Book Review: The Princess And The Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Book: The Princess And The Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Published April 2019 by Quirk Books|320 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Once Upon A Con #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

I loved The Princess And The Fangirl!  I wasn’t sure what to think about because I did like Geekerella, but I ended up loving this book.

Something I thought was interesting, and was one of my favorite things about the book, was seeing the girls step into each other’s shoes.  They learn so much about each other, and I loved seeing how much they change.  They see a side of fandom they never considered before.

This book is narrated by both Imogen and Jess, and it worked so incredibly well for this book.  With Imogen, we see how much Amara means to her, and why she wants to save her favorite character.  The campaign she put together was absolutely amazing.  But you also see her realize why Jess wouldn’t want to be Amara anymore.  I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a fandom like Starfield with everything Jess has to put up with.

Imogen, masquerading as Jess, sees the ugly side of things, and I think she realizes that things aren’t easy for Jess.  Yes, she wants to #saveAmara, but it comes at a price for the person playing her.

With Jess, she starts to see why people love Amara.  For Jess, she starts to find joy in life again, and she starts to see the part of Starfield she never got to see because of horrible people who think she’s not their Amara.  Unfortunately, it was a little true to life, and I’d be surprised if what happened to Jess didn’t happen to other actresses.

I’m not going to lie, I was crying by the end of it.  The crying made it a not good choice for a laundry mat read, but at least there were only a couple of other people in there, and they were pretty busy, so I guess it worked out.  But it did get me more emotionally than Geekerella.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Geekerella, but there’s just something about this book.  I have not been to a con, so that part goes way over my head.  But there was something about seeing Jess and Imogen switch places and learn a lot about themselves and each other.  I loved seeing them pull off this insane plot to figure out who leaked the script of the next Starfield movie.  I especially loved seeing them work together to figure this out and to save Amara.

And even though this book is part of a series, you really don’t need to read the first book to read this one!  I read Geekerella a few months ago for book club, but didn’t re-read before reading this one.  Some of what happens in that book is mentioned in this one, and it’s nice to see what happens to some of those characters, but this is definitely a book that stands on its own pretty well.

5 stars.  I loved The Princess And The Fangirl so much, and Imogen and Jess are great characters.  I don’t think I’ve loved character names as much as I loved Imogen Lovelace and Jessica Stone.

Book Review: Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Book: Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Published February 2015 by William Morrow|576 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Order Of The Sanguines #3

Genre: Adult Thriller

In a masterpiece of supernatural mystery and apocalyptic prophecy, New York Times bestselling authors James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell bring to a thunderous conclusion their epic trilogy of novels set between the worlds of shadow and light, between salvation and damnation, where the very gates of Hell must be shattered to discover the true fate of humankind in…

Blood Infernal

As an escalating scourge of grisly murders sweeps the globe, archaeologist Erin Granger must decipher the truth behind an immortal prophecy foretold in the Blood Gospel, a tome written by Christ and lost for centuries: The shackles of Lucifer have been loosened, and his Chalice remains lost. It will take the light of all three to forge the Chalice anew and banish him again to his eternal darkness. With the Apocalypse looming, Erin must again join forces with Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Rhun Korza to search for a treasure lost for millennia. But the prize has already fallen into the hands of their enemy, a demon named Legion, before whom even the walls of the Vatican will fall.

The search for the key to salvation will take Erin and the others across centuries and around the world, from the dusty shelves of the Vatican’s secret archives to lost medieval laboratories, where ancient alchemies were employed to horrific ends. All the while, they are hunted, besieged by creatures of uncanny skill and talent. As clues are dug free from ancient underground chapels and found frozen in icy mountain caverns, one that will destroy not only her, but all she loves. To protect the world, Erin must walk through the very gates of Hell and face the darkest of enemies: Lucifer himself.

With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell combined science, myth, and religion to introduce a breathtaking world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. And now, in this epic conclusion to the Sanguines trilogy, Blood Infernal, they take us to the very pit of Hell itself, making us peer into the abyss and face our greatest fears, to answer the ultimate question: What price will we pay for true salvation? 

I liked this one.  The series didn’t end how I thought it would, but it was a pretty interesting ride.

What I liked most was how different historical figures were involved.  I’ve really liked Elizabeth Of Bathory, and she’s been a pretty solid character this whole time.  I really liked how John Dee was included, and they did a great job at including his experiments into what was going on.  With what I know about John Dee as a person, I could see him trying what he did in this book.  He was mentioned more than anything else, but we did actually see him at the very beginning of the book.  We learned a lot about him in this book, and Cantrell and Rollins did a great job at weaving in history.

This book was a blur to me.  I waited a while to read and then I was scrambling to finish it before it was due, so even though I’m reviewing not too long after finishing it, I still feel like it’s going to be a struggle to actually review it.

I did want more action from this book.  There wasn’t as much as I thought there would be, and that was a little disappointing.  Considering they’re trying to stop the apocalypse from happening, you’d think there would more action and less talk.  But that wasn’t the case at all.

You do see what lengths they’ll go to stop evil, and how they’ll deal with it as they travel all over the world to do it.  They are alone for part of the book, but no matter how far apart they are from each other, they always end up working together as a group to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it from happening.  It makes me wonder if they’ll cross paths now that the book is over.  Jordan and Erin do, for sure, but I’d be curious to see if they ever cross paths with Rhun or Elizabeth.

I had the feeling Erin and Jordan will be just fine, but Rhun?  Of the three, he had the most earth-shattering revelations to deal with, and now he’s really going to have to deal with all of that.  Whether he does it on his own, or with Elizabeth, I’m not sure.  But he has a lot of soul-searching to do after learning what he does.

And I hope Elizabeth keeps in touch with Tommy for the rest of their lives.  They seem pretty important to each other, so hopefully they’re still a part of each others lives now that they don’t have to deal with this apocalyptic craziness.

3 stars.  I liked Blood Infernal, and while it wasn’t the action-packed ending I thought it would be, I did like the blending of suspense with history, religion and the supernatural.

Book Review: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Book: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Published May 2019 by Scholastic Press|320 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Kasie West, I Love You So Mochi is a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel from accomplished author Sarah Kuhn.

“As sweet and satisfying as actual mochi… a tender love story wrapped up in food, fashion, and family. I gobbled it up.” — Maurene Goo, author of The Way You Make Me Feel

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.

She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival — and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.

I loved I Love You So Mochi! It’s cute and sweet and heart-warming, and I’m kicking myself for not reading it earlier!

It’s such a great read, and I didn’t know I needed to read it until I started reading it. I loved seeing Kimi connect with her grandparents, and I loved seeing her relationship change with both of them. It made me miss my grandparents, and my grandma in particular. It’s this time of year my grandma died, and I can’t believe it’s been almost two years. I did have to put the book down and take a little bit of a break because reading this book made me miss her a lot more than I usually do.

Going to Japan and getting to know her grandparents (and her mom) was such a good thing for her. It was a place where she found a lot of inspiration, and I loved seeing her learn so much about her mom and her grandparents. She really saw her mom in a different way, and you could see that in the emails Kimi wrote to her. You could also see it in the relationship she had with her mom at the beginning and the end of the book, and it changed SO much. I loved seeing that change, and I finished the book feeling like things were in a better place between them.

I also loved seeing Kimi go for a fashion design program instead of the art program. She really grew into being able to speak up and go for what she’s interested in, instead of doing something that she’s interested in, but not as a career or a passion. I don’t know what the future holds for her career-wise, but her clothes sound amazing, and I would love to see this as a movie just for the clothes. Plus, seeing her explore Japan would also be really cool.

The romance was really cute, and I liked Akira. For me, I was more interested in Kimi exploring Japan and her family history than I was in their romance, but I still liked it. They’re cute together, and I felt like he was a great tour guide. It seemed to help Kimi a lot, and everything between them felt natural. It didn’t feel forced or insta-lovey or anything, and that was refreshing.

I was not prepared for the waterworks that happened, which is a weird thing to happen when you’re reading at work. Usually, I can tell when I’m going to start crying, in which case I would put the book down and read at home. But I wanted to keep reading to see how things would work out with Kimi and her mom, and if her mom would ever work things out with her parents. It seems like things are well on their way to getting at least a little bit better, but there was some crying along the way.

My Rating: 5 stars. I loved Kimi and her time in Japan. She learned a lot about herself and her family, and I was glad that she was able to go to Japan. I’m glad I got to go on this journey with her, and I Love You So Mochi is a really special book!

Book Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Book: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Published September 2019 by Penguin Publishing Group/Berkley|477 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Guild Hunter #12

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Wings of silver. Wings of blue. Mortal heart. Broken dreams. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter. A sundering. A grave. I see the end. I see. . .

The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed. . .far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.

At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough. . .

This war could end them all. 

I really liked Archangel’s War!  I’ve been really into this series, and I caught up in time to read this book.

I loved seeing what was going on, and how everything went with Lijuan.  If there’s someone who won’t die, it’s the Goddess Of Death.  Her abilities were terrible but also amazing, and she went to great lengths to gain more power- enough to take over the world.  That was definitely her goal, and I was glad that it didn’t happen.

After finishing the last book, I was wondering what would happen to Elena and Raphael.  They’re okay, and all of our favorites are okay too.  I know there were some questions they had- and I had them too- but I’m glad they were answered, and were able to figure it out to defeat Lijuan.  She’s definitely the big bad in this series, and I was wondering not only what had happened to her, but how they’d take her down.

Back to Raphael and Elena- things were definitely different for both them, and for pretty much the entire book.  Everything that we saw happen to Elena were still very present in this book, but things did get righted at the end of the book.  I was glad to see that because being an angel was very much a part of Elena.  Especially with what happened to her wings.

I really liked seeing what was going on with the Ancients- and the ancients that are Calienne and Alexander, but those who were Ancient beyond words.  They didn’t realize how bad things were, and how hard it would be to defeat Lijuan, but they were all able to work together, even though they might now have wanted to.

This book was action-packed, and it was definitely hard to put down.  We follow several characters, and quite a few pop in and out.  It was great to see everyone again but I wished we had gotten to spend a little more time with all of them.  It felt like non-stop action from start to finish, and I think this series ended on a great note.  I wonder if there’s going to be a spin-off of some sort.  I know her Psy-Changeling series had another series, and I wonder if that’s in store for this one as well.  With how it ended, and with the world Singh built, I think there’s a lot more story she could tell in this world.

4 stars.  I really liked Archangel’s War, and it’s a great way to end a really cool and interesting series.

Book Review: Innocent Blood by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Book: Innocent Blood by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Published December 2013 by William Morrow|733 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Order Of The Sanguines #2

Genre: Adult Thriller

A vicious attack at a ranch in California thrusts archaeologist Erin Granger back into the folds of the Sanguines, an immortal order founded on the blood of Christ and tasked with protecting the world from the beasts haunting its shadows and waiting to break free into the sunlight. Following the prophetic words found in the Blood Gospel–a tome written by Christ and lost for centuries–Erin must join forces with Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and the dark mystery that is Father Rhun Korza to discover and protect a boy believed to be an angel given flesh.

But an enigmatic enemy of immense power and terrifying ambition seeks the same child–not to save the world, but to hasten its destruction. For any hope of victory, Erin must discover the truth behind Christ’s early years and understand His first true miracle, an event wrapped in sin and destruction, an act that yet remains unfulfilled and holds the only hope for the world.

The search for the truth will take Erin and the others across centuries and around the world, from the dusty plains of the Holy Land to the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, from the catacombs of Rome to an iron fortress in the Mediterranean Sea, and at last to the very gates of Hell itself, where their destiny–and the fate of mankind–awaits.

With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell breathtakingly combined science, myth, and religion and introduced a world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. In Innocent Blood they again take us to the edge of destruction . . . and into the deepest reaches of imagination.

I liked this one! I think I liked it a little bit more than the first one, and I’m curious to see how th next one goes.

I feel like we have a better grasp of the world in this book. Now that we’re past the first book, and past the introduction stage, we were actually able to get into everything a little bit faster. I liked seeing Rhun, Stone and Erin work together to find the First Angel. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I did like it, and seeing them work through made the book a pretty interesting read.

I really liked Judas and Elizabeth Bathory in this book. I really liked following them over the course of the book- much more than Rhun, Stone, and Erin. They both had a lot of things to explore and deal with, and they were a big part of why I kept reading.

I also liked seeing what was going on with Tommy. His relationship with Elizabeth was interesting, especially knowing what she had done hundreds of years earlier. Her protectiveness definitely got my attention, and it was one of the things I really liked seeing change during this book.

I didn’t love it, though, and I can’t place why. The concept is interesting, at least to me, and so far, I do think it’s a book to check out if you like anything by Dan Brown. That hasn’t changed since the first book. I did want to keep reading to see what would happen, and I’ll definitely be continuing the series. That also hasn’t changed. But I also feel like I don’t have anything else to say about the book.

3 stars. I liked Innocent Blood, and a couple of the characters were really interesting to follow. I still want to know what happens next!

Book Review: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Book Review: A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Published September 2019 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

I liked A Match Made In Mehendi! It was really cute and really fun to read.

I think what I liked most was how Simi updated her family’s matchmaking business. They were pretty traditional, and not interested in using apps to match people. But after seeing how successful the app was at her school, they ended up modernizing how they did things. I’m curious to see how it works years from now, but hopefully, they’ll be able to match more people with it.

I wish I could remember names, but Simi definitely made an enemy out of the popular girl at school. I’m not surprised by how she acted at all, but I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t have any strong matches. She made Simi’s life hell because she didn’t get what she wanted. It seemed like there was a reason behind it, but that didn’t make it okay.

She seemed pretty interested in art, especially mehendi, but it seemed like the matchmaking app took over her life for a while. It definitely changes things for a while, and she learns that people aren’t what they seem. But for someone who’s really into art…I just wanted to see more of her art. Her project for art class seemed really cool, and I felt like it dropped off as she got more wrapped up in matchmaking and boys.

I know the app is a huge part of the book and boosting her social status. And it was cute to see how people were matched up- even the people you wouldn’t think would go together. The family history of matchmaking was really cool, though, and I get her hesitation to be involved in the family business. It’s not something you see in books, and I like how unique it is.  It makes the book stand out even more.

3 stars. I liked A Match Made In Mehendi. It’s cute and light-hearted and perfect if you like books like When Dimple Met Rishi.

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Published October 2019 by Flatiron Books|458 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Alex Stern #1

Genre: Adult Mystery

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

I liked Ninth House! I wasn’t sure what to expect, because it’s definitely different than any of her Grishaverse novels. I really liked those books, and I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while.

I really liked Alex. I’m really intrigued with what she can see, and how she’s able to do it when most people can’t. I wonder why she’s able to, but if it was mentioned why, then I must have missed it. But it was pretty normal for her to see the Gray’s and I liked that about her ability. Still, I was sad that it seemed like people knew and didn’t do anything about it. I think it would have made her feel a lot better, like she could do something about it.

I really like the idea of a ninth house keeping watch over all of the other houses. Which are the secret societies you always hear about. They all have a purpose for existing, and the whole time I was reading the book, I felt like there was a whole history we didn’t know about.

Honestly, I just loved the world and why all of the Ivy League schools came about. It was hard not to get pulled into that world, and what was going on. You could see the distinction between the students and the people who live there, and how…corrupt…things were.

It seemed like everyone had a role in the ninth house, but I didn’t really think that was explained enough. Maybe it was supposed to be obvious, and it went over my head. Honestly, I just wanted to know why the roles had certain names, and I feel like it’s supposed to mean something, but I could never figure out what.

It took me most of the book to figure out that it was jumping around in time, and wasn’t told linearly. That might have added to my confusion, and I couldn’t figure out why it seemed like we were in present time and randomly going back in time.

I didn’t love it, and there were things that didn’t make sense to me. I’m pretty sure you’ve picked up on that at this point, but I did want to know what happened next, and that’s a big reason why I kept reading. I’d definitely read the next to see what’s in store for Alex and to see what happens next. I see that as a pretty good sign that the book caught my interest.

3 stars. I liked Ninth House, especially the world Alex lives in. Yale is a great back-drop for everything that happens, and I do want to know what happens next.

Book Review: Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Book: Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Published September 2019 by Scholastic Press|416 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Impostors #2

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia

When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Frey was raised to be Rafi’s double, and now she’s taken on the role…without anyone else knowing.

Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her.

But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. Paz is an easy place to get lost…and also an easy place to lose yourself.

As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare – because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father. 

 

I really liked Shatter City! It was an interesting read, and I was curious to see how things would work out after the way Impostors ended. It didn’t disappoint, and I definitely want to know what happens next.

It was interesting to follow both Frey and Rafi. It was pretty interesting to see how they did the good old twins pretending to be each other thing. Even though this series follows Frey, there is part of me that wonders what things are really like for Rafi, and I’d love to see a chapter or two from her perspective. I don’t think I need a whole book from her perspective, or even a good chunk of any book following her, but a chapter or two could be interesting.

We see more of the world that Frey lives in, which was really nice. It makes me wonder how much more of the world we’ll see in the rest of the series, and I can’t wait to see if we’ll stay pretty close to where we’ve been, or if there will be a lot more traveling involved. If she’s going to go after her father, she can’t go far, but she’ll also need allies, so I’m curious to see if anyone will help her, or if they’ll just go along with it.

It also makes me wonder about the geography of the world she lives in versus where the original Uglies trilogy took place. Is it close to where Tally’s from, or in a completely different area? I’d kill for a map of Frey’s world just so I know where things are in relation to each other.

I feel like Rafi and Frey really come into their own in this book. There’s definitely room for growth and change, of course, but Rafi does some things I would not have expected. And Frey…I felt for her. She has a lot to deal with, especially with the revelations about her brother.

I did not see that coming, and I so want more about him and how he got to that point. That’s a story I really want to know, even though I know we’d only get bits and pieces. And that’s assuming we get anything else during the rest of the series.

I really hope we see them in a world where they don’t have to deal with their father. It makes me wonder who they’ll become and how they’ll change if he’s someone they don’t have to deal with or worry about. I’m pretty sure we won’t see that but I can’t help but wonder what their world would be like if he wasn’t a factor.

I’m also curious to see if we’ll see Tally. She’s definitely mentioned, and her story was definitely finished. But part of me wonders how she is, what she’s up to and if she wants to help get rid of Frey’s dad. I want Frey and Rafi to deal with this on their own, but part of me does want Tally to randomly show up and help out.

4 stars. I really liked Shatter City, and I really liked seeing how big this world is.

Book Review: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Book: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Published September 2019 by Tu Books|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty

Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling–the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore–a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine. 

I was really excited about this one because it’s a re-telling of Mulan, but unfortunately, I didn’t like this one as much as I wanted to.  It ended up being an okay read for me.

There were some things I really liked about The Magnolia Sword.  I really liked that she was a twin, and that her family was at odds with the prince’s family.  I liked that each generation had to duel- it wasn’t what I expected, but I thought it worked really well.  Especially with how they came together during the book.

I also liked how detailed this book was.  You could tell that Thomas did her research while reading this book.  It really shone throughout the book, and while I know nothing about this time period or the original telling of Mulan, it felt like it was pretty true to the time period.  Please take that with a grain of salt, though, because I’m only familiar with the Disney movie.  And even then, it’s been ages and ages since I’ve watched it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book thrilling or romantic, the way it was described.  I was bored, which made me sad, because I didn’t want to be bored.  The Magnolia Sword is more about the characters, which is fine, but I don’t think it was what I wanted.  I wanted more action and battles, and considering the fact that there seemed to be a lot going on at the time, I wanted to be more interested in the book.  Instead, I was really close to not finishing it, and I’m not sure how I did.

Mulan…was not memorable.  I wish I could tell you more about her, but she didn’t stand out to me.  Considering the book was more character driven, and she’s the main character, that was a little disappointing.  And the prince is even less memorable, considering I can’t even remember his name.  And the fact that he and Mulan end up dueling, and they spend a good amount of time together…it’s definitely not a good sign.  You’d think I’d be able to remember but the name didn’t stick.

2 stars.  The Magnolia Sword was just okay, and while there were some things I liked, overall, I was pretty bored.

Book Review: When She Reigns by Jodi Meadows

Book: When She Reigns by Jodi Meadows

Published September 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books|496 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Fallen Isles #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

The First Dragon

The Great Abandonment has begun. Panic has seized the Fallen Isles, where no one knows which god will rise next. Mira Minkoba believes her dreams hold the secret to bringing an end to the destruction, but in order to save her people, she’ll have to find a legendary treasure: the bones of the first dragon.

The Last Hope

Mira’s desperate search leads the Hopebearer and her friends on a dangerous journey into the heart of enemy territory: the Algotti Empire itself. The empress is more than willing to help—for an impossible price. And as tensions escalate beneath the shadows of the risen gods, Mira grapples with a terrifying question: What will she have to sacrifice to preserve what she loves?

The explosive finale to Jodi Meadows’s Fallen Isles trilogy is ablaze with sizzling romance and fiery magic as Mira’s fight to save dragons from extinction evolves into a mission to save her world from annihilation. 

I liked When She Reigns. Unfortunately, this is another one where I’m having trouble remembering the details, so this is going to be a short one.

It’s been a while since I finished it, so I’m having trouble remembering a lot of the details. Mira’s connection with the dragons was amazing, and that was actually my favorite thing about this book. I loved seeing that connection, and everything that came along with it. It definitely changed over the course of the book, and one particular moment at the end made me really sad, but it also made sense for the story.

Even though I re-read the series before reading this one, I actually want to go back and re-read them after reading this one. Mira’s love of dragons makes so much sense now, and knowing what I know, part of me wants to go back and see if there was anything I missed.

Seeing all of the gods was interesting, but I think seeing them through Mira was even more interesting. You see how horrifying it is each time, especially because of how much it affected the dragons. In the end, everything worked out but it was interesting to see how everything happened. I am curious to see how everything worked for everyone.

We did get to visit the empire, though their name is escaping me at the moment. I wish we saw more of it, considering it was mentioned quite a bit. At least we got to go for a little bit, but part of me just wanted to know more about them. I know it’s not really about them, but I feel like there’s a lot of history there, and that’s a story I’d love to see if there was ever a spin-off series.

3 stars. When She Reigns was a good conclusion but not a lot stuck with me after finishing it.