New Adult, Uncategorized

My Review: The Raven King (All For the Game #2): by Nora Sakavic

Publish Date: March 31st, 2016

Number of Pages: 328 Pages

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing

Genre(s): New Adult

***Warning!! This review contains spoilers from the previous book in the trilogy! Continue reading at your own risk, you’ve officially been warned!!***

To see my review of book #1 – The Foxhole Court – Click HERE!

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the trilogy – click HERE!

Total Star Rating: 2.5 Stars

He was their family. They were his. They were worth every cut and bruise and scream.”

— Nora Sakavic, “The Raven King”

I wish so much that I loved this sequel like so many other fans do, and maybe this is just another case of the (self diagnosed) ADD I’ve formed during the stay at home with COVID since mid-March that’s made even enjoying a book a major chore because my anxiety and depression have made motivation almost nonexistent for mostly everything but mindlessly binge-watching Netflix and/or Hulu, but I couldn’t get into this book I’m afraid to say!

It wasn’t a completely negative experience at least; I can say I did notice quite a bit in this book that many others can appreciate: The author’s writing has improved quite a bit, and leaves you feeling much more emotionally involved with the characters because let me tell you… the characters are the saviors of these books! The plot moves slow, excessively slow in my opinion, but what really drives the story and gives it so much life are the characters and witnessing them slowly but surely becoming closer to each other, Neil Josten being a catalyst to make it happen. I’m a total sucker for those “found family” stories, especially the ones with a group of outcasts that all come from tragic backgrounds, believe they’ll never have anyone else care one bit about them, but then they form a family with others just like them and show vulnerability because they finally feel safe enough to reveal that side of them!

Literally, give me any works of fiction like that and I am HERE for it!

I can also appreciate the heavier, trigger heavy material that these books have to offer because lately it just feels like a lot of the mainstream literature is what I deem too “safe,” and the fact that these books have material like assault, rape, drugs and alcohol, violence, torture, etc. makes it feel surprisingly achingly real, but also mixed with some over-the-top vibes that remind me somewhat of the ridiculousness that the CW’s Riverdale tv show has become lately. With recent events in my home state of Minnesota and even all over the United States, I do have to point out that this may be my privilege talking because I haven’t experienced any of these traumatic situations in my life, so I know I need to watch how I scoff at people who take the trigger warnings in books more seriously. If anything, it’s shown me the importance of compassion and trying to look through the eyes of someone else and make sure they’re validated too.

I just have to say that the first large chunk of the book was just so BORING for me! I actually almost DNF’d this book because it was so hard to get through and I felt such little interest. I admit I kind of had similar feelings to the first book, but it felt like everything was even more elevated, but unfortunately that also was apparent with my lack of interest in the slower moments. The main highlight was learning more about the past of a lot of the characters, and it makes you really start to understand their methods, actions, and just the way they are in general. Andrew certainly has a traumatic past, to put it mildly!

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

The Foxes are a fractured mess, but their latest disaster might be the miracle they’ve always needed to come together as a team. The one person standing in their way is Andrew, and the only one who can break through his personal barriers is Neil.

Except Andrew doesn’t give up anything for free and Neil is terrible at trusting anyone but himself. The two don’t have much time to come to terms with their situation before outside forces start tearing them apart. Riko is intent on destroying Neil’s fragile new life, and the Foxes have just become collateral damage.

Neil’s days are numbered, but he’s learning the hard way to go down fighting for what he believes in, and Neil believes in Andrew even if Andrew won’t believe in himself.

They never pried, but it took him weeks to realize they didn’t have to. They didn’t ask for secrets; they settled for the breadcrumb truths of day to day life. They knew he hated vegetables but loved fruit, that his favorite color was gray, and that he didn’t like movies or loud music. They were things Neil understood only in terms of survival, but his teammates hoarded these insights like gold. They were piecing Neil together and building a real person around all of his lies. They found the parts of him no disguise could change.”

— Nora Sakavic, “The Raven King”

What I Liked:

  1. The Found Family Aesthetic! Like I said it before, I’m a huge slut for these kinds of stories! About to go all psychologist right now, but part of me feels like I’m really drawn to these stories because growing up, I never felt like I fit in anywhere, and that I was a huge outcast. I wasn’t necessarily bullied or a social pariah, but I wasn’t homecoming court material either… I was just there, you know? Having that experience, I really empathize with characters that have so much inner self doubt and have convinced themselves that no one will appreciate them, no one will care, and then barely hold it together when they do eventually find that family they’ve always secretly wanted! When Neil froze in pure shock at Nicky calling him a friend…. Man, did I feel that right in my heart!
  2. The “Raw” and “Heavy” Subject Matter! Maybe it’s not all handled the right way, and I did say this in the previous review too, but I still say I appreciate the darker themes and actions these books have shown. Imagine if shows like Riverdale and Elite were rated R, and that’s pretty much the same vibes as the All for the Game trilogy!
  3. More Character Development! The Foxhole Court was all about simply meeting the characters, so it was nice to see some major character development and motive reveals in The Raven King. I think some of it could’ve been revealed in a more interesting way, but it sure makes for you to maybe understand the characters a little more. You may still not like them a whole lot, but at least understand them a little better. Andrew was a great example of this. You really learn a lot about his tragic past, and you could even say to yourself: “You know, I’d probably go psychotic too if all that happened to me!”

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The First 60% is BORING…I just couldn’t get into it! I mean, sure it was nice that more background info was revealed about the characters, but it was mostly by having someone other than the actual characters themselves talk about it and sit down with Neil to do so. For me, it felt repetitive at a certain point, and I couldn’t help but feel like this book really dragged.
  2. Andrew & His Drugs…I still don’t entirely follow this whole aspect of the story, and am pretty sure there’s nothing logical behind it other than maybe some plot convenience. Also, I kind of got the impression that Andrew’s “condition” was being manipulated, and that he was being used by Coach Wymack and the rest of the team purely for them to win games by taking advantage of his situation… Maybe I’m wrong, but it felt a little slimy to me, like they weren’t really allowing him to fully recover properly.
  3. Still No Romance…Where is the romance that everyone says is so amazing in these books? Besides so very incredibly small little interactions with Andrew and Neil that could go honestly be interpreted either way, there’s still no romance to get my heart racing, or even hardly enough to still consider it a slow burn… It seems like any of it is all going to be crammed into the next book because I don’t have any proof to make me believe there’s any attraction on Neils end. Andrew does touch him every now and then, but it feels more predatory than romantic. I’m really curious to see how this plays out in the next book.


Overall, the ending really once again saved the book for me, much like the first book, and while I was disappointed—I was feeling some major sophomore book slump with this one—I am curious enough to see what happens in the next and final book of this whole story, but I’m not exactly racing to grab it right away.

The writing was a lot better, you learn so much more about the characters, and the emotional investment will become a huge factor in whether you love or hate this title (or trilogy as a whole), but I just wish it didn’t take until the last chunk to get there like it did for me. Like I said, maybe it’s the fact that with the pandemic and staying home, but I can’t ignore that I was really bored, and considered adding it to my DNF pile.

I’m also still irked that there’s still hardly any romance by this point because that was a major factor to make me want to explore these books in the first place, but knowing it’s there and how I know I’ll get it in The King’s Men can make me want to continue.

Trigger warning: Sexual assault, drugs and alcohol, violence, torture, stabbing, death, bloodshed

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Uncategorized, YA Fantasy

My Review: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1): by Adalyn Grace

Publish Date: February 4th, 2020
Number of Pages: 384 Pages
Publisher: Imprint
Genre(s): YA Fantasy

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

Boarding a magical ship and following the tail of a wandering mermaid, you’ll be absolutely shanghaied into joining a fearless heroine with ominous magical abilities and her newfound crew as they set sail to save the kingdom!

This title has been one of the more highly anticipated YA Fantasy releases of 2020 so far, and it’s also the author’s debut novel as well! Saying that, it’s a pretty impressive work to say the least, and with a solid first book under her belt, Adalyn Grace has a bright looking future in YA literature. Not much is known about her, but in her short author bio, I thought it was worth mentioning that she was actually an intern on Nickelodeon’s animated show, The Legend of Korra, and is a big fan of burritos; add those two facts with how she’s written a story taking place on the high seas with pirates, mermaids, curses, romance, and plenty of danger, I may have a friend-crush on her!

Adalyn if you’re reading this, you’ve got a bookish friend in me! Let’s grab some burritos sometime and talk bookish topics!

It was a lot of fun to get this book as a surprise in the February Owlcrate box with the theme that was “The Power Within” (For those of you who don’t know, Owlcrate is a YA Fantasy monthly subscription box where there’s a theme, several bookish gift items based off well known books that fit that theme, and a special edition of a newly released book that they don’t reveal until the box literally plops onto your doorstep! I personally recommend trying it out!)

Here’s a link to their official website:

You saw the original cover on the top of this post, but check out their exclusive edition that came with the order:

They added more colors to the scheme of the cover but kept it in shades pertaining to the ocean and it’s many majesties and mysteries, it’s own original foil design inside the jacket, plus was signed by the author herself with a special letter!

Alright, so special editions and gorgeous covers aside, back to the book itself and my reasoning behind my rating. Basically, overall it was a fun read filled with interesting imagery and enjoyable characters, and while the adventure they partake on in the story was action packed it never really blew my mind or made it feel like the stakes were high enough. I never felt like the characters were in real danger. The intensity and emotional impact wasn’t all there, but like I said, this book was fun and pretty impressive for a debut!

What It’s About:

A map of Visidia, image courtesy of

As princess of the island kingdom of Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for her, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the Visidian throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic from a conniving tyrant.

But sailing the islands of their world holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora had ever anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

What I Liked:

  1. The Main Cast of Characters! Our Protagonist is Amora Montara, who is the princess of Arida, about to ascend the throne if she can showcase her particular soul magic in a ceremony. We also have Bastian, a pirate of a ship named the Keel Haul, and he was a fun & sexy character to add to the story. He’s certainly keeping plenty of secrets, but has a nice romantic dynamic with Amora. There’s Ferrick, who’s betrothed to Amora through an arrangement much like plenty of royal family histories, and he was a little tropey by being the skinny, naive boy who makes it easy for the MC to pick the other love interest, but he does grow a pair later on in the story which I appreciated! Then there’s Vataea, a kidnapped and vengeful mermaid who is rescued by the others in order to save the kingdom. She was vicious and adorable all at the same time if you can believe it!
  2. The Group Dynamic Aboard the Ship! One of the real highlights of the book was the group aboard the ship and their development as their mission is acted out. While Bastian and Amora have an obvious attraction to each other, the author also explores that possibility with the other two, and am curious to see how that plays out in the next book!
  3. Pirates & Mermaids Aesthetic! I’ve always been a fan of them since I’d first watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl back in the day! I still consider it to be one of my all time favorite movies, and I’ve always had a love for the ocean and mermaids. Ariel from The Little Mermaid was always my favorite Disney princess growing up! I’m glad to see a Fantasy novel have these qualities that I adore, and not just for that reason but because they aren’t used as often as I’d like!
  4. The Gorgeous Cover Design! Add this book to any list of books that have absolutely stunning and artistic cover design! It certainly draws the eye, both the Owlcrate Edition I have and the original!
  5. 7 Magic Systems! People that love well thought out magic systems will appreciate that this novel can boast an astounding number of them! Each island in the story hosts people who have a specific ability as it’s a part of the history of the land and is basically law.
  6. Amora is Morally Grey! She’s not some Mary-Sue, goody-two-shoes type that will bore you to tears; the princess has a dark side! She’s not afraid to draw blood in a fight and smirk at the sight of her weapon protruding out of her enemies, and you really see it in the ceremony in the beginning of the book. Amora having her boss-bitch moment and embracing her dark side had me like:

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. I Wanted More Mermaids…The hype surrounding this book was that there were many vengeful mermaids the characters would come across through their journey, but all I’ve met so far is just Vataea, who says she may be one of the last of her kind! I hope the next book will show us more of the sirens of the deep, and have them be as beautiful and terrifying, much like the ones you saw in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie!
  2. This Was A Little Too Predictable…Honestly, as someone who’s read quite a few Fantasy titles, both Adult and YA, this book didn’t bring too much “new” to the table in terms of plot, story arcs, etc. Nothing really shocked me, none of the twists really blew me away; for the most part I’d seen it all before.


Overall, All the Stars and Teeth was not a bad debut novel by any means! I enjoyed the characters, the setting, the worldbuilding, and the fact that there’s romance treated as a subplot rather than being a big driving force. The plot was more or less the same sort of story any sort of fantasy reader has read before, especially in YA Fantasy, but it’s still easy to get swept away if you connect with Amora and the crew of the Keel Haul. While I wasn’t disappointed and definitely plan to read the second part of this duology when it releases in 2021 most likely, it also didn’t exactly blow me away to the point of me obsessing and immediately pushing it onto my friends/coworkers to read. I still had fun reading it, it was just nothing too new or mind-blowing for me personally, BUT the positives do outweigh the negatives!

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a more ocean-centric Fantasy/Adventure title to try out, and of course anyone who enjoys Pirates and Mermaids! Quite honestly, I don’t see as many novels coming out that feature those aspects, so it’s a nice change of pace to keep the genre a little fresh, plus I plan to write a Fantasy book series with a lot of similar aesthetics, so it gave me an opportunity to compare and think of how to take the idea even further! If you love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes, or the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, I have a feeling you’d enjoy adding this title to your bookshelf!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell


The Struggle is Real…

Welcome to the new year readers! 2020 is here and it’s already off to a busy start! So much to do and not enough hours in the day to complete them all!

One issue in particular, a good issue to have actually, is the amount of books I’ve got lying around and not having any idea which ones to start!

I know…woe is me right?

So many great sounding stories, so many beautiful covers, it’s so stressful picking one out! Anyone have any recommendations? Let’s talk! Comment on this post, message me on Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest or wherever you’d prefer and let’s talk books!


Chapter 6 of “When In Doubt” is available!

All I can say is it’s titled “Bed-Breaker”…Come check it out on Wattpad!

Click on the link HERE to come read it!

Click on the page up on the bar to take a deeper look into this passion project that I’ve been working on for some time now, and here’s the synopsis below for those that need a refresher on what it’s about:

When in Doubt is a coming-of-age story filled with laughs, tears, parties, all-nighters, friendships, secret hookups, found families, and finding yourself during what is supposed to the best years of your life. Six complete strangers arrive onto the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus, ready to begin their freshmen year of college. Each have their own reasons for being there:

Matt Anderson just wants to come out of his shell and find a sense of belonging, but he has to confront a part of himself that he’s kept hidden for too long…

Madison Parker just wants to succeed in all ways possible, but learns the struggle of making the decision of what’s worth fighting for: her schoolwork, sports, or her social life…

Luke Mitchell has made terrible past mistakes, losing the trust of those closest to him, and just wants to turn a new leaf in order to redeem himself…

Heather Gracie just wants a fresh start after a dramatic betrayal left her shaken to her core…

Jared Mikaelson just wants more freedom and to become a campus legend, but might have to rethink his plans when the right girl comes along…

Eden Harrington struggles to gain confidence in her artistic abilities to see if she has what it takes to become an animation artist one day.

(Warning!!! has strong language, sexual content, drug & alcohol use: for mature audiences only)

(Please Note: Locations are actual places, but used fictitiously within story. UW-Stout is not associated, and doesn’t condone any illegal activity done on property within story.)