First Impression Fridays

First Impression Friday || Deathcaster (Shattered Realms #4) by Cinda Williams Chima

Howdy! I wanted to add more to my blogging week and decided to try First Impression Fridays!

This meme was created by Joe at JW Martin – Storeys of Stories. The rules are:

• Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
• Did you think you’d love and ended up hating it? Or did you think you’d hate it and wound up loving it? Or were you exactly right?
• Link back to Storeys of Stories so everyone can enjoy reading all the First Impression Fridays out there!

BOOK SUMMARY:

SPLINTERED ALLEGIANCE.

Warrior Alyssa ana’Raisa would do anything to protect her home, the Fells, and her legacy, the Gray Wolf Line. But as a prisoner of Empress Celestine, Lyss is forced to turn her fearsome talents as an army commander against her beloved homeland. Refusal would swiftly lead to her death, and her death would end the Gray Wolf Line.

ANCIENT DANGER.

In Lyss’s absence, Fellsmarch Castle swarms with intrigue, deception, and a primordial threat. Destin Karn, a Southern spymaster with a hidden agenda of his own, might be the queendom’s only hope of defeating the forces aligned against the Seven Realms… as well as the enemies within the castle.

THE DEADLY COST OF PEACE.

Master storyteller Cinda Williams Chima delivers spellbinding action, bittersweet reunions, and dazzling revelations in this indispensable conclusion to the Shattered Realms series. 

I’m about 100 pages into the finale book for the Shattered Realms series. I’m a bit sad that this is the last book in this world. Seven Realms became one of my favorite series last year and immediately picked this up after finishing it.

So far so good in this behemoth (656 pages!). There’s been a lot of POV changes and a lot of things happening. I expect chaos to reign and am excited to see what the costs will be to bring peace to this land at last.

I’m also hoping all of my ships sail. I’m not sure if anyone will be killed off. I’m hoping it’s not anyone high on my favorites list or I’ll flip my lid.

I think that I will love this book. I wasn’t as impressed with book 3, but finales have a way of winning me over big time. I know I’m going to lose sleep trying to finish Deathcaster.

Final rating prediction?

☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆

This book would have to fall off a cliff for me to give it less than an amazing rating. Gonna get back to it now.

Is this on your TBR? Have you already read it? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review

Book Review: Stormcaster (Shattered Realms #3) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 535 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The third book in the thrilling four-book Shattered Realms series from New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima

The empress in the east—the unspeakably cruel ruler whose power grew in Flamecaster and Shadowcaster—tightens her grip in this chilling third installment in the series.

Vagabond seafarer Evan Strangward can move the ocean and the wind, but his magical abilities seem paltry in comparison to Empress Celestine’s. As Celestine’s bloodsworn armies grow, Evan travels to the Fells to warn the queendom of her imminent invasion. If he can’t convince the Gray Wolf queen to take a stand, he knows that the Seven Realms will fall. Among the dead will be the one person Evan can’t stand to lose.

Meanwhile, the queen’s formidable daughter, Princess Alyssa ana’Raisa, is already a prisoner aboard the empress’s ship. Lyss may be the last remaining hope of bringing down the empress from within her own tightly controlled territory.

Multiple intricately interwoven storylines converge in this gripping novel about a brave, coordinated effort to undermine a horrific tyrant.

I LIKED MOST OF IT.

Unfortunately, I think this will be the weakest book in the series. My biggest issue is that each book has started with a new character. Then we spend 100+ pages going over their back story while I’m impatiently waiting to get back to the main story-line, stopping the empress.

The problem with beginning with the back-story is that it makes all of the love interests seem quick and insta-attraction (even when the story talks about time jumps). I love the opposite attraction of Evan and Destin. Evan is striving to right wrongs and save not only his Kingdom, but the Seven Realms. Then we have Destin, a complex, morally gray character who I LOVE. I never know what kind of move he’s going to make.

I think all of these relationships are going to have a major reckoning in Deathcaster. I can’t wait to see how everyone comes together since literally every pair is one opposite sides of the realm currently.

Now there’s so many POVs and so many things happening that I was missing some characters. Lyssa and Ash, for instance, were hardly in here, even though they are super critical to the finale.

While I had some issues, this authors writing is still entrancing. I find myself flying through the book. I love all of the politics and world-building. Everyone is crossing paths and then double-crossing their actions. It’s really exciting and I love all the twists and turns. I definitely have a lot more questions and am so excited to finish this just in time for the release of the last book!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: knives, physical, poison
  • Trigger warnings: domestic abuse

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary
Length: 304 pages
Author: A.K. Small
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Expected Release Date: May 21st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

Thank you to Netgalley, and the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

SURPRISINGLY DARK.

I went into this book blindly reading because the synopsis was intriguing and I haven’t read any dance books before. I was really happy with how much I enjoyed it! I devoured it in hours.

This is one of those very rare instances where insta-love works. Dear independent Kate, really struggled in the boy department. And I was so angry and upset at her and for her. Her mental health is so poor and turning to boys only made things worse and this broke my heart.

Marine is the softer of the two and is completely wrapped up in her own grief. I liked how she overcame her personal struggles and allowed love into her life. Luc was way too precious and I LOVE him. He was the real hero of this story if you ask me.

On the other hand I’m going to personally destroy the snake, Cyrille. While I think the nickname “The Demigod” is a bit lame it made sense from a teen perspective. He was seriously the worst though y’all. Don’t even get me started.

The real danger is when passions rule your life. This ballet school is a deadly mash-up that kept me on my toes. I legitimately was concerned that this book wouldn’t have a happy ending. I’m grateful that the story was wrapped up and everyone went the direction they needed to.

One of the few issues I had with it was the amount of unexplained dance phrases. Anyone without a full knowledge (like myself) would be a tad confused with the dance scenes. I gathered enough, but I did get confused on occasion. The transitions to flashbacks was also a touch perplexing. I often didn’t realize we had gone to the past when the book had already come back to the present.

Overall audience notes:

Second Note: The Trigger Warning section will contain mild spoilers. I generally try to keep it free of those, but I feel it’s important to know what you might stumble across because this book has some difficult themes that shocked me and I would want others to know before reading.

  • YA Contemporary: difficult themes, please see Trigger Warning section
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: lots of kisses/make-outs, a few very little detailed love scenes
  • Violence: personal (detailed in trigger section)
  • Trigger warnings: anorexia, general obsession with weight, smoking, drug-use, underage drinking, self-harm, abortion, sexual exploitation, and suicide

Instagram || Goodreads

Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Like To Switch Places With

Y’all, I am on the struggle bus for today’s Top Ten Tuesday!

I had a hard time deciding on anyone I’d switch places with and consulted my entire read shelf on Goodreads to help me decide.

I finally came up with a list though!! And have made it another week. Let’s go.

As usual, in no particular order:

America || The Selection Series

Someone messed up and I feel like I missed my calling as a Princess. I clearly was in the wrong place at the wrong time to ever meet a Prince (but don’t tell my husband).

Elizabeth Bennett || Pride and Prejudice

“You have bewitched me body and soul and I love, I love, I love you.” I have a lot of book boyfriends and they are definitely motivating my choices in this line-up.

Asha || The Last Namsara

I really want a pet dragon. Asha has a pet dragon. I would like to switch places with Asha.

Feyre || A Court of Mist and Fury

Another book boyfriend, my High Lord, Rhys. Yeaaaaaah. I’d switch places with Feyre easy, he’s mine.

Lara Jean || To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Peter K. is a precious cinnamon roll who is too much of a sweet-heart for his own good. I also would love to spend a lot more time baking than I do. I can smell the cookies now…

Lira|| To Kill a Kingdom

Yes, I know she’s a siren but I am highly obsessed with mermaids and all things beach related. I was a mermaid in another life, I am sure of it.

Max || Where the Wild Things Are

Ohh, to have the imagination of a young child. I would love to feel that way again and to be Queen of the Wild Things.

Belle || Beauty and the Beast

I WANT THE LIBRARY. THAT IS ALL.

Also, now that I looked up more about the original story (the cover above) I am interested in reading where the phenomena came from.

Nova || Renegades

I’m not quite sure I would specifically want Nova’s never sleeping power, BUT I think it would me major fun to have some sort of super power. There’s so many to choose from in this series!

Anna || Anna and the French Kiss

I can’t be the only one who has had a fantasy about going off to a foreign country and meeting someone. And how absolutely precious is Etienne St. Clair?

All finished! Would you consider switching places with any of the above? Let’s talk in the comments!

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Shadowcaster (Shattered Realms #2) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 551 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A lifelong war.

Alyssa ana’Raisa is the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, a queendom embroiled in a seemingly endless war. Hardened by too many losses, Lyss is more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, she goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne.

A life in peril.

Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon has been fighting for his king since he was a lýtling. Lately, though, he finds himself sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.

The shadow of defeat.

GOOD.

It’s simple. This book was good, not great. I still was captured into the story by the writing and characters, but it was still missing that last little oomph that makes it a 5 star.

I love love love Lyss. She is a beast. A warrior. Independent. Lyss doesn’t even own a dress! And she has muscles! Oh how I adore the way the author portrays her heroines. I can’t wait to see how Lyss grows into the future Queen of the Fells and rules her Queendom. This is a big reason why I continue to love this (and her previous) series.

The love story is cute, definitely not insta-love like it was in Flamecaster. A little more slow-burn, with my favorite trope: enemies to lovers. Hal is caring and enigmatic. I really want more of his back story. I think there relationship is going places and I am here for it. He only annoyed me when he became a little too love-struck and that literally all he could talk about.

I was a bit confused that we only saw a few characters from the previous book. As a series it was strange to change to essentially a whole new cast. The two stories with Ash and Lyss haven’t combined yet so I’ll see what kind of answers I get in the next installment, Stormcaster.

The plot is engaging and continually moving forward. The antagonists are closing in from both sides on the Fells. And the action kept me on my toes. I’m definitely still interested in continuing this story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: an intense-ish make-out
  • Violence: arrows, knives, poison, explosions, physical

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Tag

Book Tag: Beauty and the Beast

Book Tag Saturday! I saw this over on Justine’s blog (Bookish Wisps) and since Beauty and the Beast is one of my top Disney movies ever, I couldn’t resist!

Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Mention the creator → Kirsty @ Kirsty and the Cat Read.
  • Match a book to each of the songs/characters below.
  • Tag as many people as you like.

“Tale As Old As Time” – A popular theme, trope or setting you’ll never get bored of reading

Enemies to Lovers. I will never not love the hate and angst that turns into crazy passion between characters. I LIVE FOR IT.

Belle – A book you brought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too. 

I LOVE watermelons and thought this cover was gorgeous and clever. And the book itself was the same way. It’s about a young girl struggling to understand her Mom with schizophrenia. The portrayal of mental health is poignant.

Find my review here!

Beast – Book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you.

I just finished this book a few days ago and it definitely was a pleasant surprise. I was afraid it might be on the shallow side, but the darker portions really brought out the deeper meanings of the story.

Gaston – A book that everyone loves that you don’t

While this isn’t my biggest unpopular opinion, it is one that I know may seem crazy. I didn’t hate this series, but I never felt totally connected to the plot and characters. I think the slower pace kept me from falling in love with them.

Lefou – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counterpart

SEVRO! I love Sevro so much. He is one of my favorite sidekicks ever. I do love Darrow, don’t get me wrong, but I love everything Sevro says and does.

Mrs. Pott, Chip & Cogsworth  – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable

I think the reason I love this book so much (and the series) is that it helps me through difficult times every time I pick it up. It’s the first book I go to in a reading slump, when I am feeling really down and a hundred other reasons. Feyre’s emotions remind me often of my own dark places and how she finds her happy ending reminds me that I have one too.

“Something There” –  A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end

I read the first book in the series and liked it, but didn’t think about looking for the second book.

Fast forward a year or two and I saw the second book at the library, thought, “why not?,” and LOVED it. Then I was able to snag book three, The Winter of the Witch, from Netgalley and fell even harder.

This is now one of my all time favorite series. If you’re looking for a fantasy book, seriously, pick these up. They won’t let you down.

“Be Our Guest” –  A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner

Rhys, The Most Handsome High Lord. This needs no explanation. I know I’m not the only one that would want this.

Not tagging anyone, but feel free to do this!

Instagram || Goodreads

Uncategorized

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: February 2019

March is here!

Lots of good reads this month! I finished the Shattered Realms series just in time for the last book to come out next week. Finally finished the Mistborn series and even found a contemporary I really enjoyed.

Life wise, my running injury is finally on the mend. We’re loving our new place and are loving the cool weather that is still sticking around.

Favorite from February: The Hero of Ages

Least favorite: The Dysasters

You win some, you lose some! Have you read any of these? Let’s talk in the comments! Happy March!

Instagram || Goodreads