Book Review

Book Review: Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Rebecca Ross
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the author of The Queen’s Rising comes a thrilling YA stand-alone fantasy about the unbreakable bond between sisters. Perfect for fans of Ember in the Ashes, Sky in the Deep, and Court of Fives.

After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.

SISTER SISTER.

Oddly enough, I have just previously finished a book where two sisters didn’t like each other and that was never explained well. Thank heavens for this book that instead brought sisters together in an absolutely beautiful way and showcased the power of that kind of bond.

I am really coming to love Rebecca Ross’s writing style and this is my new favorite YA book by her. I loved the plot and world building and all of the little nuanced magical details that brought everything together. Both sisters, Evadne and Halycon have POV’s and are one of kind women on their own. I love strong FMC’s and that is heavily present throughout.

There’s even a little dash of romance in Evadne’s character arc and I thought it wove in well to the overall storyline. I really liked the love interest and the complexity of his character too.

As a theme of forgiveness, strength, and found family emerge I quickly became invested in all aspects. Some great emotional moments towards the end where the action leaves you flipping pages as fast as you can. And I loved the way the ending wrapped up!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: medium
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: accidental murder, poisoning, battle themes, physical and magical altercations, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Song of Silver, Flame Like Night (Song of the Last Kingdom #1) by Amelie Wen Zhao

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 512 pages
Author: Amelie Wen Zhao
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 3rd, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a fallen kingdom, one girl carries the key to discovering the secrets of her nation’s past—and unleashing the demons that sleep at its heart. An epic fantasy series inspired by the mythology and folklore of ancient China.

Once, Lan had a different name. Now she goes by the one the Elantian colonizers gave her when they invaded her kingdom, killed her mother, and outlawed her people’s magic. She spends her nights as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city transformed by the conquerors, and her days scavenging for what she can find of the past. Anything to understand the strange mark burned into her arm by her mother in her last act before she died.

The mark is mysterious—an untranslatable Hin character—and no one but Lan can see it. Until the night a boy appears at her teahouse and saves her life.

Zen is a practitioner—one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom. Their magic was rumored to have been drawn from the demons they communed with. Magic believed to be long lost. Now it must be hidden from the Elantians at all costs.

When Zen comes across Lan, he recognizes what she is: a practitioner with a powerful ability hidden in the mark on her arm. He’s never seen anything like it—but he knows that if there are answers, they lie deep in the pine forests and misty mountains of the Last Kingdom, with an order of practitioning masters planning to overthrow the Elantian regime.

Both Lan and Zen have secrets buried deep within—secrets they must hide from others, and secrets that they themselves have yet to discover. Fate has connected them, but their destiny remains unwritten. Both hold the power to liberate their land. And both hold the power to destroy the world.

Now the battle for the Last Kingdom begins.

Thank you to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for an eARC.

PROGRESSIVELY BETTER.

This lived up to a lot of hope I had for a new series starter.

An amazingly well crafted story unveiled itself over 500 pages (where I hardly noticed it was that long to begin with). I loved the writing style and most of the pacing worked well too. There’s a good balance of learning moments, action, and even a bit of romance.

My one issue was the info dumping. It was scattered throughout, but noticeable when you hit it. There were MANY explanations of the magic system, history of the world and political dynamics. All fine and dandy but I think it could have been spread out more effectively.

I loved the complexity of the magic system and yin vs. yang. Good vs. evil. It added a morally grey level that I am always here for as characters struggled to decide what kind of power they wanted to wield. I love dynamic characters who struggle and learn and grow and those arcs are definitely starting here.

The romance was sweet! I wish there had been a bit more build to the relationship, but I see the potential for continued intricacies over the series. The dual POV’s between Lan and Zen worked great for keeping the story moving and understanding multiple angles to the story.

I enjoyed multiple reveals and found that the book only got better and better. I can’t wait for the next one!!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: mass loss of life, loss of parents, battle themes, torture, possession, assault

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Book Review

Book Review: Violet Made of Thorns (Violet Made of Thorns #1) by Gina Chen

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: NA Fantasy Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Gina Chen
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: July 26th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

WHAT EVEN.

Uh, I had two friends personally let me know I needed to read this book and THEY WERE NOT WRONG. I don’t even know if I can put together a fully thought out review but I can say: READ IT.

The enemies to lovers leaping off the pages was absolutely stellar. This is what that animosity is supposed to feel like in this trope. And walking that fine line of love/hate was on full display.

Violet cracked me up. I found myself chuckling multiple times at some of one off lines and sarcasm. It was timed perfectly and I loved listening to the audiobook that gave me even more of a nuanced layer of these characters. I really enjoyed the dynamics between Violet and Cyrus. The push and pull between them was undeniably filled with chemistry.

I really liked the surrounding story too. I always enjoy a good curse theme and corrupted kings with a wild witch on the loose? Here for it. I had a hard time putting this book down and now need the second book ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • NA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: vague open door
  • Violence: med-high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: animal attacks, physical, magical and weaponry altercations

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Last of the Talons (Talons #1) by Sophie Kim

Rating: ★★
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Sophie Kim
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: September 27th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina—the Reaper of Sunpo—is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…

Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life—if she kills him first.

Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina’s swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister…all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.

Because one way or another, she’ll take Rui’s heart.

Even if it means giving up her own.

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC.

YIKES.

I was really excited to read this book and within the first few chapters I saw the downfall was imminent. I love books that have more dialogue than not. And it took 5 chapters for any major dialogue to actually start occurring. This became a theme throughout that made me start passing over paragraphs of incongruous information.

With an enemies to lovers romance I was hoping to latch on to, I was let down here as well. Lina continually came off as immature while Rui was really into her, but without a good basis for the attraction? These two did not connect well, but apparently he wanted to kiss her from the moment he saw her and I don’t believe it for a second.

The relationships (platonic and not) weren’t here either. I wanted to see Lina have one friend, a true bond, someone for her to move forward with and nobody became that person for her. The side characters were one dimensional and only placed in to further the plot occasionally.

There’s other issues I had with some of the sub-plots and OH, YES. The flashback chapters?! Were always out of nowhere and had no merit into the current timeline. Instead of showing us Lina’s character as the book progressed, random flashbacks were thrown in to show that she used to have a found family? IT DID NOT WORK.

Anyways, I’m frustrated with this book clearly. High hopes were dashed and I won’t be continuing the series.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: make-outs & an implied night together
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of friends, murder, kidnapping, poisoning, near drowning and other near death experiences, weapons violence

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