Life’s A Beach Book Tag

Tabitha at Behind the Pages tagged me in this book tag well over a month ago. Only now am I getting around to it, sheepishly. The Life’s a Beach book tag was created by Lefty on on Left Hand Book Lover, but I saw it on Tabitha’s blog. Check out Tabitha’s answers here. Make sure to mention that Lefty is the creator, and tag who tagged you, if you choose to participate!

I tag Mint at Mint Loves Books, Emma at Bookmarked Dreamscapes, and whoever else finds this fun!

The Sand
A book that stuck with you long after you finished reading

I mean, if you saw any of my posts during the Christmas 2021 season, then you can probably predict my answer. A Court of Mist and Fury stuck with me for a long time after I read it. Ultimately, this book pushed me to start a book review blog so I’d have others to chat to about books. I really want to reread it, but that will probably have to wait until the mid-year.

The Sun
A book that burned you

I think this means one I had hopes for, but then in the end didn’t pan out for me? If so, then that would be Immortal Souls. The cover drew me in on NetGalley, but ultimately the pacing was way too fast and nearly all of the characters were flat. Plus I felt like I was inadvertently “tricked” into reading a Christian fantasy novel (not my personal cup of tea), which wasn’t indicated in the official synopsis.

The Waves
A book that calms you down after a long day

I know this author no longer has a great reputation, but I can’t erase the fact that Harry Potter brought me a lot of joy in my high school years. It still brings me joy, I can’t lie about that. When I’m in a lull sometimes I go back and read where I left off in my very, very slow reread of the series. I think right now I’m somewhere in the middle of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The Bathing Suit
A book with a pretty, summer-y cover

I haven’t read this yet, but I did a spotlight for a BBNYA 2021 blog tour, hosted by The Write Reads. Beneath Cruel Fathoms has waves on its book cover, which is quintessential beach/summer in my mind. This is probably my perception, but I feel like most books with summer-y covers are contemporary fiction, which I don’t read much of. So at this point in time I don’t have many options from which to choose.

The Birds
A book that is everywhere

I choose A Court of Thorns and Roses. This is probably due to the algorithm’s knowledge of my love of fantasy books. Or, rather, fantasy romance books. But I see it pop up everywhere, particularly on Instagram since those are the hashtags and/or accounts I interact with.

The Company
A book with wonderful characters

I had a hard time choosing between The Bone Shard Daughter or The Bone Ships, but ultimately chose the former. Mephi in The Bone Shard Daughter won me over and is my favorite character in the book. He’s not the main character, but he’s pretty darn cute.

The Ice-Cold Drinks
A book you absolutely gulped down

An Enchantment of Ravens is a book I gulped down. Though it has one of my least favorite tropes (instalove), I otherwise enjoyed it. It was a nice escape from the demands of post house move.

The Fun Memories
A book you can’t wait to return to

Definitely the whole A Court of Thorns and Roses series, but also Half Sick of Shadows. I borrowed this from the library and ended up loving it so much I bought myself a used copy. There’s so much beautiful imagery and writing in this book. I can’t wait to read and savor it again.

ARC Review: Immortal Souls by Phoenix Vieira

Author: Phoenix Vieira
Publisher: Koa Tales
Publish Date: December 12, 2021
Print Length: 264

Official Synopsis
Immortal Souls is the fast-paced first book in an epic new fantasy series that blends unexpected mythology and faerie lore, romance and intrigue into an unforgettable read.

A fallen Empire. A forbidden royal romance. An ancient treaty with the Fae.

In a world tainted by greed and rebellion, death prowls the shadows of the once glorious Sun Empire, waiting to devour those who dare fight back.

Corvus, heir to the most powerful House, is a threat to the Emperor, despite being the dearest friend of Crown Princess Saphyr. When the Emperor forbids their friendship, Corvus forms an Alliance to overthrow him, until betrayal forces Corvus into exile.

After the lethal Queen of the Sirens emerges from the secret realm of Sirenibus, Corvus is tempted by an irresistible deal at a dangerous price. Caught up in a conspiracy and a war between light and darkness, can he and Saphyr save the people from a terrible destiny and restore the Empire to its former glory? Or will Corvus have to sacrifice more than he is willing to give? Will his life be enough, or will it also demand his soul?

My Review
I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

The first thing that drew me in to this book on NetGalley was the gorgeous cover. The male character, Corvus, on the cover art reminded me of the description of the Elf King in Elise Kova’s A Deal With the Elf King. The official blurb is also compelling, suggesting forbidden love, political intrigue, and death. The writing is decent and overall the plot has the good bones of a decent, but somewhat conventional, story. Unfortunately, this is where my positive comments stop, so I’ll keep this review to three main opinions.

One of the major aspects of this story is that Corvus is essentially forbidden from marrying Saphyr. Her father, the Emperor, doesn’t want to see Corvus on the throne. When she comes of age, he basically throws her eligibility to the highest bidder. Given her importance to Corvus, one would think Saphyr would have more page time; especially since she’s in most of the story. Instead she’s shoved to the background of in the way a tertiary character might be. She’s this delicate flower whose hair smells like nectarines every time Corvus gets close to her. In short, she’s a very flat character with almost no personality.

I’m sorry to say it, but I didn’t really like/couldn’t get attached to any of the characters. I think the pacing of the story, which is too fast, has a lot to do with that. At the very beginning the author throws us into Corvus’s point of view right before a coup. There’s constant action. Most of the writing is dialogue, including any form of self-reflection. I almost felt like I was reading a play. The non-dialogue portions were, generally, nice to read. I think this book could have benefitted more from these descriptive passages.

Lastly, the unexpected incorporation of the Christian God and loose religious discussion scattered throughout surprised me. It felt like a bait and switch since the synopsis didn’t indicate this story would fall more in the realm of YA Christian fantasy. No shade to those who enjoy it. But if I had known beforehand I would have passed since that genre isn’t for me. I think this is a large reason why the romance portion is so chaste and flat. Twice the author makes sure to mention that Corvus sits on top of the blankets on Saphyr’s bed rather than under them. I don’t mind if there’s a religious system in a fantasy book, but the God discussion occurred abruptly one third of the way through the book. Only near the end is it emphasized that the Emperor is “chosen” by God, something that could have been set up better at the beginning of the book.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that. I have other thoughts, but I don’t want to belabor my opinions. I think the publisher should perhaps adjust their marketing a little bit to indicate this leans more towards YA Christian fantasy. Perhaps that might prevent a mismatch between what a reader’s expectations from the synopsis and what’s actually in the story.

Rating: 2.25/5
Content warnings: allusion to torture
Reading format: Kindle e-book

WWW Wednesday: December 8, 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme revived and hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The idea is to answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses.

What are you currently reading?

What have you just finished reading?

What are you going to read next?

I haven’t posted one of these in a hot minute, so let’s get going.

Currently Reading: I’m currently still reading Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian. I really need to finish this one since it’s due back to the library soon. Typically I read one book at a time, but lately I’ve been reading multiple. So I’m also reading Prophecy of Love by T. Satterfield and The Cicada Tree by Robert Gwaltney. Both of these are from NetGalley.

Recently Finished: I just finished reading a NetGalley ARC of Immortal Souls by Phoenix Vieira. I submitted my review to NetGalley already, but expect to see it on my blog on December 13. As I mentioned in my November wrap-up, I also finished The Girl of Dorcha Wood by Kristin Ward for a blog tour.

Reading Next: After I finish the above books, I’m not sure what I’ll pick up next. I expected to have Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen in hand from my library by this point, but for some reason it’s still “on order.” My county is usually pretty quick with making new releases available for readers, so I’m a bit surprised that it’s been over a month since the release date and my library still doesn’t have it available. I can’t help but wonder if this might be related to supply chains? If I’m still waiting for this book to come in by the time I finish some NetGalley ARCs, I’ll probably just keep going that route.