Book Review

ARC Book Review: Flamefall (The Aurelian Cycle #2) by Rosaria Munda

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Rosaria Munda
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 23rd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Revolutionary flames ignite around Annie, Lee, and a brand new POV character in the second book of the Fireborne trilogy.

After fleeing the revolution and settling into the craggy cliffs of New Pythos, the Dragonlords are eager to punish their usurpers–and reclaim their city. Their first order of business was destroying the Callipolan food supply. Now they’re coming for the Dragonriders.

Annie is Callipolis’s new Firstrider, and while her goal has always been to protect the people, being the government’s enforcer has turned her into public enemy number one.

Lee struggles to find his place after killing kin to prove himself to a leader who betrayed him. He can support Annie and the other Guardians . . . or join the radicals who look to topple the new regime.

Griff, a lowborn dragonrider who serves New Pythos, knows he has no future. And now that Julia, the Firstrider who had protected him, is dead, he is called on to sacrifice everything for the lords that oppress his people–or to forge a new path with the Callipolan Firstrider seeking his help.

With famine tearing Callipolis apart and the Pythians determined to take back what they lost, it will be up to Annie, Lee, and Griff to decide what to fight for–and who to love.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

GREAT MIDDLE BOOK.

We all know that sometimes a middle book doesn’t have the same fire as the first. I thought this was a great second book! SO MUCH happened.

This is a high action book. Everywhere I turned there were dragon attacks, a whole lot of fire, backstabbing and betrayals. It was plenty to keep track of and I enjoyed the challenge. I really like the addition of Griff into the story. He was able to provide insight from the other side of the war. I loved his romance sub-plot and how Griff continued to strive for a better solution for his situation and of those he loved.

Getting more of Annie and Lee was the best. I love this push and pull relationship. It doesn’t feel contrived, there’s a lot both characters have to work through. Pain, grief and anger. Lee and Annie had to look within themselves and had wonderful character progression. The tidbits of romance only make me want more and what’s hopefully a long awaited happy ever after!

A high action book filled with tough conversations and reveals. I would definitely lean this towards a darker YA book. There’s war, high loss of lives, and some really twisted individuals. I looooove all of the dragons and this might be one of my top series involving them. I can’t wait for the finale and to know where all of this leads!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: murder, mass loss of lives, mass burnings, physical, creature attacks; fairly violent nature throughout the book

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Book Review

Book Review: Magic Study (Poison Study #2) by Maria V. Snyder

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: New adult fantasy
Length: 392 pages
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publisher: Luna Books
Release Date: September 26th, 2006
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

You know your life is complicated when you miss your days as a poison taster…

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be united with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But although she has gained her freedom, she once again finds herself alone – separated from her lover Valek and suspected as a spy for her reluctance to conform to Sitian ways.

Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training – especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes embroiled in a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince – and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.

COVER DOES NOT MATCH THE STORY.

I’ve never come across a more clear depiction of a cover and story not matching. Maybe because it’s an older book? I’m not sure, I’m just saying…the story is so much better and the cover does not do that justice in anyway.

On to the story portion. WHERE WAS VALEK. I do have a severe issue with love interests being established and then removed for 70% of the next book. That was the case here and gosh dang the story was incredibly better once he showed up. Not that I didn’t mind getting to see Yelena learning about her powers and all of that good stuff, but I wanted both of them more often.

Yet, I find myself unable to put the book down. I like reading them. Something about the writing style keeps me drawn in and I find that I fly through the pages. It’s an interesting story line and the side plots don’t always connect back in (because I’m still trying to figure out where book three actually goes), but it’s a series I want to continue.

These are a lot darker than I ever anticipated. I struggle with the necessity of this towards the plot line in comparison with other portions that are kept less explicit.

A lot of these new characters are interesting and I especially hope Leif gets a better story line come the third book. I didn’t always love how stubborn Yelena was being. Running off because she knew best, then getting captured again…and again.

I don’t know, this review has gotten ramble worthy because there’s plenty to pick from here. I am somehow attached to this story yet its flaws turn me off. I’ll give the third book a chance still for some redemption.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a few no detail, fade out scenes
  • Violence: murder, torture, physical altercations, poisoning, swords, arrows
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault, torture, rape (mentioned about multiple girls, no full scenes, but smaller paragraphs remembering what occurred); suicide ideation, mention of suicide attempt, PTSD

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Book Review

Book Review: The Princess Will Save You (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #1) by Sarah Henning

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Sarah Henning
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Princess Will Save You is a YA fantasy adventure inspired by The Princess Bride, in which a princess must rescue her stable boy true love, from the acclaimed author of Sea Witch, Sarah Henning.

When a princess’s commoner true love is kidnapped to coerce her into a political marriage, she doesn’t give in—she goes to rescue him.

When her warrior father, King Sendoa, mysteriously dies, Princess Amarande of Ardenia is given what would hardly be considered a choice: Marry a stranger at sixteen or lose control of her family’s crown.

But Amarande was raised to be a warrior—not a sacrifice.

In an attempt to force her choice, a neighboring kingdom kidnaps her true love, stable boy Luca. With her kingdom on the brink of civil war and no one to trust, she’ll need all her skill to save him, her future, and her kingdom.

TRAVELLING TROPE.

Oh goodness. I don’t *mind* a travelling story. There can be a lot to them that takes away form the fact that the characters are going hundreds of miles somewhere. Take ship stories for instance! They’re on the water plenty and I rarely find it such an issue.

Here? Yes, issue. Even in audio book form I was going wild listening to the repetitive motion of the girl or guy getting captured, then finding a way out, to start all over again.

In instance of The Princes Bride similarities, I did see some. I haven’t watched the movie in a very long time so I won’t speak more to this. But even a casual watcher of it could see where some of the story interlapped.

I liked Ama just fine as a main character. She was interesting. Loved her trying to take down a society that clearly has some flaws by forcing a woman to marry and not letting her rule in her own right. Totally here for that part. I didn’t even mind the love story that much because it was given from the start. It took me some time to get on board with the ship, from having to learn the characters, but I liked the idea.

I kind of think this should have been left as a standalone. With a different, more closed off ending, but I’m not sure how a full second novel will not drag about to continue this story. It’s a predictable plot, with slow pacing that really left me underwhelmed.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: snake bites, swords, physical altercations, poisoning, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Kingdom of Ash and Briars (The Nissera Chronicles #1) by Hannah West

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Retelling
Length: 352 pages
Author: Hannah West
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: September 15th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut. 

TOO MANY FAIRYTALES.

Oh I gave this a try. And oh, I feel disappointed.

I think this book and I got off on the wrong foot. I was thrown into a scene knowing absolutely nothing, and nobody was telling me anything. We went from there to full on info-dumping for chapters about Bristal’s new magical powers, her duty to the world, and all of these countries kings/queens/offspring. I was very confused.

Once I caught a better grasp, things did take a turn for the better. The story settled in and I could see all of the fairy tales being woven in. I thought maybe too many were shoved into the story to help carry it along, but it was fun seeing the take on each of them.

I wish the romance had more build-up and that the story was more about Bristal. Yes, she was our main character narration, but her entire focus was on other people. I wanted more for her and wished she wasn’t so sidelined in her own tale.

There’s a lot of action and things really do start happening in the second half. Even if I was at the skimming point of reading this book, I know it might be a hit for others (which is why I was a little more lenient on my rating).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + retellings
  • Language: very little, light
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: animal attacks, magic, physical altercations, swords/arrows; not overly bloody/gory

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