Category Archives: Romance

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

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REVIEW {35} This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

THIS LULLABY

SERIES: Stand Alone

AUTHOR: Sarah Dessen

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: March 8th 2004 by Speak

EDITION: Paperback; 345 pages

ACQUISION: Purchased

CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, 4 Star Rating, Speak, Review, Sarah Dessen

RATING: 4.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.07/5.00



WHAT IT’S ABOUT: She’s got it all figured out.

Or does she? When it comes to relationships, Remy’s got a whole set of rules.
Never get too serious. Never let him break your heart. And never, ever date a musician.
But then Remy meets Dexter, and the rules don’t seem to apply anymore.
Could it be that she’s starting to understand what all those love songs are about?

MY THOUGHTS: There is something about a Sarah Dessen novel that just keeps me coming back for more! I don’t read very much contemporary romance, but when I do get in the mood for a good love story, I find myself reaching for a Sarah Dessen novel because her characters are so real, so flawed and imperfect, that you can’t help but love them!

I instantly loved Remy’s character, and was completely smitten with Dexter! I will admit that I was annoyed with how long it took Remy to realize that Dexter is completely amaze-balls, but she did, eventually, and everything was right in the world again!


I could definitely relate to the whole band scene too, and loved how passionate the boys in Truth Squad are about their music – doing whatever was needed to make money to succeed. 
Another great element is Remy’s group of friends. They really remind me of the girls on the Carrie Diaries. I wish I had a group of friends like these when I was in high school!
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporary romance and just an all around feel good story without a perfect heroine thrown at you. I’m a Dessen fan for life!

SIMILAR READS: Bloom by Elizabeth Scott | When it Happens by Susane Colasanti | Second Helpings (Jessica Darling #2) by Megan McCafferty | The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti | It’s Not Summer Without You (Summer #2) by Jenny Han | Going too Far by Jennifer Echols
Happy Reading!

Laura

REVIEW {40} A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

A Mad, Wicked Folly
SERIESStandalone
AUTHOR: Sharon Biggs Waller
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: January 23rd 2014
EDITION: Hardcover, 448 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Review, 5 Stars, Historical Fiction, Romance, Art, Feminism, Coming of Age, Cultural
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.96/5.00

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist – a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art, her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse – or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

MY THOUGHTS: Considering historical fiction is one of my top genres to read, and I was an art major in college, I didn’t think there could be anything to make me dislike this story – and guess what? I was right, because I adored this book! Like wanted to hug it to my chest and dance around my room with it, loved it!

Let’s talk about how amazing Vicky’s character is. She is so strong willed and dream driven that nothing – and no one – will stop her from getting what she wants! At the beginning of the book Vicky did what she was passionate about, but was still held back by her station in life, thanks to her wealthy upbringing. Once she’s kicked out of her school in France and moves back to London, Vicky finds herself living the life she’s always wanted – except she’s doing it in secret.

I am not very knowledgeable about the suffragette movement, so that was an aspect of the book that I quite enjoyed. To see how these women fought and endured for their freedom – the freedom we as women still benefit from today – is quite incredible. And to have Vicky become a part of that world makes me see her as an even stronger character than I had already come to see her as.

Another wonderful character is Sophie Cumberbunch, Vicky’s lady maid. She is living a similar “Hidden” life like Vicky is forced to – keeping her involvement in the WSPU a secret so that she may gain employment with families such as the Darlings. It is Sophie who really helps Vicky become the person she wants to be. She dresses her in art-centered clothing to bring out Vicky’s passion for art. She helps her sneak out to WSPU events and also art events under the guise of charity work. Luckily Sophie gets her happily ever after at the end, because she really deserves it!!
The romance that blossoms between Vicky and Will is so real and believable. It wasn’t a passing fancy, no matter how hard Vicky tries to convince herself that she doesn’t love him, and can make herself love her fiance, Edmund. It’s sad that at this time in history, this is probably how a lot of young women felt. 
This book is a wonderful read, and I would recommend it really, to anyone!! The only thing I noticed that kind of upset me, is that it seemed to end a little abruptly. I wasn’t ready to end my adventures with Vicky yet! But we get a nice ending with sufficient closure, so there really isn’t much for me to complain about there.

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 {38} SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer
SERIES: Stand Alone
AUTHOR: Morgan Matson
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: May 7th 2013 by Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
EDITION: Paperback, 468 pages
ACQUISITION: Own
CATEGORIES: Review, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Friendship, Family, Death, Loss, Four Star Rating, Morgan Matson, Second Chance Summer
RATING: 4.00/5.00
GOODREADS RATING: 4.13/5.00
ADD TO GOODREADS

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak. 

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.


Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.


As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

MY THOUGHTS: Rarely will I ever pick up a book that deals with the C-word… Cancer. It’s a topic way too close to home for me, as I know it is for many people. I like my stories upbeat and happy, but this one just called out to me and I decided to go ahead and read it.
What I liked about the book, is that there was equal parts fluff and heavy stuff. Even though it’s technically a beachy summer read, I needed a break from the doldrums of this snowy, cold winter and joined Taylor Edwards and her family on their vacation in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
I really liked the growth in Taylor’s character throughout the book – even though there were moments where she drove me crazy! She was likeable enough, but she just annoyed me at times. Throughout the beginning of the book, we learn that something happened between Taylor and her first boyfriend, Henry, and best friend, Lucy. I spent all this time thinking, oh man! What could she have done to make them hate her this much? And then when I found out I was like, oh. That’s it? So I think that was a little let down.
Another enjoyable aspect of the book is watching the Edwards family come together and change into something they never had been before. They all rally around Mr. Edwards to give him the best last few months of his life, and learn things about each other that they had never known before. Out of grief comes a sense of togetherness.
The friendship between Taylor and Lucy was fun to read about, and once they talk again they are able to pick up right where they’d left off all those years ago. The relationship between Henry and Taylor is sweet and endearing. They truly make a great, cute couple but I definitely think Warren and Wendy getting together is even sweeter!
Overall, if you’re looking for a quick, cute summer (or a break from winter) read, I’d recommend this one at will.
SIMILAR READS: Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker | In Honor by Jessi Kirby | The Story of Us by Deb Caletti | Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy | Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams | Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf | Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti | Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole | First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky 
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!

SAVE THE DATE {24} The Ghost in the Glass House

THE GHOST IN THE GLASS HOUSE
AUTHOR: Carey Wallace
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: September 3rd 2013 by Clarion

EDITION: Hardcover, 240 pages

CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts, Urban Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Clarion Books, Carey Wallace, The Ghost in the Glass House, Save the Date

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: In a 1920s seaside town, Clare discovers a mysterious glass house in the backyard of her new summer home. There she falls in love with Jack, the ghost of a boy who can’t remember who he was before he died. Their romance is a haven for her from the cruel pranks of her society friends, especially her best friend, Bridget, who can’t wait to grow up and embark on romances of her own. As Clare begins to suspect an affair between her mother and Bridget’s father, she retreats to the glass house. But that haven begins to crack when she realizes that Jack has lied to her about his name . . . From a dazzling and fearless new voice comes a shimmering story full of wonder and mystery, in a world where every character is haunted by lingering ghosts of love.

MY THOUGHTS: 1920s? Say no more, I’m already “Wanting to Read” it. I adore anything and everything to do with the Roaring ’20s. I don’t know why, or where this obsession started but I may or may not have imagined myself attending one of Jay Gatsby’s famous parties dressed up in Flapper apparel. How cool would that be?! That being said, this tale adds ghosts and romance into the mix,  there’s no way that I can say no! 
Do you think you’ll read this one? Let me know in the comments!

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!

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