Review: Prodigy (Legend#2) by Marie Lu

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“Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots – a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?”

 

 

 


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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

516kgqh6dml-_sx354_bo1204203200_Image and synopsis from Amazon: 

“Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?”


 

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Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

51isww2rpol-_sx331_bo1204203200_Image and blurb from Amazon: 

“Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.”


Continue reading “Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo”

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Image and synopsis from Amazon:

“Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. There, before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess, and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays the only certainty is betrayal.

This sweeping story of palace intrigue, class hierarchy, and deception will keep readers hurtling along, desperate to find out Mare’s fate. Her honesty and determination, quick wit, and no-holds-barred attitude will surely make readers fall in love with her.”

Continue reading “Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard”

Review: A Faerie’s Curse By Rachel Morgan (Creepy Hollow Book 6)

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Image and synopsis from Amazon:

“A witch’s curse. A world-ending prophecy. A daring rescue mission. Don’t miss the heart-pounding finale to Calla’s story!
On the run from the Guild of Guardians, Calla Larkenwood and her team of fellow outlaws plan a daring rescue operation into the Seelie Court itself. As if that isn’t enough to keep them busy, the power-hungry Princess Angelica has begun preparations for a horrifying prophesied spell that will forever change both the magic and non-magic realms.

When Calla is blindsided by an unspeakable tragedy before the rescue can be carried out, she struggles to remain focused on her mission. She believes she’s reached her lowest point—until a witch reveals the final blow: she has cursed Calla’s magic. With time running out, can Calla save the one she loves and stop the prophecy from being carried out before the curse claims her life? “


Continue reading “Review: A Faerie’s Curse By Rachel Morgan (Creepy Hollow Book 6)”

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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Image and blurb from Amazon:

“A striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self—perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.”


thoughts

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I pretty much read it in one sitting which is always a good sign. While the plot originally seemed fairly typical of a YA novel (kingdom overrun by evil, young unlikely protagonist fights to reclaim her kingdom, etc) there were quite a few twists and turns throughout the story that I enjoyed.

It took me a while to catch on to the structure of the world in Snow Like Ashes, but once I did I appreciated the world-building. There are eight kingdoms, four Season and four Rhythm. Many of the cities are a play on the names of months such as Jannuari and Abril. Each kingdom has a magical conduit that helps ensure prosperity for the people (good health, agriculture, etc). The way magic was incorporated into the world was clever. It was used in concert with nature to provide for the kingdoms, which is fitting with the structure of the world!

Yes, there is a lot of information shared when you first start reading but I felt it was necessary to understand the workings of Meira’s world and the relationships between the kingdoms. Meira’s kingdom is Winter, and sixteen years ago they were conquered. There are not many Winterians left but they are planning on fighting to retake their kingdom. Mather is the heir, and Meira’s childhood friend. She also has feelings for him.

Again, this has a lot of elements of a typical YA fantasy plot, but pretty early on the book takes a surprising turn and things really speed up from there!

I really liked Meira as a character. She was an exciting, kick-ass heroine. I like that she was so overeager and naive in the beginning. She desperately wanted to be “someone” in her kingdom. She wanted to do anything possible to help, when she was often too young and inexperienced to go on the missions. This mindset made for some great character development later in the story when Meira is forced to face some truly difficult decisions and is faced with the possible extinction of her kingdom. Also, those chakram are awesome! I loved seeing her fight with such a unique weapon.

 

So then there’s that love triangle…

I actually didn’t mind it, and I honestly think it added to the story. Typically, I am not a huge fan of love triangles because the first love is the young childhood friend who never has a chance when the protagonist meets her new, more interesting love interest. That was not the case in this book! Both Mather and Theron are complex, wonderful characters and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. I hope there is more to see from both of them!

I even loved the fact that later on in the book when things start to calm down, Meria notices that the two boys are still jealous, and how happy she is that that’s all she has to worry about. I definitely get annoyed in some books when something huge is happening (like the fate of a kingdom) and the girl is sitting there dreaming about her man like its the end of the world. The romance here was appropriate and gave us more insight into each of the characters.

Normally when there is a love triangle, I am a fan of the new guy. While I REALLY did enjoy Theron, I loved Mather as well! He is such a beautifully complex character and I am not ready to give up on him yet. His relationship with Meira is complicated and I think they both have a lot of growing to do. But he is definitely not this flat, annoying childhood friend character that we so often see in YA books. Poor Mather goes through so much in this book and I feel for him! I think he will have a huge impact on future books.

I truly enjoyed this story and I while I was pleased with some of the directions the plot took, I still felt as if it lacked that extra step of originality. However it does have excellent character development and world-building. I am not desperately running to pick up the next book but it is definitely on my TBR! 🙂

4/5

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Review: The Bird and The Sword by Amy Harmon

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Image and blurb from Amazon: 

“Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?”


 

thoughts

This book got great reviews and I was excited to start reading it. Also, the cover is beautiful! I was not really sure what to expect other than it being a fantasy, as the synopsis does not give away much information. One of the first things I noticed about the book is that the writing is wonderful. Harmon has excellent pacing and I enjoyed the story so much more due to the beautiful, lyrical writing. I love how the story is framed with the idea of the power of words. In this particular story they have a magical quality, but we also see how Lark learns the value of words by learning to read and write. She sees power in words and that is an important theme throughout the story.

Our main character is Lark, a mute narrator. Though she is quiet, she has no trouble communicating with those around her. She is a wonderful narrator and we get plenty of insight through her internal dialogue. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lark’s character development throughout the story. She changes from someone who has been silent and caged for most of her life to someone who learns about herself and her gifts. She learns to use her words in a very powerful way.

Another major character is the king, Tiras. He is a complicated character as well. He has an unwavering loyalty to his kingdom but is also dealing with an internal struggle that prevents him from protecting the people of Jeru. While  I did enjoy Tiras and Lark’s interactions, I found their romance to be lacking. They definitely had their cute moments, but overall I felt as if the relationship was more strategic than anything else.

Other than Tiras and Lark, there were not any other well-developed characters. While I enjoyed learning about other characters such as Kjell, Lark’s father and Boojohni, they were not developed enough and they came across as very two-dimensional.

The plot itself was multi-layered and complex. On the surface, Lark and Tiras face a very physical threat to the kingdom. The story is also very much a coming of age/self-discovery story for both Lark and Tiras. I loved the symbolism of the title with the story, it has so many meanings! Both Lark and Tiras are caged (in a way) and are searching for a way to be free. Tiras wants to protect his kingdom, Lark’s father wants to be king and protects Lark’s life but also holds her back. I believe Harmon intended for there to be multiple meanings for the bird and the sword in the title. I also enjoyed the twists at the end as well as Lark’s revelations about herself and the power of her words.

Finally, I really enjoyed some aspects of the world-building although I wish this too was developed more. Towards the beginning of the book we learn about the history of the changers, tellers, spinners and healers but that was all we learned about them. Why were the abilities so varied in different people? Why did some people seem to have multiple abilities? Why were some people stronger than others? Some of these questions were not fully explained, just accepted as fact in the story. There was a lot of beautiful dialogue about these gifts but nobody explained it further.

I was overall quite satisfied with the story and will definitely be picking up another Amy Harmon book in the future! I do wish there was more development from the supporting characters and the world-building, but that is mostly because I was so interested in Lark’s world and I wanted to learn more. It is a lovely book and I would definitely recommend.

4/5

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Kindle Deal: An Ember in the Ashes

I am always a fan of great deals on my kindle. An Ember in the Ashes is now $2.99 for the ebook! I’m pretty sure I bought it for wayyy more than that. If you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely pick it up. You can see my review of it here. The sequel comes out soon and it looks AMAZING!


an-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahirFrom Amazon: “Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.”

 

Review: Paper Princess by Erin Watt

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Blurb and image from Amazon: 

“From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone. 

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.”


 

thoughts

I picked up this book because I wanted something different than my norm of fantasy. This got some good reviews and I was hoping it would be a fun, sexy read. I was unfortunately very disappointed. Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it enjoyable? Honestly, not really. I know this book got a lot of great reviews and I really tried to love it but I just didn’t. Let me explain:

Ella starts off as this tenacious, fierce character. She’s completely on her own trying to support herself. I liked Ella. She’s tough, but she’s sensitive under that tough exterior. When Callum Royal picks up Ella and claims to be her legal guardian, I was excited to meet the Royal boys.

I don’t know how I expected them to act. I know they all come from a dysfunctional family, and I knew they would all gang up on Ella as the newcomer. So they were all jerks, that’s fine. Ella is smart and sassy and she gets her revenge on them for treating her poorly.

Then she starts crushing hard on Reed. Reed treats her the worst out of all of them, so of course she crushes on Reed. And you know what? Reed is still horrible to her. Sure he has his moments, but overall he is consistently a jerk. And what bothered me most is that Ella completely overlooked that and continued to pursue him. Where was that spunky, independent character I liked so much in the beginning?

Sure, there were some sexy scenes. There were a lot of parties and fights, and yes, it was a fun read. Although, the party scenes were quite unrealistic for high school age kids and I wasn’t a huge fan of how the Royals resorted to physical fights to solve all of their problems.

After I read the ending, I was not surprised. I am also not inclined to pick up the second book when it comes out. If you read this book, I do think you will be entertained! The writing is good and I wanted to learn about the characters. This is definitely not a bad book, I just wasn’t a huge fan on the story line. This was, unfortunately, just not my cup of tea.

2/5

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Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

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Image and blurb from Amazon:

“About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dusté and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear—.”


thoughts

 

I enjoyed this book and for the $1.99 ebook version, it is definitely worth the read. Our main character Yelena must become the food taster for the Commander of Ixia and learn to taste any poisons before they get to the Commander. She chooses this path only to escape certain death, but she quickly learns that many other poison tasters previously died on the job. We also briefly learn that Yelena is sentenced to die for killing someone, however as the reader we are not aware of the specific circumstances. This is revealed later on as we learn more about Yelena’s background and character. I appreciated that we learn more about Yelena and her past as the story progresses, rather than getting an info dump at the beginning of the book. It leaves some mystery surrounding her character and kept me reading until I got answers.

What I liked:

  • The poison tasting. I have not read another book with this premise and it was interesting to learn about the different types of poisons, their effects and the daily life of a poison taster (and how important their job is!).
  • Ari and Janco. Yelena meets these two fairly early on and they become her close friends. I enjoyed their witty dialogue and comic relief.  They quickly become Yelena’s protectors and I found their relationship endearing. They added depth to Yelena’s character and enhanced the plot of the story.
  • The plot was fast-paced and exciting. I read it quickly and it held my attention. The writing was simple and straightforward. Not amazing, but good.
  • Commander Ambrose. He is a powerful, no-nonsense leader. At first Yelena fears him, but throughout the book we learn that while his leadership is strict it is also fair. Snyder leaves it up to the reader to decide if this leadership of Ixia is better or worse than the previous monarchy. There were some interesting revelations about his character and I hope to see him more developed in future books!

What I didn’t love:

  • While the poison taster premise was original, it is clouded by other elements as the book progresses. Yelena learns to fight, she discovers she has powerful magic and falls in love. These plot elements are typical of other YA novels and took away from the original poison study premise that I found so interesting.
  • Valek. I liked him in the beginning. He is a hardened, ruthless assassin and I enjoyed his scenes with Yelena as he instructed her on various poisons. While I could see that Snyder was setting up the plot for a relationship, it was still too out of the blue for me. Valek honestly didn’t treat Yelena very well at all, and suddenly they are in love? It was too much, too quickly.
  • I wish all of the characters were more well-developed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them but never really felt connected to any character.

Overall, this book is definitely worth the read even if it is lacking in some areas. It did end with a huge cliffhanger and I am eager to find out what happens.

3.5/5

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