Book Review

Book Review: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) by Crystal Smith

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 373 pages
Author: Crystal Smith
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 12th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

I’M NOT SURE WHERE TO START.

This was nothing new in the world of young adult fantasy. That’s not generally an issue because I know it must be crazy hard to be completely new. My issue here was that the story didn’t anything else to help me ignore the fact I had seen this all before.

What I did like is how dark it actually kinda turned out to be. Holy wow there was a lot of people murdered in this book. It followed the story line well and only two people weren’t actually dead which is pretty solid considering almost everyone never actually dies (it’s okay to kill characters off sometimes guys, I stand by this).

It was a pretty short book (under 400 pages) and everything happened SO DANG FAST. I felt like I was running while reading this. I really wanted some slow down moments where we got to know characters on a deeper level that helps me form bonds with them. I was on the cusp of hitting that with a few and wanted MORE.

All of the twists were so well telegraphed I saw them from a mile away. No, scratch that, 10 miles away. From the moment they walked onto the screen I knew what was going to happen eventually. It was probably the biggest factor in bringing down the rating. I wanted more intrigue and confusion. Instead, all of the big moments were announcing themselves as bright as humanly possible.

Did I ship the relationship? Yes. Could have used an extra dose of enemies to lovers but nonetheless, it’s sweet and I like where it’s going. I did not understand the point of throwing out the first guy within the first quarter of the book (you’ll understand if you read it). Since I didn’t know anyone that well it made shrug and roll my eyes.

My evil characters are luckily, pretty dang evil. So I’m here for that. I want to see what they do next because it’ll definitely be interesting. This book ended in a way that made things seem like *the end,* but it turns out there’s more. We’ll see what happens next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses and confessions of love
  • Violence: blood magic, poison, knives, murder (better detailed in triggers)
  • Trigger warnings: murder of an animal (pretty gruesome and detailed), murder of a pregnant woman (baby does survive), other detailed and gory murders, attempted sexual assault and a suicide (a mother does it to save her son)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Wiseman’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles #2) by Patrick Rothfuss

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Epic fantasy
Length: 994 pages
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Publisher: DAW Books
Release Date: March 1st, 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.

So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man’s Fear, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s Road.

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived … until Kvothe.

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

THIS WAS A LOT OF BOOK.

This was my second 1,000 page book in August 2019 and whoa, I thought I might not make it. I found that with this style of writing if I commit myself to about 100 pages/day I’m a lot more interested. It’s a lot to read, and a lot happening, and it really was nice to put this down, read something lighter and come back to it. I think it allowed me to really immerse myself in reading it and taking a slower pace.

I absolutely love Kvothe and only want happiness for his poor, tortured soul. Though with the interludes during the present, I’m not sure if that will ever happen. I love the interludes and find that it adds more intrigue to the mythical-ness of the story. Kvothe has to deal with so much on a daily basis and is able to take it all in stride. I find that his ability to be pretty much great at whatever he does not as in your face as it sounds.

Denna. Denna. Denna. I’m honestly not sure where I stand with her. I know she and Kvothe are both young, so I attribute a lot of her actions and choices to that fact (and her unknown history). Sometimes she annoyed me at such an intense level that I wanted to put the book down, other times, I wanted her and Kvothe to speak to each other much more plainly. Really lay it all out there. There’s an interesting relationship brewing between the two of them that I will have to wait to decide my full opinion on.

They’re a million + 1 characters in this book that I could spend forever discussing. I really don’t have anyone that sticks out as someone I can’t stand so I loved moving from location to location getting to know everyone on an even deeper level. Speaking of location change: they’re multiple in this book! YAYAY. Love a good adventure. It was definitely needed to spice up the book. I was bored of hanging around the University.

The 4 star comes in because this book is just too long. When I compare it to other very very long novels, every page really means something or stood out to me. I thought that some pieces of this book could truly be shortened and it still would be a great read. Way super, over the top curious where the last book will take us. Especially after this crazy long wait.

Overall audience notes:

  • High fantasy
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses, a good handful of light detailed love scenes, nothing explicit (from some phrases you can tell the implications)
  • Violence: magic, swords, poison, knives, explosions, fires, voodoo, physical
  • Trigger warnings: physical abuse, mentions of rape (off-screen)

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Book Review

Book Review: Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 330 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver WIng Press
Release Date: August 27th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined. 

IT WAS WORTH STAYING UP LATE.

This may turn out to be my latest YA fantasy obsession. How has nobody heard of this (okay, I’ve met a few who have read some of the books, but still, there should be more!).

Vhalla had a lot of growth in this book, enough that I am up for carrying on to book two. I try to give some grace when a characters starts out a bit oblivious and scared of a lot of things. I understand that the author may be trying to build on them so I let it run for a bit. I was happy to watch Vhalla start to grow and accept her powers. She still has a long way to go, but I am in her corner!

This book is YA fantasy and focuses on the love component (I know not all like fantasy in this matter so I like to mention it). Me personally? I love anything with love. So her and Aldrik? SO THERE I CAN’T EVEN EXPLAIN. Dark brooding prince with fire powers. Right up my alley. What was not so fun was the dash of love triangle that I was praying didn’t happen. It wasn’t ya know, the happiest of endings, but I’m glad that this only festered for a bit.

Things were a little slow to start off, but after getting to know the characters, throwing around some flirtations we dove into the action. WHOA. This last half picked up spectacularly. A lot of action, addition of some politics and a heavy dose of tender moments. I stayed up til 2 AM to finish this and I regret nothing. I am so excited to read the next installment.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy – focus on the love story
  • Language: very little (almost non-existent)
  • Romance: some almost kisses
  • Violence: falling from a roof, fire-y explosions, magic (wind, water, air, fire), physical, knives, arrows, poison

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Book Review

Book Review: The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy + paranormal (witches)
Length: 601 pages
Author: Laurie Forest
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.

GOOD ENOUGH TO PURSUE BOOK TWO.

I had heard about a million different conflicting reviews and issues with this book. But with a personal friends and Morrighan’s Review (give her a follow!) I chose to give it a chance.

Overall, it was good. I definitely had some issues with it but I liked what was being laid out and want to see where it continues to go.

Things I liked:

  • The way that racism was depicted as always a bad thing (this is a fantasy so it’s between the different races in the book: witches, fae, werewolves, etc.). Elloren (and others) would make me so mad with how they were all treating each other and the things they would do and say. But, as time went on Elloren consciously realized what she was doing and how wrong she was. This allowed her character to grow a lot and made the book so much better.
  • I really loved the setting. There wasn’t a lot of world-building, but I thought it was fun to have it at a school. I feel like any school setting is immediately judged against Harry Potter, but this is so vastly different I had a good time with it.
  • The nuanced relationships. Things were a lot more focused on friendships rather than relationships (though, those are definitely building up). Since Elloren was evolving she was opening herself up to new people and they were all learning from each other.

Things I struggled with:

  • For a witch her doesn’t have powers (but obviously does) they NEVER SHOWED UP. I thought surely within 600 pages we have that grand moment where her powers come in full force, but nope. So now I have to wait til I get book two to see how that comes out.
  • Elloren was a wreck most of the time. I felt she cried literally every other page (not saying crying is a bad thing, but if I notice something recurring that often, holy wow). Her emotions were kind of all over the place and boys were taking up a lot of her time.
  • There wasn’t much that moved the plot forward. She spent her time at school, making friends, overcoming her own misguided sense of hatred, but at the same time, it didn’t lead anywhere. Things are happening further away from her, but the “battle” hasn’t come to them yet. I guess this book was setting up for all to come.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + paranormal (witches)
  • Language: b**ch used a few times
  • Romance: a lightly passionate kiss
  • Violence: magic, physical, bullying
  • Trigger warnings: racism, bullying, racial slurs, animal cruelty

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Book Review

Book Review: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction fantasy
Length: 533 pages
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: November 14th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

THIS IS HOW TO START A SERIES.

Whoa, hot dang, THIS IS MY JAM. Magical fantasy historical fiction-ness? Y’all I CAN’T EVEN. I am an emotional wreck after consuming this and am so glad Fiction No Chaser’s review convinced me to read it.

YOU’VE READ THIS RIGHT? If not, I recommend with my entire bookish soul. I feel that should be the end of this review, but also, let me throw out some more pieces to love.

This world-building was *in sing-song voice* faaaaabulous. I was there. I also love books with djinn in them, so I should have expected this to be a winner from the synopsis. This book kept a beautiful pace of slow, to action, and round again that kept me wanting to flip pages even during the “slower” sections.

Nahri is the heroine I didn’t know I had been missing in my fantasy reads lately. Girl is stubborn, feisty, full of self-preservation (that will leave her enemies, IN RUINS, mark my words) and crazy intuitive. She is brilliant and kept me on my toes because she actually made good choices in bad situations. I also love that Nahri wasn’t a damsel in distress. Even better, she actually sucked at what she was supposed to be great doing. Why is this better? Because I personally can’t stand it when a character is all of a sudden great at every little thing. That’s not realistic. You gotta work for it.

I don’t even know where I stand on the romance aspect. I will say, I LOVE Dara. What a great character. A 1400+ year-old Daeva (djinn) who has fears (like water), and is so hardened by his past that he’s become a biiiit jaded. He’s also on occasion, not the nicest, and has some things to work through (let me help you Dara…). I could not get enough of him. He is so dynamic. Dara is swiping weapons and destroying people in one breath, and following around Nahri like a love-lorn creature AND I AM HERE FOR IT. I have no idea where this lands me for book two. Stay tuned.

Ali. I don’t know where I stand on this guy. He’s conniving, yet caring. And for the life of me WHAT SIDE ARE YOU ON? I need to know. Prince Ali will ruin me, I can almost guarantee it. At least, if Dara doesn’t first. All of his sly moves are driving me batty and I love it. I love it.

Shout-out appreciation moment for some side characters. These were well built in their own right. Especially King Ghassan. I flippin’ thought he was fantastic. He has so many plans and I want to know them all. The King wasn’t one-sided and gave a lot more to the story as a whole. And really helped build the political back-drop for The City of Brass. Also, Jamshid. He needs a bigger spotlight, because I will do anything to make sure he’s happy. I want to tell you more, but because I’m a spoiler-free review type, I digress. But trust me, you’ll love him too.

The twists and turns and the intense history lesson I got from this book has me waiting at my door for The Kingdom of Copper to arrive. If you even *like* fantasy I would highly consider picking this up. It was amazing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fantasy
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: knives, magic, poison, animal mauling, very descriptive in the amount of blood/gore

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Book Review

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 469 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

I SHOULD’VE READ THIS YEARS AGO.

This book floated on and off my TBR for years (no really, it was at least 2 years). WHY did I wait this long? I have no idea. Honestly, I think it was the whole troll concept. I wasn’t super into that. Wow though, I was wrong and am so glad I gave this a chance.

I was immediately drawn in. This is the type of book I read most often and the ones I enjoy easily. Having Cécile thrown into an enemies to lovers situation with Tristan was EVERYTHING. Y’all, I never get tired of this scenario.

I was impressed with Cécile for the most part. I feel there was some communication issues between her and others that frustrated me, but I appreciated she didn’t take her situation lying down. I loved watching her have a change of heart and growing and listening to those around her. I hope she is the liberator these people need by the end.

I could have used a bit more action overall. While things did keep happening, I was missing that extra uhmph from some of the scenes. The flow of the story was smooth though. The romance moved at a pace that made sense (which is always appreciative).

There were a handful of heart in my throat moments where I didn’t know what would happen next. I was impressed at the emotion I felt for these characters. I really had a connection with them and learning about the Troll society was heart breaking and interesting. The magical components made sense in the world and never felt out of place.

A lot was unveiled towards the end that I’m excited to get my hands on book two!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy with a love story
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses and a lightly intense make-outs
  • Violence: physical, poison, spears, magic
  • Trigger warning: mention of a past miscarriage

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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