Book Review

Book Review: The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2) by Laurie Forest

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 597 pages
Author: Laurie Forest
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a destructive power inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

I DID IT.

First time I tried to read this, I DNF at 140 pages.

Second time, I went with the audiobook and made it through. Even gave it four stars. I’m as surprised as you are.

My main issue is this dang love triangle. I just can’t get with it. And I still like the wrong guy more too. For a bit it seemed to push the narrative for inner conflict within the main character, Elloren. Now it seems superfluous with how much of the ending went. WHY THO. The constant thoughts Elloren has about Lucas and Ivan make her lack depth and opportunities for growth in other areas.

Ignoring my romantic plot issues with this one and we can get into how intricate the other aspects of the story are. It’s a heavy political read with many sides at play. At times devastating and shocking. Throw your book across the room status. Other times, things seems to finally be going the right way. I liked this push/pull nature and it helped keep the story moving.

I do plan on continuing. I’m invested enough to see how book three will take care of a few plot lines. We’ll see what happens next!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: heated make-outs
  • Violence: mid-level blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: discrimination, racism, genocide, torture, kidnapping, small battle scenes

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Book Review

Book Review: This Woven Kingdom (This Woven Kingdom #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 512 pages
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

NOT A BAD START.

Ah, this book felt like a YA fantasy hug. All of the tropes and themes I love. The enjoyable predictable nature of it all. This was a great opening to a new series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the books.

I listened to the audio and loved it if you’re looking for a new book to read!

Back to the story here, I adored Alizeh and Kamran. Alizeh is just trying to survive and keep hidden in the shadows not telling anyone where she comes from. Enter Kamran, a bold prince who is captivated by Alizeh. I did think the pacing for this romance was a bit quick for me, so we’ll see how the other books shake out (especially after that ending!!).

The writing was wonderful as always. Engaging and kept a steady pace. I don’t remember any major lulls or dull moments. Consistent development and world-building were another great feature and something I love in my fantasy reads. The mythology was interesting and I loved all of those editions as too.

I always love a lost queen, a duty-bound prince and a forbidden romance.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: physical and magical altercations
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: abuse, injury, death of a parent, light blood/gore

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Book Review

Book Review: Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #3) by Jessica Townsend

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: MG Fantasy
Length: 548 pages
Author: Jessica Townsend
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 27th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Strange things are happening in Nevermoor…

Morrigan Crow faces her most dangerous challenge yet in her latest Wundrous adventure. The highly anticipated third book in the award-winning Nevermoor series from one of Australia’s bestselling and most loved authors.

Morrigan Crow and her friends have survived their first year as proud scholars of the elite Wundrous Society, helped bring down the nefarious Ghastly Market, and proven themselves loyal to Unit 919. Now Morrigan faces a new, exciting challenge: to master the mysterious Wretched Arts of the Accomplished Wundersmith, and control the power that threatens to consume her.

But a strange and frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor, turning infected Wunimals into mindless, vicious unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. And with the city she loves in a state of fear, Morrigan quickly realises it’s up to her to find a cure for the Hollowpox, even if it will put her – and everyone in Nevermoor – in more danger than she ever imagined.

MYSTERIOUSLY RELATABLE.

Well this was an odd book to read in 2021. A mysterious virus, wreaking havoc and throwing Morrigan’s world into turmoil. Morrigan goes through a lot of growth in this book and I loved that! I love seeing growth in characters and this fits middle-grade so well, and depicts a young teens life (+ a fantasy world) in a way for all audiences.

I love the morally greyness that happened with Squall as too. I think there’s much more to that story there and I liked getting many backgrounds on previous Wundersmiths. Lots of information was added to further expand this plot.

Some scenes did feel unnecessary and dragged on a bit. And I missed getting more of the 919 squad. Otherwise, another well written installment that I have loved listening to on audio. This world is fun and interesting. The characters are charming and I can’t wait for the next book!

Overall audience notes:

  • MG Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Violence: magical altercations, animal attacks, pandemic

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Book Review

Book Review: We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2) by Hafsah Faizal

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 592 pages
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: January 19th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.

As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal. 

FANTASTIC CONCLUSION.

Some dulogies really hit with that second book. This is without a doubt the case here. LOVED IT. Everything I needed. Especially since I gave the first book 3.5 stars and wasn’t convinced to pick this up for awhile. It took the audio coming to my library (which by the way, is AMAZING. Highly recommend the audio) for me to read it and I’m so happy I did!!

I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS. I probably will forget to name them all, but the main characters and supporting cast are well thought out and flow into the story perfectly. I loved Zafira and her fiery, determined nature. Nasir who is clearly the biggest cinnamon roll alive. Altair who I just want to be best friends with and Kifah who rounds out this crew with her loyalty and sharp wit. There’s many more I could mention. I loved the balance between plot and character drive.

The rooooomance. Oh it picked up beautifully. Anytime Zafira and Nasir were in the same location I got all of the giddy heart flutters waiting for them to connect. The impassioned kisses and utterly tender words whispered. MY HEART. And I’m pretty sure that ending added years to my life.

My only tiny complaint was that it took me a minute to get into and understand how the magic system was connecting with the larger plot. Since the WHtF was a travelling story I felt like I didn’t get a lot of explanations. Grateful that WFtS spread that out without info dumping. The world building and magic system are intricate and well plotted.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-outs
  • Violence: battle scenes, weapons violence, magical and physical altercations

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