Book Review: As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows

Book: As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows

Published September 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books|550 pages

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

Series: The Fallen Isles #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

MIRA, THE HOPEBEARER
Mira Minkoba is on the run with her friends after a fiery escape from the Pit, where she’d been imprisoned for defending the dragons she loves. And she wants answers. Where have all the dragons been taken? Why are powerful noorestones being shipped to the mainland? And did the treaty she’s been defending her whole life truly sell out the Fallen Isles to their enemies?

MIRA, THE DRAGONHEARTED
As her connection to the dragons—and their power—grows stronger, so does Mira’s fear that she might lose control and hurt someone she loves. But the only way to find the truth is to go home again, to Damina, to face the people who betrayed her and the parents she’s not sure she can trust.

Home, where she must rise above her fears. Or be consumed.

The second page-turning novel in Jodi Meadows’ Fallen Isles trilogy scorches with mysterious magic and riveting romance as one girl kindles a spark into a flame.

I liked this one!  I didn’t like it as much as the first book, but I still want to know what happens next.

I wasn’t a big fan of the timeline in this book, so that didn’t really change from the first book.  It’s slightly better than it was in the first book, and a lot more linear but I still wasn’t a fan of it.  Most of the book is told through Mira’s perspective, but we do get chapters about what happened to Aaru.  Aaru’s chapters are much more linear than the timeline we saw in Before She Ignites, and I liked learning more about what happened to Aaru.

At the same time, though, I just wanted to be in the present.  It did tie in to Mira’s story, at least a little, and I am curious to see if it will tie into the last book as well.

I did like seeing more of the treaty, and what was really going on with it.  It wasn’t what I thought it would be, and it was clear that for a lot of people living in the Fallen Islands that the treaty wasn’t what they thought…or at least, what some people thought.  I was surprised by everything with the Treaty, and while part of me is hoping everything is okay with Mira’s parents, part of me is hoping things are not okay.

Mira really finds an inner strength that we didn’t see before, and I really hated that her worth as a person- for some people- depended on her looks and her doing what people told her to do.  It made me angry, because Mira is a good person, who wants a better world.  She wants to help dragons and her people, and all some people want is a pretty figurehead to further their own agenda.

I’ve really liked seeing Mira grow and change, and I’m sure we’ll see more of that in the next book.  Part of me didn’t like that she didn’t want to take her medication for anxiety, but…I can also understand not wanting to use when you’re unsure if you’ll be able to get more.  So much is depending on her, so I’m hoping…what, exactly, I don’t know, but there’s something about it that I didn’t like, and I can’t pinpoint why.  I’m also not sure where I want it to go, but part of me hopes we’ll continue to see Mira deal with her anxiety.

3 stars.  I liked it, and I liked Mir’s journey in this book.  There’s a lot I’m hoping we’ll see in the next book, and I’m hoping we don’t get past and present in the next book, because it really hasn’t worked for me in this book.

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Book Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Book: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Published September 2017 by Katherine Tegan Books|496 pages

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

Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

From the New York Times bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane comes a smoldering new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Kristin Cashore about a girl condemned for defending dragons and the inner fire that may be her only chance of escape.

Mira has always been a symbol of hope for the Fallen Isles, perfect and beautiful—or at least that’s how she’s forced to appear. But when she uncovers a dangerous secret, Mira is betrayed by those closest to her and sentenced to the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles.

Except Mira is over being a pawn. Fighting to survive against outer threats and inner demons of mental illness, Mira must find her inner fire and the scorching truth about her own endangered magic—before her very world collapses. 

And that’s all before she ignites.

I was really excited about Before She Ignites, especially since I loved her Incarnate series.  There are dragons, and how can you not love books about dragons?

I could definitely relate to the anxiety Mira feels, and while she counts a lot, it seemed to calm her down.  I don’t know anything about OCD, but the counting seemed more like a way to relieve anxiety than anything else.  I liked seeing how well-written it was, and how she had to deal with crippling anxiety at one of the worst points of her life. Mira really is more than the pretty face that the Council wants her to be, and she is an amazing character.  She’s strong and thoughtful and determined to go back for the people in the Pit.  I also liked that she wasn’t magically cured by the end of the book.  It could still go that way, of course, but I hope it doesn’t.  I want to see her continue to deal with her anxiety and her panic attacks.

I have mixed feelings about the whole timeline.  There was a lot of jumping around in terms of time.  On the one hand, I did really like it.  It gave a lot of insight into Mira, and how she became friends with her bodyguard, the dragon trainer, and two dragons in particular.  You learn how she ended up in prison, and that is important.  But at the same time, I didn’t like it, because it was hard to keep up with at first, and you’d have chapters where it would 7 months earlier, then present time, and then 10 years already.  So the past isn’t exactly linear, which didn’t completely work for me.  It worked well enough, but I didn’t completely love it either.

At first, it wasn’t clear who betrayed her, and I thought maybe it was her two friends or her family.  It turned out not to be the case, but I thought it was boring, who really betrayed Mira.

And how did the Luminary Council have so much control over Mira’s life?  If her father wrote the treaty, and named it after her, why did they have so much control?  It makes no sense, and I feel like things and places and events were mentioned but not completely explored.  I really wanted to know more about the politics of the area and about her family as well, but that wasn’t really explored either.  With two more books to go, I’m hopeful that we’ll get more of the world and what’s going on.  Also, the noorstones and how they were used didn’t make any sense to me.  That seemed more confusing than everything else put together.

Dragons!  I loved Mira’s relationship with the dragons.  They’re clearly important to her, and it seems like they’re very important to the world she lives in as well.  I wonder if the dragons help ease her anxiety.  She did seem more comfortable around them than anyone else.  My other theory is that the abilities we see her display are somehow connected to the dragons.  I don’t think she’s a dragon or anything like that, but I wonder if there is some sort of bond or something really special between Mira and the dragons.  It’s a feeling I have, and I think that it could be interesting to explore.  I want to see more dragons.

And that cover!  It’s beautiful, and it’s not often I want to frame the cover of a book, but this is one of them.  That cover is absolutely amazing, and I can’t stop looking at it.

At first, I thought that there would be quite a bit of romance.  But there really wasn’t any, and I feel like a lot of authors would have gone in the love triangle direction- with Mira, her bodyguard, and the guy in the cell next to her. But I’m glad we don’t really get any of that.  I suppose it’s still possible, but I feel like it maybe would have been introduced if that there the case.  I do feel like there’s enough going on without the romance, but I doubt that’s going to happen.

4 stars.  I really liked it, especially Mira’s anxiety.  That part was really well-done, but I wish we got more world-building and more of an explanation of the political system.

Book Review Round-Up: Crooked Kingdom, My Lady Jane And Tumbling

Since I’ve finished a few books recently, I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been reading!

crooked-kingdom-coverBook #1: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Published September 2016 by Henry Holt & Co|448 pages

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

Series: Six Of Crows #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

What I Thought: After reading Six Of Crows, I knew I would be anxiously waiting for the sequel!  It didn’t disappoint, and even though I didn’t love it, I still really liked it!

It’s such a roller-coaster and I was glad that I was along for the ride.  There’s a lot of craziness, but in a good way, because I wanted to see what happened next.  There’s a lot of action and adventure…which I expected, considering it’s fantasy and a heist novel.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I swear, her writing is getting better and better.  And the world is completely amazing.

I loved the banter and it made me laugh, and yet, my heart broke a couple of times.  So many feels!

I will admit that I was surprised by how complete the story felt.  I honestly went into this book assuming that it was the 2nd book in a trilogy, and was surprised to find that there is no book 3 planned.  I really wanted (and was expecting) more to this story.  At the same time, though, she wrapped up the story really well.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked the story, and I’m a little disappointed there are only 2 books, because I really wanted more books!

my-lady-jane-coverBook #2: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Published June 2016 by HarperTeen|512 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Alternate History

What It’s About: The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Like that could go wrong.

What I Thought: I had really high hopes for My Lady Jane.  I love the time period, and I love Hand and Meadows. I have yet to read anything by Ashton.  But I was really disappointed in the book, and I hate that I didn’t like it, because I really wanted to.

It felt like it dragged on, and the pacing seemed insanely slow.  It felt like it took forever for me to finish the book, and there were a lot of times where I didn’t want to pick it up.  It seems like they were going for a Princess Bride sort of feel with the book, but it felt more like an alternate history than fantasy.  I wasn’t particularly amused by anything that happened, even though I feel like they were trying to be funny.

For me, I don’t know that using history as a springboard necessarily worked for the story they were trying to tell. It’s an interesting idea, and I can see why people like the book so much.  It makes me wish that this book were for me.  I am curious to see how this book would work if it were entirely made up of original characters.

My Rating: 1 star.  I wanted to like it but it didn’t work for me.

tumbling-coverBook #3: Tumbling by Caela Carter

Published June 2016 by Viking Books For Young Readers|432 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.

What I Thought: Gymnastics is my favorite thing to watch when the Summer Olympics on, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it.

I really liked that this book takes place over the span of 2 days, and you follow several gymnasts in their quest to go to the Olympics.  I really liked seeing their stories, but some stood out more than others.

I really felt for Wilhelmina, who missed going to the Olympic trials 4 years prior because she wasn’t old enough. You can see how much she wants, and for a while, you’re not sure if she’s going to make it onto the team because of politics.  Which is completely horrible, but not that surprising.

Monica’s story also stood out to me- it seems like she has a coach who isn’t at all interested in coaching her because he pays a lot of attention to his daughter.  I really hated that he didn’t seem to be a good coach to her, and with all of the time and money that’s going into her training, it seems like a waste of time.  She could be great if she had a better coach.

I felt like Grace and Leigh were the typical mean girls, and I didn’t care for Grace’s story.  She felt very flat, and not as rounded or developed as the other characters.  I also felt like the fact that Grace doesn’t eat a lot was super-stereotypical.  I felt that to a certain degree with Leigh and her secret, although I felt like that was understandable, given Leigh is lesbian, and she’s worried about people finding out.  We do see some of her thoughts, but I wish it had been explored more.  Given how the book focuses on 5 different people, each character could be developed more if the book had focused on less of them, but all things considered, they were more developed and had more depth than you’d think.

Oh, Camile!  I almost forgot about her.  I did like her story and how she wanted to make her mom happy, but at the same time, I’d place her in between Grace and Leigh as one of my least favorite stories.

The one thing that kept me from loving this book was how drama there was behind the scenes.  I have no idea how accurate this was, but it seemed like there was some research put in, if the lengthy glossary at the end of the book is any indication.  I get that these girls are under a lot of pressure and one little mistake can cost them the dream they’ve been working so hard for, especially given female gymnasts seem to peak at around 16 or 17. And I get that it’s a way for the reader to be invested in these girls, but something about rang a little bit true, but not completely true.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, but with 5 different narrators, you didn’t get to spend a lot of time with each of them.