Book Review

Book Review: Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Urban Fantasy
Length: 498 pages
Author: Fonda Lee
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: November 7th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

NEW FANTASY SERIES FOR ME.

I am a lover of all things fantasy, though they do tend to lean towards fantasy with romance. So this is more outside of my usual. Aaaaaaand, I loved it! Definitely can’t wait to continue with The Green Bone Saga.

These characters are something else. Ambiguous, complex, loyal [to a fault sometimes], and so much more. I have a soft spot for Hilo, but I was pretty smitten with everyone by the time this book ended. There’s many tough choices, and rough scenarios that bring out the best and worst in everyone. I love that I could never see quite what was coming, who was dying, and what choices each person was going to make. Being kept on my toes is my favorite aspect.

This magic system and world set up is fascinating. I appreciate that this magic system has clear limitations and rules. It made for a concrete structure that I could easily follow and understood in minimal time. I love the Asian inspired and clan setting amongst the world. Things were centered more around the Kaul siblings and their lives rather than any major romances. Did I miss the romance? In this books case, no. It worked beautifully just the way it was.

The ending was open enough to make me want the next book, and closed enough to not be left on a major cliffhanger. I can’t wait to follow these characters through the next book (which I’ve heard is even better!!)

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy
  • Language: strong throughout
  • Romance: 2 small/brief open-door scenes
  • Violence: very bloody/gory and detailed; physical, magic, swords, guns, skirmishes and battles
  • Trigger warnings: brief mention of a characters family member passing away from suicide

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Book Review

Book Review: The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 766 pages
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: June 11th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

FINALE OF MY DREAMS.

Opening up the last book in a series is always a momentous, and nerve-wracking occasion. Will this meet all my expectations and give the ending I’m hoping for? I can easily say for The Empire of Gold, that was the case. This was an amazing finale and I’ll shout again, YOU SHOULD READ THIS SERIES.

I loved how everything moved and flowed. The action kept my heart in my throat, I truly didn’t know who was going to survive this series. Many, many scenes of politics, which usually I struggle with, changed my mind here. They were intense meetings and moments trying to decide the fate of a beloved city. The intensity of emotions really compelled my own feelings.

The villains in this are legit. Oh wow, so complex and convoluted, that you maybe don’t cheer for them, but you get it. The ability to weave such a dynamic character for an antagonist kept me intensely interested. I wanted to know how things were going to happen, because the utter ruthlessness had me gasping.

Now to my loves, Nahri, Ali, and Dara. AH I LOVE THEM ALL. I can’t put into words how amazing these characters are. I love the diversity and clearly unique personalities between them all. The weaving interactions and moments between them had me catching my breath. Even brought some tears to my eyes as the book started wrapping up. The words between them were powerful and this ended in all the ways it needed too. It’s one of those endings that you can’t say is glaringly happy, but fits so perfectly, you know you’ve just finished a book you’ll remember.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-out
  • Violence: often and bloody/gory; physical, torture, mutilation, war

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Book Review

Book Review: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 472 pages
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Straus and Giourx
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

A GOOD START.

I’ve decided I’m into this. Enough to check out the next in this series.

It’s hard to judge a fantasy series off of the first book because I know fantasies can take a long time to build. I think that was the case here. There was world-building, magic systems, personalities of characters to begin to figure out. This was all present here and makes me hopeful that in the next one we’ll get get to the real deepness of the book now that the groundwork is laid out.

I love the setting and it felt good to be back in a YA fantasy world. It’s my favorite genre for a reason! I love Zafira and Nasir. Hot dang the tension between them was aaaaamazing. Hardcore shipping them and better get a HEA with them or I’ll just be obliterated. They had good banter, moments of strength and weaknesses, and you could really feel them.

Things started off strong with pacing, but oh wow, dragged in the middle. It unfortunately showcased one of my lower favorite tropes, traveling. Most of the book focused on Zafira going on a journey to restore magic. Plenty of things happened along the way, yet at times felt like it things were moving rather slowly. Luckily in the last quarter they sped up again and the action took off, leaving me wondering what’s going to happen next.

These side characters were fantastic too! I didn’t find the forgettable or annoying. I wanted to know more about them and was also blown away when plot twists came in involving them. They weren’t wasteful additions and clearly are bringing a lot to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, some intense kissing
  • Violence: swords, arrows, ifrit/magical creature attacks, physical, magic

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Book Review

Book Review: Elantris (Elantris #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 638 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 1st, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

AMAZING. PER USUAL.

I’m never surprised that I always end up loving any book by Sanderson. Occasionally with a favorite author, you run across a book that just doesn’t click, 13 books later, and I DO NOT HAVE THAT ISSUE. I love them all.

This was no exception. Elantris is one of Sanderson’s older titles that I *think* some claim is a lesser novel of his? While no Stormlight Archive, it’s still a superb read. I listened to it on audio and thought the narrator was great too.

One of my favorite parts was the romance (who’s surprised?). It’s nothing major or anything, but the lost loves finding one another was precious and just sweet. I adore Sarene and Raoden as characters. Talk about a power couple. Both strong, courageous, and didn’t take a thing laying down. One of the best character arcs was for Hrathen. He went from someone I hated, to someone I understood and appreciated as a POV in Elantris. All three of these characters had points-of-view and it really gave angles to all sides of Arelon and Elantris.

I loved the magic system and the way the world worked in general. I thought it was interesting how heavily the world’s religions played into the characters and the nation itself. It was a solid combination of all of these that kept up the intrigue and mystery.

I hope one day we do get a sequel because there’s clearly plenty more story lines that Sanderson could pursue. This one ends without any cliffhangers and with a great close out that doesn’t leave you hanging.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: poison, sickness, physical, demons, swords; not overly gory

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