Thursday, February 24, 2022

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

I read House of Earth and Blood back in 2020 when it was released, but for some reason never got around to reviewing it. ๐Ÿ˜… I recently reread the book in anticipation of House of Sky and Breath's release (which was good since I'd forgotten a few things about the story) and decided to review it now. Better late than never, right? Maas didn't disappoint with the first book in her Crescent City series, so I hope the second one isn't a letdown (looking at you, A Court of Silver Flames). 

I want to start by saying I noticed a lot of similarities (maybe references?) to ACOTAR during my reread that I failed to see when I read the book for the first time, but I'm going to save those comparisons for another post since I want this one to be spoiler-free. I could also be grasping at straws, but I think my thoughts have merit. I can't wait to share them with those of you who've read both series and see what your opinions are!

I absolutely loved Bryce and her no-nonsense attitude. Alphaholes has been added to my vocabulary and I plan on using the term often. Although, I do wish she gave certain people the benefit of the doubt, but I can see where she's coming from. Bryce has had a lot of bad experiences being half-human and half-fae, so her jaded attitude towards dominant males is understandable. Especially when one of those males is her father. I'm still unsure how I feel about him as a character - after his confession during the Summit - but still can't forgive his actions towards Bryce and even Ruhn. 

Maas destroyed me at the beginning of this book. I was wholly unprepared for what happened, and it took me a while to get over my initial shock. It wasn't any better during the reread, because I knew what was coming and that it was unavoidable. Although, it did make me appreciate those interactions and conversations more. Going into this book for a second time gave me a new appreciation for certain aspects of the story and allowed me to look for clues and threads that would be revealed later on in the book. 

Danika and the Pack of Devils are some of my favorite characters, regardless of how brief their interactions were. I really wish we'd gotten to see more of them throughout the book, but I can understand the importance of the story happening the way that it did. 

Sabine can go jump into a river and drown.

Hunt is Hunt. I adored him as a character, and my heart broke every time Micah Gave him another file. He wanted his freedom so badly and was even willing to sacrifice pieces of his soul to achieve it. I'm so happy he found Bryce and that they had each other to lean on, and I enjoyed seeing their friendship take shape. It made me happy to watch them go from acquaintances that were being forced to work together, to actual friends that depended on one another. She had his back and he had hers, and they would literally go to the ends of the earth if it meant helping each other.

The sexual tension in this book was palpable, and I'm disappointed Maas didn't let it go any further than it did. Bryce and Hunt were conveniently interrupted every time they started to act on their feelings. It was a little annoying by the end when I thought they'd FINALLY have their moment, only to be stopped before anything could really start. Don't even get me started on how House of Sky and Breath starts... Ridiculous. 

This book is PHENOMENAL. I never wanted to put it down, but once I got to Chapter 68 it was impossible to stop reading. The culmination of this story is just... WOW. There are no words to describe just how amazing the last part of House of Earth and Blood is. I don't know how Maas plans and builds her stories, but damn she's good (still ignoring you ACOSF).

There were a few inconsistencies that I wish someone had caught, but they're easy enough to overlook. For example, on page 225 Lehabah was "curling along Syrinx's side," but then on 226 she "flowed toward the distant shelves behind them," and then a few sentences later she's wrapping "Syrinx's tail around herself like a fur shawl."

Another example would be Bryce's choice of shoes. On page 249 she was walking, "her heels eating up the pavement," and on 251 she's running, "despite the flimsy flats she'd switched into at the gallery."

Hunt's eyes are yet another example. On page 346 Bryce comments: "He was close enough that she realized his eyes weren't black after all, but rather a shade of darkest brown." But every other time she mentions his eyes, they're black (even after this realization). On page 410 she thinks, "His face was flushed, and his eyes . . . Fucking Solas, his black eyes glittered, wholly fixed on her face."

These are small details that don't really affect the overall story, but I thought they were worth mentioning since they caught my eye. They didn't diminish my overall enjoyment of the story or my love for its characters. Maas is really adept at fleshing out her secondary characters - even the ones I love to hate.

Lehabah, Syrinx, Aidas, Jesiba, June, Fury, Isaiah - all amazing, wonderful characters that I want to learn more about. Their roles range in importance throughout the book, but I think they're all vital to making this book one of the best I've ever read. However, I do wish Bryce's mother had been... warmer. She's so hostile - even towards Bryce sometimes - and it really grated on my nerves. She has a damn good reason to be protective of her daughter, but I still think she should have at least smiled and been happy around daughter every once in a while. She was almost Fae herself with that chip on her shoulder; the cold way she observed the world and everyone in it. 

House of Earth and Blood made me ugly cry numerous times, even during my reread. Maas likes to hit you where it hurts and then keep throwing punches. My poor, poor heart. If you haven't picked this one up yet, definitely give it a shot! It's worth it. Hopefully (!!!) Aidas is in the next book along with some answers. (★★★★★)
Stop reading if you haven't read the book! Small spoiler: How did Hunt and Viktoria get on the barge? I know Justinian painted his wings black to go unnoticed while flying, but he wouldn't have been able to carry the other two by himself. Since it was the Viper Queen's boat and there was nothing else in the water, how'd they get there?

Stop reading if you haven't read this book or A Court of Silver Flames! Another small spoiler: Additionally, why does Maas keep having her characters toss things into the water never to be seen or heard of again??? First, Cassian and his gift for Nesta and now Viktoria. 

Stop reading if you haven't read the book! Small spoiler: Speaking of leaving things... why did Bryce set the sword and her phone down? Both were on her person while she was fighting - the former on her back and the latter in her pocket - so it doesn't make sense that she'd leave them against a wall (especially considering how important the sword was). It's also incredibly frustrating that it wasn't mentioned again at the end of the book, yet Bryce comments on having to get a new phone. I feel like the Fendyr sword is a little more important. 

Stop reading if you haven't read the book! Small spoiler: Bryce gave up her eternal resting place for Danika, right? Danika then uses the last spark of her life to help Bryce make the Drop, so her essence is no longer in the Bone Quarter... does that mean Bryce gets her spot back? Or did they both just doom themselves to a nonexistence after death?

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Mirror Girls by Kelly McWilliams [Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway]

Halito! Welcome to the next stop on the Mirror Girls blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Thanks for stopping by today, and don't forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom! For the full tour schedule, please visit the Rockstar Book Tours website.

    About The Book:
    Author: Kelly McWilliams
    Pub. Date: February 8, 2022
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
    Pages: 320
    Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD,

    A thrilling gothic horror novel about biracial twin sisters separated at birth, perfect for fans of Lovecraft Country and The Vanishing Half

    As infants, twin sisters Charlie Yates and Magnolia Heathwood were secretly separated after the brutal lynching of their parents, who died for loving across the color line. Now, at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, Charlie is a young Black organizer in Harlem, while white-passing Magnolia is the heiress to a cotton plantation in rural Georgia.

    Magnolia knows nothing of her racial heritage, but secrets are hard to keep in a town haunted by the ghosts of its slave-holding past. When Magnolia finally learns the truth, her reflection mysteriously disappears from mirrors—the sign of a terrible curse. Meanwhile, in Harlem, Charlie's beloved grandmother falls ill. Her final wish is to be buried back home in Georgia—and, unbeknownst to Charlie, to see her long-lost granddaughter, Magnolia Heathwood, one last time. So Charlie travels into the Deep South, confronting the land of her worst nightmares—and Jim Crow segregation.

    The sisters reunite as teenagers in the deeply haunted town of Eureka, Georgia, where ghosts linger centuries after their time and dangers lurk behind every mirror. They couldn’t be more different, but they will need each other to put the hauntings of the past to rest, to break the mirrors’ deadly curse—and to discover the meaning of sisterhood in a racially divided land.


    "Steeped in atmosphere, equal parts ghost and sororal love story, McWilliams has written a pitch-perfect southern gothic thriller about race, family, and what it means to call a place home."―Christina Hammonds Reed, award-winning author of The Black Kids

    "A moving story about sisterhood and perseverance in the face of a society that tells Black girls they are worthless."―Booklist

    “MIRROR GIRLS is a spine-tingling, empowering look at justice and civil action that urges readers to be aware, to be true to themselves and to take action. As Magnolia observes, ‘As twin sisters, white and Black, we are a symbol of coming victory. A promise of change.’”―BookPage, starred review

    "A spooky Southern gothic ghost story. "―BCCB

    About Kelly McWilliams:

    Kelly McWilliams is a mixed-race writer. She is the author of Doormat and Agnes at the End of the World. She lives in Seattle with her family.

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

    Giveaway Details:
    3 winners will receive a finished copy of MIRROR GIRLS, US Only.