Book Review

Book Review: Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire #3) by Michael J. Sullivan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: High fantasy
Length: 420 pages
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release Date: July 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Rich in magic and adventure, Michael J. Sullivan’s soaring fantasy novels are masterworks of heroism, love, and sacrifice. Now, in Age of War, the epic battle between humankind and the cruel godlike beings who once ruled them finally ignites in all its fury.

The alliance of humans and renegade Fhrey is fragile—and about to be tested as never before. Persephone keeps the human clans from turning on one another through her iron will and a compassionate heart. The arrogant Fhrey are barely held in check by their leader, Nyphron, who seeks to advance his own nefarious agenda through a loveless marriage that will result in the betrayal of the person Persephone loves most: Raithe, the God Killer.

As the Fhrey overlords marshal their army and sorcerers to crush the rebellion, old loyalties will be challenged while fresh conspiracies will threaten to undo all that Persephone has accomplished. In the darkest hour, when hope is all but lost, new heroes will rise . . . but at what terrible cost?

WHY. WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY?

From the summary alone, I knew I was going to be destroyed by this book. And I was unfortunately right, but it hurt even worse. I sat there numb after, not knowing what I was supposed to do next. How do we go on?

I love this series so much. All of these characters are absolutely stunning. Everyone has back story, desires, strengths and weaknesses, EVERYTHING. I love each one of them in their own ways. Even the antagonists have stories and reasons. It makes this push and pull so intriguing and well thought out. There’s a lot of political movements, battles, and quiet moments.

In previous reviews I mentioned that I felt it was missing a touch of romance. THIS GAVE IT TO ME. It just needed a little and this was the perfect amount. I saw some new relationships blossom (and I AM HERE FOR IT) that were tender and precious to watch. I saw some relationships strengthen and hold fast to one another in the darkest moments. I unfortunately saw some relationships ripped from my hands as I pleaded to the bookish gods to give them ONE MORE MOMENT. *walks away from review*

*deep breath*

Okay, I’m back. I clearly am still struggling with that conclusion. Age of War does not mess around and the loss that occurred throughout this book was devastating. I’m really invested in these characters y’all.

And while I love them, the world building and magic system bring it all together. This world is vast and I feel I’m only scratching the surface. It’s utterly stunning. I think the magic system is clever and actually makes sense (I know we’ve all read magic books when we sit there saying “what….?”). There’s reasoning and explanations for why things are the way they are (regardless if it should or will remain that way).

This series is fantastic and I will recommend it ALL DAY.

Overall audience notes:

  • High fantasy
  • Language: b*tch used two or three times
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: swords, elemental magic, poison, arrows, demons, physical
  • Trigger warnings: suicide ideation

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Tropes

I found this topic easy and hard all in the same breath. I also could think of more tropes I DON’T like easier than I could come up with tropes I DO like. When I’m reading a great book I honestly don’t notice many tropes (besides the first one below). After the fact and seeing other reviews I realize how many tropes were actually present in the plot. But you better believe I notice when tropes are done poorly, making them stick out like a sore thumb.

So after a lot of thought, I’ve come up with some that I remember that I love. Not in any order, except for the first one because ENEMIES TO LOVERS ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.

I added some covers of books that remind me of the trope, it’s definitely not an exhaustive list!

Enemies to lovers

OH MY GOODNESS. This is really my one and only ultimate trope and it never gets old. NEVER.


Someone being secretly royal

I’m looking at you Throne of Glass.


A romance that begins with one of them undercover

And no, not in a bad way. I’m thinking along the lines of The Kiss of Deception and The Traitor’s Kiss. That moment when the reader knows what’s going on, but they don’t yet and the fall out leads to a passionate kiss. YES.


Families with a lot of siblings

Big families (Dance of Thieves – Ballenger clan) are great. I love all of the banter between siblings. SO FUN.


Forbidden romance (star-crossed lovers)

UGH WHY CAN’T THEY JUST BE TOGETHER FOREVER?


Parents who are still alive (at least one)

I like a present parent, what can I say?


When a legitimate villain does a good thing

I’m a sucker for a bad guy who makes one good move in their time.


A good partnership with fantastic banter

I LOVE when the banter is off the charts between a working friendship. These are some great examples.


Squad goals

Squad 313, Night Court, Court of Terrasen, Skyward. This is without a doubt one of the greatest tropes ever.


Royalty living in exile, running away

Banished royalty gathering a group to take back their throne? YESSSS.

What are some of your favorite tropes? What about least favorite? It was fun seeing how many tropes are in one book! Lets talk in the comments!

Book Review

Book Review: The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy (mythology)
Length: 394 pages
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release Date: March 6th, 2008
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When demonic cheerleaders invade his high school, Percy Jackson hurries to Camp Half Blood, from whence he and his demigod friends set out on a quest through the Labyrinth, while the war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near.

JUST MOVING RIGHT ALONG THROUGH THESE BOOKS!

Another fun, quick read. I am loving the audio books! It’s amazing how quick they go by when you’re listening.

This one took a bit of a different turn with following Annabeth on a quest! I initially loved this idea and was here for it, but her teen jealousy streak with Rachel kinda annoyed me. I’m still confident that Annabeth & Percy are endgame so the addition of Rachel was a bit superfluous. I’m curious how this plays out in the last book.

I also thought Grover was over staying his welcome too. I LOVE his character, but since his story line is so different it might have been good as its own novella or something, I’m not sure.

I do love the friendships between everyone. Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Tyson (with occasional additions of Rachel and Nico) are who I want to cheer for and be friends with myself. They have such a tight bond and care deeply for one another. I love that this read has its focus there. It’s a nice change of pace from the romances I generally read.

The labyrinth was SO COOL. I thought it was fun and inventive and a great change of location. This book needed a better edge and the maze gave it. You never knew quite where they would end up and there were so many mini adventures along the way.

This build-up for the final battle has me on my toes. WHAT HAPPENS. I have a handful of thoughts and preferences to what happens, but no idea what is actually coming. I know this last book is going to be the best one.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult/middle-grade urban fantasy + mythology
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: some, but never very bloody/full of gore

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl #1) by Mara Rutherford

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 432 pages
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press, and Netgalley for the digital ARC. All opinions are my own.

REALLY FEELIN’ THIS.

Oh wow. I am so excited I received an ARC for this because it was fantastic!

At first, I was worried. I didn’t realize this was a duology (once I checked this, it also quickly got better and made more sense). It took about 40% of the way through the book to get Nor off her home island, Varenia. I still think too much time was spent there, but it seems it was being used to really build a background for Nor and her family/lifestyle.

Once off the island and in Ilara, things start really going down. I was all for one of the princes because I imagined him as this rough bad guy who has a soft side that would slowly come out. HOT DANG, I was wrong. I kept flipping pages trying to see if we would get a redemption for him, and it still hasn’t happened. I thought I would be frustrated with this, but instead…I am here for it. Own your evil. He’s an amazing villain that I know has many more layers that I can’t wait to see in book two.

Nor’s love interest is growing on me. Since I wasn’t for him at first I had pushed him to the side for a bit until it was clear what was brewing between the two. I love the mystery and intrigue behind him as well. There’s so much to still learn. We got plenty in this book and it felt like it left just the right amount out for further solving the puzzle of the princes of Ilara.

I really loved Nor as our main character. She grew on me over the story. I liked that she had such a tight sister bond with Zadie and that that never wavered. Family continually remained important to her. Nor was sneaky, a bit impulsive, and full of love for those close to her. I am behind her as a heroine for Varenia.

I thought the pacing at times was slow, but things continually picked up. It made this hard to put down and I was always wondering what would happen next. The ending was left open, but not in a CLIFFHANGER kind of way.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little light language
  • Romance: a few kisses, occasionally a little passionate
  • Violence: poison, torture, blood-letting, swords, knives, near-drownings, throwing people off of cliffs, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult supernatural
Length: 377 pages
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: June 28th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

GETTING BETTER & BETTER.

This installment was my favorite yet, another simple quick read that I devoured in a day.

I love the world that Ritter has built. And each book has added another piece to the world itself. We get to see new locations, adventures and characters that only add to the book.

Jackaby is so fun to watch. He has some of the best small talk and one-liners and seeing him have some feelings?! YES. It’s also great that we got some back-story on him and I like this new layer it added to his character. My favorite is that this book is heavy on the friendship. And while I love romance, when a friendship is done so well you don’t even notice it’s awesome. Abigail and Jackaby have a great relationship and genuinely care for each other, what a great duo.

Charlie and Abigail took a much bigger backseat than in the previous books. Almost as if it might have been best to not even have a romance component for Abigail (unless it all comes together in book four, to be determined). I think they’re SO CUTE, but since I wish we had more of them it’s hard to love this romance wholly.

What I realized in this third book was that so much from the beginning of this series is pulling through to the finale. There’s been a lot of build-up and slowly peeling away the layers to create what I know will be an amazing finale. I love how nuanced some of these aspects have been and how it’s all falling into place.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult supernatural fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss or two
  • Violence: murder, vampires, physical, some magical

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Book Review

Book Review: Fire Falling (Air Awakens #2) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 359 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: November 19th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Fire Falling is the second book in the Air Awakens Series.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT KIND OF CLIFFHANGER?!

THAT WAS THE BIGGEST CLIFFHANGER I HAVE EVER READ. At least I think so, it’s the most recent one in my memory that had me literally buy the next book (YAY KINDLE) at that moment and read the first chapter to make sure I had a handle on what happened.

I’M NOT OKAY.

This book drew me in, loved me, THEN BROKE ME. I am so hooked by this series now.

The focus here is the love story. And I know that not everyone loves stories like that and I understand, but for me? ALL DAYYYYYY. I love love. Anywho, Aldrik and Vhalla just broke into my top five OTPs. I absolutely can’t get enough of their interactions and I was pretty sure this slow burn was going to be the end of me. It was slowww and so well built. By the time I actually got a kiss scene I squealed. That’s all I wanted y’all. Some declarations and some kissing. YES.

“My Vhalla, my lady, my love.”

There’s a lot more going on than this relationship (but am I honestly paying that much attention? Okay, not as much as I should). I am loving the politics of finding out more about the Emperor. His character is a bit of an enigma still. I want to know all the reasons he’s really trying to conquer the lands around him.

All of these side characters are amazing. I am devastated by some choices Kova made for them, but I will prevail. It’s too great of writing for me to be that upset. Everyone is easy to love (or hate) and I feel connected to the story through all of them. I love the roles everyone is playing and can’t wait to see those continue.

This book surprisingly takes place over a couple of weeks on the way to the battle. I didn’t even realize this because I was so focused on everyone else. I was entranced by this book and I’m pretty confident that Elise Kova is going to be an auto-buy author by the end of this.

HERE FOR IT ALL Y’ALL.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none (or maybe one word, but so little I didn’t notice)
  • Romance: some kisses/make-outs, sleeping in the same bed but actually sleeping, no sex scenes
  • Violence: knives, swords, a bit bloody, elemental magic, murder, loss of loved ones, poison

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Uncategorized

Book Review: In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) by Tamora Pierce

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 264 pages
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 1st, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Disguised as a boy, Alanna of Trebond becomes a squire, to none other than the prince of the realm. But Prince Jonathan is much more to Alanna; he is her ally, her best friend, and one of the few who knows that she’s really a girl. Now it will take all of Alanna’s awesome skill, strength, and growing magical powers to protect him from the mysterious evil sorcerer who is bent on his destruction, and hers!

Here continues the story of Alanna, a young woman bound for glory who is willing to fight against enormous odds for what she believes in.

NOW I’M GETTING INVESTED.

I find it rare to come across a short fantasy book (less than 300 pages). I’m loving that this are this short because it’s a good break from big daunting fantasy books.

Alanna is someone I think we can all cheer for. I love continuing to watch her grow and become a powerful woman in her own right. She makes her own decisions and has her own convictions about how she wants her life to go and I applaud her for trying to attain those goals.

Yes, things could be overall fleshed out more. That’s the downfall to shorter reads. This has a lot of focus on just Alanna. A lot of information is thrown into casual conversation without any backstory. I occasionally was confused as to why things happened but, I like focusing on Alanna and what she’s going through rather than what everyone else is doing. This is a rare case of me being able to overlook these matters.

Her kinda sort-of-ish love connection is intriguing. I like that Alanna is choosing who she wants to be with on her own volition (but also you said you didn’t want to be with anyone…so….?). It’s good and fine and all, but I’m not sure they’re endgame. I think it would be interesting if she actually ended up with no one and she originally intended. WE’LL SEE.

The villain still makes me laugh. He’s not evil enough for me and since Alanna keeps besting him, there’s not a push and pull of issues between them.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, mentions of spending the night with each other, but no actual depictions of those nights
  • Violence: swords, poison, magic, kidnapping, murder, battle skirmishes

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