Book Review

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some implied romance, kiss/make-outs, some violence
Expected Length: 586 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion Books 
Expected Release Date: September 24th, 2010
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret. 

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen. 

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

I AM ENJOYING THIS SERIES SO MUCH!

What started out as a bit slow as our characters made their way to Oden’s Ford gradually became an intense, couldn’t put down ending.

I DON’T KNOW WHERE WE GO FROM HERE Y’ALL.

Well, actually, I have a tiny bit of an idea. But so not sure on how this collision will work out. I have faith all goes well!

I promise you this: I will not be a captive Queen.

All hail future Queen Raisa. She is strong, stubborn, and unwilling to compromise her values. I love that she won’t give up on what she truly wants until there is no other option. I appreciate that she’s small and is actually not [that] great at sword-wielding. It makes her character more human and lets us see how her mind often comes up with a better solution.

Han, I love him even more this time around. He’s my little reformed thief wizard extraordinaire. I think our sweet soul is in for a rude awakening soon. His tenacity is about to bring his world really crashing down. I can’t wait to see what this does for his arc overall. 

I felt there was too much time spent in classes. It was lookin’ a little HP-esque and I was a bit bored listening to the ramble of professors. It did help the plot, but it’s also book two (of four) so there was unnecessary fillers.

A lot is happening with so many characters and I’m totally enamored. I love having a lot of story lines as long as they keep weaving back into the main plot. And this book is giving everything and more of that.

All the magic is enchanting and Oden’s Ford grew on me as time went on. There’s a lot of traversing through the countryside as well. I love how well the world is built and the map in this book definitely helps! 

Overall audiences notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Some vaguely implied romance; kisses/make-outs, a little descriptive
  • Some violence
  • Trigger Warnings: attempted assault
Book Review

Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

 

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult, some language, love scene/kissing, very little violence
Length: 310 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I AM A BAG OF MIXED EMOTIONS.

I’m not sure how I feel. On the one hand, yes, solid ending, made sense, okay cool. On the other hand…no, not quite what I was going for, am I happy about this? I’m not sure. I think I’m satisfied?

The writing, world-building and folklore surrounding Sparrow was unique. I liked the the way the current Sparrow flowed with the town 200 years ago. While totally unfortunate this secluded location is still swamped in the Swan Sisters, it made for a good story.

It’s a quick read that kept me busy. I did see the plot twist from about ten miles away, but that didn’t deter me. Instead, I was enough in the dark about the resolve of the story as a whole I surged on to the finale.

Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel [the Swan Sisters] are really the main characters. They have clear personalities and a bond that you couldn’t help but understand. Hazel broke my heart a few times over with her personal struggles. The story flashes backward every few chapters tying in the modern tale with how the girls became who they are today. Everything fit in smoothly and I never felt lost.

I did struggle with the twist because there was such a repetitive “everything is a secret, I can’t spill my secret” nature. It would have come off better in my opinion to actually be a little more blind-sided (thus, upping the mystery factor). I started getting frustrated that Bo and Penny wouldn’t just talk to each other. Not everything has to be hidden!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy/paranormal [witches], but set in contemporary Oregon
  • A love scene or two that are very glossed over, not descriptive; some kissing, etc.
  • Some expletive language
  • Minor violence (drownings)
Publishing Day

Happy Publishing Day: The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

The Wren Hunt

I gratefully received this book as an e-arc from Bloomsbury USA Children’s through Netgalley and was taken on such a ride!

Here’s the synopsis:

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

This a book where you can see the parallels between Romeo & Juliet. It was a unique, fresh take that I haven’t personally seen a lot of! The romance is well done for a stand-a-lone novel and the characters are a good mix of personalities.

You can find my original review here!

CROPPED

 

Book Review

Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy/dystopian, no language, little kissing, some violence
Length: 354 pages
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: New American Library
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

BOOK TWO SYNDROME.

I wasn’t as mesmerized by this installment. It was good, don’t get me wrong. I’ll definitely be checking out the third one, but I feel a little…deflated.

The story is strong and I appreciate the focus on the plot. There’s a goal, I know where it’s going, and we’re not diving off left and right. While the rescue mission is underway I wanted more drama to unfold.

It’s the beginnings of a war and while everyone is running around for this one mission, we’re missing a lot of what else is happening. I felt some character back stories could’ve been further enhanced to really grip what fuels their decisions. Some characters would pop in, say their peace, then die. Like, wait what?

I still love Jess. He’s a great protagonist. I love that, in general, he owns being from a criminal family and uses that to his advantage. I hope his brother, Brendan plays a bigger role soon. In my mind he’s super complex and I think it would be fun if he had a bigger spotlight.

There’s touches of romance here and there between characters. Nothing intense, sweet tiny moments that were cute and added some flair. This gang is really bonding together and their devotion is starting to show more and more. I like the diversity of the group and can notice the differences in their personalities and choices based off of them.

It ended on an odd note with the addition of a new character crew, and a new landscape. I’m definitely interested in what will play out next!

Overall audience notes:
– Young adult fantasy & dystopia
– No language
– Kiss scenes are minor
– Gun violence

Book Review

Review: Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Dance of Thieves_FINAL 9.18

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance, kiss scenes, violence, very little language
Length: 508 pages
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

BRB, STILL SWOONING.

This was everything I’ve been wanting to read lately. A fantasy romance that kept me on my toes, made me laugh and flip out all at the same time.

It single-handedly had one of my favorite boy meets girl intros:

“…”Move along, boy,” I ordered. “This doesn’t concern you.”
  His eyes went from bloodshot to flaming. “Boy?” He stepped closer, and in one swift movement, I brought him to his knees and slammed him up against the apothecary wall, a knife to his throat.”

Copy of C.R. (1)

I mean, is that not great? Go Kazi. She was strong, capable and loyal to her kingdom. I think she and Jase could have both been more open with each other and there would have been less issues, but that’s neither here nor there because I still love this book.

The romance totally made me weak. Jase was an enjoyable male protagonist and love interest that so fiercely loves his family. This attribute rolled over into how he cared for Kazi and I was smitten. Their moments and interactions were everything, and watching them both find ways to help each other be at peace was tender.

I love that we got to stay in the same world and see some of the same characters!! The Remnant Chronicles is a fav of mine I highly suggest reading it before this if you don’t want anything spoiled.

The plot was thick with intrigue. Took awhile (while developing the romance and other connections) to swing back around to it. I couldn’t put the book down though because I could feel from the moment it started I was going to be torn apart before being put back together. There’s plenty of action and family just hanging out scenes that balance each other. I came to care for all of the characters based off of how they interacted with one another.

The evil in this book is hard to pin point. This guy is bad over here, this one os doing nefarious things over there. I think it will definitely be playing a part in the next book. There was a lot of story still there to work with. Overall, it was great to be mysteriously led to the ending…

WHICH WAS EVERYTHING. “swoons again*

Seriously. I needed the book to end this way. I got allllll I could ask for (because I’m a huge “happy ending” sap). Then you’re left on a huge cliff-hanger that had me immediately searching for the release date of book two.

Overall audience notes:
– YA fantasy romance
– very little language
– kiss scenes, mildly descriptive at most
– violence, torture, a bit bloody

Book Review

ARC Review: The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

The Wren Hunt

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, language, some violence, a few kissing scenes
Length: 432 pages
Author: Mary Watson
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Expected Release Date: November 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, for the opportunity to read The Wren Hunt. Publication date, length of book, etc. are subject to change. 

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

ADD THIS TO YOUR TBR, Y’ALL.

I stayed up way to late trying to finish this book because I could not. put. it. down.

It initially starts out a bit slow and confusing. There is a lot of discussion of judges vs. augurs, when you haven’t quite been told what those are. The most confusing bit was understanding the Nemeta. I finished this book and still not quite sure what those are, but alas, this book still gets a lot of praise from me.

Once some more lines are established the book increasingly becomes a page turner. The action fluctuates well and it keeps the flow of the novel going steady.

The romance though. It’s always hard in a standalone to play a good romance (in my opinion). Watson does such a great job at this! Tarc and Wren gave me all the feels. There’s a strong push and pull between them that without even realizing it has it’s own consequences.

If like me, you had to read Romeo & Juliet in high school then you can definitely see the parallels. Yet, the approach itself felt new. It is a fantasy book, but with a contemporary edge. I loved that. Threw me off at first, but the longer I went, the more I grasped onto that concept. Pay attention to all of the lines weaving through this book! It was fun to see where they all connected and formed the final web.

The side characters are a little mixed. I personally liked a few, and didn’t like others. There wasn’t an over-abundance of names though. So you aren’t sitting there trying to figure out who’s who. It’s also set in IRELAND! Nifty and different. I love the branching out in story sets I’ve been seeing from a lot of authors I’ve read recently.

Wren is a sound character overall. Her arc allows some depth and growth as she fights to stay loyal in a losing battle only to realize the betrayal around her. She is young and naive about some things, but it was never annoying to me. It played out well and you understand her choices. Wren finally decides to stand up for what she wants and makes the ultimate decision.

Overall Audience Notes:
— Young adult fantasy, set in a contemporary world
— Language
— Kiss scenes are very mild
— Violence in the forms of fists, knives, and guns

Book Review

ARC Review: Evenfall (Shadowfire #1) by Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

Evenfall

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, language, some violence, kissing scenes
Author: Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos
Publisher: Boris Kos
Expected Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A monster does not deserve the intimacy of a name

As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.

Hunted by the Crescent Prince and his lethal shadows, she accepts a young Mage’s help to navigate the land of blood magic and its many illusions. But where Ada sees the good in her power, Ember discovers something else.

An icy darkness, designed to take lives, not save them.

The only thing worse than not being able to rely on her senses—or the reality she had once believed to be true—is knowing that she cannot trust her heart. Especially as it seems to draw her to the one person in whose hands she can never fall…

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Boris Kos, for the opportunity to read Evenfall. Publication date, etc. subject to change.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

A TALE OF TWO BOOKS.

I was truly contemplating putting this book down through the first half. I felt like I was reading about Ada’s story rather than Ember’s and Ember was some kind of narrator for the entire saga.

Ember wasn’t doing anything for herself and was following Ada around agreeing to everything she said and not forming her own opinions about the plans to defeat the Crescent Prince. I was annoyed to no end about how everyone kept calling Ember a savior, the One, etc., but she herself had NO IDEA what anyone was talking about!!?

It was missing dialogue as well. I was tired of being in Ember’s head (since aforementioned, she wasn’t doing anything worthy of my time) and wished there was more time spent on conversation with others.

Then, I got to the half way point.

Then, I met Mordecai.

Then, things got SOOO much better. I mean really, I thought I was reading a different book altogether.

Ember grew a backbone (for the most part) and Mordecai gave me the answers I was craving. I finally had a world mostly built and understood the plot more deeply. At this point, my connection with Ember and Mordecai started to form.

The relationship borders on instant, but thankfully, some time is taken for true emotion to form. The push and pull is fun and gives more edge to Ember and humanity to Mordecai.

The story became increasingly darker. I enjoyed every second of nefarious characters showing some twisted benevolence.

Left on a cliffhanger at the end I’m not sure what to think. I really want more. I want the next story and to continue in this world. Truth be told, there needs to be more world AND character building. It took til literally the closing chapters to know how Ember showed up in a different world in the first place. That’s why I struggled to like her as a character. I wanted to understand her decisions more and hope to get more of her history (parentage, friendships, etc.) so I can really get behind her as a heroine. Same goes for all characters. The book is on the shorter side so not as much time was put into character back-stories. I have hope that the second book will deliver and fill in the hand-full of plot holes.

I had originally intended giving this book a two star rating, then three, but chose to go with four because the second half drew me in too well not to be acknowledged. I’ve been entranced enough by the Crescent Prince to need more of him.

Last note, this book was a total cover request. Merwild does AMAZING artwork and I’ve been a fan for awhile. This cover is absolutely gorgeous.

Overall audience notes:

— Young adult fantasy
— Language, often not necessary and sometimes jarring (to me personally)
— Deep kisses / make-outs, no love scenes, everything on the tasteful spectrum
— Language involving a sexual assault (Ember has a flashback)
— Minor violence; use of blood is spoken of a lot because that’s how the world’s magic is used

CROPPED