Book Review

Book Review: Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 535 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A burning vengeance.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. The son of the queen of the Fells, Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

A blood-based curse.

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Destiny’s fiery hand.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

DRAGONS Y’ALL.

If that word doesn’t drag you in, the fact that Chima is an amazing author should convince you. I love her writing and her books. This series is setting up to be added to my favorites.

This book is filled with so much evil. I mean whoa, within the first few chapters I already felt like sobbing. I mean HOW, JUST…how. But this, in a weird way, is one of the better things about Flamecaster. I hate the antagonists. I mean, with a passion. I love that I feel that deeply because it goes to show just how enchanting the writing is.

The only real big reason I went with 4 stars is the insta-love. It’s not terrible, I wasn’t overly frustrated with it, only perplexed. There could have been a lot more build-up to it. A scene where magic is used to “see” each other (as vague as I can be without spoiling) tries to make-up for the attraction. I’m still boarding the ship, but I imagine I’ll get there.

My favorite was the handful of minor twists that tie in from the previous series. I kept thinking to myself, how did I miss that? The book is a little slow, but all of these enlightening moments will definitely be involved in further installments. The dynamic conglomeration of different cultures and people throughout this world is amazing.

All of these characters are strong and realistic. They’re young, they make mistakes, and have a lot of feelings. You’re on their side from the get-go. I love, once again, how strong and independent the female leads are. I’m excited to see how these heroines grow and adapt.

Shout out to my tagline, there’s dragons you guys!! An actual dragon, who could even speak some. Oh I hope we see it even more! There’s a big story-line here that is waiting to burst.

“Oh, I see. This situation isn’t bad enough, so you’re going to try and make it worse.”

This quote is a direct picture of how this book went. A lot of diving into sketchy situations without thinking them through. Plenty of action and political maneuverings. I am so excited to read Shadowcaster.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Important to read Seven Realms series first
  • Violence: physical, swords, knives, poison, attempted suicide
  • Romance: some kisses, an intense make-out
  • Language: some
Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Couples in Books

Happy Valentine’s Week!

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is all about couples. I have so many favorites that it was hard to narrow it down! I at least kept myself to only one couple per book series since occasionally I happen to love everyone.

I could rave deeply about these couples, but here’s a highlight of my top choices:

Feyre & Rhysand (ACOTAR)

It is absolutely no surprise this is my favorite couple. My OTP.

Han & Raisa (Seven Realms)

Thinking about them gets me every time. I love how strong they are independently, and how even better they are together.

Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy

Need I say more? I am still obsessed. And still watch the movie every couple weeks (Kiera Knightly version, of course).

Vin & Elend (Mistborn Trilogy)

While I wish there was a little more couple-ness between them they still make my day. Elend always supporting Vin makes me happy. Note: I have not finished Hero of Ages yet, so NO SPOILERS PLEASE! I have faith they survive.

Cress & Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles)

This a series with multiple couples I adore, but Cress & Thorne are my top favs. I love how protectively sweet he is to her.

Aelin & Rowan (Throne of Glass)

Some people may have mixed feelings towards them, I am not one of those. I absolutely adore these two and their unyielding faith in one another. This is another series where I have multiple favs (Elide & Lorcan) being in that mix.

Kestral & Arin (Winner’s Trilogy)

I have been dying to do a re-read of these books. I don’t remember them well enough anymore. Other than the fact that I LOVED the way Kestral & Arin’s story played out. It made me so angry at times, and then so utterly happy in the end.

Vasya & Morozko (Winternight Trilogy)

Y’all, they care about each other so much but both are so used to not dealing with their feelings they can’t cope. AND IT IS SO CUTE. This was one of my favorite pairings to watch grow over the series. It was completely amazing.

Tess & Will/Jem (The Infernal Devices)

AH. These guys are so great. And the way the love spans decades and time because they all love each other so much they gave each pair an opportunity to be together. I can’t, I just can’t.

Lark & Tiras (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles)

This is such a sweet, slow-burn love. Their relationship evolved over helping each other through personal struggles. And together became a King & Queen worthy of their kingdom.

Lots more love on my shelves, because I love love.

Have you read any of these? Are some of these couples your favorite too? Or do you actually hate them? Let’s talk in the comments!

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Book I Meant to Read in 2018 but Didn’t Get To

Welcome welcome to another week of Top 10 Tuesday!

I’m one of those weird book people who keeps a really tight leash on my TBR. It’s currently only at 62 books. Which is more than I’ve had in awhile honestly, so I had to be inventive about what books I really wanted to read last year but must get to this year!

Without further adieu, and in no particular order:

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray

I was on a huge Hamilton kick last summer and read almost everything I could get my hands on about his life. This one slipped through my fingers though. It’s already on my Kindle, so there’s still hope I get to it in 2019.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Only added this to my TBR because of the movie, yet still never got around to it BECAUSE, y’all, my library has a 6+ month wait-list on it. Yes, I’m still waiting. Update: I am now 12/36 people originally in line.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

After being delighted by his latest series: Scythe I wanted to read move Shusterman novels, maybe it’ll happen this year.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co.) by Jonathan Stroud

A Bookstagram I follow loves this series and hasn’t let me down on recommendations yet, so I wanted to try this series out! I am definitely getting to this one in 2019.

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

I went back and forth on keeping this on my TBR. After I saw her with SJM at the Kingdom of Ash event I wanted to try on of her novels.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Heard a lot of good things about this, and it is my all time favorite trope. So with that combination I should have picked it up last year!

Eidolon by Grace Draven

Low-key real obsessed with the first book of this series, Radiance. Truly meant to read the second book so I must know what happens soon!

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Since of course, I love SJM I was going to go ahead and read this (and maybe read the others in the series, oops).

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I have seen this book EVERYWHERE. And it’s a Sunshine Club book pick, and since Reese Witherspoon can do no wrong, I’m sure I’ll pick this up at some point in the near future.

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Her first series I read, The Demon King, was one of my top top top reads from 2018. It only makes sense to further my obsession.

And that’s a wrap! Have you read any of these yet? Which ones should I definitely read first? Let’s talk in the comments!

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: New to Me Authors I Read in 2018

Howdy!

It’s the first ever Top 10 Tuesday for my blog! One of my resolutions for this year is to add more content to GoodeyReads and I know this will be a step in the right direction.

This is a handful of New to Me authors (and I defined that by those I hadn’t read before, but maybe knew who they were) from last year!

Cinda Williams Chima

Oh y’all. This was one of my top favorite series from last year, and it is on my all time list. WHY DID I WAIT TO READ THIS? I’m super excited to start her following series, Shatter Realms, soon.

Brandon Sanderson

I held off on reading Sanderson for fear I wouldn’t love him as much as everyone else seems to. I was wrong. This series is wonderful, I’m currently in the midst of The Hero of Ages and plan to continue listening to the Cosmere.

Grace Draven

Seen on a Bookstagram post I took a leap of faith and absolutely adored this fantasy romance. It was different, passionate, and I have plans to read more of her books this year!

Rachel Caine

These are the first dystopian-based books I have read in a long time and have been completely enraptured (after the Hunger Games/Divergent era I was so over the concept). I love The Great Library series and can’t wait til the next book comes out.

Kristina Perez

My first of her books (and I believe one of her first novels too!). Totally swept away in this historical, magical romance. I was shook at the ending (because I did not know the tale it’s based off of) so I am all for the sequel this fall!!

Ron Chernow

I went through a history phase during the summer and read both of these practically back to back (these are 2,000 pages combined — yikes). I love love the way Chernow writes. It’s a history book that I’m captivated by. He tells the good, bad, and ugly of these men and I feel such a deeper understanding of American history by reading them.

Adrienne Young

VIKINGS Y’ALL. A beautiful debut standalone. She announced plans for a new book soon in the same realm (but years later with a new main character) and I squealed when I heard.

Kristin Hannah

Historical fictions are my jam. I was so engrossed in this I’m pretty sure I finished it in a day. It’s heart-breaking, soul-finding, and a strong story of a heroine I could cheer for.

Neal Shusterman

OH MY GOODNESS. THIS SERIES IS AMAZING. A librarian convinced me I would appreciate these, and she was on point (don’t we all love librarians?). Jaw dropping twists and cliff hangers galore.

Holly Black

Oh, I know at this point you’ve heard of her too. I never realized what I was missing until these cruel and wicked tales (see what I did there?). I think I’ll be looking in to her other books this year.

There ya have it! Ten authors I only read last year. Which authors are some of your fav? Did I definitely wait too long on some? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review

Review: The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms #4) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some kissing and love scenes, a lot of violence
Length: 598 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: October 23rd, 2012
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love. 

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it? 

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series. 

THIS WAS A FINALE.

The Crimson Crown was everything I love in a finale. It’s one of those books where yes, you know where it’s going, but not how, and I continually sat there way too anxious if my favs were going to make it out alive.

Han is definitely my forever favorite. He took a few pages from the dark side and I couldn’t be more thrilled. His continual passion for his one goal made me swoon and cheer him on over and over. I love that he’s not a typical hero. He came from a situation that should have never given him hope, and yet, he fiercely clung to the last string of faith he had.

Raisa is one of my all time top Warrior Queens. She unsurprisingly remained strong and stubborn. Even when crisis upon castle siege crisis came upon her, she was steadfast. I appreciated that she continually held to her ideals and what she wants for her Queendom (and Queendom? Hell yeah).

Now put those two together and they are a top OTP. Passionately fighting to be with each other, somehow betraying each other, and feeling this impending doom of never getting to be together. AHHHHH THE ANGST. Their collision is everything and their moment in the garden had me by my very soul. I love love love that they never lost faith in them.

This magic world is totally complex and the world building blew me away. I was so invested in how everything looked, felt, worked, sounded, etc. The prose isn’t heavy, but enlightening and spans the time that it needs too.

All of the side characters were well personalized. I actually felt like I knew them as well as I knew the main POVs. Crow, Dancer, Cat, Amon, Night Bird, and I could go on and on!! Crow was so presh. Acting all fatherly to Han and making sure he was okay and got what Crow never did *TEARS*. Cat was another great one who at last found a place for her in the Queendom and it was amazing to watch her grow over the series.

I missed seeing Amon a little bit, he wasn’t as big of a side character this round. But Dancer mostly picked up those sections, so it was alright, but that’s honestly the only major thing I can think of I struggled with. There’s a lot of politics, though enough kept happening that I didn’t mind.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Some intense kiss scenes, a loosely implied love scene
  • Lots of violence (torture, knives, magic, birds eating you alive)
  • Trigger warnings: implied rape (a backstory of one of the side characters)
Book Review

Review: The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, very little language, some kissing, a lot of violence
Length: 517 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: August 30th, 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen. 

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate. 

LOVIN’ EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

Barring a total downfall in the last book (which I strongly believe won’t happen) this will land in one of my top favorite series. This is all so great!

“Why is prophecy always so bloody cryptic?”

Isn’t this the epitome of most fantasy books? I love that Raisa freely speaks her mind. She is a fierce Queen who holds her own in warring circles of men. Her continual push to make her own decisions and on her own terms makes me love her character even more. Raisa isn’t wishy-washy and stands to be one of my fav feminine ladies.

I’m still obsessed with my cinnamon roll of a book boyfriend Han. Happiness is almost within reach. AND HE NEEDS THIS, OKAY? I can only hope that for once things work out in his favor in this last installment. I’m not sure what games he’s playing, but I will stand by his side to the end!

Y’all, the way this last book is shaking out, I’m in for a ride. There’s a lot of politicking that does get a little tiresome, but has been written really well compared to other books I found odious. The manipulations and machinations with this court are tricky. I can’t wait to see all the cards laid out!!

The world building is another great portion of The Gray Wolf Throne. All of our characters are continually moving around the countryside and I’m amazed at how beautifully it’s all written. Nothing is drawn out, but The Seven Realms are so diverse and I love being in this world.

What I also find unique is that Wizards aren’t loved. Other books tend to lean towards, everyone wants to be a wizard!, but here they are so mistrusted. It makes me enjoy this series on a new level.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy: wizards, magic
  • Almost non-existent language
  • A lot of violence (swords, arrows, knives, etc.)
  • Some solid kiss scenes, but nothing too crazy
Book Review

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some implied romance, kiss/make-outs, some violence
Expected Length: 586 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion Books 
Expected Release Date: September 24th, 2010
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret. 

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen. 

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

I AM ENJOYING THIS SERIES SO MUCH!

What started out as a bit slow as our characters made their way to Oden’s Ford gradually became an intense, couldn’t put down ending.

I DON’T KNOW WHERE WE GO FROM HERE Y’ALL.

Well, actually, I have a tiny bit of an idea. But so not sure on how this collision will work out. I have faith all goes well!

I promise you this: I will not be a captive Queen.

All hail future Queen Raisa. She is strong, stubborn, and unwilling to compromise her values. I love that she won’t give up on what she truly wants until there is no other option. I appreciate that she’s small and is actually not [that] great at sword-wielding. It makes her character more human and lets us see how her mind often comes up with a better solution.

Han, I love him even more this time around. He’s my little reformed thief wizard extraordinaire. I think our sweet soul is in for a rude awakening soon. His tenacity is about to bring his world really crashing down. I can’t wait to see what this does for his arc overall. 

I felt there was too much time spent in classes. It was lookin’ a little HP-esque and I was a bit bored listening to the ramble of professors. It did help the plot, but it’s also book two (of four) so there was unnecessary fillers.

A lot is happening with so many characters and I’m totally enamored. I love having a lot of story lines as long as they keep weaving back into the main plot. And this book is giving everything and more of that.

All the magic is enchanting and Oden’s Ford grew on me as time went on. There’s a lot of traversing through the countryside as well. I love how well the world is built and the map in this book definitely helps! 

Overall audiences notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Some vaguely implied romance; kisses/make-outs, a little descriptive
  • Some violence
  • Trigger Warnings: attempted assault