Category Archives: Fantasy

REVIEW {47} SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch *Spoiler Free*

Snow Like Ashes
AUTHOR: Sara Raasch
SERIES: Snow Like Ashes [Book #1] | Ice Like Fire [Book #2] Release Date: October 13, 2015
PUBLICATION INFO: Harper Teen | RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014
CATEGORY: Young Adult, Four Star Rating, Fantasy, Romance, Kick Ass Heroine
ACQUISITION: Library | EDITION: Hardcover; First Edition, 416 pages
RATING: 3 STARS | GOODREADS RATING: 4.05/5.00
ADD TO GOODREADS

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

MY THOUGHTS: Snow Like Ashes was one of my most anticipated reads for 2014. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to it last year, and I also didn’t get it for Christmas – even though it was on my Wishlist. So, when I was recently at the library and saw a copy sitting there on the shelf, my greedy little hand grabbed it so fast I swear there were flames!

World Building
Snow Like Ashes follows the story of Meira, a sixteen-year-old girl who is one of only a handful of refugees from the kingdom of Winter. In this world, there are eight kingdoms – 4 Season Kingdoms (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn) and 4 Rhythm Kingdoms (Cordell is the one that plays a major part in this book). Spring is ruled by Angra, the major villain in this series. He has taken over Winter and enslaved all of the Winterians in slave labor camps within the kingdom.
A majority of the first few chapters is spent on world-building and back story. We know that deep in the Klaryn Mountains is the source of the magic that exists in this world; however, the entry into the caverns has been lost over the centuries. Each of the rulers of the kingdoms has a conduit (be it jewelry, a weapon, etc.) that contains the magic, and they can only use it for the good of their kingdom. It also passes down by bloodline, and gender. The conduit for Winter – a locket – has been confiscated by Angra, and the sixteen years since Winter fell have been spent trying to recover the locket, which of course, Angra has split into two.
So the book begins with a mission to steal back the first half of the locket, and sets into motion events that will carry us through the rest of the book.
Plot & Pacing
We are thrown immediately into action, and for the most part there really isn’t much lag in this book – it’s pretty must fast paced until the end. I can’t remember many slow parts, or parts where I was bored. I also found Raasch’s writing to be enjoyable. Unfortunately, though, I did have trouble connecting with Meira in the beginning. I have to admit first though, that I was distracted at the start and may have not given the book the full attention it deserved. I found myself having to reread some paragraphs. Such is life with a one year old *insert ‘wah-wah’ face*.

Characters & Development
The major characters of this book are:
Meira – the main character; Winterian Refugee
Mather – the heir to Winter; son of Queen Hannah and future King of Winter.
Sir – Winterian General; leader of the refugees
Theron – Prince of Cordell
Angra – King of Spring
Herod – Angra’s Second in Command
Noam – King of Cordell
The Refugees – Alyson (Sir’s Wife), Finn, Greer, Henn, Dendera
Queen Hannah – Queen of Winter when Winter fell
Nessa, Conall, and Garrigan – Winterian slaves in Spring labor camp
I think each character had their own personalities and desires that were conveyed well; however, I felt as though the main character, Meira, was lacking. I was able to connect more with Theron, whom I dare say is my newest fictional crush! Together, I believe Meira and Theron can become a force to reckon with. They each have characteristics that the other lacks, so as one they will be unstoppable. Nessa, a winterian currently enslaved in Spring’s labor camp with her two older brothers was also one of my favorite characters. Her hope is what keeps her going, that someone will free them and lead them back to a free Winter. I also feel as though a “good” character at some point may turn “evil”. I can’t explain it, just a hunch. It is also interesting to see how the alliance between Winter and Cordell holds up. Not in the aspects of Meira and Theron, but King Noam.
Writing
I found myself enjoying Raasch’s writing style, and I found her ability to tell Winter’s story pleasing. However I did have trouble connecting with Meira’s character in that I couldn’t “read” her. I knew what she wanted and how she felt, but I was having a lot of trouble getting inside of her head. I truly felt that Winter’s story was being told, not necessarily Meira’s. I believe this will change in the second book – at least I’m hoping for it. I truly want to know more of Meira.
I also felt that when it came to the world-building, Raasch did a little too much telling, and not enough letting my mind “show” me what the world looked like. It caused me too much confusion, and feel that it was rehashed too many times what the world was like. Especially since the major kingdoms are season kingdoms and reflect the characteristics of their said season. Regardless, I really enjoy the world she has created and I definitely look forward to spending more time here once the second book in the series is released. 
It doesn’t happen very often, but I found myself very intrigued by the villain in this story. Angra has been able to take in dark matter/magic “decay” and make himself a sort of “conduit” and that is how he carries out his evil deeds. He is a dark, evil character that I’m so interested in that I cannot WAIT to see what happens in the rest of the series. If Meira can become this amazing, kick-ass heroine that I think she has the potential to be, it could make for an interesting fight between the two.

Review Summary
A less than impressive introduction to this fantasy series, but enough excitement, action, intrigue and potential to make me excited for book two.
Would I Recommend This Book? Yes. If you love YA Fantasy with magical themes and evil villains with a heroine who has tons of potential. There is lots of action and adventure; magic and romance mingled in to keep anyone fully engaged.
SIMILAR READS: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas |  Winterspell by Claire Legrand | Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White | Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh | Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburn

Happy Reading!
Laura

Advertisements

REVIEW {41} – THE DEMON KING by Cinda Williams-Chima (Spoiler Free!)

THE DEMON KING
BY: Cinda Williams-Chima
SERIES: Seven Realms #1
GOODREADS RATING: 4.21 out of 5.00 Stars
MY RATING: 5.00 out of 5.00 Stars
ADD TO GOODREADS

WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: 

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

LIKES
  •  Princess Raisa! My goodness, I didn’t realize how badly I’ve been in need of a strong heroine. One thing that I love is when a character completely transforms over the course of the book, and Raisa is no exception. She starts out as a naive, ignorant princess heir but who she is at the end of the book is not the same girl.
  • Han Alister. Or Cuffs Alister. Or Hunts Alone. You know – whichever name you decide to call him! Han is such a unique character as well. He is often thought of as this vicious street gang leader who has no care or regard for anyone, but that is so far from the truth! He is a complex character, and I cannot wait to see where the rest of the series takes him. He has immense potential, so it will be interesting to see if he ends up as a hero or villain.
  •  The world-building. This is a giant world – uh, hello, it’s called the Seven Realms series – and it’s incredible how easily the landscapes come to life right off of each page! From the grimy, dirty streets of Ragmarket or Southbridge, to the royal castle of Fellsmarch to the Vale and the camps – Marisa Pines and Demonai – each is unique and incredibly detailed.
DISLIKES
  • It started off reading a little young, but the content didn’t match that. I enjoy the writing, but it did take me a few chapters to really connect.
  • A few events were predictable.
  • I didn’t realize that there was a map – my Kindle copy opened to chapter one, skipping the title page etc., so I didn’t know there was a map included! Duh!
MY THOUGHTS

I don’t know how I haven’t read this book yet. I mean, seriously – it was THAT good. It just really missed my radar. We start the book thrown immediately into action, and pick up information about the main characters and the realm along the way. I enjoyed that the story was told from alternating perspectives as well. It was a great way to contrast Raisa’s life growing up as royalty, and Han’s life, growing up as a street thug. I thoroughly enjoyed Williams-Chima’s writing style. She writes in such a fantastic way, that the characters came to life on each page. I was able to feel everything that Raisa and Han did – from happy moments to really heartbreakingly sad ones.

I also love the character growth in this book. Raisa becomes such an admirable character by books end, that it’s hard to believe she came from where she did. She always had it in her to start a revolution, and now she’s ready to carry it out. She isn’t the type of future monarch to sit around and let her people live in squalor while they live in grandeur in the castle.

Another great part of this book is the range of characters. From humans, to those who wield magic, to those who create magical amulets. I love, love, loved the magical themes in this story! We had good magic users and of course, bad. It was written beautifully, and I cannot wait to see how the magical use will evolve in the next books. It was nice to see such an array of characters as well, from all races and walks of life. It really added a diversity to the book that was wonderful.

The world building was helped greatly by the provided map in the beginning of the book of the Seven Realms. It can be a little overwhelming at first, since the books takes place in many different parts of the world – and different areas are mentioned often. But once you really get a handle on it, it’s incredible how author’s can create these worlds in their minds!

WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Whether your a newbie to fantasy or an avid fantasy reader – you’ll love this book!

Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {39} Elusion by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam

ELUSION
SERIES: Elusion | Book #1
AUTHOR(S): Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: March 18th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
EDITION: Paperback, 400 pages
ACQUISITION: ARC from publisher
CATEGORIES: Review, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, Virtual Thriller, 2 Star Rating, 2014 Release
RATING: 2.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.60/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Soon Elusion will change the word and life as we know it. 
A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor, and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications – or consequences – of real life.
Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.
Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion – accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous – Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty … a decision that will affect the lives of millions.
Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.
MY THOUGHTS: I went into this book unsure of whether I’d really enjoy it, because virtual thrillers really aren’t my cup of tea. Dystopians – yes, computer ruled futures – not so much. But the cover of this book was just too beautiful to ignore, so when I ended up with an ARC, I knew I had to give it a go.
The first thing that I noticed, is that the concept of the story really didn’t seem that unique to me. I didn’t at any time really find myself wanting to continue reading the book so much as I wanted to finish it so I could get a review up. The writing itself was okay, I don’t think it was necessarily spectacular or horrible in any way. I did have issues with the world-building though. It’s set in a “Near Future” Detroit, but they are suffering from pollution (and something called Florapetro?) and acid rains which require 02 masks and special umbrellas to be used nearly 24/7. There is mention that the rich usually are above the pollution clouds in their penthouses and offices, so they can go without and even open their windows sometimes. While this leads me to believe there is a caste system of some type, this isn’t really explored past explaining vaguely the different Sectors the residents live in, and what they are like now. There also isn’t any explanation of why the world is so polluted, so you’re left assuming why it happened.
There were only a few instances as well, where we got to experience Elusion with Regan, the main character. Users can go into Escapes (pre-existing destinations such as mountains or Thai beaches. etc) with other people using an invite code, and no one is supposed to be able to be injured in an Escape. Users can experience Escapes in 1-hour increments and they are equipped with wristbands that have an emergency button that yanks them out if trouble occurs. But no trouble should ever occur, right?
The main character Regan lacked in my opinion, the characteristics of a kick-ass heroine. In fact rarely did she manage to do anything on her own, and required damsel-in-distress saving from either her best friend, Patrick, or the new hottie bad-boy, Josh. I really had no connection to Regan whatsoever, and never felt for her. She seemed quite gullible, and didn’t seem to have much common sense. She tended to believe what she was told, and acted really offended and surprised when she realized that the bubble she lived in was slowing losing air.
The fact that Patrick was supposed to be Regan’s best friend was lost on me. I didn’t feel any type of connection between them, and even Patrick’s affections towards Regan bordered on creepy-stalkerish. Especially considering he kind of had something going on with one of Regan’s classmates, Zoe. I never at any point wanted these two to get together.
Josh’s character wasn’t one I connected with either. He was fueled by his own personal problems – his missing, possibly Elusion-addicted sister, Nora. When he meets up with Regan, she suddenly finds her world turned upside down – not sure who to trust and believe – but she seems to put all her faith and trust into Josh… even though they barely know each other.
Overall, I just wasn’t able to get into any of the characters, and with the lack of world-building I wasn’t able to really enjoy this one. I know it’s gotten good reviews and ratings on Goodreads, but this one just wasn’t for me.

I RECOMMEND THIS TO: Fans of sci-fi, virtual thrillers where society relies heavily on technology and giant corporations willingly risk the health and safety of citizens with little or no remorse, leaving it to a group of teenagers to bring them down.

SIMILAR READS: Starters by Lissa Price | Glitch by Heather Anastasiu 
Happy Reading!
Laura

Review {36} HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins

HEX HALL

SERIES: Hex Hall | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Hex Hall #1 Demonglass #2 Spell Bound #3

AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: March 2nd 2010 by Hyperion Books

EDITION: Paperback, 323 pages

ACQUISITION: Own

CATEGORIES: Hex Hall Series, Young Adult, Review, 4 Stars, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Vampires, Witches, Faeries, Shapeshifters, Supernatural, Demons, Rachel Hawkins, 2014 Read

RATING: 4.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.99/5.00


WHAT THE COVER SAYS: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she is a witch. Her non-gifted mother has been supportive, consulting Sophie’s estranged father – a warlock – only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who exiles her to “Hex Hall”, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, fairies, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day, Sophie has three new enemies, a futile crush on a warlock, a tag-along ghost, and a vampire roommate. Worse, Sophie soon learns that an unknown predator has been attacking students. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries converges, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: An ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this book more than I expected to! I first picked this book up from the library when it first released, and had trouble getting into it, and ultimately didn’t finish it. But then the reviews started pouring in, and some of my favorite fellow bloggers really enjoyed it and were saying great things about it. So, I bought it when it released in paperback. 

Sophie was a likable character because it was easy to sympathize with her when she starts learning all of the secrets that have been kept from her all of her life – important secrets that probably could’ve really been useful to know! When she attempts to help a girl at the prom get her dream date, the spell goes horribly wrong – landing Sophie at Hecate ‘Hex’ Hall as punishment. 

There weren’t many elements of the story that I didn’t like. I really enjoy that there are many different paranormal creatures – Prodigium – at Hex Hall, but I feel like there were too many to really get to know any one group more than just on a superficial level. I am really hoping that in the next two books we get to know more about the workings of the faeries, shifters and witches. We get a main story on how they were “Created” from angels/fallen angels, but I did want more background.

The pacing of the story moved quickly, and there was always some type of action or event occurring on each page. I liked the dynamics of all of the characters, each was different and individual and held their own. I really enjoyed Jenna’s character, and how she and Sophie work together as roommates-turned-friends. 

I didn’t like how secretive everyone was; however. It wasn’t just Sophie’s parents (including her Warlock father whom she’s never met) but Ms. Casnoff, the head of Hex Hall as well. Nobody wanted to tell Sophie who she truly is, her family lineage, or the dangers that face her now and in the future. I feel like keeping everything a secret was even more detrimental, than had everyone been open with her. I cannot imagine the feeling of finding out these secrets about yourself and your family from other students, especially when you’re already new and feel out of place.

The aspect of the book that I really liked, was the ghost of Sophie’s great-grandmother, Alice, who takes it upon herself to teach Sophie how to protect herself. But things aren’t always as they seem, and when things start to get a little weird, Sophie starts to piece everything together and we are left with a pretty crazy cliffhanger. I do like that Hawkins isn’t afraid to kill off characters and not give them happy endings, but I’m curious to see how the series proceeds now without a few key players.

SIMILAR READS: AWAKE AT DAWN (Shadow Falls #2) by C.C. Hunter | THE GHOST AND THE GOTH (The Ghost and the Goth #1) by Stacey Kade | Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White | SHADE (Shade #1) by Jeri Smith-Ready | ONCE A WITCH (Once a Witch #1) by Carolyn MacCullough | FIRESPELL (Dark Elite #1) by Chloe Neill

Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {34} VENOM by Fiona Paul

VENOM
SERIES:Secrets of the Eternal Rose | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Belladonna #2
AUTHOR: Fiona Paul

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 30th 2012 by Philomel
EDITION: Hardcover, 435 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller, Italy, 2 Star Rating, Philomel, Review
RATING: 2.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.79/5.00 (pre-release)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.





MY THOUGHTS: I adore historical fiction. Anything set in Renaissance Italy really gets me excited to read! Unfortunately, I was let down by this tale. I found there to be some inaccuracies in the setting and time period, as far as what was occurring in the story. These parts didn’t detract from the overall story, however I can see some people turned off by it. While I did notice them, I would not necessarily say it ruined the book for me.

I had trouble connecting with Cass, the main character. I really didn’t feel anything towards her, or what happened to her. If you are a teenage girl of marrying age, engaged to someone, you shouldn’t be out traipsing about with another man, one of a lowly station at that. And – one who creeps around cemeteries at night, lies to you, keeps things from you, etc. I wasn’t a fan of Falco, at all. In fact, I really didn’t like any of the characters. I believe that they were well written, I just didn’t have any characters that I was interested in knowing.

The writing style itself overall was decent, but the story didn’t go anywhere for me. It was one of the slowest plotted books I’ve read, and that definitely affected the overall rating that I gave the book. You really don’t learn anything – except two things that are major factors in the book; who sent Cass the creepy letter and was at the Dubois party whom she danced with; and what Falco does for a living that was his “big secret”. As far as what the Order of the Eternal Rose is? No idea. Cass’s Fiance mentions it really quick in the few last pages of the book, but that’s it. I’m all for leaving some strings untied at the end of the first book of a series, but this one literally left everything untied, and I felt no satisfaction when I finished the last page and closed the book.

“How terrible it must be to be a member of the noble class. So many rules. Such restraint. You must feel like a caged bird, battering its wings against the side of it’s golden prison.”

One thing that I did enjoy about the book, is the overall darkness and creepiness of it. It definitely had that going for it. I am curious to see how the series continues, but I don’t know if I’ll read the actual book, or just other blogger’s reviews. There could be potential if the plot picks up in the second book, and if there is more depth to the characters and some questions are answered.


SIMILAR READS: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin | Gilt by Katherine Longshore | Dark Star by Bethany Frenette | The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski

Happy Reading!

REVIEW {33} Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

CROWN OF MIDNIGHT
SERIES: Throne of Glass #2 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Throne of Glass #1;  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
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: August 27th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
EDITION: Hardcover, 432 pages
ACQUISITION: ARC from publisher/BEA
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Magic, Mystery, Romance, Adventures, Fairies, 5 Star Rating, Bloomsbury USA, ARC, Review
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.61/5.00 (pre-release)

WHAT IT’S ABOUTAn assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.

But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

MY THOUGHTS: I am still completely awestruck after finishing this book. Being the second book in the series, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be just as good as Throne of Glass, but I have to say it was, if not better! There was so much action and suspense and mystery and romance in this one that every single page turbo-charged my emotions and left me with a wicked book hangover!
When I finished Throne of Glass I had marked Celaena down as my #1 Favorite Heroine of All Time. When I finished Crown of Midnight, that statement was confirmed ten times over. Everything that Celaena goes through would break any other person, but she is able to navigate it all with calm and grace. She is one of the strongest, most selfless people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.
Crown of Midnight really puts Celaena to the test. She is now the King’s Assassin, and is sent out on routine missions to take out any of the people he suspects are starting a rebellion against him. But, Celaena of course has secrets of her own – ones she keeps even from Chaol, her maybe-more-than-just-a-crush, and her first true, best friend Nehemiah. She’s still in an awkward spot with Prince Dorian, but luckily we see their friendship resurrected, and become even stronger.

All of the characters in this series are wonderful! They are so well developed that they feel truly 3D and real. Maas has no problem putting her characters in completely crazy scenarios and letting them live, die, figure out secrets, solve mysteries, you name it. This series has a little bit of everything (including a talking door knocker named Mort!) so no matter what your usual genre is, you’ll definitely be able to find something you love in this series.

One of my favorite things about this series, is that it goes places you are not expecting, and introduces characters you’ll be thinking about long after you finish the book. I cannot think of anything that I would change that happened plot-wise in the second installment of this series. Everything is so unique and different but ties together in the end. I cannot wait to see where book three takes us, because I know that it is going to be different from the first two books, but I think Celaena’s adventures are just getting started.  

This is one series that I already find myself recommending to people, whether they read high fantasy or not. It’s one that I do find myself thinking about weeks after I’ve finished the book. Maas is an absolutely incredible storyteller, one that I’ll happily read without a second thought.

SIMILAR READS: Deception by C.J. Redwine | Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | Shadowscale by Rachel Hartman | Toxic City by Theo Lawrence | Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Happy Reading!

REVIEW {31} BOOK CLUB REVIEW {1} FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes

FALLING KINGDOMS
SERIES: Falling Kingdoms #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Rebel Spring #2 [Releases: 12/3/13]
AUTHOR: Morgan Rhodes [Michelle Rowen]
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: December 11th 2012 by Razorbill
EDITION: Hardcover, 412 pages
ACQUISION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Romance, 3 Stars, Razorbill, Review, Book Club Book, Falling Kingdoms
RATING: 3.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.82/5.00
ADD TO GOODREADS

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: The gripping New York Times  bestseller that is Game of Thrones for teens.
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

MY THOUGHTS: So for our first book club meeting, we decided to read this fantasy book by adult author Michelle Rowen, whom I have not read before. I started this book before I left for BEA (at the end of May) and when I got back I was so into The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, that I never picked it back up… until it was chosen for our book club book for July!
I am glad that I ended up finishing it because it turned out to be pretty good.
I saw on GoodReads that someone had referred to it as; ‘Fantasy-Lite’ and I believe I agree with that. While definitely a fantasy, I do not think it was a high fantasy, or anywhere near the level of Game of Thrones, which it is compared to.
The world that Falling Kingdoms takes place in is called Mytica. Mytica is divided into three kingdoms; Auranos, Paelsia, and Limeros, and also The Sanctuary. While it’s told in multiple points-of-view, I feel like Cleo, the princess of Auranos, is the main character. The book quickly throws you in the midst of the events that set up the theme for the rest of the story, and while there were times that I felt it moved just a little slowly, for the most part the pacing was fine.
Since most fantasies do have multiple narrators, I feel that this one could’ve been stronger in each narration. While I felt I was being told a story, save for a few parts, I didn’t feel a ton of emotion. If I want to laugh, cry, or throw a book across the room because I’m so mad at what just happened, then I know it’s an amazing book! I did find myself getting a little worked up at certain parts, but again, it just didn’t wow me.
This book has a lot going on, and I felt that the different characters didn’t have unique enough voices to really stand out and stand apart from each other for me. I didn’t have a favorite character, but would choose Jonas if I had to.
I also had issues with the world-building. I got the differences in the kingdoms, and could tell what was different between them, but I didn’t really see the world in my mind. I couldn’t really imagine what it was completely like, and found I was hoping for just a little more.
Overall, I did enjoy the story for the adventure and fantasy aspects, and I will read the rest of the books that come out in this series. I believe it has potential to get really good and I have a feeling the characters are going to grow and change a lot in the next book.

SIMILAR READS: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst | The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke | Venom by Fiona Paul | Poison by Bridget Zinn | The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Happy Reading!

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!

SAVE THE DATE {23} Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
SERIES: Between #1
AUTHOR: April Genevieve Tucholke
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: August 15th 2013 by Dial
EDITION: Hardcover, 368 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Gothic, Demons, Horror, August 2013 Release, April Genevieve Tucholke, Dial Publishing

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.
Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

MY THOUGHTS: Horror is one of those genres that I don’t read enough of, but when I do, I really enjoy them. Being described as a ‘thrilling dread of gothic horror… a dreamy twisting contemporary romance…’ sounds like it’s going to appeal to lovers of gothic horror novels and paranormal, as well as those who enjoy contemporary and romance. I’m very curious to see how this one is, especially since it’s already got pretty good reviews on Goodreads. 
What are your thoughts on this one? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy Reading!

SAVE THE DATE {22} CHARMED VENGEANCE BY SUZANNE LAZEAR

CHARMED VENGEANCE
SERIES: The Aether Chronicles #2 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Innocent Darkness #1
AUTHOR: Suzanne Lazear
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: August 8th 2013 by Flux
EDITION: Paperback, 408 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, Fantasy, Paranormal, Fairies, Romance, Historical Fiction, Flux, August 2013 Release, Save the Date

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: In the Faerie realm, Noli Braddock’s relationship with her best friend V has grown into something more. But V’s mother, Faerie Queen Tiana, has ruled that they are forbidden to see each other. Returning to the mortal realm, Noli joins the crew of her brother’s air-pirate ship, the Vixen’s Revenge. There she discovers that her brother has hired the scallywag Faerie huntsman, Kevighn Silver. While serving as shipmates, Kevighn and Noli learn that the Earth Court King plans to find a forbidden artifact–one that will bring destruction to everyone Noli loves.

MY THOUGHTS: Fairies…Steampunk…Romance…need I say more?! And look at that cover – uh, looks like some crazy stuff is going down! This one is on my TBR list, and I definitely think you should add it to yours as well! 

HAPPY READING!

Advertisements