Book Review

Book Review: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 416 pages
Author: Joan He
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

SO MUCH POTENTIAL.

Ugh, y’all. I get so sad when I read a book and your expectations are not met at all.

Hesina desperately wants to be Queen after she finds her father was murdered so she can avenge him. Lofty goals I’m cool with, but she was obsessed over doing this. And once that was taken care of, did she grow and become a solid, stunning Queen? No. Instead she continually remained naive, annoyingly stubborn, indecisive, and blindsided by every single thing. The main character alone had me questioning a DNF.

I had a hard time emotionally connecting to any of the characters. Nobody had a background. I got bits and pieces for some of them, but nothing that made me want to cheer for them or hope they get stabbed. No emotions. When a few died, I realized I wasn’t shocked whatsoever.

The plot twists were seen from miles away, while this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, what did annoy me was what came after. For instance, one of the characters was clearly shady. But when all that came out it it turns out that they were doing this to protect Hesina. WHAT. I was ALL FOR THE VILLAIN, and when that sputtered it sealed the deal for my rating.

The Chinese inspired themes were the best part of this book. The descriptions of the beautiful clothing and the other pieces of influence were amazing. I loved the different breath it gave young adult fantasy, I was just wishing for more overall.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Romance: none
  • Language: a** a few times
  • Violence: poison, knives, torture, fire, murder
  • Trigger warnings: attempted suicide, and suicide

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Book Review

Book Review: Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I had to take a few days before writing this review because I loved this book that much. Oh my goodness, PLEASE READ THIS SERIES and thank me later. This is what my carnival + fantasy dreams are made of.

WHAT A FINALE. (yes, I will use this pun without any shame).

Okay, my heart is in a million pieces. What I loved absolute most about this book was how it was entirely focused on love. AND IT WASN’T CHEESY. That I feel is the hardest part of any romance-ish book. Finale was full of love, it controlled the book. Oh, it was so well done. I could gush forever at this one fact.

Now, I know most people love Scarlet, BUT I LOVE TELLA MOST. I love that she’s stubborn and passionate. She’s fiercely loyal and loves with a controlled recklessness that makes me love her even more. I was happy to have her as the main POV (Scarlet was the other one, but only occasionally). Scarlet did grow A LOT in this book. She took control of her own choices and really helped those around her. She showed strength and grace and so much love to those she held dear. I do love Scarlet and Julian though. Julian melts my heart into a tiny thousand pieces. Both Legend and Julian are completely frustrating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t know how many times I squealed or felt like shouting at this book IF LEGEND DIDN’T GET HIS CRAP TOGETHER. Hot dang, that guy was running me ragged. I’ve been #teamlegend from day one. Jacks is great and all, but Legend. LEGEND. Speaking of Jacks, he was this morally gray character that spoke to my soul. He was twisted and in way too deep with Tella. The possessiveness he exhibited made me flip out more than once. The way this all settled left me breathless.

This book was less focused on the games and more on real life. I love the way this adapted over the entire series. This felt like the older and wiser sibling of a book. It really started out as a game, but as life always comes rearing back, Finale remained in the literal world. A lot of mystery and intrigue was left to be solved to save the world before the Fates took over.

I’ll say it again, the ending left me breathless. Y’all. THE ENDING. IT. WAS. EVERYTHING. Perfectly done. A happily ever after I have been dreaming of since Caraval was first released. I now am pleading to the bookish gods for a spin-off starring some of my favs.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: lots of kisses
  • Violence: knives, poison, magic

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Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor’s Ruin (The Traitor’s Circle #2) by Erin Beaty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Erin Beaty
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: July 10th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After proving her worth in book one as a deft spy and strategic matchmaker, Sage Fowler is now comfortably positioned in high society as the royal tutor. When she’s called upon to teach his majesty’s soldiers how to read and write, she jumps at the chance to serve her kingdom of Demora—and to be reunited with her fiancé, Captain Alex Quinn. 

During a skirmish, Sage and Alex are separated. She watches him die before he can deliver important military intel—or so she thinks. She escapes from the enemy and makes an unlikely alliance with a mysterious soldier from a third nation. As Sage tries to rally their support against a common foe, the important political alliance is plagued by secrets and betrayal. 

Can Sage complete Alex’s mission and save her kingdom once more?

The Traitor’s Kiss Review – ☆☆☆☆☆

Y’ALL I AM SMITTEN BY THIS SERIES.

Some books hit you at the right time, causing you to love them on an even grander scale than you thought you originally thought you might. This has been that case and I can NOT stop gushing about it.

Alex & Sage ARE LIFE. THEY ARE SO PRECIOUS AND I LOVE THEM. And I can’t stop using capitals. Bear with me. They’re so many emotions to express.

Oh how miscommunication wears on me in books. I didn’t hate the way this was done though. Alex was struggling through some PTSD-like emotions that were causing him to have a hard time coping. This lead to some issues with Sage that sent her into dangerous situations. While I am all over cheering Sage on, I was also like GIRL. STOP RUNNING TOWARDS DANGER. But she can handle herself, this is a favorite fact of mine. But really, once they started working together, magic happened. WHOOP.

The bad guy was kinda silly in this because he didn’t have the most villain-y reasons for battle and attempted kidnappings. The other political aspects were much more flourished and I loved getting to travel all of the map. It was amazing world-building full of getting to know other kingdoms, lands, and people.

One of my favorite tiny tidbits is that Alex actually shows emotion. He CRIES, and I want to cry with him. I always hate when guys think they’re too good to shed a few tears at truly awful situations. He cares so much and I feel that on every level.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: very little (I believe shoot was used once or twice)
  • Romance: lots of kissing and wanting each other
  • Violence: knives, fire, physical, battles, quicksand, torture, arrows

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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

Book Review: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, historical fiction
Length: 416 pages
Author: Robin LaFeveres
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sybella’s duty as Death’s assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic,vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy in the critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling His Fair Assassin series, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Victoria Aveyard. 

The convent returns Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Return to the world of the critically acclaimed His Fair Assassin series in this “romantic fantasy with a vengeance” and sequel to Grave Mercy that takes reader’s deep into the wicked world of corrupt politics, dangerous love, and hard-won vengeance.

DARK AND ENCHANTING.

I think this book was even better than the first. And definitely darker. And twisted. So twisted I didn’t think the facts being laid out was actually true, but it was, and it made my heart hurt.

Sybella was an even better heroine than Isame. She is so broken (with every right to be) and fierce. I wanted all the happiness for her and she kept continually trying to dodge it. JUST LET BEAST LOVE YOU. I will say, with their romance, it was heart-breakingly tender when Sybella got to choose who to love, and when to love. The author gave Sybella the choice and it exactly what Dark Triumph needed.

There was a little less BIG action, but a lot more stabbiness in this book. Sybella is a force to be reckoned with and the size of her heart…and her ability to kill are astounding. She was sneaky and striking.

One of my favorite sub-genres of fantasy is when they have a historical fiction aspect to them. I love the author’s note at the end that details what they took for liberties and what was true.

I’m excited for the third book and think this series has been great so far. It’s interesting and the romances are on fire and I am here for it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy & historical fiction
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, a very glossed over, no detail love scene
  • Trigger warnings: mentions of rape, attempted sexual assault, infanticide

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Book Review

Book Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy, Historical fantasy
Length: 576 pages
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?

 Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

HAVE MERCY.

Someone please tell me they got that reference.

I picked up this book based off of the hype for the new series, Courting Darkness. The hype train got to me, but it worked! I really had a great time reading this thought it was quick and endearing.

I loved the pacing and felt there was a steady amount of action. I thought there would be a bit more murder because the whole concept is that Ismae is an assassin for the god of Death. There was quite a bit, but I was missing a bit more stabbiness. This concept was great though. Reminded me a little of ToG (because of the assassin idea, but that’s it).

You can see who the traitor was from the first moment they stepped onto the page. Even with that being the case there were still a handful of twists that I didn’t see coming. I was kept on my toes and very worried about how the duchess would fare.

The romance between Gavriel and Ismae was SO GOOD. The romantic tension between them was driving me crazy. I loved Gavriel and thought he was a strong and steady presence. He was continually faithful to his family and was preciously tender, and fierce. Goodness, seriously, the best.

Ismae on the other hand was fine. As the main character I expected a little more from her, but she wasn’t spectacular. I thought it was great how trained she was because girl could hold her own. Other times she annoyed me a bit and her thoughts her repetitive.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy & historical fiction
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses, a love scene so vague I’m pretty sure nothing actually happened
  • Violence: domestic abuse, knives, poison, physical (it is a book about assassin’s so expect lots of death)
  • Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, sexual assault
Book Review

Book Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Release Date: February 26th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying. 

RESONATING.

“Each scar marks me as a survivor. A warrior of the wild.”

This was a book that really caught my attention. A lot of powerful phrasing that really hit home for me. I love this authors writing and the way she builds her characters and the story as a whole.

I absolutely love the dialogue throughout WotW. It was impressive. It felt real and had me flying through the book. I didn’t want to put it down! I vaguely figured out where the book was going, but loved the progression all the same.

I appreciate that the romance was believable. That can be a hard task in a standalone. I adored Soren and his practical, loving nature was precious. Things moved at a steady pace and never went too far, which made absolute sense for the time frame/plot. The banter between Sorren and Rasmira had me chuckling and begging for more.

Each of the main characters (Rasmira, Sorren & Iric) all went through these characters arcs that dove into deeper waters. Conquering fears, realizing one’s true nature and abilities, and learning to communicate were just a few of the aspects broached. I feel like I really got this book. Which is probably why I’m gushing over it now.

The only “eh” thing was the god Peruxolo. There wasn’t much to him so he wasn’t a completely believable antagonist. The scope of the story was so much broader than him that his background took a backseat. I was at least satisfied in the fact that the truth was fully explained at the end.

“My soul has worth, and I won’t let it depart this world just yet.”

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (vikings)
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: light kisses to barely intense make-outs
  • Violence: ax, knives, physical

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