Book Review

The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult, no language, violence, lots of kissing
Length: 506 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: October 6th, 2009
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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…

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

WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD OF THIS SERIES TIL NOW?!

Y’all I was loving everything this book was putting out. It did begin slow and dragged through some sections, but the tale it set up for the next three books…I am SO EXCITED. 

Raisa is a strong female character who is the sassy princess heir I need. She is a lover of flirting with the boys, but who can blame her? Got some endgame choices to decide upon. I love that she refuses to set aside her ideals to be a better Queen and refusing to marry “just because”.  Raisa holds her own and is a smart fun character to watch.

I have a soft spot of reformed characters. Han gives the story some edge, but his heart is in the right place. His sections do drag more than Raisa’s, but his story line built over time. The plot twists involving Hanson did surprise me. I had surmised most information, but now I’m wondering where this all ends.

Raisa and Han are endgame though…right? If not, I have already chosen wrong which may affect my view points later on, we’ll see. They’re quite a few suitors (on both sides) that haven’t formed defined love triangles, so I’m still on board. Though, I do love Amon. He’s a precious cinnamon roll who I want love forever. DON’T BETRAY ME AMON. BUT ALSO, FIND HAPPINESS PLEASE. K, thanks.

This story progressively gets faster and more convoluted. The side characters are throwing so much into the mix that I’m sitting here debating who’s good, bad, or just in the book for fun. 

It was somewhat silly that these kids are 16-ish and so grown-up. Han was a previous streetlord, Raisa is taking on tasks befitting someone older, and is already trying to be married off. And the same goes for side characters. Though, the world is built in the concept of children as adults, so it’s not glaring if you’re okay with that concept. 

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Handful of kisses, nothing more
  • Violence (burnings, knives, pummelings, magic)
Book Review

Review: A Sorrow Fierce and Falling (Kingdom on Fire #3) by Jessica Cluess

Rating: some intdeterminate number between 3 & 4
Audience: Young adult, no language, violence, a quad-love
Length: 432 pages
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

It’s time for war.

After suffering terrible losses, Henrietta and Lord Blackwood have led their warriors to Sorrow-Fell, a vast estate where only those invited by a Blackwood may enter–and the ideal place to plan a final assault against the Ancients.

It’s time for a wedding.

Henrietta nervously awaits her marriage to Blackwood, but when the ritual to become his bride reveals a dark secret, she realizes that Sorrow-Fell is not a safe haven; it’s a trap. Convincing the sorcerers of this, however, is not easy. So with Maria, the true chosen one, and Magnus, the young man who once stole her heart, at her side, Henrietta plots a dangerous journey straight into the enemy’s lair. Some will live. Some will die. All will be tested.

In this stunning conclusion to the Kingdom on Fire series, Henrietta must choose between the love from her past, the love from her present, and a love that could define her future. While battles rage, the fate of the kingdom rests on her decision: Will she fall or rise up to become the woman who saves the realm?

It’s time for Henrietta to make her stand.

I’M AS INDECISIVE AS HENRIETTA AT THIS POINT.

I think it’s been a long time since I have been so razzled on what my rating should be (and how the review should go) as a whole. I ended up deciding to have an indeterminate number because depending on the day my opinion seems to change. I have so many thoughts over this book.  [If you’ve read this, comment/send e-mail! I’m curious what you thought of it].

First of all, I’ve probably mentioned this before…I rarely ever enjoy a love triangle; it’s probably my most hated trope. And in this case, it was a love…square? I think that’s what we’re calling it. This will be better as a list:

  • Rook — I never liked him honestly, felt he should have been a best friend, never even considered as a lover. He deserved SO MUCH MORE than he got in this book and his portions felt rushed to move the plot and Henrietta’s story along. Some pieces were meant to evoke emotion…but since I didn’t care for him anyways…I really wasn’t disappointed in what happened.
  • Blackwood — He also got the short straw in how his character behaved. I really loved him in the first two books! He’s been my endgame with Henrietta from literally book one. Then in this third book he became more than a “broody Mr. Darcy” type. He leaned towards villain and did things that I didn’t appreciate at all. By the end, I purely felt bad for him. Since he wasn’t in a good section of the book, it yet again felt hurried when he came in to settle things that I became cranky over it.
  • Magnus — the saint of boys…apparently. I’ve really come to enjoy his character over the series too. Sadly, he was a bit bland and never did anything wrong in this book. All past issues forgotten, he’s a man now *shrugs*. His portions with Hen are sweet, and I get it. I think this entire thing could have played out better.
  • Henrietta — because of all said above hills and valleys of the boys she loves because “each kind of love is different”, it really drove Hen’s personality into the ground. She was flighty and non-committal a hundred times over. I’m totally cool with a book presenting that a first love isn’t a true love, but it needs spacing. I [as well as she] need time to accept that first love for what it was THEN move on. Not hop, skip, and run to whoever was showing her the best affection at the time.

There were some twists in this book, THAT WERE SO COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. Alright, I’m really referring to one I am struggling to accept as a good piece of the story, but there were a few others that weren’t fun either okay? I saw them as a push to complete character arcs that had already burned to ashes in the first place, and adding such tid-bits only frazzled me more.

Note for the entire book: THE CHOSEN ONE DIDN’T DO A DANG THING. [also, if I heard one more character say that…] Y’all we’ve been learning about her for three books. And when it all came down to it, she was there, and did some stuff, but nothing “the chosen one” status. 

I felt like I was reading a hodge-podge of about a hundred different books I’ve read just this year. If you’re paying attention they’re so many elements that are in other current YA series that were thrown in here all willy-nilly!? Nothing was fleshed out because so much crap was added that they were only in the book for a page at best.

Now my ranting may seem like I hated it. Yet, in this weird way that I can’t figure out, it’s what made it a decent book too. The writing is pretty and the concept is different. The overall execution was a whole other story (see all paragraphs before this). I really think most people with LOVE it or HATE it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult, Victorian-era fantasy/historical fiction
  • No language (a feminine derogatory comment is made though)
  • Violence (mostly in the forms of magic; fire, wind, etc.)
  • One love scene, a little descriptive; some kisses and plenty of declarations of love for everyone

Book Review

Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

 

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult, some language, love scene/kissing, very little violence
Length: 310 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I AM A BAG OF MIXED EMOTIONS.

I’m not sure how I feel. On the one hand, yes, solid ending, made sense, okay cool. On the other hand…no, not quite what I was going for, am I happy about this? I’m not sure. I think I’m satisfied?

The writing, world-building and folklore surrounding Sparrow was unique. I liked the the way the current Sparrow flowed with the town 200 years ago. While totally unfortunate this secluded location is still swamped in the Swan Sisters, it made for a good story.

It’s a quick read that kept me busy. I did see the plot twist from about ten miles away, but that didn’t deter me. Instead, I was enough in the dark about the resolve of the story as a whole I surged on to the finale.

Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel [the Swan Sisters] are really the main characters. They have clear personalities and a bond that you couldn’t help but understand. Hazel broke my heart a few times over with her personal struggles. The story flashes backward every few chapters tying in the modern tale with how the girls became who they are today. Everything fit in smoothly and I never felt lost.

I did struggle with the twist because there was such a repetitive “everything is a secret, I can’t spill my secret” nature. It would have come off better in my opinion to actually be a little more blind-sided (thus, upping the mystery factor). I started getting frustrated that Bo and Penny wouldn’t just talk to each other. Not everything has to be hidden!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy/paranormal [witches], but set in contemporary Oregon
  • A love scene or two that are very glossed over, not descriptive; some kissing, etc.
  • Some expletive language
  • Minor violence (drownings)
Book Review

Review: Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult, violence, a kiss or two, very little language
Length: 430 pages
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: July 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY: 

To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Timesbestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

HOT DANG, THAT WAS A GOOD BOOK.

I’m so glad I’ve been continuing to read this series, this installment was the best one yet! I mean, heartbreaking and anger fueled, but really good.

I love Jess. He is such a great character. I can’t get enough of his sarcastic self. And all of his wielding and dealings keep me on my toes. His relationship with Morgan is still a toss-up in my mind. The amount of time they’ve spent together is real minuscule compared to the feelings they have for each other.

On the other hand, Wolfe and Santi have allllll my love. They are so precious. And getting Wolfe’s POV just added to it!! I love how fiercely loyal they are to each other and how that makes their relationship even stronger. I hope they at least come out at the end of the series actually having a chance for some quiet time and to be together.

 Also, also, KHALILA. A strong, diverse, genuinely kind woman This whole book is filled with diverse characters of all backgrounds. I feel like Caine did such a good job combining everyone together. There’s different religions, races, appearances, etc. It creates a truly universal book.

We got the chance to hear this from Jess, Morgan, Wolfe and Khalila (plus a few others in the last chapter). This increased the amount of action and the pacing. I thought it went a lot smoother than the other books because of this. The squad was broken up into different locations and this kept plot holes from being a mile wide.

My heart definitely shattered with the ending. I have no idea where this will take us in what [I think] is the last book. Can’t wait!

Overall audiences notes:
— Young adult sci-fi/dystopian
— Very little language
— Violence (guns, torture, physical, knives)
— Some declarations of love, and a handful of kisses

Book Review

Radiance (Wraith Kings #1) by Grace Draven

Radiance

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy romance, love scenes, minor language, violence
Length: 297 pages
Author: Grace Draven
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 13th, 2015 (first published Feb. 2014)
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

This was exactly what I expected this book to be and exactly what I felt like reading! A solid fantasy romance that was unique in its own ways.

First of all, Brishen and Ildiko? They don’t hate each other. Yes, forced to marry, but both of them are actually decent creatures who decided to make the best of a situation they didn’t choose. Refreshing to say the least.

While I could have used a little more angst between the two (they almost got along too well) it was nice that they seemed to appreciate each other. It was charmingly funny that they initially thought each other absolutely hideous.  Of course it was a huge play on don’t judge a book by its cover, but I don’t hate that trope…when done well. The slow burn of Brishen and Ildiko seeing the potential of a romantic relationship had me saying, yaaass. 

Besides those points, it’s nothing new for the genre or ground-breaking in anyway, but I was craving a solid romantic fantasy that I could drift away into for a bit and this delivered. Some pieces of the story aren’t fully fleshed out (the magic system, the other kingdom, etc.). It didn’t detract from the story though.

I liked the side characters and thought they played their roles well. Each brought a different angle in the communications between Kai and humans. I was a little disappointed in the epilogue because I thought it would be a little more epic (if you’ve read it tell me!!) but I’m definitely interested in the next book for this series!

Overall audience notes:
– Fantasy romance
– Minor, barely there language
– Detailed love scenes
– Violence (arrows, knives, torture)

Book Review

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA (but with major adult themes), violence, trigger warnings, a kiss, a lot of language
Length: 311 pages
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

…WHOA.

I’m not even quite sure where to begin because this book was a lot. In a horribly poignant, sad, but seriously a good book, way.

The author does a great job of withholding the fullness of the story as you go along. I read this in a handful of hours because I was completely enthralled with Sadie and her story. Mixing in the radio personality was a unique twist that allowed more character access to Sadie’s past while she was hurtling forward to her goal.

I truly sat there after I finished not knowing my feelings. They were everywhere. I was angry, confused, distraught, and wanting a different ending (I’m also not even sure what exactly happened at the ending, anyone else? AHH.) And while that sounds like I didn’t enjoy this, it’s not that at all. Summers created such a world of emotions, that while on the negative scale, was a beautifully heart-breaking well written book.

Emotional exploration was at the forefront. Struggling through the raw waves of grief, exhaustion, denial, anger, and betrayal of a young girl coping with her sister’s murder and so so much more.

The main theme is very adult, and very tough to read about. I felt panicked for Sadie the majority of the time wondering if West (the radio personality) would figure out her story fast enough to get to her. And if even Sadie herself would survive her own journey to find the killer.

“…I can’t take another dead girl.”

Overall audience notes:
– Young adult, but definitely leans towards adult
– Trigger warning themes: sexual abuse of children (throughout the entirety of the novel)
– A lot of explicit language
– Violence

Book Review

Review: Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer

Archenemies

 

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy/Sci-fi, no language, a kiss scene, violence
Length: 560 pages
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Release Date: November 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Renegades Trilogy continues, in this fiercely awaited second installment after the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other’s worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

DARN YOU, BOOK 2 SYNDROME.

Y’all, why. Don’t get me wrong, I’m buying the third book because crap will hit the fan since nothing happened in this book. I now fully expect (I know, should be keeping expectations low) the final installment to be a worthy tale since there is going to be a loooot to cover in 500+ pages.

I rarely know if an author has to make more books than they planned, or if it was originally intended to be a certain length, but really. This could’ve been a duology.

I’ll start with things I didn’t mind and enjoyed!

  • Watching Nova and Adrian try to flirt was so precious, and I definitely found myself chuckling occasionally.
  • The last 100 pages when the action picked up and sped through to the finale.
  • The scenes where everyone were friends/family, just doing friends/family stuff. I always like peaceful scenes interspersed with the drama.

Now this is where I get on the struggle bus:

  • WHERE WAS THE ACTION? For a long book, about heroes/villains no less, I expected so much more. Nothing essentially happened until the last, last section of the book where Nova started going through with the plans she made in the FIRST book. We spent the entire book talking about plans, to do this, that, blah blah blah. Someone do something!?
  • While I thought all the flirting was cute, this book was entirely focused on their will they/won’t they scenario. Fine, that’s totally fine, but like my previous bullet I was going for more and thought this should have taken a back seat. I personally was set on this being an action based book and was disappointed it felt more romance-ish.
  • Some of the characters were/became so disappointing. Ah man, I’m still fuming about it. So I don’t dive into spoilers, you’ll see what I mean.

The third book, I desperately hope, will be a real page turner. There were some scenes I completely expected to happen that fell through, that we all know HAVE TO HAPPEN AT SOME POINT. I was thinking it would happen earlier, but I’m still waiting to flush some character secrets out to really get the angst going.

Overall audience notes:
– Young adult fantasy, sci-fi
– No language
– Violence ranges based on prodigies ability
– Love is mostly teenage flirting, one kiss scene that is barely detailed