Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
385 pgs
4 Stars

Synopsis from Goodreads
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

I ENJOYED it. I LIKED it. I just didn’t FEEL it. I’m not sure what I’m missing, but I just didn’t FEEL what everyone else seems to be feeling. I enjoyed the unique magical aspect and the story started off strong. The characters were likable enough. I’m a little disappointed because I feel like there was a lot of hype about this book and I just didn’t LOVE it like a lot of people did. I even read it twice thinking I may have missed something.

I suppose I would have liked a little more backstory on the characters. There was a bit about Malachiasz and it was explained Nadya doesn’t seem to know where she came from. Hopefully in the second novel there will be a little bit more information. I’ll definitely continue the series and hope some questions get answered in the second book.

Thanks for reading!
-V

Extinction of All Children by L. J. Epps

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Extinction of All Children by L. J. Epps
4 Stars

A young adult, fantasy novel about a teenager who is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory. There will never be another child; every baby born after her has been taken away. Everyone wonders why she survived.

Emma Whisperer was born in 2080, in the small futuristic world of Craigluy. President Esther, in charge for the last twenty-two years, has divided their world into three territories, separated by classes—the rich, the working class, and the poor—because she believes the poor should not mingle with the others. And, the poor are no longer allowed to have children, since they do not have the means to take care of them.

Any babies born, accidentally or willfully, are killed. Emma is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory; every baby born after her has died. Somehow, she survived this fate.

During the president’s Monday night speech, she announces a party will be held to honor the last child in the territory, Emma Whisperer. Emma must read a speech, expressing how happy she is to be the last eighteen-year-old.

Emma doesn’t like the rules; she doesn’t believe in them. So, she feels she must rebel against them. Her family doesn’t agree with her rebellion, since they are hiding a big secret. If this secret gets out, it will be disastrous, and deadly, for her family.

During Emma’s journey, she meets—and becomes friends with—Eric. He is one of the guards for the president. She also befriends Samuel, another guard for the president, who is summoned to watch over her. As Emma meets new people, she doesn’t know who she can trust. Yet, she finds herself falling for a guy, something which has never happened before.

After doing what she feels is right, Emma finds herself in imminent danger. In the end, she must make one gut-wrenching decision, a decision that may be disastrous for them all.

As soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I would enjoy it. The writing is a little rough and a lot of the comparisons are unconventional, but the overall plot and story itself, are very intriguing. Emma lives in a world that is divided into three territories. L, for Lower class, M, for middle, and U for Upper. She lives in the poorest class, territory L where it is illegal to have babies. Any citizen who impregnates or becomes pregnant is thrown into jail and the child, upon birth, is killed.

All this is courtesy of President Esther. After several successful terms of being president, the people voted for her to be president until she resigns or dies. This is when she decides to enact all of her laws regarding separation and murdering innocent babies.

Emma was the last baby allowed to grow to 18 years old. President Esther decides to throw a party in Emma’s honor and during her speech, she rebels against Esther and her ideas. Thus begins a rebellion.

As I mentioned, the writing isn’t perfect, but this story just completely intrigues me. I like Emma as a character. I feel a lot of female leads in series today are whiny and try to act tough, but fall short. I feel Emma is realistic and though she’s no kick-ass assassin, she holds her own pretty well. After speaking against President Esther and her policies, Emma is thrown in jail. The way the rest of the book progresses is quite unexpected. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes dystopians and has an open mind. I’m continuing with the next two books in this trilogy and I’m excited to see how Emma’s story progresses.

Thanks for reading!
-V

#FiveOnFriday Audio Books

Hello! Welcome to today’s #FiveOnFriday blog. Today I’m talking about my five favorite (recent) audio books. I mainly listen to audio books on my ride to and from work. Occasionally, when my eyes are tired, I’ll listen to an audio book at home. The problem with that is I usually end up falling asleep! So, without further ado, let’s started!

First on my list is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, narrated by Alma Cuervo and Julia Whelan. I was hearing really good things about this book, so I had added it to my TBR without really knowing what it was about. The MC Monique Grant, who is a journalist, is sought out by famous actress Evelyn Hugo to write her biography. Monique has no idea why Evelyn has chosen her when she’s essentially a nobody in journalism. The SHoEH is a narration that alternates between Monique’s and Evelyn’s interactions and Evelyn telling her life story for the autobiography. I absolutely loved the audio version of this book and I think it absolutely enhanced the experience. Both women did a phenomenal job narrating this book and sharing this story.

Next is Heartless by Marissa Meyer, narrated by Rebecca Soler. This book is about the Queen of Hearts of Wonderland before she became the Queen of Hearts. We follow Catherine as an adolescent and learn of her experiences which eventually led her to become the QoH. Rebecca Soler does an incredible job narrating this story and became an instant favorite. I just love her commitment to creating all the different voices for the different characters. I would solely recommend this book just on her performance alone.

My third choice is Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, narrated by Andy Secombe, Eric Meyers, Laurel Lefkow, Charlie Anson, Liza Ross, William Hope, Christopher Ragland, Katharine Mangold, and Adna Sablyich. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this book nearly as much if I had read it versus listening to the audio version. The cast of characters made this book amazing to experience. One of the characters, Rose, finds a hand of what appears to be a giant statue in a hole in the ground in her neighborhood. She grows up to become a scientist and eventually leads a team to discover the secrets behind this hand. The story is presented as a series of interviews that I think communicated better through audio than it would have the book (imo). This is one of my all time favorite audio books and sci-fi books and I recommend it to everyone.

I also really enjoyed The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati. The Bear and the Nightingale was decent, but I felt this book was so much more action-packed and had a lot more going on. We continue following Vasya’s story after we meet her in the first book. She was an unusual child and becomes an unusual, but independent and strong woman. (**THE NEXT LINE IS A SPOILER FOR THE FIRST BOOK**)



She loses most if her family in the first story and we find her reuniting with some of her siblings in this story. She also meets several other allies and enemies and must prove herself to all of Moscow. I think Kathleen Gati did a beautiful job narrating this story and made me feel completely engrossed. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Russian fairy tale type of books or general fantasy.

Lastly, I enjoyed One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, narrated by Kim Mai Guest, Shannon McManus, Robbie Daymond, and Macleod Andrews. I definitely don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this physical book. I gave it 5 Stars because I listened to the audio, but I’m guessing I would’ve given it 3, maybe 4 if I had read it. One out of five high schoolers dies during detention and the 4 become suspects. We follow their experiences of the aftermath and are led on a old-fashioned “who-dun-it”. I think the cast of narrators really brought this story to life. Hearing the intonations and suspicions and reflections in their voices kept me engrossed in the story. The ending wasn’t a complete surprise, but I felt the journey there was very interesting and well told. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in YA and/or mystery/thriller books.

Thank you so much for reading!
-V

#OWLsReadathon2019 prompt options

I’ve decided to compile a list of options for the prompts for this years OWLs Readathon! I personally tend to lean towards YA and/or Fantasy/Sci-Fi, so a lot of these options are probably going to be of those genres, but I will try to include some other options as well.

This list is for US Editions. For the prompts that require a specific characteristic of the covers, Goodreads has an option to change the current edition under “Book Details”. Watching G’s (@MagicalReadthn, Book Roast) bookshelf tours on YouTube, I notice the UK editions may look different. So, if you want to read a specific book, check the other editions and see if it could apply to a prompt.

To see the list of books I chose, go to my blog post https://starvinforbooks.com/2019/03/10/owlsreadathon2019-tbr/

Ancient Runes – Retellings
Twisted Tale Series by Liz Braswell
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Could also apply to Herbology)
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Alice by Christina Henry

Arithmancy – Written by more than one author
House of Night series by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Could also apply to Divination)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan (Could also apply to Muggle Studies)
Any comic book would fit this prompt

Astronomy – “Star” in the title –
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (Could also apply to Muggle Studies)
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
Any Star Wars or Star Trek comic/ graphic novel

Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on the cover
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (Could also apply to Transfiguration)
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Could also apply to Herbology)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Could also apply to Charms or History of Magic)

Charms – Read an adult work
Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab
The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Could also apply to Muggle Studies)
Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Circe by Madeline Miller (Could also apply to Ancient Runes)

Defense Against the Dark Arts – Title that starts with an “R”
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Could also apply to Divination)

Divination – Set in the future
The 100 by Kass Morgan
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Could also apply to History of Magic)
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Could also apply to Transfiguration)
Internment by Samira Ahmed (Could also apply to Muggle Studies)
Warcross by Marie Lu

Herbology – Plant on the cover
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Could also apply to Ancient Runes)
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago
Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
The Outsiders by S E Hinton
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Idlewild by Nick Sagan (Could also apply to Divination)
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Most classics could this prompt

Muggle Studies – Contemporary
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Pride by Ibi Zoboi (Could also apply to Ancient Runes)
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Potions – Next ingredient: sequel
For the sake of this blog, I will just list sequels to books already on this list
Red Queen by Christina Henry (sequel to Alice)
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (sequel to Illuminae)
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (sequel to Shiver)
A Gathering of Shadows by V E Schwab (sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic)
Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft (sequel to Senlin Ascends)
Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel (sequel to Sleeping Giants)
Archenemies by Marissa Meyer (sequel to Renegades)
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (sequel to Red Queen)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (sequel to The Raven Boys)
Day 21 by Kass Morgan (sequel to The 100)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (sequel to The Hunger Games)
Wildcard by Marie Lu (sequel to Warcross)
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (sequel to Every Heart a Doorway)
The Magician King by Lev Grossman (sequel to The Magicians)
Edenborn by Nick Sagan (sequel to Idlewild)
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (sequel to The Lightning Thief)
Vengeful by V E Schwab (sequel to Vicious [see below])
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (sequel to SVtHSA [see below])

Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover
You’ll know if you have a book with sprayed edges, so these books will be books with red covers
Dry by Neal Shusterman
Vicious by V E Schwab
Odd One Out by Nic Stone (Could also apply to Muggle Studies)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This took way longer to put together than I thought it would, but hopefully it’ll help some of you for your OWLs! I’m a little obsessed with giving recs on books to match prompts, it’s like a treasure hunt to find an appropriate book. I also get to discover more books to add to my TBR, so there’s that.

Thanks for reading!
-V

#FiveOnFriday Middle Grade Books

For today’s #FiveOnFriday, I would like to talk about five of my favorite middle grade books and/or series. Let’s get to it!

First, I absolutely loved Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts.
The first book in the Cassidy Blake series primarily takes place in Edinburgh (where Schwab is actually currently living). Cass’s parents are ghost hunters and receive the opportunity to film a TV program. What makes this book so interesting is Cass can ACTUALLY see ghosts! This book follows her adventure through Edinburgh as her parents film their show and her experiences in one of the most haunted cities in the UK.
It was such an interesting story with likable characters. Victoria Schwab is already one of my favorite authors. I feel like a lot of adult fantasy books, even books just for an adult audience tend to be more complicated. Often, they’re just more involved and adults expect a lot more from the story. Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy an MG book that is just written well without the complications of adult problems.

Next, I’d like to talk about The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz. Retellings are one of my favorite genres. Though this isn’t really a retelling, I love that it involves Disney characters and their children. We follow Mal, Maleficent’s daughter, and her experiences on the island where all the villains were banished. We witness her transition from following in her mother’s footsteps, to realizing that may not have to be her path.
I watched the Descendants movie first and expected this book to be the same story, but it was not. If you did enjoy the movie(s) or just enjoy retellings, I would recommend this book.

I also loved Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen. This was an absolutely beautiful story that I read kind of by accident. I needed to choose a book for a readathon and was limited on time. I found this while browsing through “currently available” middle grade books on my Libby app.
Peter rescued Pax when he was just a kit. When Peter’s father has to go off to war, Peter is forced to leave Pax alone in the woods while he is sent to live with his grandfather. Racked with guilt, Peter leaves his grandfather’s home in the dead of night to go in search of Pax. We follow him on his adventure and share in his experiences on his search for his best friend.
I may have even cried a little at one point. I highly recommend this book for all ages.

My fourth MG book/series I would recommend is 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison. Tanya can see fairies. In the first book of the series, she is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother. She becomes involved in a mystery and begins pursuing clues. There are a lot of surprises in this book that made the whole story delightful. If I remember correctly, there may be a couple of scary and dark scenes in this series, so if you’re concerned about these things for younger readers, I’d suggest reading the series yourself first. I read this series as an adult and I don’t have children, so I’m not always sure what can be considered the appropriate age to read certain books.

Last, I’d like to be cliche and recommend the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I’m always interested in anything related to mythology, especially Greek mythology. These books have action, adventure, humor and magic. I found myself thoroughly engaged in most of the books, eager to find out what happened next and I also found myself laughing out loud at some parts.

That’s my list this week for five of my favorite MG books and series. What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!
-V

#OWLsReadathon2019 TBR

I first found out about the #MagicalReadathon in July of last year. Some people were prepping for NEWTs in August and I was introduced to G and the wonderful world of readathons. Because I hadn’t known about the first OWLs, I matched the books I read in April to the OWLs prompts and based my NEWTs choices off of those.
Ever since, I have been hooked on readathons, become obsessed with G and her Book Roast YouTube channel, and the #MagicalReadathon.

I will be reading 12 books to match all 12 prompts because let’s face it, I have no life.

Ancient Runes – Retelling – Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
onceuponadream

Arithmancy – Work written by more than one author – Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
dangerous creatures

Astronomy – “Star” in the title – Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
ignitestars

Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on cover – The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
thefarm

Charms – Read an adult work – The Killing Game by Iris Johansen
killinggame

Defense Against the Dark Arts – Title starts with “R” – The Rogue Queen by Emily R King
roguequeen

Divination – Set in the future – Journey to Territory U by LJ Epps

journey

Herbology – Plant on the cover – The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
the gallery.jpg

History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago – Black Water by T Jefferson Parker
Black water

Muggle Studies – Contemporary – All the Rage by Courtney Summers
alltherage

Potions – Next ingredient: sequel – The Fire Queen by Emily R King

firequeen

Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover – The Hundredth Queen by Emily R King

hundrethqueen

Thanks for reading!
-V

#FiveOnFriday #InternationalWomensDay

I’d like to try something new. Every Friday I will blog about five items on a particular topic. In celebration of International Women’s Day, my first post will be about five books by female authors with female MCs.

First, I loved Warcross by Marie Lu.
This book features a 17 year old hacker who accidentally glitches herself into the Warcross Championships. Instead of getting in trouble, the creator, Hideo Tanaka, asks her to participate in the virtual reality games to uncover a security problem. This book features action, suspense, love, and betrayal. I loved the computer science aspect of this book and how the story progressed. It also includes characters with disabilities, LGBTQ+ characters, and characters of color. I recommend this book if you’re interested in YA, Sci-fi, or fantasy.

Next up is Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. I gave this book 5 stars. If you want to read a book about feminism and fighting the patriarchy, this is it. The MC Viv is fed up with the misogyny and harassment from the males in the school. She starts a zine called Moxie, calling the boys out for the unacceptable treatment of the female students of the school and the principal’s and faculty’s lack of action. She makes friendships and even gains a love interest while fighting against the school’s sexism and getting ever closer to her goal. I recommend this book to everyone. Period.

My next five star recommendation is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I went into this book not sure what the full synopsis was, not sure what to expect. I listened to it on audio and was blown away. Monique Grant works for a magazine and is chosen by Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo to write her biography. Monique begins to arrive at Evelyn’s NYC apartment everyday and begins to hear Evelyn’s life story. I was captivated from the beginning and the audio book was extremely entertaining. Goodreads classifies this book as “Historical Fiction”, “Fiction”, “Contemporary”, “Romance”, “Adult”, and “LGBT”. Unless this books sounds like absolutely nothing you’d be interested in, I would also recommend this book to everyone.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is another book I loved. Read my full review here:
https://starvinforbooks.com/2019/02/17/house-of-salt-and-sorrows-by-erin-a-craig/
This book will be released August 6, 2019. I was fortunate enough to be approved by NetGalley to receive the eARC. This was such a fascinating story. It combines fantasy, horror, and suspense. If your enjoy books about magic, ghosts, mysteries, and/or questioning ones own sanity, this is the book for you!

Last, Circe by Madeline Miller is incredible book. As soon as I finished Circe, I picked up Song of Achilles and Madeline Miller became an instant favorite author. Circe is a retelling of the Greek myth. Miller’s writing is beautiful and pulls you into the story. This was one of those books that’s difficult to put down. If you enjoy Greek mythology, retellings, or even just a beautiful, engaging story, I recommend this book.

Well that is my first #FiveOnFriday and I hope you enjoyed it!
Thanks for reading.
-V