Book Review

Book Review: Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 452 pages
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After the battle with Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, leaving her out of her mind and unfit to rule. Arsinoe must find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist rests heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared.

Queen Katharine’s rule over Fennbirn remains intact—for now. But her attack on the rebellion exacted a high price: her beloved Pietyr. Without him, who can she rely upon when Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce? As oldest and youngest circle each other, and Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted.

In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three dark sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested, and some broken forever.

The fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens. 

DISAPPOINTED.

I expected so much more from this series. The marketing and taglines for it all made it seem like I was going to get something darker and more sinister than what I got. Some sinister things actually happened at the very end of this book, but it took too long getting there.

This really would have functioned better as a duology. The only book I can remember enjoying was book two. So by the time I got here, thinking I would at least get a good ending, I was wrong. That’s my biggest complaint overall. These books dragged. Added sub-plots that had no bearing on the story at hand. No big names actually getting taken down. All of these together made me listen as fast as I could to get through this.

I’ve always at least enjoyed the lore and story behind the island. I thought it was an interesting world set-up with a unique premise.

As a mostly plot driven story it left the characters lacking. I wanted more history and depth of personality and interactions with everyone. Things only felt surface deep and I’m not sure by the end if I even liked any of the characters? They all fell flat. The one character I did enjoy is one of the few who actually didn’t make it.

The potential to finish this off well was there, and I did not see it at all.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses; a no detailed [but you know what they just did] love scene
  • Violence: battles, poison, swords, physical, animal attacks, elemental magic

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Book Review

Book Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary romance
Length: 293 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 1st, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

LIGHT & HEAVY READING.

I picked this up because the audio is only 6 hours long and I needed something short while I waited for some holds. I’ve been into Kasie West books lately and am slowly working my way through them. This was a cute read, but definitely had some heavier subject matter than I originally thought going in (it will be mentioned in my Trigger Warning section at the bottom!).

I did not love Charlie at first. She lacked empathy and the ability to hold her tongue when it was truly necessary. As her character changed and grew over the book, it just made me want to give her a hug. Charlie had a lot to learn and allowing herself to be open to new situations and trying new things really helped her. I loved seeing that she stayed sporty/more tom-boyish while also finding her more feminine side. You can be both (and whatever combination of the two) you want to be, and I appreciate that this book gave off that impression. Also the impression that you should never feel like you have to change yourself to be with someone. That someone is not for you.

Absolutely loved her brothers. Oh wow, I live for a good family dynamic in the background of the plot. Charlie’s brothers were a bit protective, but real and kind to her. They had her back and were funny to listen to with their ridiculous antics. Braden, the best friend, was cute and a generic good guy, but I still enjoyed his character. I liked the way the romance played out between the two (even if it was a little too fluffy at the end for me).

What was a big surprise for me was the sub-plot about Charlie’s Mom. Charlie copes throughout the book about losing her Mom through a car accident. She continually struggles to find a balance with letting go and holding on to her Mom. The way her mother truly died tore me up. A trigger warning [but I know some consider it a spoiler, so skip this next little bit if you’d like!]: she passed away from suicide. And it brought out a much darker/heavier side to the story I wasn’t quite expecting.

These stories are easy, if not cliche. And that’s okay for me. I know going into them that things will be pretty typical for a contemporary young adult romance. I like the fluff and the light nature of them. I plan to keep working through her books and see if I can find any other gems I love (i.e. P.S. I Like You).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: car wreck; see Trigger section
  • Trigger warnings: car wreck, suicide (mother passes away from purposely crashing her car); domestic abuse (Braden is hit by his Father)

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Dystopia
Length: 352 pages
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The gripping fifth installment in the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Shatter Me series. Will Juliette’s broken heart make her vulnerable to the strengthening darkness within her?

Juliette’s short tenure as the supreme commander of North America has been an utter disaster. When the children of the other world leaders show up on her doorstep, she wants nothing more than to turn to Warner for support and guidance. But he shatters her heart when he reveals that he’s been keeping secrets about her family and her identity from her—secrets that change everything.

Juliette is devastated, and the darkness that’s always dwelled within her threatens to consume her. An explosive encounter with unexpected visitors might be enough to push her over the edge.

I LOVED THIS.

Note: May be very mild spoilers (mostly who ends up with who) if you haven’t read any of the Shatter Me series. No spoilers about anything else except for some name changes.

I have been waiting for this book for a year. And it was not a let down. YAYAY. I will admit that it read more like a novella (not that I’m complaining – just an observation).

The entire book is essentially a rescue mission. Our three POVs consist of Juliette (further known as Ella) remembering things, escaping, getting to Warner (further known as Aaron). Then, Aaron: remembering, escaping, and finding Ella. Lastly, Kenji discovering all the information E&A are remembering, trying to find them, and then getting them to the next location. So you see, a lot of overlap and lack of big plot movement. This was more dedicated to character development and a lot of information dumping. I know this will divide the camp on who likes this book, but personally, I was into it.

But what DID happen, were these precious little moments of life. Those small and inconsequential things that make my heart smile most. There were empowering moments of Ella realizing her strength and courage. Moments of Aaron harnessing his darkness to find what really matters most. Watching the loving moments between the two and getting to soak up a bit of light before darkness descends.

Characters

Ella. I didn’t see as much of her as I would like, but I loved watching her character evolve. She learned a lot from those around her and being able to really know who she is. I think she’ll really be back at the forefront come book six.

“Aaron Warner Anderson is the only emotional through line in my life that ever made sense. He’s the only constant. The only steady, reliable heartbeat I’ve ever had.”

Aaron. Y’ALL. I LOVE HIM. I FORGOT HOW MUCH I LOVE HIM. I seriously could not handle his sweet, battered soul. Getting a lot more of his back story destroyed me. Because I’m an absolute sucker for love, these were my favorite parts. Watching him with Ella, calling her love and sweetheart. I could go on and on. I love darkened, cinnamon roll characters. He took the parts he was always afraid to show and gave them to Ella and I melted.

“And up until just this moment, I don’t think I was ever truly convinced anyone would see me as human enough to forgive my sins. To give me a second chance.”

Side-ish thing: I love when couples are together before the series is over. Sometimes the entire series focuses on a pair, just getting together. While I think it’s even better when they are together and take on what comes their way. You can be with someone and still be independent and a force on your own. So I hope this remains the theme for the last book.

Kenji. Totally obsessed with him. He is sassy, loyal, witty, and has the best dialogue. I love that we got more POV with him. His vibe with Nazeera is something I am here for. She really grew on me in this book and I liked her presence.

“Thank you for appreciating my face. I’ve always thought I had an underappreciated face.”

There are a lot of loose ends by the last page. I’m totally fine with it because we still have one more book to go. We met some new characters that will be back. Some characters got what they deserved (and others ARE STILL WAITING THEIR IMMINENT DEMISE). Luckily, this book didn’t end on a dramatic cliff-hanger. It was a lovely, quiet moment where I can peacefully wait for the fate of Ella, Aaron, Kenji and their friends.

“Today is not forever. Happiness does not happen. Happiness must be uncovered, separated from skin of pain. It must be claimed. Kept close. Protected.”

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopia
  • Language: a bit (mostly Kenji, haha)
  • Romance: some kisses, a lightly detailed love scene
  • Violence: guns, physical, torture (and memories of torture)
  • Trigger warnings: child abuse (in the severest forms)

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