Category Archives: adventure

REVIEW {32} RETRO REVIEW {6} The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS
SERIES: Fire and Thorns #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: The Shadow Cats #0.5; The Shattered Mountain #0.6; Crown of Embers #2; Bitter Kingdom #3
AUTHOR: Rae Carson
EDITION: Hardcover, 423 pages
PUBLISHED: September 20th 2011 by Greenwillow
ACQUISITION: Own; ebook
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Adventure, High Fantasy, Paranormal, War, Review, 4 Star Rating, Book 1 In Series, Greenwillow Publishing, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson, Fire and Thorns Series
RATING: 4.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.86/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

MY THOUGHTS: This was my first foray into fantasy, and I was very hesitant to even give it a try. But when I stumbled upon it at the library, I decided, what the heck, let’s get it. And I am so glad that I did, because I was not disappointed!
In one word, I found this book to be very unique. I can’t think of any other book that I would compare it too; but again, at this point I hadn’t read very much fantasy. I felt that the book started out a bit slow, and was slightly difficult for me to visualize Elisa’s world; but once I finished Part 1 of the book, I realized that Part 2 really throws you into the meat of the book – and I was hooked!
One lovely thing about this book, is that it takes place in several different settings – all of which are unique in all aspects – landscape, inhabitants, purpose, and beliefs. Carson marvels at creating one unified world with these individual microcosms within it. When I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about it. There really weren’t any times where I knew what was going to happen – save for maybe one or two scenes. Otherwise, Carson kept you guessing until the end.
I really didn’t like Elisa when the book first began. She was this helpless, almost dumb fat girl who at all the freaking time and never did anything worth mentioning in her life. Cut to Part 2 and I love Elisa. Love her to bits! She is the perfect heroine! She’s smart, sassy, and steps up to the plate and fights for what is right. She’s very selfless, never thinking about herself, and puts others ahead of herself.
King Alejandro also bothered me. He’s pitiful and pathetic, but gains my respect by the end of the book. He likes to sit back and let others do his fighting and dirty work, and doesn’t take an active role in his son, Prince Rosario’s life. He also is in love with his mistress, Arina, and keeps his marriage to Elisa a secret.
Another amazingly wonderful character is Cosme. Cosme, who begins as a treacherous maid for Arina – doing her spying for her – despises Elisa. And in the end, it’s safe to say that they are probably as close to best friends as two girls can become. She’s smart and she’s been hurt and betrayed so she puts on a frigid, icy front but it’s to protect herself.
The issue that I had with the world building was that it had a very Spanish feel to it with the names and place names, but the description of the land being desert-like yet very hilly was making it a little difficult at first to connect everything together. I also thought that being a fantasy, the spiritual being would have a different name than “God”, but this does use “God” as the spiritual being and every century he chooses one person to be a “bearer” meaning that they have a “Godstone” in their navel. They then are supposed to do something amazing, maybe even miraculous. So there was a pretty heavy religious tone to the story, which typically is not my cup of tea, but it was done in a unique way that didn’t bother me at all. I think Carson handled the themes and tones of the book perfectly.
I also have to commend Carson on her ability to kill off characters. Holy heck is that a breath of fresh air! I haven’t been so ticked off at an author for killing off characters since J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series! Yes, I said Ticked Off, but what I mean is, thank you! Thank you for not creating a picture-perfect book with the ‘happily ever after’. Carson cares what her fans think and feel and want, but she also doesn’t herself or her story in the meantime.
Carson did exactly what I love with the ending too – gave a lot of closure, but left enough open to make me want, need, crave more! It ended absolutely perfectly, and sets up the main theme (at least what I think the main theme is… ) for the rest of the series.
SIMILAR READS: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke | Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta | Witchlanders by Lena Coakley | The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton | The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab 

Happy Reading!

Review {27} The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

THE DARKEST MINDS

SERIES: The Darkest Minds #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Never Fade #2 (Release Date: October 15th 2013)
AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken
PUBLISHED: December 18th 2012 by Disney Hyperion
ACQUIRED: Borrowed | Library
EDITION: Hardcover, 488 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Romance, Adventure, Dystopian, 5 Star Rating, Disney Hyperion, Alexandra Bracken, Series Book 1, The Darkest Minds, Review
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.26/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.


When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.


When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

MY THOUGHTS: Holy cow, guys! This book seriously was more than I ever imagined it would be! Not that I didn’t have high expectations or anything like that, I’m just saying I went in hoping to like it, but came out LOVING IT!

Can we talk about Ruby, our main character who tells the story from her POV, for just a sec? I adore her. Truly, I feel like we are BFFs now, and she is telling her story directly to me, just me, like it’s a well-guarded secret. Ruby on page one is not the same Ruby on page 488, that’s for sure. The situations she encounters, the emotions she experiences that she never knew were possible make her into one of my favorite heroines  by the time I closed the book after the last page. Ruby is a very selfless person who cares so deeply for others that it could be considered one of her flaws. She wants to think the best of everyone, even when they prove unworthy of her trust. She still believes there is good in people, which she chides Liam for at times. 

Besides Ruby, we spend time getting to know Liam, Chubs, and Zu. This is one dynamic foursome, let me tell you! From younger, nonspeaking Zu, to strong, level-headed Liam, and blind as a bat Chubs we get to experience their joys and sorrows, their happiness and their setbacks. Each character is so wonderfully created with such love and detail that you literally feel like you’re in Black Betty (their minivan) with them as they try to find East River.

The pacing of the book is fast, flying by page after page with no lags or slow parts. There’s continuous action, lots of adventure, and so many anger inducing, tear jerking, want to throw the book against the wall because that SO did NOT just happen moments that it’s like you’re on an emotional roller coaster while you’re reading. From run ins with PSFs, to run ins with The Children’s League, to moments where one of them uses their superpowers or has them used against them, it’s constant up and down, oh my god moments.

The relationships between characters is very real and tangible. Nothing ever feels forced or awkward – even moments between Ruby and Clancy (Which, yeah, can’t wait to read more of, because I know we haven’t seen the last of Clancy, that weasel!) It was very refreshing to see the relationship between Ruby and Liam grow and wasn’t any of that insta-love. While both knew they had feelings for each other, they took their time (Thank you, Miss Bracken, seriously. Thank you!) getting to really know and trust each other, and even then it was stolen kisses that they shared in moments of fear and worry. There is still so much more to their relationship that we haven’t even seen yet, so I am extremely anxious to find out where they take their relationship in the next book(s)… especially with how the book ended.

As easy as it is to hate Clancy, it is also him we can thank for the strength and confidence that Ruby develops by books end. She’s managed to learn how to somewhat control, or harness and use her powers. While she still struggles with keeping her distance so that she doesn’t accidentally erase herself from people’s memories, Ruby is also able to grow her confidence in her abilities as well. She’s also learned to fend for herself, and to rely only on herself and not trust anyone until they’ve proven to be trustworthy. 

I would recommend this book to absolutely any- and everyone on the face of the planet. Even if you typically do not read paranormal or dystopian, I beg of you, give this book a whirl! You will not be disappointed. (And if you are.. well, then I am sorry. lol)
SIMILAR READS: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes | False Memory by Dan Krokos | Beta by Rachel Cohn | Black City by Elizabeth Richards | Renegade by J.A. Souders

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken wrote Brightly Woven as a birthday present for a friend, and the story grew and flourished during a year of unpredictable, wild weather. A native of Arizona, she is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she majored in History and English. She now lives in New York City.
Happy Reading!

Review {22} Changeling

AUTHOR: Philippa Gregory
SERIES: Order of Darkness #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Stormbringer #2 (Expected Publication: June 4th 2013)
PUBLISHED: May 25th 2012 by Simon Pulse
ACQUIRED: Own
EDITION: Hardcover, 256 pages
CATEGORIES: 2012 Release, Did Not Finish, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Italy, Magic, Adventure, Mystery, Paranormal, Simon Pulse, Philipa Gregory, Book #1 in Series
RATING: DNF/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.14/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous – and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year – the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft – and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
MY THOUGHTS: I hate not finishing books; especially those written by one of my favorite authors of all time. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy any aspects of this short 256-page introduction to Gregory’s Order of Darkness Series.I could not connect to any of the characters; and I found the story line very difficult to not only follow in the beginning but not engaging or interesting at all. 
Events happen quickly at first, when we first meet Luca and read along as he receives his orders after being accused of heresy. We also meet Isolde, whose father has just died and she learns that she isn’t going to inherit his lands after all, because her dishonest, untrustworthy brother has altered (or lied) about the will and sends her to be the Lady Abbess instead. Once Luca arrives at the Abbey, things slow down incredibly. We crawl through the events of Luca questioning all of the nuns, we see how “odd” Isolde and her companion, Ishraq are, and we realize that there may be more to Ishraq than we first thought.

Isolde and Ishraq escape the Abbey, and when Luca decides that his work there is completed, he travels on to his next mission. That isn’t the end of his run-ins with Isolde though. When I decided that I was not going to finish the book, I was on page 180 (of 256) so you can see I’d made it quite far. This is the chain of events up to that point. There was nothing spectacular or incredulous to keep me reading until the end, which is why I made the decision to go ahead and mark this one as a ‘Did Not Finish’.

The writing style was not the same that I remember from past novels by Gregory, and I think that as well is partly why I wasn’t able to complete the book. I believe that it, too, did not feel like a YA novel. The characters, even though it is an historical novel, did not feel like young adults, and they did not feel very developed to me. The characters were flat and lacked any depth, in my opinion.

WHO WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO: Fans of Philippa Gregory and those who enjoy Medieval Period Historical Novels.

SIMILAR READS: The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges | Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame | Debutantes by Cora Harrison | Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb | Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philipa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (Now known as the War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.
Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visit her website at www.PhilippaGregory.com
Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens of The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.
A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.
Visit her Facebook page.

Happy Reading!
Laura

Review {21} Throne of Glass

AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
SERIES: Throne of Glass #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord #0.1, The Assassin and the Desert #0.2, The Assassin and the Underworld #0.3, The Assassin and the Empire #0.4, Crown of Midnight #2 (Releases 8/27/13)
PUBLISHED: August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
ACQUIRED: Own 
EDITION: Hardcover, 404 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Adventure, Mystery, Paranormal, First Book in Series, 5 Star Rating, Kick-Ass Heroine, Love Triangle, Suspense.
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.14/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:  After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she is bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigares, her search leads her to discover a greater desitny than she could possibly have imagined.
MY THOUGHTS: I loved this book from page one, and have given it the coveted Five Star rating… so you know not only did I absolutely LOVE it – but it’s also on my ‘Re-Read Shelf’ and my ‘Must Recommend to Everyone I Know Shelf’ as well!
I’ve only recently gotten into reading high fantasy, which if you follow my blog you’re probably well aware of. It’s also the disclaimer I usually start off any reviews for a fantasy novel with. An important part of a good fantasy novel for me, is the world-building. Maas has created an absolutely realistic, visual world that Celaena lives in and that the novel takes place in. She seamlessly weaves magic into the mix to create a world where it is forbidden to use. 
Too many factors bound up into one story can also create a sense of chaos, but Maas is able to combine themes of magic, fantasy, assassins, fairies, and duels into a story that is action-packed and completely unputdownable (even if that is technically not a word!)! 
I found myself thrilled at the mystery in who was killing the competitors, and was very happy to find it wasn’t predictable at all! Each turn of the page kept me guessing and guessing, and in the end I was quite happy with the way the story closed. It left enough loose ends while managing to also give enough closure to the first book in the series.
The characters in the book also make it a joy to lose a few hours within it’s pages. Celaena is one of the strongest, bravest heroines that I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with. Celaena’s definitely met her match in Captain Chaol Westfall; who isn’t immune to fleeting moments of jealousies when Prince Dorian begins spending lots of time with Celaena. And a friendship is formed when Nehemia, the Princess of Eyllwe meets her and prefers Celaena’s honest company to that of the girls of the court – as in Lady Kaltain. 
There are many sub-stories interwoven into the plot, including Celaena learning that she is much more than she ever thought she was, or would be! I have a very big spot in my heart for fairies, so when it’s learned that the first Queen of Adarlan was of fairy descent, I was so excited, and hoping to find out even more in future books about Queen and her connection to Celaena.
SIMILAR READS: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke | The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson | Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes | Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo | False Memory by Dan Krokos
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas lives in Southern California, and over the years she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much coffee, and watches absolutely rubbish TV shows. When she’s not busy writing YA fantasy novels, she can be found exploring the California coastline.
Happy Reading!
Laura

Review {16} Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe
BY: Sarah Crossan
SERIES: Breathe #1
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 2nd 2012 by Greenwillow
EDITION: Hardcover, 373 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed/Library
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Dystopian
RATING: 3.50/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.73/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe… The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
ALINA has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.
QUINN should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
BEA wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.
And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?
MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this book, which isn’t a huge surprise considering my love for anything dystopian/apocalyptic. This book has it’s own unique spin, as Crossan creates a world without trees – – without oxygen.  The book centers around the big, bad corporation, Breathe, who manufactures oxygen and pumps it into the dome that the survivors now live under, and who are split into a caste-like system with premiums and auxiliaries, and the Resistance – aka – RATS. 
Of course there is corruption within the dome, and the RATS are trying to bring it to light, and bring the world back how it was before the Switch. Part of the RATS, Alina Moon finds herself mourning the loss of Abel, her crush and fellow RATS member. She runs into Quinn Caffery at school, in line for green flu vaccinations, and he’s smitten. But Bea Whitcraft, an auxiliary, is secretly in love with Quinn, the son of Breathe’s head honcho. Alina suffers alone with the grief of her “missing” (read: Dead) parents, and lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Silas – also all RATS. 
When Alina is suddenly being hunted by Breathe, she must escape the dome and make her way through the Outlands to The Grove, one of the outposts of the RATS who call an old soccer stadium home. Of course as a wanted possible criminal, she isn’t able to get access out of the dome, and so Quinn, in an act of lust, gets her out of the dome with himself and Bea, who planned a camping trip. Along the way they meet drifters, one in particular, Maude Blue who is actually the best character in the book, in my opinion. She’s so flawed and imperfect that you can’t help but love her and feel for her. With the stealing of a Breathe tank, Alina unknowingly begins a war between the Resistance and Breathe.
I think the overall theme and plot are my favorite part of the book. To me, this is something I constantly think about. Can we ever eventually log all of the forests? Will there ever be a time where the Earth is tree-less? Clearly Crossan has similar thoughts and even was able to build this world around the same question. While I thoroughly enjoyed Crossan’s writing style, I did have some trouble with the world-building, and had some trouble envisioning the dome world, and The Grove in my mind’s eye. Eventually I was able to get a sense of the world she’s created, and was able to put myself right in the action.
I have a love/hate relationship with the multi-POV as well. The story is told from the POV of three people – Quinn, Alina, and Bea, with Alina being the “Main character”. I did have some issues distinguishing the characters from one another, and sometimes had to go back and check the chapter’s first page to see which character it was “speaking”. I liked each of the characters, as they each had different challenges and inner demons, but I didn’t feel that they were totally rounded and 3D. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d actually pick Quinn. I think of the three, he’s the one who changed and grew the most throughout the book, and had the most to lose.
Another plus is that there aren’t too many obvious twists, and Crossan is wonderful at leaving doors open to be resolved in the sequel/subsequent novels in the series.
TO SUM IT UP: If you are looking for a fast-paced, action packed dystopian with a unique spin on a post-apocalyptic world and incredible characters that you’ll keep thinking about long after you end the book, then you should read Breathe.
READ THIS IF YOU LIKE: Beta by Rachel Cohn | Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler | Skylark by Meagan Spooner | Black City by Elizabeth Richards | The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
MY ‘SIMILAR BOOK FROM MY BOOKSHELF’ SUGGESTION: Matched by Ally Condie
BREATHE MEDIA:

AUTHOR INFO: Sarah Crossan is Irish. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Literature before training as an English and Drama teacher at Cambridge University and worked to promote creative writing in schools before leaving teaching to write full time.

She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing.
She currently lives in NYC.