Category Archives: Book 1 in Series

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 {28} Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked
AUTHOR: Jessica Spotswood
SERIES: The Cahill Witch Chronicles | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Star Crossed #2
ACQUIRED: Borrowed | Library
EDITION: Hardcover, 330 pages
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: February 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Witches, Romance, Magic, 3.5 Stars, Putnam Juvenile Publishing, Jessica Spotswood, 2013 Read, Book 1 in Series, Born Wicked, The Cahill Witch Chronicles
RATING: 3.50/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.95/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.


Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

MY THOUGHTS: Born Wicked was an interesting read for me. It’s not one of those action-packed, fast-paced stories where you’re constantly getting whiplash from how quickly the plot goes and how crazy the scenes get. Instead, the first installment in the Cahill Witch Chronicles moves slowly, dishing out dangerous liaisons, magical misuse, and secrets that rock a town to its core.
Cate Cahill is our protagonist. She is almost seventeen, the oldest of three girls, and very maternal since her mother died several years ago. Cate feels that it is her duty to not only care for her two younger sisters, but also to make sure they are not using any of their magical powers, lest the Brotherhood finds out they are witches and tries them. Once tried, a witch would either be sent to the Harwood Asylum or be killed; neither of which are viable options for Cate and her sisters.
Born Wicked is set in an ‘Alternate 1900 New England’ where the Brotherhood rule and at the age of seventeen a girl must announce her intentions to marry (and to whom) or join the Sisterhood. At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading a story taking place in an ‘alternate’ place and time, but once I was into the story, Spotswood does a wonderful job creating the world where her characters live.
The characters are well developed, each with their own personalities and attitudes. I can’t say I necessarily loved Cate as the protagonist, but I am going to assume that she will be a wholly different person in the next book(s) to come. Where she tried to stay as out of sight as possible, I think we are going to see a giant change in her, now that she knows how things really are in New England.
One character I really enjoyed, however; was Finn Belastra. He was a wonderful love interest, and one of two guys to make up the love triangle. He’s smart, witty, and willing to fight anyone or anything for the people that he loves. In that way, he and Cate have a lot in common. They only want to protect their families, and put themselves last. He is wonderfully selfless, and a great match for Cate.
Cate’s two sisters, Tess and Maura, each have a unique voice to the story. Cate is overprotective and suffocates them, and Maura acts out at any chance she gets. Tess is the quieter, gentler one who just wants the three of them to stay unified while making decisions together, rather than suppressing their magic and being told how to behave.
One character that I completely disliked was Sister Elena, from the Sisterhood. She annoyed me from the first page she appeared on. I’m not sure completely what it was that irritated me, but she just rubbed me the wrong way! And how she played the sisters against each other and played with Maura’s heart and emotions was just unforgivable.
The slower pacing of the story, I believe actually helped the story to achieve an eerie, kind of maybe almost Gothic-Victorian type of air to it. I would say it felt rather dark and gloomy than a light, airy read. The Brotherhood is oppressive in their rules – and just like any other “government” type body, they have their corruption and flaws. I will be curious to see how things change within the Sisterhood that will ultimately affect the Brotherhood in the end.
There is a great prophecy that is entangled in the web of this tale as well; one that could have several different outcomes and consequences. There is a bit of a twist at the end – one that I cannot say was completely unpredictable, but I am anxious to see how Cate handles her choices and how it will affect those around her.
Overall, I enjoyed this read for the straight-forward story that it is. I would willingly recommend to anyone who enjoys paranormal, steampunk, historical fiction, or just a good fight-for-love story.

SIMILAR READS: Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne | When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen | Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock | The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges | Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Happy Reading!