Welcome to my stop on the Within Ash and Stardust book tour. This is the third book in the Xenith Trilogy by Chani Lynn Feener.
Huge thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy and for including My Endless Shelf in the blog tour!
Before I get into the full review, if you want to avoid spoilers and haven't read the first two books in the series, feel free to check those out at the following links - Book 1: Amid Stars and Darkness and Book 2: Between Frost and Fury.
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Xenith Trilogy #3
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.
On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.
But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.
Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.
I can't believe it's finally here! The last instalment of a series that I fell in love with back in 2017 and have been desperately waiting for since the cliffhanger that left me absolutely reeling at the end of book two - honestly it was one of the most heart-wrenching cliffhangers ever and gave me ALL THE FEELS!!
I love this author's writing style, I've read a lot of her other books and her writing style is so easy to fall into, her characters are relatable and likeable and her world building is fantastic. She does seem to enjoy writing love triangles and for the most part, I do enjoy the complicated relationships.
I've been following the journey of Delaney from out-of-place Earth girl to the heir of an alien planet with rapture. Delaney is completely relatable, in book one she was frightened, in book two she was angry and in book three she's determined to make her own choices and forge her own path.
Some parts of the plot in this book did give me moments of deja-vu, especially in terms of Delaney being put into corners she can't get out of but there were plenty of new elements too with new character revelations, plot twists and more alien culture.
I did have a pretty big problem with Ruckus in this book. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that I've been Team Trystan from book 1, so it's no shock that Ruckus isn't my favourite character. Trystan is a big, sullen sweetheart with a cheeky side that's just irresistible. Ruckus was a solid character for me in book 1, who I did like, but who, in book 2, was so clearly not the one for Delaney. Whilst reading Within Ash and Stardust I felt as though Ruckus's character just disappeared in terms of depth, he was pretty pathetic, trailing after Delaney like a puppy dog and with seemingly no personality at all. I mean, at one point the book reads:
"He didn't want to be an Ander anymore, he realised with a start. He just wanted to be Ruckus Wux. Boyfriend of Delaney Grace."
Which is pretty pathetic really, especially for someone who in the first book was portrayed as a tough-as-nails soldier.
The romance in this book is also a little off compared to the last book, where things between Trystan and Delaney had started to heat up despite the frigid ending. In this book, Delaney is all over the place trying to choose between Ruckus and Trystan (when the choice was clear from the start!) and it felt a little awkward, with the ending seeming a little too clean-cut. It had lost some of the sizzle that I'd enjoyed in Between Frost and Fury.
However, there is plenty of action in this book and the pace is great, I didn't want to put the book down at all. There's also more culture and world-building, especially in terms of the Dust Market which is both strange and wonderful.
I like that Delaney finally manages to break free of her chains in this book, to some extent, and can make her own choices and do what she believes is right instead of what's already been decided for her.
Overall, this was a nice end to what I feel is a very underrated YA series and one that opened the gates to sci-fi for me, but with the romance toned down, it felt as though it was suddenly aimed at a slightly younger audience.
My favourite book of the series has to be Between Frost and Fury, with Amid Stars and Darkness coming in at a close second.
I've truly enjoyed following Delaney's journey, exploring these new worlds, meeting interesting new characters and falling in love with Trystan's sweet, cinnamon centre along the way.
I can't wait to see what this author does next!
As always, you can add the book to your Goodreads TBR by clicking on the book cover above and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!
To win a print copy of Within Ash and Stardust enter the giveaway below (US/CAN only).
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Folk of the Air #2
How I got this book: Bought
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
If you haven't already read the first book in The Folk of the Air series, feel free to check out my review of The Cruel Prince and stop reading to avoid potential spoilers from book one.
This book is complicated.
I don't know if I've ever read a book before where I've absolutely hated 99% of all the characters but still loved just how vile and repulsive they are.
They're so evil. ALL OF THEM ARE EVIL. Including the author because that ending was not fair!
The two characters I hate the most are Taryn and Locke, which makes them pretty well suited to each other. I love how at the beginning of book one we were presented with this meek, gentle and docile image of Taryn but as the book progressed she turned out to be the worst sister in the world.
Jude is fantastic. I love her ferocity even in the face of impossible odds and certain defeat. She's cunning, clever and complex and yet still manages to be blindsided by others (don't worry Jude, you're not alone!)
Cardan is still a, well, there aren't really words for what/how he is and I still have some huge problems about their relationship dynamic but the chemistry and tension between the two are so palpable that it seeps from the pages.
The plot twists in this book are EPIC! If you were shocked by The Cruel Prince trust me when I say that you won't even know what to make of The Wicked King. My jaw is still somewhere on the floor where it dropped whilst reading that ending...
The storytelling is compulsive. This book is filled with more politics than the first, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I was so excited to see new places and more backstory from several characters.
If you love fantasy with a dark, foreboding edge, an unpredictable plot line and characters you love to hate, you'll love The Wicked King.
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Genre: Paranormal Romance/LGBT
Standalone/Series: Green Creek #1
How I got this book: Bought
Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Trigger warnings: Mental/physical/child abuse.
If you've been reading my blog for a while or you're following me on Twitter, you'll know that TJ Klune has quickly become one of my favourite writers. I can't get enough of his immersive writing style and I absolutely love how diverse his characters and the genres he writes in are. I've only read two other books of his so far, one being a SCI-Fi whilst the other is a more epic fantasy.
So far, I've loved everything I've read by this author and Wolfsong is no exception.
It all starts with Ox. Sweet, beautiful Ox who's unlike anyone else. He's plagued by the words of his father. Telling him he's too stupid, too dumb, too slow. He's kind. He's strong. He's brave. He's so loving. He's the cornerstone of this whole book and I am in awe of who he is and who he becomes.
TJ writes characters that are vivid and diverse. His dialogue is so real that you can just hear it in your head without any effort. Each character is unique and I love the development arcs for each and every one.
What's great is that even though Ox is the narrator of this book, you still see so much growth from the others that they all feel like main characters.
The romance in this book is a scorching slow burn, friends-to-lovers relationship that builds steadily throughout the book until it consumes you.
The plot line is seriously epic, the action is fantastic, the creatures and backstory are so detailed and full of pain, love and ALL THE FEELS that I'm so not over it. Not even a little bit.
I love that, whilst there are a lot of darker, tense moments, there's still plenty of humour and there are so many fantastic, complex relationships to explore; friends, brothers, parents, family, pack.
I mixed things up a little on this read, sometimes reading the eBook, other times listening to the audio-book and the narration by Kirt Graves was brilliant and so very immersive.
Wolfsong draws you in, grabs hold of your heart, tears it apart, repairs the fragments and leaves you not quite whole but wanting more.
This is a paranormal shifter novel done absolutely right!
Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Contemporary YA/LGBT
How I got this book: Won in a Twitter competition!
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?
Trigger Warnings: homophobia, panic attacks, mental health and cheating.
I had such high expectations for this book, something that doesn't usually happen, but was probably caused by the enormous amount of hype surrounding this collaboration and the fact that I absolutely loved Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Sadly, for me, the hype and expectations fell just a little short of the reality.
Don't get me wrong, in no way was the book bad, it just didn't quite meet those expectations and I was left with some pretty mixed feelings once I put the book down.
I loved the writing style of this book, I was initially a little worried about how Adam and Becky's styles would fit together since they're both so different, but the collaboration works really well and I quickly fell into the story.
Personally, I feel that What If It's Us is very much a Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda meets They Both Die at the End crossover. You can see that in the writing style and I love that you can immediately tell which author 'wrote' each character and that they pretty much wrote fictional versions of themselves, which is kind of adorable.
"Box boy dates guys.
I'M A GUY."
Arthur is very cute, and very naive, and he reminds me so much of Simon, but I do feel that he has a few character flaws, particularly his jealousy and overreaction to certain things about Ben's past, that, considering they only just met, make me feel that he has no real justification to act the way he does.
The actual relationship was pretty realistic (for the most part) although I felt as though maybe one too many cliche's were thrown into the mix and there were a LOT of pop culture references that may go over the heads of people who aren't musical theatre/Harry Potter lovers.
"I mean, I don't want to read too much into things, but wow: I meet a cute boy, and five seconds later, I'm in the middle of a flash mob marriage proposal? Could this message from the universe be any clearer?"
I liked the secondary characters, Dylan being my favourite character of the whole book, I just loved his openness. He's really adorable.
It might be an unpopular opinion, but I don't really feel that there's a huge amount of chemistry between Arthur and Ben, especially from Ben, who I never really feel is 100% invested in making things work and who treats Arthur kind of badly. I actually think he displays more chemistry with his ex than with Arthur.
That being said, this book does an important job in terms of the representation, it manages to address both homophobia and racism, whilst showing some cultural differences between the two characters, Ben who is Puerto Rican and Arthur who's Jewish, and who also has ADHD. It was also really nice to see the strong familial bonds in this book, and to see supportive, accepting parents.
What If It's Us started off as a very cute gay fairytale and it really was, for the most part, but Adam's more tragic/sad style took the story in a direction that I hadn't expected, giving a very non-typical, in some ways 'unhappy' ending that leaves a lot open for the reader to think about. Happy endings are kind of my thing, so I'm not going to lie, the unconventional ending isn't my favourite thing about this book but it still works.
"I guess that's any relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything."
Overall though, this is a very sweet YA romance, packed to the brim with important messages about sexuality, love, racism, friendship, privilege and much more.
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Standalone/Series: Sequel to The Story of Us but can be read as a standalone
How I got this book: ARC from Grand Central Station
Some of you might know that Tara Sivec is one of my all-time favourite romance authors and so, I was thrilled to get my hands on an ARC of her new novel, Wish You Were Mine.
Wish You Were Mine is the sequel to The Story of Us, although it can be read as a stand-alone.
From the USA Today bestselling author of The Story of Us and Fisher’s Light comes a new, standalone novel—a heart-wrenching story about first loves and second chances that will make you fall in love all over again….
Five years. I would’ve stayed away longer if I hadn’t received the letter. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about her, haven’t missed her smile, haven’t wished that things were different.
The last time I saw my two best friends, I vowed to not stand in the way of their happiness, even if that meant I couldn’t be a part of their lives. Cameron James and her emerald-green eyes were too much of a temptation and I couldn’t stay and watch them together. Cameron deserved better than me. She deserved him.
But now that I am back, things are different. I’m not going to stand by and watch the woman I’ve always loved slip away again. I’m done living my life with regrets and I’m ready to tell her the truth. And I’ll do whatever it takes to show her that I always wished she was mine.
I know, right? You can already tell it's going to be amazing!
Wish You Were Mine is a beautiful, haunting second-chance love story. This book will break and heal your heart whilst simultaneously making you laugh, smile and cry.
I read this book in one sitting (that lasted a good few hours) because I just could not put it down. (I'd apologise to my family for my absence but I'm pretty sure they're used to it by now.)
Aiden's letter had me entranced and welling up from the start. All of the characters are real, believable and witty and their journey is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Tara's characters always leave a lasting impression, even the ones who don't make it (if you read The Story of Us, you'll know who I mean). In Wish You Were Mine, the three main characters Cameron, Everett and Aiden are supported by a fantastic array of characters including Cam's best friend Millie, Everett's brother Jason and Cam's parents Eli and Shelby (it was a real joy to see how their happy ending and how things came full circle for them at the end).
I love Tara's writing style and her dual POV that allows you to really connect with each character, to feel and experience their thoughts and emotions which made this story extremely powerful. I lost all track of time as I was drawn into the lives of Cam and Everett.
If you loved The Story of Us, or Fisher's Light, Cam and Everett will steal your heart. Their love is so powerful it bursts from the pages. I often found myself cursing the characters for not seeing what was right in front of them, but the way Tara perfectly illustrates their personal journey and the steps which lead them back to each other will leave your heart in tatters.
If you love second-chance romance stories, inseparable best friends and life changing relationships, you need to read Wish You Were Mine.
FYI, whilst some of the characters in this book were introduced in The Story of Us, it can be read as a stand-alone. But for those of us, like me, who fell in love with Rylan, it was not only lovely to see how he was honoured in this book, but also to find a similarly amazing character in Aiden.
5 stars from me and definitely a book I'll remember!
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Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, aspiring writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
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