Reviews in a Minute: And So Begin the 2019 Reviews!

Can you believe that it’s time for 2019 reviews to start? Yeah, me either. These were all actually surprises- one pleasant, the others… less so. Let’s get to it!

Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen
All Is Fair by Dee Garretson
Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye



Reviews in a Minute: And So Begin the 2019 Reviews! Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen
Series: The Elementae #2
Published by Bloomsbury YA on January 22, 2019
Pages: 416
Format:ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
GoodreadsAmazonBook Depository

Stolen from her family as a child, Aspasia has clawed her way up the ranks of Cyrus's black market empire to captain her own trading vessel--and she risks it all every time she uses her powerful magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can.

But Cyrus is close to uncovering her secrets--not only that Aspasia is an air Elementa with the ability to sail her ship through the sky, but that she is also searching for her lost family. And if Aspasia can’t find her younger siblings before Cyrus does, she will never be able to break free.

Armed with her loyal crew full of Elementae and a new recruit who controls an intriguing power, Aspasia finds herself in the center of a brewing war that spans every inch of the ocean, and her power alone may not be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom.

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I liked book one, Reign the Earth, but I didn’t really love it, so I went into this one with a little hesitation. So imagine my happiness when I really, really liked it!

The Things I Liked:

  • Aspasia and her crew are awesome. I was worried when I realized that this was from Aspasia’s POV, because the characters were my favorite part of the first book. But I needn’t have! Aspasia is a fabulous character, and her story was one I loved reading. Her story and her life circumstances are quite different from Saskia’s in Reign the Earth, but both women are passionate and care deeply about the people around them without being too similar. And while Saskia has a deep love for her blood-related family, Aspasia has created her own family on her ship (and yes, still is deeply concerned for her blood-family). I loved the nuances of all the relationships of the crew, too. Felt incredibly authentic for them to have such different and deep bonds. Also, none of them is perfect. Including (especially?) Aspasia. Which only makes her more interesting, as flaws can.
  • There is romance, and yes I love it. A ship on a ship, YAY, I love when puns work out. Even telling you who the ship involves would be a spoiler, so that’s all I’ll say. But I am here for every last bit of it, and I think you’ll see why.
  • The plot just seemed so much more engaging! I mean, you’re dealing with some really tough issues here- Aspasia has to balance out her survival with capturing (and in some cases, freeing) slaves for goodness sake. It’s… a lot. But it also provides for a lot of really compelling scenes and a lot of gray morality. I mean- I think we can all agree that capturing slaves is awful, but when the motives are an attempt to free at least some of them… well, you see what I am saying, there’s a lot of thought provoking stuff to ponder.
  • Obviously, there are feels! Lots of them, as you can imagine! Which is why I love when a book really makes you think, makes you wonder what you’d do, etc. It just pulls at the heartstrings.

The Things I Didn’t:

  • Maybe this is a little picky, but I did want to know what happened (in more detail!) to book one’s group! I mean, we did get a some update, but since I was pretty invested in them, I’d have liked to gotten a bit more closure in that respect. Though I have seen some reviews mentioning a third book? So Idk maybe I am confused and it’s a trilogy, in which case… guess you can go ahead and disregard this point, but at the time of reviewing, this is listed as a two book series, so.
  • I did see some of the plot points coming. It didn’t totally mess up my enjoyment of the book, but it’s worth noting that I guessed some of the stuff pretty quickly.

Bottom Line: A very strong sequel, with a group of characters that somehow beats out their (very formidable) predecessors, all while amping up the action tenfold.


Reviews in a Minute: And So Begin the 2019 Reviews! All Is Fair by Dee Garretson
Published by Swoon Reads on January 22, 2019
Pages: 288
Format:ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
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Lady Mina Tretheway knows she's destined for greater things than her fancy boarding school, where she's being taught to be a proper English lady. It's 1918, and war is raging across Europe. Unlike her father and brother, who are able to assist in the war effort, Mina is stuck sorting out which fork should be used with which dinner course.

When Mina receives a telegram that's written in code, she finally has her chance to do something big. She returns to her childhood home of Hallington Manor, joined by a family friend, Lord Andrew Graham, and a dashing and mysterious young American, Lucas. The three of them must band together to work on a dangerous project that could turn the tide of the war.

Thrilled that she gets to contribute to the war effort at least, Mina jumps headfirst into the world of cryptic messages, spycraft, and international intrigue. She, Lucas, and Andrew have to work quickly, because if they don't succeed, more soldiers will disappear into the darkness of war.Lady Mina Tretheway knows she's destined for greater things than her fancy boarding school, where she's being taught to be a proper English lady. It's 1918, and war is raging across Europe. Unlike her father and brother, who are able to assist in the war effort, Mina is stuck sorting out which fork should be used with which dinner course.

When Mina receives a telegram that's written in code, she finally has her chance to do something big. She returns to her childhood home of Hallington Manor, joined by a family friend, Lord Andrew Graham, and a dashing and mysterious young American, Lucas. The three of them must band together to work on a dangerous project that could turn the tide of the war.

Thrilled that she gets to contribute to the war effort at least, Mina jumps headfirst into the world of cryptic messages, spycraft, and international intrigue. She, Lucas, and Andrew have to work quickly, because if they don't succeed, more soldiers will disappear into the darkness of war.

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World War I books are basically unicorns. There are quite a few WWII books floating around, but WWI? So rare, and I was so excited to finally dive into one! Which is probably why my disappointment stings extra in this particular case. I keep trying to come up with more positives, because the Goodreads reviews I have skimmed seem to quite like this, so perhaps I am being a real black sheep here? Or perhaps it is that my expectations were too high? Regardless, I am having trouble. Anyway! Let’s start with positives!

The Good:

  • The second half picked up. After a slow start, the second half of the book did move at a much better pace.
  • The time period, it is awesome! Like I said, how many WWI books can you think of?

The Not-So-Good:

  • The first half was painfully slow. Especially for such a short book, it felt like nothing happened. There was a lot of chat about England and the War, and then a play, which… why? Why was that there? Perhaps I am missing something, but it didn’t exactly pull me in. I kept waiting for the exciting stuff and it just… it took awhile.
  • The setting didn’t even feel particularly special? I mean, considering we’re going for a “WWI England” vibe, I should be feeling that, yeah? It just didn’t seem memorable for me, that with a few minor changes it could have been anywhere, anytime.
  • I knew how basically all the things were going to play out. There’s a “twist” that I guessed in seriously the first few pages. Actually, is it even supposed to be a twist? Maybe this is my mistake.
  • It’s just all too easy. And I’m pretty sure that World Wars aren’t supposed to be easy? I never felt a sense of urgency. Sure, logically I knew it was a war, hence there would be, but I never felt it. It felt too safe, and things ended up working out wayyy too simply.
  • I felt zero connection to the characters. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want them to die in some fiery battle or anything, but I also probably wouldn’t lose any sleep over it if they had. Even Lina, who was supposed to be this “badass” girl, was just… kind of there. And not that I think every hero has to be super brave or fearless, not at all! But I just didn’t get any vibe from her, brave or otherwise. And, I kind of felt that the only reason she was “useful” was because of her privilege anyway, which would open up a whole other can of worms but I am too tired and apathetic to delve into it.
  • Shannon. Was. Bored. Honestly it just boils down to my sheer boredom and apathy. When you care about none of the characters, (correctly) feel like you know the whole plot, and find it plodding at best, you’re bound to be bored. And I was. Terribly so.

Bottom Line: I so, so badly wanted to love this. It just happens that I didn’t. 


Reviews in a Minute: And So Begin the 2019 Reviews! Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye
Series: Circle of Shadows #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 22, 2019
Pages: 464
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
GoodreadsAmazonBook Depository

A thrilling new fantasy series full of magic and betrayal—from Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of the Crown’s Game series.

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.


Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

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I hadn’t DNFed a book in a year and a half before I dove into this one. And I can honestly say I’ve never been sadder to not finish a book. But it simply was not going well. And I think this could very much be a case of “it isn’t the book, it’s me”, so please take this into account. Sometimes I don’t get along with fantasy as much as other genres, and sometimes it’s definitely me!  I made it to about…. 20% before I called it. And I hate calling it, as you know.

But I just couldn’t. I didn’t care about the magic or the characters. And it felt kind of similar to the author’s first series? Different location and such, but yeah. I could also tell where the romance was headed, the whole “we’re bonded so rules say we can’t be in love” bit, and I find that incredibly frustrating to read, so that didn’t help.

Bottom Line: I just couldn’t care, try as I might. So I stopped, rather than hate it and being more sad.

Have you read any of these books? Planning on it? Let’s talk about them! 

Posted December 28, 2018 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 20 Comments


20 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: And So Begin the 2019 Reviews!

  1. I’m the same with fantasy reads Shannon, I can only really get into milder fantasy, anything heavy and it just goes over my head while any enjoyment I might have had goes running out the door. It sounds super busy doesn’t it. Reign The Earth is a book I couldn’t get into either, I feel like I’m just hating on all the books lately but I was bored, put it down and forgot to pick it back up again. Might be worth me reading it again if it picks up by book two, I could be missing out on a super series. How is it almost 2019 already! I’m still picking my way through 2018 review copies!

    • Yes exactly! Now, there ARE some exceptions- sometimes I can do a more complicated one IF the author does a really thorough job explaining the world and such. This one didn’t even seem too complicated- it’s just… I could not bring myself to care hahah.

      I was pretty “meh” over Reign the Earth, so I wasn’t even that eager to start Imprison the SKy but I will fully admit to being wrong because it was quite good! Like no question a LOT better than its predecessor. That said… so many series, so little time, you know? 😂

      And dude. Seriously, this year has simultaneously felt like a decade, and also seven seconds. I think it is possessed 😂

  2. I still got one 2018 book to review then it’s all 2019 books for me as well. I’m glad Imprison the Sky did not suffer the dreaded sequel crisis. So sorry the other two books didn’t work for you. I agree WWI books are rare. I saw All is Fair and piqued by the cover and synopsis but I was wary that since it’s published by Swoon Reads that it might be romance centric? Nothing against romance, just not feeling reading it at the time. Anyways, hoping for a better reading year for all of us in 2019. Happy New Year, Shannon!

    • YAY nice job! I was lucky that I only had 3 December books- and I have SO many February books that I basically had no choice but to get a jump on these haha.

      I was worried about the same thing in regards to All is Fair. And in fairness (ha) it actually ISN’T romance centric. It’s just… nothing centric, IMO. I wanted to like it SO MUCH and I actually feel bad that I didn’t. Like sometimes it is fun to snark but I didn’t even want to be snarky, I just felt bad!

      Happy New Year to you too!! ♥

  3. Ohhh no I have Circle of Shadows to read lmao I’M SCARED NOW, THANKS, SHANNON. 😭😂And honestly I would’ve fallen asleep in All is Fair too so congrats on just finishing haha. (And I don’t feel ready for 2019 reviews,,,it’s too soon. How is it like 3 more days till the year is done?! I still need to review books from 2016.)

    • Sorrryyyyy! Tbh I really think it might have been a ME thing? Like I don’t even have a ton of criticism, just that I was bored.

      All is Fair, on the other hand.. wooooo boy, I am patting myself on the back for getting through that! Honestly the only reason I kept at it was because lying liars who lie on Goodreads said it picked up. But NOPE.

      Bwhahah see- I am a CHAMP at reading review books on time. But books I PURCHASED in 2012? Yeah they’re still glistening on my shelf, brand new and unopened 😂

  4. A sequel that may be more enjoyable than the first one is a rare treasure indeed haha- glad Imprison the Sky was so good! A “ship on a ship” though. Wow.

    Bummer about All Is Fair. I feel like WWI books ARE kinda rare? I have a couple suggestions though if you want ’em. No? Okay lol.

    DNF… yikes. Fantasy though… yeah (and it’s my favorite genre too, but sometimes…smh)…

    • HA look, you have to take puns where you can get them! It was fun though, piratey!

      YES I do want your suggestions, of course! I love reading that era- something about it…

      Right? Me DNFing is rarer than… Idk, George RR Martin finishing a GoT book! Fantasy IS hard sometimes- I do want to see what others think of this one. People seem to either love it or not bother finishing, which of course gave me second thoughts, because what if it picked up, right? Well after trying a second time, I REALLY gave up, so. I doubt the ending would have changed my life or whatever 😂

  5. I’m so excited to see that you loved Imprison the Sky! I really enjoyed the first book, so I’m eager to read book two. Too bad about All Is Fair. I also ended up with a copy of that and I’m a bit on the fence about reading it. :/ I’m not good with slow books. SUCH a bummer about Circle of Shadows! It has such a beautiful cover!

    • I think you will REALLY like Imprison the Sky, then! And I am almost hoping you read All Is Fair just to see if you feel the same- because I honestly feel like wait, how did all these glowing reviews read the same book I did?! Hah. I feel like Circle of Shadows might truly be a “me” thing- I mean, it wasn’t inherently awful or anything, so I do hope it’ll work for others!

  6. I’m happy to hear that Imprison the Sky was so much better. I had some problems with Reign the Earth, but I’m willing to give the sequel a try.

    Sorry you had to DNF. I didn’t connect with her other series so I had a feeling that Circle of Shadows wouldn’t work for me.

    • Oh yay, I hope you like it if you read it! I had some problems with RtE too, but this one was quite good I thought!

      Yeahhhh I think if you didn’t like the first series you definitely wouldn’t care much for this one- it felt quite similar to me!

  7. Aw, I’m sorry two of these were duds. I hadn’t heard of All is Fair until recently because I think the author is coming to a bookstore near me. Bummer the book just didn’t work for you!

    -Lauren

  8. You should call this – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am sad you had a DNF, though I am proud of you for not pushing through a book you were not enjoying. *pats you on back* All is Fair sounded promising, but if the beginning is that slow, I would never make it to the end.

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