Stacy’s Favorite Books of 2019

It’s that time of year again where I give you my absolute favorite books of 2019. Hopefully, there are some new books on here that you’ll love just as much as I did.

What were your favorites of 2019?

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*Click on the book cover to read the synopsis on Goodreads*

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Books that almost made the list:

*The Fever King- Victoria Lee

*Enchant- Micalea Smeltzer

*Birthday- Meredith Russo

*Unpregnant- Jenni Hendriks

*The Chain- Adrian McKinty

 

 

stacy

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 12/16/19

Happy Snowy Monday!

We’ve got about four+ inches of snow on the ground and we’re expecting more by the end of the day. This is the perfect book reading weather.

This week I’m going to read a Fox & Wit edition of a book and an arc that I’ve had since 2017.

What are you reading?

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Alex and Eliza- Melissa de la Cruz

32860355Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

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Blood Heir- Amélie Wen Zhao

42359583This 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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*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

*First Line Friday 11/8/19* Blood Heir- Amélie Wen Zhao

42359583This 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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“The prison bore a sharp resemblance to the dungeons of Anastacya’s childhood: dark, wet, and made of unyielding stone that leaked grime and misery.”

Pre-Order Gifts:

Pre-order Blood Heir by November 26th and receive these amazing items.

Email your proof of purchase and address to preorderbloodheir@gmail.com

ALL preorders will receive: –

*”Choose to be Brave” sticker

*Illustrated BLOOD HEIR bookmark with glossed lettering

*Signed & personalized bookplate with a Book Secret written on the back

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*ARC Review* Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

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Title: Gravemaidens

Author: Kelly Coon

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Page Count: 416 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Summary:

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

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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 the advanced e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

When I first picked up Gravemaidens, I was beyond excited to start a book with a fierce main character and an intricate plot. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to my expectations; the book offered enthralling world building and a complex and distinctive plot, but unmemorable characters.

Kammani knows being a Sacred Maiden is a curse and a death wish. She knows it means dying in this world to become a queen in the next, and to her that’s terrifying. She doesn’t see it as an honor like everyone else. And when Nanaea, her sister, is picked as one of the three Sacred Maidens, Kammani can feel her entire world crashing around her. Her sister, who is beyond overjoyed, doesn’t quite understand why Kammani sees it as just death. And Kammani doesn’t understand why Nanaea would want to die. So Kammani does everything she possibly can to save the Alu’s ruler from dying and save her sister from the Boatman.

I really did like Kammani as the main character; she’s easy to understand and easy to relate to; no one wants to see a family member die, especially their younger sister. Kammani was a strong and brave character who knew she was getting herself into trouble but did it anyway, in hopes of saving her sister. She didn’t have much time to be a child, so her childhood was spent with her growing up and making sure her family survived. And even with saying all that, I didn’t find much character growth with Kammani, which is why her story line isn’t so memorable to me. Don’t get me wrong, she’s an interesting character, I just didn’t feel that connection I look for with the main character.

I would have liked to see more characterization of Dagan, the main love interest. He’s already madly in love with Kammani and basically throughout the first half of the book, he spends his time trying to win her over. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, considering he wants to marry her. But Kammani isn’t ready to get married (which is completely fine), but she doesn’t seem to fully tell Dagan her reasonings, at least not yet. I did think, however, that Dagan improved as a character about half-way through the book. I liked his relationship with Kammani and I thought there was definitely something there, I just wish there was more development with their relationship and maybe there will be in the sequel.

In all honesty, what really put this book on my radar was the story line of the Sacred Maidens and the Boatman. It’s unique and intriguing. I was a little disappointed that there was not much on the Boatman in the book, but I understand why, since he comes to collect the souls of those that are dead. Either way, I thought it was a great idea. As Nanaea is a Sacred Maiden, the reader gets to see what really goes on behind the scenes with being a Sacred Maiden and why it is so important to their kingdom and their tradition to have these girls join the ruler in the afterlife. It’s an interesting concept, one that I enjoyed reading about.

Even though I was not loving all the characters, I was obsessed with the world building and the writing. Coon describes a harsh world but in beautiful and rich prose, and it’s downright captivating. The descriptions captured my attention and created an intricate picture of each scene in my head. Coon did an amazing job describing the hardships, the violence, and the good and bad within this world. The world itself is just as enchanting as the cover of this book (which is gorgeous!). If anything, the world was by far my favorite part of this book, and also the Sacred Maidens concept.

But overall, Gravemaidens is a beautiful tale, with a unique plot and harsh yet captivating world. Even thought I was not a big fan of this book, I do still plan to read the sequel, as I liked the ending and I’m curious as to how everything is going to wrap up.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

nikole

Top Ten Tuesday 8/13/19

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This weeks topic is: Book Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With

  1. King Cardan- The Wicked King by Holly Black
  2. Cassidy Blake- City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
  3. Julian Santos- Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  4. Nomi Tessaro- Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
  5. Serge A. Storms- Florida Roadkill by Tim Dorsey
  6. Brooklyn Stevens- The Merciless by Danielle Vega
  7. Charlotte Davis- Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
  8. Evelyn Gray- Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie
  9. Elijah Roe- How to Hang a Witch- Adriana Mather
  10. Tyler Durden- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Click on the title of each book to check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

Which characters made your list?

stacy

 

*Saturday Spotlight* House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

HoSaS

Title: House of Salt and Sorrows

Author: Erin A. Craig

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Page Count: 416 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings

Summary:

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

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Purchase Links

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

BOOK DEPOSITORY  |  INDIE BOUND

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

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 About the Author

Erin

Erin A. Craig has always loved telling stories.

After getting her B.F.A. from the University of Michigan, in Theatre Design and Production, she stage managed tragic operas with hunchbacks, séances, and murderous clowns, then decided she wanted to write books that were just as spooky.

An avid reader, a decent quilter, rabid basketball fan, and collector of typewriters, Erin makes her home in Memphis, TN with her husband and daughter.

She is represented by Sarah Landis at Sterling Lord Literistic. (Bio and photo provided from Goodreads)