I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Roar by Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published by Macmillan on June 13th 2017
Also by this author: All Lined Up, All Broke Down, Losing It, All Played Out, Faking It, Finding It
Format: ARC (352 pages) • Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.
Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.
I’ve seen some pretty stellar early reviews for this one, plus Cora Carmack is one of my favorite NA authors… so needless to say, I had fairly high expectations! I usually would blame my negative feelings about this book on those expectations and hype, but I absolutely don’t think that was the case here. I was on the fence about reading this one in the first place because the synopsis didn’t really sound like a Lauren book. I decided to give it a go because of the reviews and author, but I ended up pretty disappointed. I’ll keep this short and break it down by the main elements of the story.
Main plot: The story is about a princess, Aurora (or Ror, or Roar) who doesn’t have any magic. She has a marriage alliance planned with a prince of Locke (another kingdom) in order to avoid this information getting out. She soon learns that there’s a way of essentially buying magic on the black market and decides to set off on a journey with a group of stormhunters. I honestly thought the plot was kind of boring? I really didn’t care what was happening and often had no motivation to pick up the book. It was a struggle. I like books where people are on the road journeying and training with magic, but this book had almost no ~major events~ I can think of.
Main character: On top of the pretty boring plot, Aurora was a boring character for me. Locke thought she was feisty and interesting and sooOOOOooO perfect but I just didn’t see it. She didn’t have any exciting elements of her personality and felt very un-Special Snowflake to me. (She had no powers as far as she could tell but still could run and ride horses and use weapons like nobody’s business.) Overall, I had no connection to her.
Romance: You’ll notice that the romance is with a guy named Locke. This is not to be confused with the kingdom of Locke, where her betrothed (Cassius I think) is from. Locke took that name because something happened to him and he didn’t remember his name, so that’s just where he was found? It was confusing and pretty pointless. I hope this comes up later with some big twist or something because honestly there was no other reason for it. Why not just name him after some other random kindgom instead? In any case, I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. It was gross. She has some sparks with Cassius at their wedding announcement party but quickly finds out he is sketchy and is HEARTBROKEN by this BETRAYAL and TURN OF EVENTS!!!! for some reason, even though she knew him for five minutes and felt some instant attraction. So, of course, she’s kind of guarding herself around Locke, and that’s a little slow-burn-esque. I just didn’t care anymore.
Magic and worldbuilding: The concept was really unique; I’ve never personally read a book where the magic system is based on storms and weather-related events. That being said, I’m still incredibly baffled as to how it actually works. I left the book with so many questions and just blatantly not understanding the system. There are stormhearts and stormhunters and stormlings. What the hell is all that?! Sometimes fantasy books make me feel stupid because I just can’t grasp the system of magic. Unfortunately that happened here for me.
Overall and ending: Sooo, combining all of those elements led to a boring reading experience for me. The book felt super long because the 350+ pages of the ARC had the smallest font EVER and probably would be like 400+ pages with a normal font. I was generally intrigued by the ending because some revelations happened. There’s a good setup for the next book, so honestly I thinkkk I’ll continue with the series?? Could be a bad decision, but we’ll see.
I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Trusting You & Other Lies by Nicole Williams
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published by Penguin Random House on June 20th 2017
Format: eARC (304 pages) • Source: Publisher
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Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years—do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum—the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out—and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?
I’m going to keep this one straight to the point, because I can’t think of much to say. I kind of sped through this book but didn’t really enjoy it much. The premise is that Phoenix, her parents, and her little brother (Harry) have been going through some rough times over the past two years. They’re invited by a friend to a family-oriented summer camp, so Phoenix takes a job as a counselor while her parents and brother participate in activities.
I feel like I was really grouchy while reading this book. Maybe I thought I was in the mood for it, forced myself to read it, and then didn’t enjoy it? I’m trying to put myself in the main character’s shoes and figure out if I would have had the same reactions or thoughts, and I just can’t do it.
What I liked: The setting was fun! I always enjoy a good summer camp book. Harry was a seriously adorable younger brother and I liked his character a lot. He was definitely mature for his age and super smart. The romance was okay (more on that later) and I didn’t hate it, so it’s worth mentioning in this space too. There were some decent family feels.
What I didn’t like: Ugh. The whole story was centered around ~trust issues~ and that’s a topic I honestly avoid usually. I think it’s because I personally give people a lot of chances and the benefit of the doubt, so it’s REALLY hard to get in the head of someone who is the complete opposite. One chance and that’s it; if you break it, you don’t get it back ever again no matter what. I know there are a lot of people who take that approach but I just can’t. Phoenix was incredibly hard to relate to in that way. Everything was related to trust for her. It seemed like a HUGE stretch, as if this author was tasked specifically for writing a book about trust and had to insert that word/topic into every page in order to meet the writing assignment’s requirements. She was an overdramatic character and all the trust issues invited a loooot of angst into the storyline. Her issues with her parents really weren’t that bad, in my opinion? There are many people who have much worse situations and she was very selfish. I think a lot of those characteristics were just part of her being a teenager, so I get that. I did kind of like Callum and Phoenix but their banter was forced and I didn’t enjoy it. (I feel like that’s the first time I’ve ever not enjoyed banter and somewhat hate-to-love.) I think it’s possible to have immediate connections to people but I didn’t buy it here.