sol in Arcana Rising because his story broke my heart in Day Zero. I never thought he would betray Evie. I am glad that he seems to be working with the crew though, I really love his character and how far he would go for his loved ones. It was devastating to see who everyone lost in Day Zero. Everyone suffered, no one really had it better or worse than anyone else. It was also interesting to meet some of the characters who died before we had the chance to meet them. It was also bittersweet to read about Tess and Selena, who we have lost over the course of the last two books.

There was no doubt in my mind that Jack was alive. Surprising, Evie's suffering did not annoy me at all. I liked that she was finally able to come to terms with him being "died," I was worried she would stay in the past for too long. I am really interested to see how Matthew's character progresses in the remainder of the series. He has always been one of my favorite characters and the gang is starting to realize that he does pose a threat. He has a lot of power over a majority of the characters. I am really interested to see why he let Evie initially believe Jack was dead and only now let her know that he is very much alive. He said he wanted to "break her" and making her think she is crazy by hearing Jack might be the direction he is going. 

The only explanation I can conjure about why Evie is not able to access her powers is because she is pregnant. The baby must be taking some of her powers as well as the nutrients it needs from her. The baby could also be blocking or limiting her powers. If Evie does end up having the baby, I wonder if it would have powers since its father, Aric, is also an Arcana? While a pregnant Evie made an interesting cliffhanger, the reason why she is left me confused. As far as I can remember, Evie has suffered no memory gaps except for time with her Grandmother at an early age. While she connects her memory gaps with her Grandmother, it is odd that she is suffering them now. I understand that since she was just with her Grandmother for a period of time that could have caused her into thinking she got a birth control shot, but it is too far of a stretch. It would make sense if she forgot a conversation she had with her Grandmother, but it is odd that she conjured a memory in her mind when her Grandmother was not even involved. Comment below with what you thought about the memory gap, I am curious to hear what others have to say about it.

I very much enjoyed both Day Zero and Arcana Rising. They were both stunning continuations to a brilliant series. I am extremely excited to see what Kresley Cole has in store for her readers in the next installment of the series, The Dark Calling. I cannot wait to see what happens to our cast of characters.