Book Review

Book Review: Castles in Their Bones (Castles in Their Bones #1) by Laura Sebastian

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 514 pages
Author: Laura Sebastian
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other? 

THAT ENDING SAVED THIS.

Let me start off with some audio comments. This is one of those few times where I’m going to say: skip the audio. All of the main characters (and their love interests around the same age) sounded closer to 10-12 year-olds than 17/18. I struggled with that (didn’t affect my overall rating though).

A lot of this was intriguing! The magic system is kind of cool with the stardust components and how stars actually fall from the sky?? Wild and I love it. I also love a good sister story and these three push and pull each other, but they clearly care for one another. It’s a heavy political fantasy and at times that did drag the plot.

I definitely needed some better world building initially. I was very much confused as to who was where and what that separate nation was like for almost half the book. A friend sent me the map/family tree and that helped tremendously.

The ending saved this book for me. It was fast paced, full of action, and I am still SHOCKED at some of the final scenes. Was it true?! I have questions and I will be seeking answers in book two.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: mild blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual harassment, poison, loss of loved ones, executions

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Book Review

Book Review: Kingdom of Ice and Bone (Frozen Sun Saga #2) by Jill Criswell

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 300 pages
Author: Jill Criswell
Publisher: Blackstone
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Lira and Reyker have lost everything. Including each other.

Lira of Stone watched her home burn and her clan fall beneath the sword of the warlord known as the Dragon. She believes the man she loves, a warrior who defected from the Dragon s army, is dead. Alongside her exiled brother and his band of refugees, she will fight the forces that conquered her island. But the greatest danger may come from Lira herself with the blood of banished gods running through her veins, she s become a weapon, and no one is safe from the power of her wrath.

Reyker Lagorsson thought he was done being a Dragonman. That was before he saw Lira leap from a cliff and vanish into the sea. Determined to honor her memory by protecting her people, Reyker must feign loyalty to the warlord, undermine him at every turn, and seek alliances with renegade soldiers without succumbing to the battle-madness that threatens to possess him once more.

When the Fallen Ones offer Lira a chance to defeat the Dragon, her quest leads her to a place she never expected Iseneld, the warlord s homeland. Her journey into the heart of the Frozen Sun will put her on a collision course with Reyker, costing both of them more than they ever imagined, and leaving her with a terrible choice: to save their countries, she must forsake everything she loves.

WHAT KIND OF ENDING WAS THAT.

Wow, that one threw me through a loop. Goodness gracious. I still can’t believe that’s what happened and now I’m very concerned as to how this will all wrap up in the last book. I need answers. I need things to go a certain way! AH.

This was a pretty good middle book. Once again, loved the audio book. There was even more action and I loved seeing more of this world and where Reyker grew up. Getting more backstory on the Dragon and seeing an oddly humane side of him really layered his character. I love a good villain that has their own history to play into the plot.

My biggest issue was unfortunately how the romance. Reyker and Lira were good and set to find each other sooner rather than later, and instead, found each other after the halfway mark and only for a few chapters?! WHY. I hate when things are dragged out like that and they can’t actually work together. That was frustrating.

I love all of the Viking aspects and the writing is great. I find myself flying through the story because I adore these characters and feel connected to what is happening and wanting to know more. I’m excited to finish the third book soon!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs to closed door
  • Violence: physical altercations, magical attacks, murder, war themes

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Book Review

Book Review: Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1) by Zoraida Córdova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 450 pages
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED.

How have more people not been discussing this book?? I willfully agree it had some flaws in the middle, but overall that beginning and ending kept me like a fish dangling on a hook.

I haven’t been flat out shook by a surprise twist in the first half of a book in awhile. This one took the cake. While I hated it, I also loved it because this was a strong start for a duology. The magic system is pretty cool (though I do think it needs more explanation/rules). The world building is mostly there and there’s a cruel prince…that might not be that cruel?! SIGN ME UPPPPPPP.

The middle did drag a bit because Ren’s magic involves her being able to look/take people’s memories. A lot of the story were just flashbacks from different characters who Ren enacted her magic abilities on. I could have done without so many of them as they felt like filler and didn’t necessarily push the plot forward.

Just like the beginning, the ending was WOW too. I couldn’t stop listening (audio is amazing if you love that format like me!!). Maybe didn’t loooove one small aspect, but for the most part, I was speechless. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to read the second book. Really a hidden gem for YA fantasy.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Violence: physical altercation, magical attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved ones, massive fires, some gore, suicide, graphic injuries, torture, poisoning, kidnapping

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Book Review

Book Review: Beasts of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga #1) by Jill Criswell

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Jill Criswell
Publisher: Blackstone
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

VIKING FAV.

First off, the audio book is excellent. I love the narration for the Lira. For Reyker, his was great too, but the narrator read faster and it was hard to listen to at the same speed I was listening to Lira’s narrator.

With that tidbit out of the way, I loved this book!! My friend has been pushing this on me for awhile and I finally picked it up and I thought, why did I wait so long?!

I love how fierce Lira was as a character. She had growth in her mindsets and strength to see things through. Lira constantly stood up for what was right and defended those who deserved it. Her connection with Reyker was fantastic. I loved this romance. The initial meeting gave me some Tristan & Isolde vibes. I thought it moved well and didn’t seem rushed. I think there’s so much here for a wonderful continuation throughout the series and I hope it goes that way.

While it was a solid four star throughout, I realized that I had gotten very much caught up in the characters and the story. I was enthralled by the writing and couldn’t stop listening. Those facts alone set this over to five stars for me. I just loved the setting and the Viking-esque nature of it all. There’s lots of action and emotion and I need to get my hands on book two ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Violence: intense and a bit bloody/gory, battle scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: attempted rape, sexual assault, implied rape (off page), loss of loved ones

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