It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 1/20/20

Happy Monday!

This week is going to be a short reading week because I’ll be on the road. All three of us are heading to my hometown of Philadelphia for ALA Midwinter.

Are you attending ALA this year?

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I’ll be reading a book that Macmillan sent me this week.

What are you reading?

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Squad- Mariah MacCarthy

32048835. sy475 This darkly comic debut novel by an award-winning playwright is like Mean Girls meets Heathers with a splash of Bring it On.

Jenna Watson is a cheerleader. But it’s not some Hollywood crap. Cheerleaders are not every guy’s fantasy; they are not the “popular girls” or the “mean girls” of Marsen High School. They’re too busy for that. They’re literally just some human females trying to live their lives and do a perfect toe touch. But that all changed after Raejean stopped talking to Jenna and started hanging out with Meghan Finnegan. Jenna stopped getting invited out with the rest of the squad and she couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or if it was all in her head.

At times heartbreaking, at others hilarious, Squad follows Jenna through her attempts to get revenge on Raejean and invent a new post-cheer life for herself through LARPING (live-action role-playing) and a relationship with a trans guy that feels like love—but isn’t. In the end, Jenna discovers that who she is is not defined by which squad she’s in.

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*ARC Review* The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

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Title: The Iron Will of Genie Lo

Author: F.C. Yee

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Page Count: 304 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology

Summary:

The fate of the heavens is at stake in this hilarious and highly-anticipated sequel to the The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rise of Kyoshi

Genie Lo thought she was busy last year, juggling her academic career with protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as the Heaven-appointed Guardian of California, she’s responsible for the well-being of all yaoguai and spirits on Earth. Even the ones who interrupt her long-weekend visit to a prestigious college, bearing terrible news about a cosmos-threatening force of destruction in a nearby alternate dimension.

The goddess Guanyin and Genie’s boyfriend, Quentin Sun Wukong, do their best to help, but it’s really the Jade Emperor who’s supposed to handle crises of this magnitude. Unfortunately for Genie and the rest of existence, he’s gone AWOL. Fed up with the Jade Emperor’s negligence, Genie spots an opportunity to change the system for the better by undertaking a quest that spans multiple planes of reality along with an adventuring party of quarrelsome Chinese gods. But when faced with true danger, Genie and her friends realize that what will save the universe this time isn’t strength, but sacrifice.

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Purchase Links

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

INDIE BOUND

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My Review

Hold it! This is a review of the sequel to the very amazing and kick-butt book, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. This review may contain spoilers from the first book, so you have been warned if you choose to read on. You can check out my review of the first book here.

Thank you to Amulet Books and NetGalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In 2017, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was one of my favorite reads. I remember being so excited when I found out there would be a sequel. And let me tell you, the sequel did not disappoint. It was honestly one of the best sequels I have read. There’s action, back-and-forth character banter, and so much character growth; the characters (and the story) stay true to what the first book brought to the table.

In the sequel, Genie is not just dealing with the demons – protecting them and finding them a home. She’s also struggling with the idea of her senior year and what comes after: college. Genie knows her parents can’t afford the college she wants to go to, and that insight causes another strain with her parents, especially after the health scare with her mom. And then there’s the part where Genie and Quentin are at a stale part of their relationship and neither really knows how to move forward. All in all, Genie doesn’t really have it easy this year.

One of the reasons I loved this book and its predecessor is the witty and sarcastic banter between the characters, especially Genie and Quentin. It makes the story humorous and makes the characters feel real. Genie and Quentin have such a genuine and loving relationship and, ultimately, have each other’s backs through everything. In this book, they’re now dating, which easily becomes another struggle for Genie. She’s figuring out how to navigate their relationship and how exactly it will fit in her life; she wants Quentin in her life, but with almost every conversation between them ending in an argument, she doesn’t know how to get through the rough patches.

So, needless to say, Genie has a lot on her plate. And her plate starts to overflow when she tries to change the system the gods and goddesses have been following for centuries. Which pegs the ultimate question: will Genie be able to handle everything she’s gotten herself into? What I loved about this is that it really did make Genie feel like a real character. This book showcases her strengths and weaknesses and doesn’t hesitate to illustrate when Genie reaches her breaking point. She dealt with stress and defeat and her anxiety of the future, and I could relate to that on a high level because that’s exactly what it felt like for me when I was finishing high school. It was great to see that portrayal and it was executed in such a phenomenal way.

The writing and flow of this story is wonderful and just as captivating as the first book. There was never too much action, nor was there information overload, which I really appreciated. F.C. Yee has a way of bringing a story together with characters that fit so well and feel so real. He will continue to be an instant-buy author for me, and I cannot wait to see what his next work brings.

Overall, The Iron Will of Genie Lo is a wonderful sequel to the first book, one that is equally as good as its predecessor. Those who loved the first book will not be disappointed, and may, like me, end up liking the sequel more.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars

nikole

*Book Review* Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao

Blood Heir

Title: Blood Heir

Author: Amélie Wen Zhao

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: November 19, 2019

Page Count: 464 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings

Summary:

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

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Purchase Links

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

INDIE BOUND

Please note: A Court of Coffee and Books receives a small commission for any purchases made through the links above. All commission earned goes toward supporting and maintaining this blog.

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My Review

“This isn’t one of the fairy-tale stories you read in your childhood, where the hero always wins in the end. You’ll have many battles to fight, and you won’t win them all. And at the end of every single day, you’ll always face the same choice: keep fighting, or give up.”

Blood Heir is easily one of my favorite reads of 2019, and possibly a favorite of all-time. With exquisite writing, unforgettable characters, and extraordinary world building, Blood Heir captured my attention from the moment I started reading and left me breathless for me.

The world building is absolutely phenomenal and breathtaking. There’s nothing quite like this world Zhao has created and its achingly beautiful. She describes the world in vivid colors and elegant prose. Her writing is spectacular and she captures the world and characters so well. Zhao’s storytelling blew me away, and I’m so thankful she decided to publish her book this year. She knows how to write a captivating YA fantasy story.

“Your affinity does not define you. What defines you is how you choose to wield it.”

Ana is such a strong and well-depicted character. She’s fearful of her gift – the ability to control blood – and she has every right to be. Unable to control her power, she rarely uses it, so she doesn’t accidentally kill someone (this fear manifested due to a darkly past experience). But, throughout her journey, she starts to realize that her affinity is not something she should fear, but something she should harness. And seeing that growth and understanding was what made Ana a relatable character – she had something to fear but she started to learn how to overcome that fear and fight for her future.

“Show them what you are, my little monster.”

Ramson, I have to say, was such a fun character. He mainly just looks out for himself but he grows throughout this book and starts to feel attached to Ana. And I enjoyed watching him try to piece together her past and her identity. His personality is so much fun. He’s sarcastic and funny and knows he’s good-looking. He’s basically Flynn Rider from Tangled but in an awesome YA fantasy book. I’m very excited to see where his character development goes in the second book.

“‘The Deities have long sent me a message through their silence….It is not their duty to grant us goodness in the world, Kolst Pryntsessa. No, Little Tigress – it is up to us to fight our battles.'”

If you’re looking for romance, there’s not quite much in Blood Heir. Don’t get me wrong, there is romance (in the form of a snarky and dashingly handsome thief), but it’s very much in the background. I’ll set it straight for you: it’s a very slow burn romance, and it captivated my attention the whole book. The slow burn builds from the first page to the last sentence, and I have this wonderful (hopefully right) feeling that the romance is going to really blossom in book two. I was rooting for Ana and her potential love interest the whole time; they both compliment each other and their constant witty banter gave me all the feels.

“Perhaps all monsters were heroes in their own eyes.”

I’m beyond excited (and very impatient, might I add) for book two. The ending to Blood Heir is honestly how I was hoping it would end: with a cliff-hanger but one that didn’t strike a knife straight through my heart. It does have a small cliff-hanger, but mainly in the sense of the agonizing wait for book two. But overall, Blood Heir is a dashingly exquisite debut novel that I will continue to recommend to my friends and bookworms.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

nikole

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 12/2/19

It’s December already! Where has this year gone?

This week I’m going to read two arcs that my friends picked me up at ALA, and a book that was donated to me from a library patron.

What are you reading?

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A Heart So Fierce and Broken- Brigid Kemmerer

42952728In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown. 
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom. 
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

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Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things- Jacqueline Firkins

43261131In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First, there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend, and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy, and all-around player. He’s totally off-limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

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The Saturday Night Ghost Club- Craig Davidson

42378784A short, irresistible, and bittersweet coming-of-age story in the vein of “Stranger Things” and “Stand by Me” about a group of misfit kids who spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends.

Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls–a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place–Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the “Saturday Night Ghost Club.” But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become.

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*Blog Tour + Giveaway* Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen

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Title: Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance

Author: Jennieke Cohen

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: December 3rd 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Fiction

Synopsis:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

iTunes | Kobo| Google Books

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Author Information

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Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Blog | Pinterest | Instagram

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Tour Schedule

Check out the other amazing bloggers on this blog tour!

TOUR BANNER

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Book Review

When it comes to historical romance books, Jane Austen is one of my go-to authors. Pride & Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books, so when I heard of Dangerous Alliance and that it’s filled with Jane Austen references, I knew I had to read this book. And this story did not disappoint.

Dangerous Alliance is filled with beautiful prose, witty banter, and charming characters. There were scenes where I was laughing and scenes where I was gasping, not expecting certain things to happen. The characters, especially the male love interests, were delightful and made Vicky’s interactions entertaining and enjoyable.

Even though, at heart, this story is a romance story, I loved the dash of mystery. Mix mystery into a romance story, and you have a captivating storyline with irresistible characters. And that’s exactly what you get here. Dangerous Alliance kept me on the edge of my seat; I was so curious as to what would happen next that I didn’t want to put this book down. I loved the characters and Vicky and the setting is beyond gorgeous – the historical beauty is captivating, and I loved every second of this book.

“Your pride is one thing, Victoria, but when you give it more weight than your health, you do yourself no favors.”

Victoria is a fun and engaging main character who gets herself into quite the predicament. How exactly do you handle multiple men vying for your hand in marriage? And also try to solve a mystery that could potentially put her and her family in harm’s way? It’s not easy for Vicky, that’s for sure, but watching her navigate the world of society’s season was fun and humorous at times. Her reliability on Jane Austen’s words is a delight to read; it’s the right mixture of Jane Austen’s work with Cohen’s story. Vicky is also strong and fiercely independent, which I absolutely loved; she does not want to settle down and lose her freedom, but to save her family, she’ll do anything.

“Of the countless embarrassing moments in all her seventeen years, this one secured the prize for most ghastly.”

Cohen’s writing was spectacular; I mainly loved the witty banter between the characters and Vicky’s interactions with those inside and outside of books. Cohen brings this historical romance book to life. There’s just enough romance and mystery to keep the readers on their toes, which made this book even more enjoyable. Overall, this book was a wonderful read and perfect for fans of Jane Austen!

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Giveaway

Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of DANGEROUS ALLIANCE by Jennieke Cohen (US Only)
Starts: 27th November 2019

Ends: 11th December 2019

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Thank you, Fantastic Flying Book Club, for having us on this wonderful blog tour!

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*Book Review* Pax Novis by Erica Cameron

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Title: Pax Novis (The Pax Archives #1)

Author: Erica Cameron

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: November 4, 2019

Page Count: 400 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Summary:

Cira Antares is deeply loyal to two things: Pax Novis—the cargo ship captained by her mother that transports supplies across war-torn star systems—and her personal mission to save war orphans. But hiding them as stowaways on the ship is illegal, and if any of them were found, not even her mother could protect Cira from the consequences.

She has successfully kept her secret…until supplies start to go missing. Food. Clothing. Tools. All signs point to her stowaways, but they wouldn’t do anything to risk exposing themselves—or her. Especially not Riston, the oldest of the group and someone Cira has grown close to. Someone she might even be falling in love with…

And petty thefts are only the beginning—whole ships are disappearing now.

Not caught in a firefight. Not destroyed by another planet. Vanishing. Without a trace.

And Pax Novis is next.

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Purchase Links

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

INDIE BOUND

Please note: A Court of Coffee and Books receives a small commission for any purchases made through the links above. All commission earned goes toward supporting and maintaining this blog.

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My Review

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a digital review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Pax Novis is a fun and thrilling space adventure set far into the future. Earth isn’t the only planet that contains lifeforms, so it was really cool to see how Cameron designs the future. I loved the overall setting and the character representation in Pax Novis, as well as the main plot behind the story.

Erica Cameron provides just enough information to make the reader aware of the world surrounding the ship, Pax Novis, which is where most of the book takes place. There were some instances where I felt there was information overload, but as the story progressed, I understood why so much was revealed at once; it was necessary to know that information for the future of the story. And I loved how everything pieced together by the end of the story!

Even though I did enjoy this science fiction story, I was a little thrown off by the slow plot. I felt that it took awhile for any action to really take place and set the story in motion. It did pick up for the last 100 pages or so, but I was hoping for more of an action-packed science fiction adventure. Those aspects are present, just not throughout the whole book, mainly the adventure part. But the mystery part was fun; I’m all for a good mystery and I loved how this one came together in stellar fashion.

It did take a few chapters before I got used to the writing and identification. One character does not identify as he/she but rather as the ‘Z’ pronouns, which I haven’t read a book yet that did that, so it was really nice to see that take shape. Even though it took a few chapters for me to get acquainted with the use of those pronouns, I thought it added a nice representation to the storyline and character. When it comes to the main two characters, I found them to be well-written and beautifully flawed, yet strong and brave. That’s what I love in characters: that characters are meant to come across as strong, but also highlight their flaws. That’s what makes them human, and Cameron does a wonderful job portraying those traits.

Overall, I enjoyed this thrilling science fiction adventure and I found it to be an entertaining and light read for the YA genre.

My rating: 3.0 stars out of 5 stars

nikole

*ARC Review* Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf

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Title: Find Me Their Bones

Author: Sara Wolf

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Page Count: 400 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Summary:

No one can save her.

In order to protect Prince Lucien d’Malvane’s heart, Zera had to betray him. Now, he hates the sight of her. Trapped in Cavanos as a prisoner of the king, she awaits the inevitable moment her witch severs their magical connection and finally ends her life.

But fate isn’t ready to give her up just yet.

With freedom coming from the most unlikely of sources, Zera is given a second chance at life as a Heartless. But it comes with a terrible price. As the king mobilizes his army to march against the witches, Zera must tame an elusive and deadly valkerax trapped in the tunnels underneath the city if she wants to regain her humanity.

Winning over a bloodthirsty valkerax? Hard. Winning back her friends before war breaks out? A little harder.

But a Heartless winning back Prince Lucien’s heart?

The hardest thing she’s ever done.

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Purchase Links

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

INDIE BOUND

Please note: A Court of Coffee and Books receives a small commission for any purchases made through the links above. All commission earned goes toward supporting and maintaining this blog.

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My Review

Thank you to EntangledTeen and Sara Wolf for the early review copy of Find Me Their Bones in exchange for an honest review. 

Please note: this is the sequel to Bring Me Their Hearts; my review can be found here.This review does contain spoilers if you have not read the first book.

Bring Me Their Hearts, the first book in Sara Wolf’s enchanting Heartless trilogy, blew me away last year and became one of my all-time favorite books. And when I thought this series could not get any better, Find Me Their Bones lands in my lap and left me speechless. This book is emotionally beautiful and painful and raw. In Find Me Their Bones, relationships are tested, boundaries are crossed, and secrets are revealed. And not everyone will be prepared for the surprising twist.

Sara Wolf does it again. Find Me Their Bones is an excellent masterpiece, a sequel that stands beautifully next to its predecessor, in covers and written word. This brilliant book is full of sass and heart; I can see that Sara poured her heart into this book and that’s one of the things that makes this book so special. She has created a world and characters that I absolutely adore, and I am so thankful these books came into my life when they did.

Find Me Their Bones picks up right where Bring Me Their Hearts left off. Zera is still a Heartless, but now Lucien, his sister (who was thought to be dead), and the King know her secret. And now Zera is no longer under the control of her first witch, the witch that took her heart. She now belongs to Princess Varia, who surprised everyone by turning out to be a powerful witch that tricked Zera and Lucien.

“I’ve learned, Your Highness, that it is easier to hate than it is to love.”

Zera has so much character growth in Find Me Their Bones. She’s still sarcastic and sassy and amazing, but she starts to let herself hope that she will get her heart back and starts to imagine what her life will be like. She knows she’s messed up all her relationships with her friends and Lucien, but her main goal has always been her heart. So, she strikes a deal with Princess Varia: train a valkerax to Weep in exchange for her heart. It’s almost an impossible deal, but Zera accepts.

But along this journey, Zera discovers that there is more at stake than ever before. Princess Varia doesn’t just need the valkerax to Weep; she has a more dark and twisted plan that will change the lives of everyone in the kingdom. It will ultimately change the potentially outcome of a battle between the humans and witches. And Lucien is dead set on making sure his sister does nothing that will harm her and the people he has vowed to protect.

“‘I can assure you, as someone who spent his life chasing power,’ Gavik says, ‘when absolute power presents itself, there are no ‘justs’ anymoe. It is all or nothing.'”

Zera continues to be my ultimate favorite character. She doesn’t remember much from being human, but her emotions start to materialize more in this book. She finally has something worth dying for; she finally has friends and family she wants to protect at all costs, even if it means not getting her heart in return. In the sequel, more of Zera’s strengths (and weaknesses) are revealed. It’s clear as day that she wants to keep her friends and Lucien in her life, but she believes they’re better off without her. She doesn’t quite understand why these people would want to still befriend her, after everything she does. And that was beautiful to watch unfold, to see Zera realize that she’s not alone in this cruel world.

Wolf’s writing is masterful and captivating. Her world building is phenomenal and the characters she has created are magnificent. Sara is an instant-buy author for me because her writing isn’t just there to show the readers what is going on; she writes with emotion so the readers can understand what the characters are feeling in that moment. That’s another reason why this book is so close to my heart (I also find a kindred spirit in Zera, so that’s a plus).

“Heartless with their heart is a human who’s been injured and has injured in return. And though the wounds have been healed magically, the memories still remain, stabbing and slicing better than the instruments of pain.”

THAT ENDING. Sara definitely knows how to leave her readers hanging, and now I don’t know how I can wait until next year. This book tore me open and left me in need of a beating heart. These characters, especially Zera, mean so much to me, and I’m even more emotionally attached to them and their story than I was in the first book.

Bring Me Their Hearts is a series I will forever recommend. This series is filled with so many emotions and sassy banter and romantic moments. If you’re looking for a fun fantasy read, I implore you to read this series, you won’t be disappointed!

My rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

nikole