Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

5 stars

 

“All the sirens throughout the centuries have carried their stolen treasures to an island, Isla de Canta. There can be found the wealth of history, treasures beyond imagination. This is what my father seeks. This is why I’m here. This is what I’ve prepared for: stealing another piece of the map.” 


I adored everything about this book. The characters, the (minimal) world building, the action, the (minimal) romance. This was one of my anticipated releases for 2017, and even as a debut book it did not let me down. The story follows Alosa as she embarks on an adventure to steal 1/3 of a map that leads to an island that holds a treasure that pirates dream about. Despite her determination and persistence she encounters obstacle after obstacle that she must overcome to finish out the task appointed to her by her father.

Alosa-as the title describes she is the daughter of the pirate king. Her character is both beautiful, ruthless, and overall badass. The thing I particularly appreciated about her though is that despite all her redeeming qualities, she was still aiming to please her father. She did not fear the high seas, death, or the other pirates. What she feared was what would happen if she failed her mission and let her father down. With the prospect of making him proud shes goes to many lengths to complete her mission-including let herself be captured despite her ability to escape time & time again. At first her ego was a bit much, but her fearlessness and skill is proven throughout the story to not be just talk.

“These men don’t know who they’re dealing with. I am power and strength. I am death and destruction. I am not someone to be triffled with. They are beneath my notice.”

Riden & Draxen-The pirates who capture her are also both handsome, ruthless, and smart. I loved that they too are willing to make sacrifices for what they desire most, and a ransom on a beautiful pirate princess is sure to do just that. They are both not what they seem and have a bond that even Alosa can appreciate and understand. They are key to adding more depth to Alosa’s character as she views her lack of family/bond with anyone besides the women on her own vessel.

The world building in the book is minimal but is not lacking. While the majority of the book takes place on a pirate ship lengthy descriptions of the scenery is neither present or necessary. What Levenseller does give us is circumstantial history and the presence of a world outside the confines of the wood ship. Conversations with and descriptions of the surrounding pirates gives a feel of the lifestyle aboard the ship. Through the tales from the pirates we learn of sirens who lure men away and steal the treasure that Alosa is after. It also gives the premise of the fantastical elements that are woven into the book. Every pirate story needs a siren and other deadly creatures of the sea.

Sword play and swashbuckling is prevalent throughout the story, and there isn’t a throat that Alosa wouldn’t hesitate to slit if it meant achieving her goals. The action sequences as well as the hint of espionage help drive the story from scene to scene. I couldn’t help myself but start humming the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music every time a fight scene would commence. 

Of course, a little romance goes a long way. Despite Alosa being headstrong and adamant to doing everything in her power to get the map that she has been searching for, she can’t help herself but feel something for the one man who seems to figure her out. As it is only an underyling part of the story, the romance aspect does not take away from the action packed story. In fact, it adds to only justify who she does or doesn’t kill based on her relationship with her captors and the rest of the crew.

-Scrill

Carve the Mark

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth


2 stars


This review is going to be fairly unexciting, as I have nothing really re-mark-able to say about this book. (ha, see what I did there? I know, I’m lame.)


Carve the Mark tells the story of rivaling nations on a single planet. From alternating POV’s of Cyra, a Shotet, and Akos, a Thuvheien, we see how are two enemies grow to accept the fates they were given by the Oracles.


So, lets tackled that Racism bit. I honestly don’t know what all the fuss is about. And maybe it’s because I give Roth the benefit of the doubt that she wasn’t intentionally making it so. With that being said, I read this after I read somewhere that there were racial undertones and didn’t even notice. I honestly don’t think they’re that noticeable unless you’re looking for it. But if that’s the case you can find stereotyping or racial similarities in a lot of books, but the reality is, SOMEONES gotta be the bad guy, the lesser race, or the unfortunate soul. 


Okay, so now that the nasty stuff is out of the way, I am going to point one other thing about the book that made me cringe.


I absolutely hated that they called their smaller space ships ‘floaters’. Every single time I read it I thought of my brother coming over to me to look at his floaters. in. the. toilet. Yeah. I pictured a bunch of turds hovering around the sky carrying passengers. The comical part was that I also paired it with the bubbly noise for the little space ships in the Jetsons. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Scrill’s imagination.


So, the idea’s behind the book were great. From the current gifts that each person had, to the fates that they can try to change, to the culture created by each nation/planet. Unfortunately I found the story to be slow paced and pretty boring. Chapter 31 suddenly became very YA romance-y and I felt the chapter didn’t fit quite well with the rest of the book or the characters. In the end, I have zero desire to continue the series.

-Scrill

A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi 

 

5 stars


“But for the first time, I wanted to believe in the things that outlasted us: the stories that came to life in a child’s head, the fear of the dark, the hunger to live. Those were the footsteps that not even Time could discover and erase, because they lived far out of reach, in the song of blood coursing through veins and in the quiet threads that made up dreams.” 


I absolutely adored this book. While The Star Touched Queen introduced us to a magical world and a beautiful story, A Crown of Wishes gave us two snarky characters, a new magical land, and an exciting story from start to finish. In this book, Maya’s little sister Gauri finds herself in a tournament for wishes with the enemy kingdom’s prince Vikram. They travel to the land of Alaka where Kubera is hosting the tournament where you either win a wish or meet certain death.


Chokshi delivers us a magical world once again that is basically a dream land on paper. The imagery that is presented to us gives me similar vibes as What Dreams May Come was like- magical, beautiful and even dark at times. Alaka is presented in such a way that you can feel the warmth coming off the pages and imagine what a cup of memories might taste like. Again, I loved the cultural inspiration and building off of Hindu legends. With a world that is already so magical anything can be done, but Chokshi kept with a basic wit Kubera, the Lord of Wealth.


Gauri and Vikram were such a delight to get to know. While they bickered they learned where each other’s strengths where and how to handle each situation to their benefit. They had such quirky habits that made them so endearing, like the way that Vikram steepled his fingers when he was pondering over a puzzle.

The pacing to the book was perfect. TSTQ was at times somewhat slow and occasionally confusing. But in ACOW the story is consistent and doesn’t have any lulls. Each scene flows into the next with continuous imagery, witty banter, and anxious challenges for our two heroes. The connection between Gauri and Vikram transitions well as they learn to be friends and trust each other. 

-Scrill

Death and Night

Death and Night by Roshani Chokshi

Publish date: May 2, 2017

I received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley.

3 Stars

“I want to lie beside you and know the weight of your dreams. I want to share whole worlds with you and write your name in the stars. I want to measure eternity with your laughter.”


Roshani Chokshi has this way of writing that makes me feel like I am reading a beautiful LSD trip. In the land of Naraka there are creatures and immortal beings that run the unseen parts of the world. Death and Night is the prequel to The Star Touched Queen and tells the story of how Maya (Night) and Amar (Death) first came to meet and fall in love. I honestly would save this book for after reading TSTQ mostly because I think the revealing of their story in the TSTQ is part of the splendor.


Dharma Raja is such a sweetheart in this book. Though his original intentions were not as romantic as his end, he manages to be passionate from the get go. Everything he does for her throughout the story is so magical and idyllic for someone who wore the night sky on her skin. His relationship with Gupta is hilarious as he is clearly no help to Dharma Raja in his pursuit of a queen.


I love the idea of Night’s character. She was thought of to be apart of demons and nightmares just because of the darkness she brings. But in an effort to find happiness in the life that she had she sold fruit that brought dreams, with the only price being told the story of said dream.


A major part of the story that I adored was that not only in TSTQ but from the moment he decided to find himself a queen, Dharma Raja wanted an equal. He wanted someone to share his life with and build a world with. He didn’t just want the most beautiful women to bed and have as arm candy. I also loved that once he knew what it was like to have her in his life, the world dulled in comparison when he imagined it without her.


Death and Night was incredibly sweet and magical and is a great addition to the TSTQ series as a background story to the fated lovers.

-Scrill

Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

 

3 stars

 

After a long wait, I finally finished Shadow and Bone and it didn’t let down on my expectations. Granted, I expected it to be good, but wasn’t exactly holding my breath. While the story of a character coming to some power that may very well change their world isn’t exactly original, Shadow and Bone gave us fresh look on magic, especially in a world where not everyone is blessed with a skill.


The world building and slavic inspiration was fantastic. The pacing of the story was well done while still incorporating character development and world building. Even though there were quite a few tropes throughout the book. I found them to still be refreshing in their new spins. I think my only issue was that there was a lot of build up and then a twist that lead to a few events that was ended up being quite anticlimactic for me. 


If you’ve read any of my reviews before you would know that I love when fantasy novels take on from cultural inspiration. From the language, to the food, to the surrounding lands Bardugo created a world that you can realistically imagine (if you’re educated in slavic culture at least, or know how to use google) while still having a fresh environment that isn’t overdone. I loved the creepy feeling I got while reading about the Fold and I loved the idea of the uniforms everyone and how even though all these grisha had powers, they each found station above others or banded together-like to like. The unique powers was definitely something I haven’t read about yet and definitely aided in the darkness in the book. HA…literally.

-Scrill

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend by K.M. Galvin 

 

3 stars

 

Copy from K M Galvin via Netgalley for fair review.


“Light golden skin is stretched tightly over his muscles, and even though he is wearing a loose work out tank and track pants, I can tell he’s hard all over. I can tell because that’s how I wrote him. I’ve known him for almost ten years now.”


Okay, this book was stinking cute. To be honest, as soon as I read the synopsis I was like eeeek yay. Bellamy Strong is a successful writer and is setting out on a tour for her series for the first time. Her publishers decide that along with book signings they would have her star as the heroine and find a model that looks like the hero of her book for the tour. Shy Bellamy has to deal with her expectations of her come to life hero and how to get out of the shell she has built around herself and grow.


The idea of the story was stellar. The entire time I pictured someone like SJM getting to go on tour with a Rhysand look alike. *The most beautiful man she’s ever seen* Gosh, just the idea is swoon worthy. Can I please have a three month tour with a hottie of my making by my side? I loved that the book boyfriend was nothing like the character that Bellamy had imagined and in fact had his own personality.


Caleb, the guy who is hired to model as the character Max is a hottie & the sexual tension that builds between him and Bellamy is hot. I love that they didn’t hit it off and have to be friends before they can even move onto romance. The initial hotness of course is scoured as soon as he opens his mouth. But it’s not until they are forced to sit in a car together for the lengthy road trip that they get along by some sort of peace treaty.


One of my qualms with the story is that their relationships progressed rather quickly so there was a slight lull in the middle. Luckily, the last 20% skim by really fast, and not in the ‘well that ended abruptly’ sort of way. In a, eek, this is hot, flip flip flip, awwwww, flip flip flip, ending. And though it ended the way I anticipated it ending, it was still rather sweet.


My other qualm with the story was the lack of bickering. I would expect that spending nearly every minute with the same set of 4 people would cause some sort of animosity. Instead, the characters just grew closer and closer. But really, even with the people I most adore, you have to have some personal space. I would have liked it a little bit better if tempers rose and people got a little tired of being with each other. It would have seemed a little more realistic.

 
-Scrill

It Had to be You

It Had to Be You by Lizzy Charles

Received an ARC from Entangled Publishing, LLC  via Netgalley for a fair review.

Publish date: May 15, 2017

3 stars

Sometimes I tell myself, fake it till you make it. What we all know from possible experience or even from any movie from the 90’s that doesn’t work out well when feelings are involved.

It Had to be You has all the ingredients that make that feel-good romantic teen story:

-inexperienced girl

-super popular guy

-inexperienced girl and popular guy have a spectacular meet cute

-inexperienced girl inspires popular guy to be a better guy

-super popular guy sweeps inexperienced girl off her feet

-miscommunication causes a rift between the two

-they fix their problems at the end

With all the cliché elements we are given the same tried story with just enough spin to get you through. While the characters were sweet I found the two main characters to be a little too level headed, too conscious of their actions. Now while Edelweiss was pretty much raised around adults, she had access to tv & Netflix, the girl couldn’t have been that naïve and James seemed to have his ranging hormones just a little too much in check. In all honesty, their relationship was sweet, but probably not that realistic considering their surroundings, ages, and overall situation. They handled themselves a little too maturely for what would be expected from a pair of confused teens.

The cliché ex gf bully seemed a little…well cliché. And while it’s not exactly unrealistic, it just seemed too unoriginal, especially paired with the whole fake bf/gf turns into real feelings trope. I think the struggles that Edelweiss could have been a little more creative. With that being said, teen bullying is entirely plausible, but in my experience can be a lot more vicious than just a few silly pranks. Girls can be very mean, especially when their feelings are involved and they are bat shit crazy.

What I did appreciate was that there was a little diversity in the students going to the private school. It wasn’t just a bunch of white privileged kids. There was a little depth given to the students that could have been played on a little more. Using the heritages or backgrounds that were mentioned could have been woven into the story to give a little more flavor.

So, like I said, cliché and slightly predictable. I feel like I’ve read this story or seen the movie version several times already and could have used a little bit more flare to get my attention. Still it was cute, and made heart clench up at least a tiny bit.

-Scrill

Ella’s Ice Cream Summer

Ella’s Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson

Publish date: May 11, 2017

Received an ARC from Bookouture via Netgalley for a fair review.

2 Stars

“Was there still time to do something more with my life and get that Facebook fantasy? Should I Just play it safe and not risk losing what little I had, or should I throw caution to the wind and embrace what apparently the universe had given me? Perhaps this was my adventure after all?”


Ella’s Ice Cream Summer was a light story about a pseudo-empty-nester turning over a new leaf in her life. Ella lost her job, her kids are off having adventures in Nepal and Thailand for the summer, and her mother has taken on internet dating all other sorts of social media. The death of her aunt leaves Ella with a portion of the family ice cream business which Ella decides to try out for the summer.

The simplicity of the story was also what brought my opinion down. The beginning had enough going on to get me intrigued, but once Ella was working the ice cream stand I was hardly hooked and had to push through the story. The only element that really kept me going was the curiosity of what had caused the family feud. The actually facts behind the feud was definitely not expected but definitely gave reason as to why there was such a problem. The entire time, we are put off thinking it might be something completely trivial that had three women to have a complete fall out.

The curiosity wasn’t enough. The romantic relationship that Ella developed with Ben is not very developed either as their interactions are short. More time was spent theoretically thinking about what Ella was doing with the future of the business/staying in Devon and how she shouldn’t get attached to Ben than actual time spent with him.

The best part of the book was sadly the descriptions of the ice cream treats. And though it’s called Ice Cream Summer, it’s probably more like gelato. But I honestly don’t have enough knowledge between the differences of the two to definitely say either way. I just love ice cream/gelato.

What I had hoped would be a kick start to my summer beach reads ended up only inspiring me to make my own gelato, which it turns out is harder than this book makes it out to be, there are quite a few steps! I did find it cute to find an easy recipe after the epilogue for a batch of vanilla ice cream.

Now that I have read two books on gelato/ice cream this month I have since decided to take on making some of my own. Post on that after I try a little bit.

-Scrill

Love & Gelato

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

4 Stars

” Maybe that was just part of the Italian experience. Come to Italy. Fall in love. Watch everything blow up in your face. You could probably read about it on travel websites.”


Love & Gelato is all kinds of adorableness. Lina is in Italy, her mother just passed away of pancreatic cancer and she has essentially been sent for the summer to meet the father she never met. Coping with her grief while avoiding the awkwardness with her father, Howard, she is given a token of her mother. A journal. The journal she kept while she was studying photography in Florence. What she discovers is the story of what happened those 16 years ago when her mother fell in love and found herself pregnant in Italy. Lina’s summer abroad has suddenly turned into a scavenger hunt to find out the truth about her mother’s past and why she left Howard if they were so much in love.

About halfway through this book I decided that it very much reminded me of the movie Letters to Juliet. There’s even a guy named Lorenzo and a handsome British guy to sweep unsuspecting Lina off her feet. Aside from that and the hunt in Italy, there really aren’t that many similarities to be honest. Still, everything about this book made me want to book the next flight out of the states and head to Florence, see the sights, and try some stracciatella gelato. I almost stopped reading to start a pinterest board for my non existent future trip to Florence featuring all the locations she goes to and lists of gelato flavors to try. I suppose I should brush up on some Italian first. The book wove Italian flare not only with the wonderful descriptions of its architectural and art and it’s food, but also by throwing in the occasional Italian phrase or word. I loved it, there was so much more personality in the book because of it.

The characters themselves were super sweet. It was hard not to feel for Lina as she struggled to cope with the loss of her mother while finding herself in a completely strange place to her with a complete stranger that was supposed to be her dad. Ren was such a good friend trying to make her experience smoother by showing her sights, introducing her friends, and even giving her the occasional shoulder to cry on. Though brief, the other characters through the book gave a lot more flare here and there.

The writing was smooth, however, the beginning of the book sort of dragged a little bit. It took me a good 75 pages before I really got into the book. But after that, I started flipping through it pretty fast. Once she really starts getting into appreciating the fact that she is 1. in Florence and 2. has one more opportunity to learn something about her mom the story rolled down hill picking up speed as it went. It was super sweet and touching while she learned more about her mom and more about Howard as well as discovering more about herself in the process. The heartbreaking information hit at the perfect timing the book to push to the end.

-Scrill