Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Book: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Published April 2018 by Delacorte Books For Young Readers|432 pages

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

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

I liked Ash Princess!  Not as much as I thought, but I’m still curious about what’s going to happen next.

It reminded me a lot of The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkosk.  I think it’s fact that Theodosia’s country was invaded by the Kaiser, and how he conquers countries and then abandons them years later when they can no longer give him what he wants.  He burns them (whether it’s literal or figurative, I have no idea) but it is a concept that makes no sense, because eventually, won’t all of the countries run out of resources?  And if they’re literally burned to the ground, eventually he’ll run out of countries and resources, right?

Maybe I’m thinking too much about this though.  This is the sort of book that thinking about these things don’t seem to be a good idea, because then things don’t make a lot of sense.  At any rate, there are some things I really liked.

Like, the idea that the gems are sacred, and that only certain people can use them.  I did like that queens weren’t, because it would be too much power.  I feel like we got a really good sense of Theo’s world, and what it’s like to live under the Kaiser’s rule.  While we did get glimpses of what her world was like before he invaded, I still wish we had more of it.  It was balanced pretty well, and I wonder if maybe more about her life before would have taken away from how things are now.  At the same time, though, it might have added to it.  And I did like that the concept of berserkers was tied to the magic in the mines.  It definitely got my interest, and while I’m hoping we get more of the experiments that were done, I don’t know if we will.  I’m just hoping everything will come together.

I did like Theo, and while I think the Theyn and Kaiser were morons for not killing her, I can at least understand why he didn’t do it.  As for the Kaiser, it was clear she was the example.  It kind of reminded of Mare from the Red Queen. I think this book is a great read if you like the Red Queen and The Winner’s Curse.  And oddly enough, I was reminded of Everless as well, though I couldn’t begin to tell you why I was reminded of it.  There does seem to be a similar feel to both books, so it could be worth checking out.

I mean, if you read a lot of YA fantasy, this book might be really predictable.  I read enough YA fantasy that I thought certain things were predictable.  But I was still interested enough to see what would happen, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel, so I haven’t read so much YA fantasy that I was bored.  I guess it’s really up to you.

There is a love triangle, which wasn’t surprising- I mean, I feel like it’s pretty standard for virtually every YA fantasy and dystopia to have one.  We have Blaise, the boy Theo has love she was little, and Soren, who’s father took everything away from her.  While we see it throughout the book, I felt like everything else we see in the book is much more important.  She’s torn between two boys, and while it didn’t take over everything else, it was also not just hovering in the background.

I also liked the friendships we see in the book, and I hope we see more of them.  I particularly want to see more of Theo’s relationship with Artemsia, and I think their relationship is going to get a lot more interesting in the books to come.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.  And it should be interesting to see how things turn out with Cress too.  There’s a lot I’m looking forward to seeing in this series.

4 stars.  I didn’t love Ash Princess, but I still really enjoyed it, and I’m really looking forward to the next book.

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Book Review: Between The Blade And The Heart by Amanda Hocking

Book: Between The Blade And The Heart by Amanda Hocking

Published January 2018 by Wednesday Books|319 books

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

Series: Valkyrie #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal/Re-Telling- Norse Mythology

Between the Blade and the Heart is the first book in a brilliant new young adult fantasy duology inspired by Norse mythology by New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. The balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

As Malin wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought, she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue-eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. Malin, along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend, must decide where her loyalties lie…and whether helping Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and to her heart.

I didn’t like Between The Blade And The Heart as much as I thought I would.  It is a cool idea, but I thought the mythology and world were more confusing than it needed to be.

Yes, you get a general idea of Malin’s world but I thought that things weren’t explained very well…if they were explained at all.  The book was both futuristic and old, all at the same time, but it didn’t work for me.  I think it just made it seem like Hocking wasn’t sure if she wanted something more traditional or more futuristic.  I think it did need a little more direction, because I felt like most of the time, it was unclear where things were going.

And I didn’t particularly care about the characters…or like them.  I don’t need to like characters to like a book, and sometimes unlikable characters are what make me like a book, but I felt like the characters were superficial and boring.  For whatever reason, I just couldn’t care about any of them, or what happened to them.  The book was on the shorter side, so maybe the characters didn’t develop as much as they needed to.

It did move fast, and there was quite a bit of action, but I was bored.  I don’t understand how a book with a lot of action can be boring, but this book was.  Maybe I was bored but I didn’t like or care about the characters.  Maybe it’s just me, and not the book.

Going back to the mythology, I did like seeing Valkyries!  It’s not something you see a lot in fantasy/paranormal, and you do see some other paranormal beings that you don’t typically see.  So that was nice, but like I mentioned before, things weren’t explained very well.  I’m not too familiar with Norse mythology (or anything else we see in the book, in terms of supernatural/paranormal beings), so it’s possible that having that knowledge would have made a difference.  Still, I felt like some of the basics should have been explained, because I was left feeling confused and bored.  I know I picked up this book up because it sounded really cool, and not everyone reading this book is going to have enough knowledge of Norse mythology to know what’s going on.

2 stars.  This book was okay, and while I wanted to like it more, I couldn’t.  It had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t the book for me.

Book Review: Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

Book: Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

Published October 2017 by Philomel Books|363 Pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Rise Of The Empress #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/YA Re-telling

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

I absolutely loved this book!  It took me forever to get through (partly because I wasn’t in the mood, and partly because I was trying to get through some other books).

I love this re-telling of The Evil Queen, and while this story is Xifeng’s journey to becoming the evil queen, it’s still worth reading.  It makes me want to read the next book so, so much.  Regina Mills from Once Upon A Time is an amazing Evil Queen, but Xifeng comes pretty close.  It’s basically Snow White before Snow White, if that makes any sense.  It’s basically a prequel to the Snow White story that we all know (at least from Disney, but this is not the happy Disney version.  Please don’t expect a happy, Disney version of the Evil Queen, because this is not that book.

If you need to like characters, especially the main character, this book probably isn’t for you.  It was so hard to like Xifeng at times, but I did find myself understanding where she came from, and why she did what she did.  She does get jealous of other women, and she wasn’t very confident, especially at the beginning of the book.  She changes so much over the course of the book, but it felt really natural and not forced at all.

I feel like her journey isn’t going to end well, but this is one story that I feel pretty invested in, and I can’t wait to see where her story goes, even if the ending isn’t a happy one.

I thought the world was amazing and really detailed.  I had such a clear picture of what was going on, and I loved how vivid everything was.  My copy of the book was an annotated one from PageHabit, and those extra details really made the book for me.  It was interesting to see what inspired her, and where certain things in the book came from.

Also, this is not a light and fluffy story.  It is dark and twisted and sometimes gory.  I mean, she eats hearts to gain power and make herself stronger.  She will do anything to become Empress, and I thought the use of a prophecy was interesting.  As weird as it may be, I did like seeing how far she was willing to go to get what she wants and what she was willing to do so she could fulfill the destiny that was foretold.

I’m not sure if this was something the author intended, but I couldn’t help but think about prophecy and destiny and how cutthroat some people are, and how they’ll use prophecy to get whatever they want.  Also, some of the characters are pretty catty (and petty), and Xifeng was willing to take them down because they were standing in her way.  I’m sure there’s some sort of real world parallel you could draw.  I won’t, because my brain doesn’t want to work right (and I myself in not confident in my ability to draw a meaningful comparison) but it did feel very real.  Girls and women are pitted against each other as well, and you can definitely see why they act the way they do.

5 stars.  Overall, I loved this book.  The setting is amazing and vivid, and I just loved the world and the mythology and the characters.

Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Book: The Young Elites

Published August 2015 by Speak|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: The Young Elites #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

An explosive new series from New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy, Marie Lu 

Darth Vader, Voldemort, Maleficent. Witness the rise of a new villain.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars–they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I thought The Young Elites was interesting!  I liked it, and I wanted to like it more, because I really liked the concept.

Something about the book made me think of the Spanish Inquistion and even the Salem Witch Trials.  I mean, the Young Elites are hunted down and killed because they’re different.  Anyone suspected of being a malfetto was destroyed, and it’s interesting that Teren should be the leader of those tasked with finding the Young Elites.

I really liked Adelina, and she’s dark and twisted and hurt, but she also really cares about her sister.  No one is good or bad in this book, and everyone is very much shades of grey.

I didn’t particularly care for Enzo, and I think his chapters were my least favorite.  Teren, though, was interesting.  I didn’t particularly like him, but I do understand why he acted the way he did.  I really wish we saw more of Raffaele! I would have been happy if we had more chapters with him than with Enzo, but that wasn’t something that happened. Hopefully there is more of him in the rest of the series, should I continue on with it.

I’m not surprised that this book was a fantasy book, but I think part of me was expecting some dystopic or post-apocalyptic elements.  When you start talking about an illness that killed people, but the surviving children come out different…well, I was expecting something a little different.  It’s darker than I thought it would be, and I am curious about what will happen next.  I don’t know if I want to continue the series- while I liked The Young Elites, I don’t know if I like it enough to keep going.  Maybe one day I’ll pick it up, but if I do, I’ll most likely get it from the library.

I never really got a clear picture of the Fortunata Court, and even though we have a map at the beginning of the book, I never really got a good sense of where everything was in relation to each other.  I felt like the Fortunata Court in particular was sort of vague, and I’m not hopeful that we’ll get a better picture of it.  I’m still hoping, of course, but I don’t want to be overly hopeful and then have that come crashing down because it wasn’t described the way I wanted it to be.

3 stars,  I liked it, but I had a hard time getting into it.

Book Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Book: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Published February 2015 by HarperTeen|337 pages

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

Series: A Wicked Thing #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/YA Re-telling

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I thought A Wicked Thing was okay.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while (and it’s been on my TBR for years), and I finally got around to reading it.

I did like that everyone she knew had passed away in the time it took for her to wake up.  Can you imagine waking up and learning that everyone you knew was dead?  And to be taken in by the current king and queen because their son is your true love?  I can’t say I’m surprised by that, because I really wasn’t.  But I did like it, predictable as it was.

I know this book is a series, so we’ll learn a lot more about Aurora’s world in the next books.  We did get a pretty good picture of her life before the curse and also what happened during her 100 years of sleep.  But I just wasn’t as into it as I thought I would be.

I thought Aurora’s reaction to everything was pretty well done- she did seem confused and overwhelmed and not sure what to do.  I feel like I’d feel the same way if I were in her position, and I can see myself reacting the same way she did.  She constantly felt like she a prisoner- both before her birthday, and long after.  I really felt for her, because her life was decided for her, and no one bothered to ask her what she thought or how she felt.  Everything was decided for her because everyone knew better than she did.

There’s a lot she doesn’t know, of course, and she does need some sort of protection.  I don’t think she helped things by randomly wandering around in the middle of the night, but she also didn’t deserve to be locked up again.  I think a little more freedom (and explanation and including her in things) would have gone a long way.

I did like that her tale is well-known, and that she reads a book that is her story.  I’m not sure why I liked it, but when you’ve been sleeping for as long as she has, it does make sense that stories would be told.  And of course, the original story is far more gruesome than what we see here.  It should be interesting to see where things go, if I do decide to continue on with the series.  I don’t know that I’m interested enough to keep going.

The book does move pretty slow, and even though it took me a few days to finish it, it’s because of how short the book was.  I expected more action, and the action scenes we do have were boring.  I did want to see how things would turn out for Aurora, and what she’d do, but that was one of the very few things that kept me going.

2 stars.  A Wicked Thing was okay, and even though I like the idea of a Sleeping Beauty re-telling, this one didn’t work for me.

Book Review: Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Book: Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Published July 2017 by Harlequin Teen|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

This is a book I’ve had for ages, but it was something I hadn’t read…until it was selected for the #MGYABC.  I really wish I liked it more, because the cover is really pretty (and that shade of purple is amazing), and it’s a cool idea.

I don’t know that a stand-alone was the best fit for this world.  I thought the world-building was really confusing, and most of the time, I wasn’t sure if Gomorrah was a festival or a city or both.  Maybe I missed that part, and maybe it’s both, but I thought it wasn’t clear what Gomorrah actually was.  Also, we barely see the festival itself, other than Sorina’s illusions, and I honestly thought that we’d see more of the festival.

Honestly, this book was more murder mystery than fantasy, and I felt like it could have happened anywhere.  Other than the illusions, there really weren’t a lot of fantasy elements, and I was disappointed by that because for whatever reason, I thought it would be more of a fantasy.  I thought that the person behind the murders was pretty obvious, and I figured it out pretty early on, so that’s something to keep in mind.

I also felt like a lot of names were thrown at me.  I mean, Sorina has a lot of illusions, and I sort of liked that they were her family,  but it was hard to keep up with who was who.  What was interesting and cool and really different was that we get drawings and a description of each one throughout the book.  It didn’t really help me keep track of everyone, but it was an interesting way to go about it.

I did think it was a little sad that she’d rather be around her illusions than real people.  They get better treatment than a lot of the actual people in the book, now that I think about it.  I’m not sure what to make of it, but people clearly don’t think much of the people of Gomorrah.  There also seems to be a distinction between those who live Up Mountain and Downghill.

I had such a hard time picturing everything.  I had no idea where things were, especially in relation to each other, and I felt like we were at place after place, but for me, there wasn’t enough to distinguish each place from each other.  There were parts where I was skimming because the book was either painfully slow or painfully boring, so that’s something I could have missed as well.

And then there’s the festival itself.  Okay, Sodom and Gomorrah is one of two things I thought of when I saw Gomorrah (Gamora being the other, though that’s probably because I saw Infinity War while I was reading this book).  And that definitely brings a certain image to mind, but I didn’t expect to see much of the biblical Gomorrah, since this is YA.  But while there are mentions of sins and a woman-turned-pillar-of-salt and the history of Gomorrah, it’s not really explored in-depth, and I wish we got more of the Festival.  I was picturing something like the Night Circus or Caraval, but like I said, this book was more murder mystery with some magic than a festival in a fantasy setting.

I don’t think being a stand-alone worked in it’s favor.  I felt like it was too short page-wise to fully get immersed in this world, and I feel like this book being a stand-alone hurt it because we weren’t able to get more of the world Sorina lives in.

1 star.  I thought the world was really confusing and not explained very well.  The concept is cool, but I don’t think it was well-done.

Book: Everless by Sara Holland, Narrated by Eileen Stevens

Book: Everless by Sara Holland, Narrated by Eileen Stevens

Published January 2018 by HarperAudio|Length: 9 hours, 59 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: Everless #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I really liked Everless!  I really liked the idea of time being currency, and how how they go about getting time from people.

Some of the characters weren’t what I expected.  You think you know who the goods guys and the bad guys are, and then you’re taken off guard because people are not what you thought.  It did make the book interesting, because I liked that things weren’t what they seemed.

I also really liked the world-building.  It was a little confusing at times, particularly towards the end, but I think a lot of it is probably because I was listening to the audio.  I felt like I needed to write it down to figure it out, which would have been a bad idea because I was driving.  Maybe I’ll check out the print version and re-read it to see if it makes more sense.  Anyway, I did like that we learned things as Jules learned things, and I think that’s why things weren’t what they seemed.  At the same time, though, I think it also made things feel a little bit muddles because I wasn’t completely sure what was going on mythology wise.  And I think there is a lot to explore, so hopefully we’ll learn more in the next book.

Jules is definitely different.  There were times I thought she was really reckless, and she did put herself in harm’s way on more than one occasion.  I have the feeling not everyone will like her, and while I didn’t hate her, I also didn’t love her.  I felt bad for her, but overall, I think I’m neutral towards her.  I did like the friendship she had with Ina, and she didn’t seem jealous of her, considering Ina was set to marry Rowan.  That was nice for a change, because I feel like it would have been really easy to do the complete opposite.

The book did feel a little slow at times, particularly in the middle, but I got through it.  I thought Eileen Stevens did a great job narrating.  I did feel like she was Jules, and she did pretty well with the different voices.  While I’m not running out and adding everything she’s narrated to my audible wish list, I also wouldn’t mind listening to a book she’s narrated if it was something I wanted to read.

4 stars.  I really liked Everless, though I thought some of the world-building/mythology a little confusing. I’d still recommend Everless, and the concept is pretty cool.

Book Review: Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza and Reign Of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Book: Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Published February 2017 by Razorbill|314 pages

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

Series: Empress Of A Thousand Skies #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

This was a book I was really excited about reading, but unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

The book follows Rhee and Aly, and their stories didn’t match up the way I thought it would.  I felt like the story in the summary was completely different than the story I actually read.  The alternating POV’s didn’t really work for me (which is usually what happens), and I didn’t care for either of their stories.  Also, I felt like it made things more confusing than they needed to be.

If you’re going for similar books, Carve The Mark and These Broken Stars come to mind.  Especially Carve The Mark, so I think if you liked that one, you’d probably like this one.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really like Carve The Mark, so it’s not that surprising that I didn’t like this one.  It’s your typical lost princess out for vengeance who is also trying to re-claim her throne story.  It’s different enough, though, because someone gets accused of murder who didn’t actually do it- this happens pretty early on, so while it is a spoiler, I don’t consider it too big of a spoiler.

I did feel bad for Aly, because he really had to think twice about his behavior.  Things that other characters could do without a second thought, Aly had to think about because he faces a lot of prejudice.  There are some parallels to things we see, and I thought that part was really well done.

Overall, though, I just wasn’t into the story.  As pretty as the cover is, and as cool as the book sounds, I had a hard time getting into it.  I also had a really hard time picturing where all of the planets were in relation to each other.

My Rating: 2 stars.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the book, but if fantasy in space is your thing, this is a book worth checking out.

Book: Reign Of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Published January 2018 by Razorbill|375 pages

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

Series: Reign Of The Fallen #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

This was another book I was excited about but ended up not really liking.  It’s a cool idea, and the world was really interesting, but for the most part, I thought this book was confusing.

Though the world itself was interesting- and somewhat unique- I also thought it didn’t make a lot of sense.  Things weren’t explained very well, at least for me, and as the book went on, I had a hard time caring about Odessa and everything she lost.

The loss of a loved one in a world where the dead can be raised had a lot of potential, but I didn’t think the execution was quite there.  It was boring, and there were a lot of things I didn’t care about.  I felt like the things I did care about didn’t really come up or weren’t really explored, and the things I didn’t care about were coming up a lot.

I was bored.  I didn’t feel anything, though it seemed like I should have.  While I wasn’t expecting a lot of action, I still felt like I was struggling to get through it.  How I did, I have no idea, because this book seemed so slow.

Her grief and addiction were really well done, I will say that.  Her not wanting help from people after losing someone was easy to understand.  Part of me really wishes that my disinterest in the book was reading it at the wrong time, particularly because it’s about a character who is dealing with grief.  But I’ve read a few other books recently that have a character dealing with grief, and I was really invested in those books, so maybe this one just didn’t work for me.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s a cool idea, but it didn’t work for me.  I thought the world was interesting but boring, and while I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t.

Book Review: Shadowsong by S Jae-Jones

Book: Shadowsong by S Jae-Jones

Published February 2018 by Wednesday Books|384 pages

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

Series: Wintersong #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

I really liked Shadowsong!  After reading Wintersong last year (and absolutely loving it), I knew I had to read Shadowsong.

Shadowsong is a very different book than the one that Wintersong.  It’s a lot darker than I thought it would be, but it’s just as vivid.  I didn’t like it as much as Wintersong, though.  It didn’t have the magic or dreaminess that I would have expected, and it didn’t have the poetic beauty that the first book did.

I hate to compare books, and they are intended to be two different books, if the author’s note at the beginning of the book is any indication.  I expected them to be different, but even with her note, I didn’t expect them to be so different.

I really appreciated that she had a trigger warning at the beginning of the book.  I really respect her for doing that, considering how this book is a lot darker and more serious than Wintersong.  We see characters struggle with addiction and self-harm, amongst other things, and even though those things aren’t triggering to me, I know that they are to other people.  I just really appreciate that she did this.

Still, I loved the world and the story, and how completely immersed I was in Liesl’s world.  It’s dark and twisty and haunting, and there were times where I understood why Liesl acted the way she did.  I think, if I were in her position, I would too.

I do admit to skimming over the letters at the beginning and ending of the book.  I have no problem with reading cursive, but this…it was hard to read, and so I ended up skimming.  I’m not sure if maybe I missed something in those letters, and that’s why I didn’t like it as much as I thought, or if maybe I loved Wintersong so much that nothing would live up to it.

This book is the perfect follow-up to Wintersong.  We see what happens once Liesl leaves the Goblin King, and what happened with the Goblin King ages and ages ago.  And we learn his name as well.  Though he is mostly absent from this book, I still feel like he was with Liesl, and there for her no matter what.

4 stars.  I really liked Shadowsong, though I didn’t love it.  I really appreciated the author’s note at the beginning, and I loved seeing how Liesl’s story ended.  There is something about this world that lures you in, and this book is very haunting, though some of the things I loved about Wintersong weren’t present in this one.  It’s still worth reading, though!

Book Review: The Shadow Hour And The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey

Book: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

Published July 2016 by Delacorte Press|421 pages

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

Series: The Girl At Midnight #2

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

A battle has been won. But the war has only just begun.

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature—or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour.

I liked The Shadow Hour!  Echo really comes to terms with being the firebird and what that means.  Things are certainly darker in this book, and I liked seeing Echo fight a growing darkness that came about when she became the firebird.

I didn’t really care for the love triangle in this book.  It made sense in The Girl At Midnight, but now?  It’s boring and unnecessary, in my opinion.  And I kind of hate that Echo didn’t say anything when she and Caius were talking with Rowan.  Echo is a great character, and she really does come into her own, but I still wish she had said something.  Wait, did I say love triangle?  Because I meant love triangles.  I don’t particularly care for Rowan and Echo, and I don’t particularly care about Caius and Echo, but better Caius than Rowan.  At least we actually spend more time with Caius.

And the whole triangle between Quinn, Jasper and Dorian?  I don’t get it either.  I can barely handle one love triangle on the best of days, much less two.  Something about Quinn really bothered, and I can’t quite place why.  Jasper is a little odd as well, but not to the degree that Quinn is.  I am not a fan, and that is all I have to say about that.

Speaking of Jasper, I really do love him, and he’s pretty awesome.  I think he’s my favorite character in the series, hands down.  It’s not that I don’t like the other characters, because I do (minus Rowan, because he just bothers me), but Jasper is the one I absolutely love.  Really, Echo has quite the group, and something about them reminds me of the group we see in Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

We do see a little bit of Echo’s life before she comes to live with the Avicen.  I was curious about what her life was like before Ala came into her life, and we get a glimpse of that.  I still wish we saw more of it, because for some reason, it feels like it should be a bigger deal.  I don’t know if it’s just me and my wishful thinking, or if I just want there to be more of a connection between her past and her becoming a firebird, but I really hope it goes in that direction.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I did like it, but at this point, I just want to finish the series to see how it all ends.

Book: The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey

Published July 2017 by Delacorte Press|496 pages

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

Series: The Girl At Midnight #3

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

The war between light and dark has begun. The sides have been chosen and the battle lines drawn.

After awakening the firebird, Echo is now the only one with the power to face the darkness she unwittingly unleashed upon the world…right into the waiting hands of Tanith, the new Dragon Prince. Tanith has one goal in mind: destroy her enemies, raze their lands, and reign supreme in a new era where the Drakharin are almighty and the Avicen are nothing but a memory.

The war that has been brewing for centuries is finally imminent. But the scales are tipped. Echo might hold the power to face the darkness within the Dragon Prince, but she has far to go to master it. And now she’s plagued by uncertainty. Is she strong enough to stare into the face of evil and not lose herself in its depths?

The war has begun, and there is no looking back. There are only two outcomes possible: triumph or death.

So, I was pretty determined to finish this series just to see how ended.  As the series went on, I lost interest in what happened, and while I’m glad I’m finished with this series, I’m also wishing (just a little bit) that I had spent the time I was reading this book on a different one.

It was such a cool idea at first, and I think, of the trilogy, I still liked the first one the best.  The way I feel about this series is the way I felt about the Golden Compass series- the first one was cool and interesting, but the following books were kind of unnecessary.  I hate making this comparison, but it’s like a boring version of the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.  I was also initially reminded of that Laini Taylor series (I think it’s Daughter Of Smoke and Bone) but it’s been ages since I’ve read the first one, and I never finished the series, so I don’t know how accurate the comparison to that series is.  Maybe go with Laini Taylor or Leigh Bardugo, because I think I’d have to recommend those two series over this one.  Or even read The Girl At Midnight, but stop there.  I kind of wish I had done that.

Everything felt so drawn out, and it was a struggle to get through this one.  I thought there wasn’t a lot of action, and usually the last book is the most action-packed as we race towards a conclusion.  Not this book.  It was pretty much something to read while I was waiting for the laundry to be done (I am so used to having a washer/dryer around that having to go to an onsite laundry mat is a little weird getting used to).

It also seemed like there was a lot of filler, which I would expect from a second book- and maybe even bits and pieces of it in the first one- but certainly not in the last one.  There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary description.

The characters also seemed to be the same people that they were in the 2nd book, and I wanted a little bit more change and growth from them in this one.  Some characters (like Ivy and the Ala) are randomly mentioned but we don’t see what happens with them.  Things are mentioned once or twice, but never mentioned again.

And the ending was boring as well.  Things happened that should have gotten a reaction from me, but they didn’t because by that point, I just didn’t care.  And there was one moment that was a little bit of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of moment.  I should have cared, but like I said, I didn’t.  I think I was just so ready to be done with the book and the series that I found myself skimming over quite a bit of the book, especially towards the end.

I think one of the very, very few things I actually like was actually finishing.

My Rating: 2 stars.  I don’t care enough to give this book one stars, and I’m just glad I’m finished with this series and The Savage Dawn.  It was too drawn out and not enough action.