Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Book: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published September 2016 by HarperTeen|398 pages

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

Series: Three Dark Crowns #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

I feel like I’ve heard a lot about this series, so when I saw it at the library, I thought I’d check it out and see what it’s about.  Even though I didn’t love it, I still liked it!

It’s a really cool idea, and I like the idea of a set of triplets fighting for their crown.  It’s interesting that it’s every generation, and the impression I got was that they’re only born so people can see them fight for the crown, but I could be wrong.  I mean, I’ve only read the first book, so there could be a lot more about this world that we didn’t get in the book.

It seems like there are a lot of different kinds of magic, even though the book only focuses on a few.  I’d be curious to see what other kind of magic there is, and if we’ll see what there is beyond what the girls can do.

I’m not sure how I feel about three different narrators, though.  Usually, I read books with 2, and it’s pretty rare that I’ll pick up a book with more than that- An Ember In The Ashes series is the only other one I can think of, but that’s only because I read the third one pretty recently.

I mean, each girl was different, and each one had their own voice.  It was pretty easy to distinguish between the three but it also made it seem like there was too much going on.  It’s not that it was hard to keep track of what was going on, but it made things seem more complicated than they were.  Maybe the amount of narrators will narrow down as characters die, and that Blake won’t add in other perspectives.  I think maybe 3 narrators (each queen) didn’t work for me was because it seemed like a lot of other characters popped up.  I did have some trouble remembering who those characters were, and sometimes, it seemed like it was more about them than the three queens.

It was pretty slow for most of the book, but it does pick up towards the end.  It’s sad it did take so long for it to pick up, because I did like the end and I wanted more action.

I do have some unanswered questions- there are some odd rules in place.  Like, they can’t kill each other until they’re 16, which is strange.  I know 16-ish seems to be the age when people come into their powers and whatnot, and maybe it’s the age where these queens are considered old enough to fight for their crown and know what’s going on.

Also odd was the fact that they were raised separately.  I guess I don’t completely understand why they needed to be raised separately, since it was never explained.  It also seemed useless to me because they all seemed to have one ability, only for some to have a completely different ability.  Said character was seen as pretty useless as far as abilities go, and maybe she would have been seen differently had they figured out what her abilities really were.  Do they not test that, or do they try to shove an ability onto someone in the hopes it will stick?

Maybe I just wanted more with how the magic works, because I’m not remembering if it was really explained.  And I read this book recently enough that it should be on my mind.  I guess it’s pretty forgettable if it was mentioned at all.

Looking back (and after reading some other reviews of the book), I think what I thought would happen will probably be one of the other books in the series.  I wasn’t expecting so much set up to three girls fighting to the death for the crown.

It wasn’t as dark and twisty as I thought it would, at least for most of the book.  Maybe we’ll see that later on in the series?  All I know is I was expecting something more dark and evil than what we got for most of the book.

3 stars.  I liked Three Dark Crowns, but I have a lot of questions about why things are the way they are.

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Book Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Book: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Published July 2018 by Thomas Nelson|448 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Alternate History/Fantasy

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

I really liked Fawkes!  There’s a lot I really liked about the book, and I’m glad I read it.

For starters, I liked that cover.  It’s different, and it definitely got my attention.  I definitely wanted to know what was going to happen, though I probably could have solved that simply by reading the book jacket.  I did like how it connected to the story.

I also liked how Brandes mixed history and fantasy.  It’s the Gunpowder Plot, but with color magic.  There’s a plague that turns people to stone.  How can you not like that?  It’s not completely factual, of course, so if you like your historical fiction accurate, this is not the book for you, since this is more of an alternate history than anything else.

I liked that it focused on something I wasn’t too familiar with.  I had heard of Guy Fawkes (in relation to Guy Fawkes Day), and I had heard of the Gunpowder Plot, but wasn’t too familiar with the details.  So I liked reading about something I wasn’t too familiar with.

And when you add in magic and masks, and control of color, it becomes even more cool.  So instead of Catholics versus Protestants, you have Keepers (control over one color) and Igniters (control over all colors using White Light).  And there are masks they wear, and it shows the color that’s most dominant for you, plus there’s a school and testing.  Oh, and masks are made by their parents, so if your parent doesn’t make you one, you’re out of luck.  Which means Thomas has to go to his father in order to get a mask, since his dad didn’t make him one.  I like the idea that it’s the only way to connect to the magic, and to be able to use it.

I did wish that we saw more of how the magic worked.  What is it’s place in society, and how does it make society better (or worse)?  Clearly, magical factions replaced religion, but what do each of the colors represent?  Only a few colors are mentioned, and it could be interesting to see how different shades affected things.  Like, is there a different between ruby red and cherry red, or is it all the same, regardless of shade?

I mean, I know that book is the Gunpowder Plot with magic instead of religion, so it’s only going to be a stand-alone (and not a series).  There’s only so far you can take it.  There’s no way to stretch it out, especially if you’re sticking with history.  It would have been cool if the king had been assassinated, and there were more books that could go into detail about the history.

Still, I get (and appreciate) that maybe the author was trying to keep things simple.  Especially if magic is a stand-in for religion.  Generally, I don’t read past Elizabeth I, so I’m not too familiar with her successor, but just based off of that, there was a lot of back-and-forth on religion, so I can see wanting to have a basic structure in place.

I did get a pretty good sense of what was going on, and the disagreements on color magic, so it did its job pretty well.  I think I just wanted a little more detail than what we’d get in a stand-alone.

4 stars.  Overall, I really liked it, but I wish there was a little more with the magic system.

Audio Book Review: The Reader by Traci Chee, Narrated by Kim Mai Guest

Book: The Reader by Traci Chee, Narrated By Kim Mai Guest

Published September 2016 by Listening Library|12 hours 31 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Sea Of Ink And Gold #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.

I’m honestly not sure what to think of The Reader.  Here’s the thing with this book- I tried reading it ages ago, found it didn’t work in print, so I switched to the audio book, thinking that would work better.  I ended up finishing the audio recently, only to find that I wasn’t paying attention to it, and that it pretty much faded into the background.

That’s not what you want with an audio book, especially because I couldn’t even begin to tell you what had happened.  Instead of listening to it again (for fear the same thing would happen), I decided to borrow it from the library when I happened to be wandering around in the YA section and saw it sitting on the shelf.

It turned out to be okay for me.  I didn’t particularly care for the stories of the pirates and assassins- especially the assassins.  It made things more muddled and confusing, and it didn’t feel personal.  At least the assassins related to the story.  As for the pirates, I liked that they were clearly stories, and I found that when I went to it in print, it was clearly distinguished from the rest of the book.

That part was nice, but I vaguely remember that it wasn’t clear when you switched perspectives in the audio book.

The story itself was interesting, and I really liked the idea.  It was hard to believe that Sefia was able to figure out how to read, especially in a society that’s illiterate.  Especially since they seemed to be advanced in other ways.  Do they have some sort of record-keeping system?  That’s what I want to know, but I don’t know if I’m interested enough to keep reading to find out.

One that I also didn’t like was how some people were referred to- The Arbitrator, the Assassin, the Second.  It didn’t work for me, and it made me not care.  I felt distanced from what was going on, even there were other characters, like Sefia and Archer involved.  It tended to happen in the assassin chapters, but you saw it at other times too.

Everything did come together in the end, but by then, I didn’t particularly care about what was going on.

I will say that I did like Kim Mai Guest’s narration.  While I ended up re-reading it because I wasn’t paying attention, I did like her as the narrator, and me not paying attention is nothing against her at all.  She’s good at what she does, at least in the couple of books I’ve listened to that she’s narrated.

2 stars.  The story was okay, and I had a hard time paying attention to the story.  Chee’s writing was lovely, but I had a hard time getting into the story.

Book Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler And Dan Bittner

Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner

Published November 2017 by MacMillan Audio|Length 16 hours, 58 minutes

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

Series: Renegades #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

I really liked Renegades.  It’s odd, because it’s a mix of dystopia and fantasy, but I thought I worked really well.

I really liked Nova and I felt really bad for her.  The book is narrated by both Nova and Adrian, and I found I cared for Nova’s story more than Adrian’s.  Since I listened to it on audio, there was no skimming over Adrian’s sections, and I did notice that it wasn’t the typical alternating chapters- it was sections.  They each got a few chapters where one would narrate, and than it would switch to the other one.

I was more bored with Adrian’s, like I mentioned, and I think it’s because he’s one of the “good guys.”  By the end of the book, I thought the Renegades were a lot worse than the villains.  There’s one moment in particular that made me hate them, and I hate both what they were doing, and how they went about it.  And people think they’re the good guys?  Never have I so badly wanted them to be taken down, and I need Nova to be the one to do it.

I think part of why the Renegades seemed horrible was perspective.  Especially when Nova was narrating.  She has every reason to hate them, and with everything she’s learning about them, it’s hard to like them.  You do see that at least some of them have the best of intentions, and maybe that was the Renegades at the very beginning, when they first came into power.  But as they are in the book?  They are not the good guys they think they are.

One thing I thought was frustrating was the secret identity thing.  I thought it should have been a lot more obvious to the characters, but maybe that’s because I knew things the characters didn’t.  That was something that kept me from loving it, and I kept waiting for them to figure it out.  Maybe in the next one?

And the ending!  I’m curious to see how things go in the next one with how things ended.  I’m not going to say what happened, but because I was listening to it in my car, I was yelling at the audio book.  It’s not bad, but…it’s a cliffhanger?  Which I kind of expected, but not like that.  It really took me off guard, but in a good way so I’m anxiously awaiting the next one to see what happens next.

Since I mentioned I listened to it on audio, I should probably talk about the narration!  I really liked Nova, and I liked Rebecca Soler as her narrator.  I thought Dan Bittner did a great job narrated Adrian, but I did like Soler’s narration more.  I don’t think I’m completely used to male narrators, and it’s pretty rare that I’ll listen to a book narrated by a guy.  Still, he did do a great job as Adrian, and I could picture both of them as the characters.  I’m also glad they went with two different narrators, because it really helped distinguish between the two characters and what was going on, especially when they were in the same scenes, and you;d switch from Nova to Adrian, or Adrian to Nova.

It’s also pretty long, so it took me a while to get through it.  I definitely had to take a break and listen to the radio every once in a while.  Not being it was boring, because it wasn’t!  I just need to have something fade in the background every once in a while.

4 stars,  I really liked Renegades, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Book: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Published May 2018 by Flatiron Books|451 books

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

Series: Caraval #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

After reading Caraval last year, and really liking it, I knew I had to pick up Legendary.  I was so curious about where things were headed, especially after how things ended.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to, which is a shame, because I liked the first book so much.

A lot of the questions I had at the end of Caraval were actually answered.  That surprised me, because I tend to have a lot of questions that are not never answered, and things don’t always go where I think they’re going to.  This book does focus more on Tella and her mom, and I did like that Legendary focused on that.

I didn’t like Tella’s story as much as I thought I would.  Don’t get me wrong, everything that happened to their mom was sort of interesting, and I’m glad we learn what happened to her, and why she disappeared.  I still think there’s more to it than what we got in the book, but at least we got the gist of what happened, and what Tella did during Caraval.

I didn’t like Tella, and though she admits to not being perfect and to making mistakes, I also wish we had Scarlett back.  She was a lot slower to figure things out, and…I don’t know.  As much as I wanted to know what she did at the end of Caraval, I kind of wish it had been in a different way or with a different character.  Or maybe it’s just Tella.

The magic was gone from this one, and it wasn’t the game I was expecting it to be.  I know the rules of this particular game are different than the previous one- it would be boring if it were- but it was not the magical game I thought it would be.  It was boring and I had expectations that were not met.

I hate that I wasn’t into this one, because the world of Caraval is so cool and unique.  This book had the power to be really cool and magical, like Caraval.  I don’t know if the world is better suited to one book, or if it’s because this one was narrated by a character I wasn’t into, but I do know it could have been more magical.

I still want to read the next one, because I do like the world just enough that I want to keep going.  I’m hoping this is a case of middle book syndrome, and the next one will be better.  I don’t think I’ll being going into it with the high expectations that I had with this one, especially since it seems like it might focus more on Tella, and she isn’t exactly my favorite, but maybe we’ll get more of Scarlett, and that will help.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that.

There were some things that came up in this book that were never mentioned in the previous book.  Looking back, maybe it didn’t have a place in the first book, but had more of a place in this one.  I wish the deck of fates had more explanation, and I wish it had somehow been introduced in the first one, but there’s nothing we can do about that.  There were some interesting things about this world, and while it wasn’t really expanded on in this book, there’s still part of me that hopes we’ll see more it in the next one.

2 stars.  I didn’t like it as much as Caraval, but I can see why so many people love it.  I wish it were for me, but I am curious to see what happens next.

Book Review: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Book: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Published May 2018 by Harperteen|662 pages

Where I Got: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Red Queen #4

Genre: YA Fantasy

Victory comes at a price.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

I wanted to like this one so much more than I did.  I think a lot of it is that I started to lose interest in the series the more I read it.  By the time I got to read War Storm, I just didn’t care anymore.

It definitely felt long and drawn out, and I had a hard keeping up with all of the names and changes in narrator.  I had a hard time remembering the newer characters, and though the book has several narrators, I found that there was nothing to distinguish them.  They all sounded exactly the same to me.  I get it’s showing how some of the characters feel, and since they are in different locations, it is showing what’s going on.

For a last book, there was not enough action.  It’s a doorstop, that’s for sure.  And unfortunately, it’s a boring one.  It was really slow, and I struggled to get through it.  I expected more of a…well…a war storm, and this was not that book.  I expected things to end with a bang, but with a whimper.  I think I’m getting that quote right- but it so accurately describes this book.  I was pretty disappointed with the ending, and I wasn’t expecting more discussions and meetings and strategy.

It’s the last book!  It’s titled War Storm!  It should be exciting and have more fighting that’s actually memorable.  The book is definitely a blur, and I will completely admit to skimming parts of the book because I just couldn’t do it at times.  I also felt like I was reading the same thing over and over for almost 700 pages, so parts of it were definitely unnecessary.

I was also really bored with Mare, though I did like Farley and Evangaline.  They kept it going for me, and I felt pretty invested in their characters, even though I could care less about the other characters.  It’s not a good sign when you don’t care about the main character.

2 stars.  I feel pretty disappointed in how this series ended, which is a shame, because the concept introduced in Red Queen was really cool.  I definitely lost interest by the end this book, and I’m glad this series is over.

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Book: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Published January 2018 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|370 pages

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

Series: The Folk Of The Air #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

This is one of those books that everyone seems to love.  In general, it seems like people seem to love Holly Black, but this one was not for me.

The idea is interesting- a girl, taken away to Faerie, and living in a world where they hate humans.  There’s a lot of intrigue and deception, and I am interested enough to see what happens.  I think the hype did get to me, though.  I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to what people were saying about The Cruel Prince, though I knew going into it that a lot of people were excited about it and were reading it.  I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s on the meh end of things.

I really thought we’d have more of Prince Cardan, but he wasn’t as important as I thought he would be.  I feel like he might have more of a role in the next one, but he might not.  Really, the book was more about Jude and how she hated being mortal, and wanted to be Fae.

I don’t know, I think I was expecting something more awesome, and in this case, I think I was let down by the fact that apparently everyone else seems to love this book.  Except for me, obviously.

Honestly, though, I couldn’t begin to tell you anything else about the book.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Jude, though her sister Vivi seems to be awesome.  I was expecting revenge on the guy who killed her parents, but that didn’t happen, and it was slightly disappointing.  Maybe she was so focused on becoming Fae that she wasn’t out for revenge.  I can’t say I’m surprised, considering she’d either be out for revenge or wanting to become Fae so she can belong.  It’s pretty predictable but I did keep reading, so it has that going for it.

3 stars.  I liked it just fine, but I don’t seem to have the same love for it that everyone else does.  Still, I’ll probably read the next one to see what happens next.

Book Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Book: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Published April 2018 by Wednesday Books|340 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

I wasn’t sure about Sky In The Deep at first, but I’m glad I picked it up.  I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.

Something about the setting made me think of both Norse mythology and Iceland.  I’m not sure why, but it did.  I liked the setting, and the world is one that felt both familiar and different, in a good way.  I got a really good sense of the world that Eelyn lives in, and of course, I initially assumed it was the first book in a series.  Before realizing it was a stand alone, of course.  I’m always nervous about stand alone fantasy novels, because I’m never sure if the world will be explained well enough.  It was, though, and while you have the rival clans that band together to defeat a bigger rival, it worked really for both clans.

I think I did expect more than two clans who have quite a few different villages between them, but I think any more would have made things more complicated, so two worked out really well for this book.  There was distrust, of course- and that was set aside.  I think at least one more book could have expanded on the rivalry and the different relationships between the characters, but overall, I thought it was pretty good for just the one book.

There were some terms that popped up that I wasn’t sure of- I flipped to the back expecting a glossary, but there wasn’t one.  I was able to get the idea from the way other characters acted, so it wasn’t a huge deal.  And it is a stand alone, so in the end, it wasn’t that surprising.  It is on the short side, and I think maybe adding a little more to it might have helped.

I thought things were resolved pretty well, though some things were glossed over to get that resolution.  Again, not surprising, but that’s what I get for randomly deciding that I’m going to read a book without paying attention to what they’re about and if they’re part of a series.

I’m not really sure what else to say, so I think it’s time to move onto my rating of Sky In The Deep!

4 stars.  I really enjoyed Sky In The Deep, but I do wish it had been a little bit longer.

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.

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.