Book Review: Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan

Book Review: Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan

Published November 2018 by Jimmy Patterson Books|400 pages

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

Series: Girls Of Paper And Fire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.

I absolutely loved this book!  I wasn’t sure about it at first but I ended up loving it, and while it’s not my favorite book from this year, it’s definitely one of my favorites.

One thing I wanted to start off with is the trigger warning for sexual abuse and violence.  I loved that this book had one at the beginning, but I feel like it could have been slightly more obvious.  Still, I’m glad it’s there but keep that in mind if you decide to pick up this book.

I thought Ngan handled both very delicately and respectfully.  You really felt for Lei and the other girls as they were taken from their homes, and given to the king.  The world Lei lives in, particularly once she goes to the palace seems beautiful, but danger lurks beneath the beauty, and she has to do things she doesn’t want to do.  She says no, but is ultimately punished for that.  It’s haunting, and even though Lei’s world is not real, quite a bit of the book is all too real.  The way the king uses fear and power to control the Paper Girls, and they are seen as nothing but objects.  It broke my heart to see what they had to go through, but I also loved that there was hope that things would change.

I loved Wren, and though she’s not the main character, she really was my favorite character.  I just loved her story and everything about her.  It took some time to warm up to Lei, but I ended up really liking her.  And Aoki was really interesting as well.

I also loved the world.  The author drew from her life growing up in Malaysia, and everything was so vivid.  I wish we saw more of the world that Lei lives in, but we’ll have to wait until the next book, because we’re limited to just a few places in this book.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially if you like diverse books and fantasy!

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Book Review: Kingdom Of Ash by Sarah J Maas

Book: Kingdom Of Ash by Sarah J Maas

Published October 2018 by Bloomsbury USA|992 pages

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

Series: Throne Of Glass #7

Genre: YA Fantasy

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world…

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

I was so nervous going into this book.  I wasn’t sure how Maas would tie everything together but I ended up really liking it.

This was a great way to end the series, and I can’t believe it’s over!  I loved seeing everyone try to fight Erawan, and seeing what was going on with Dorian, Manon and Aelin.  I really loved seeing what happened to Manon and the Thirteen, and I really loved how much Manon changed.  I think, to a degree, Manon’s story was what I wanted Aelin’s to be.  I don’t know why, but I really liked Manon’s story, and she’s pretty awesome.  I felt so protective of Abraxos, and Manon is lucky to have him!

There’s a lot that needed to be wrapped up, and I think it could have been condensed just a little bit.  It felt really long (it is just under 1000 pages, so it makes sense) and it felt a little long and drawn out at times.  Even with re-reading most of the series (I skipped Tower of Dawn just because I wasn’t in the mood to read it), I had a hard time remembering everything that happened.  It was a little hard to keep up with everything going on, and I wish each person we followed sounded a little more distinct.  It always took a while to figure who was where, and who we were following.

I really felt for Aelin, especially with everything that happened with Maeve and Chairn.  Though Tower Of Dawn is my least favorite book in the series, a lot of what happens in this book makes a lot more sense.  It did set up some of what we see in this book, and maybe, one day, I’ll re-read it.  Aelin really does withdraw into herself in this one, and I don’t blame her.  She’s really changed from the Aelin we see in Throne Of Glass, and while her arc isn’t my favorite, it’s been an interesting journey to see her become queen of Terrasen.  And like Tower Of Dawn, I hated that her scars were magically gone after her time with Maeve.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but that was one of my least favorite things about the book.

With as long as this book is, I feel like I don’t have a lot to talk about.  It wrapped the series up pretty well, and I obviously don’t love as much as everyone else seems to, but I really did enjoy the book and catching up with everyone, even though there were a few moments that broke my heart and had me sobbing.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and it’s a really good ending to the series.  It was a little too long, but Maas did a great job at wrapping up everyone’s stories.

Mini Reviews: The Last Four Books I Read For My YA Book Club

I just realized that I never talked about the last few books I’ve read for the YA book club I’m part of!  Now seems like a good time to talk about them.  At least a little, because I’m really fuzzy on a couple of them, since a couple are from a few months ago.  Hopefully, I’ll get a little better about actually reviewing them, but we shall see.

First, there’s Roar by Cora Carmack.  We read this one back in August, and is the only one I didn’t finish, and I didn’t particularly like the love interests.  I thought they were pretty terrible guys, and while I liked the magic, that was pretty much it.  I think there were a few different perspectives that weren’t done well, but I could be wrong, and confusing it with a different book.  I tried to keep reading, but I just couldn’t.  And I couldn’t figure out why it seemed so familiar, and then I realized I tried to read it about a year ago, and it was a DNF then.  I figured I’d try it again, but this read wasn’t any better.

In September, we read Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro.  I liked this one, and I was crying by the end of it.  Usually, I love books where I end up crying, but not for this one.  I didn’t really feel the main characters anger, and he had anxiety, but the anxiety sort of disappeared a little bit into the book.  Parts of it felt really sci-fi- the tech the police had felt really futuristic, which didn’t fit with the book.  I think, if I hadn’t read books like The Hate U Give first, I think I would have liked it a lot more.  I did like seeing how Moss and his friends wanted to make a difference.  I’d rate this book 3 stars.

The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White is my favorite of the books we’ve read so far.  We read it in October, and it’s a great Halloween/October read.  I’ve never read the original Frankenstein- I tried but couldn’t get through it- but maybe one day I can actually finish it.  It would be interesting to see how much she drew from Frankenstein.  I didn’t like Elizabeth at first, but as we got more into the story and her world, I really liked her, and understood why she acted the way she did.  It was more historical/horror/thriller than I thought it would be, but I still loved it.  It was creepy and I can’t wait to read it again.  My rating is 5 stars.

The last book I really wanted to talk about was Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf.  We read it last month, and I ended up really liking it.  I liked the world, and even though I was expecting it to be an Evil Queen origin story, I was still really surprised by the ending.  I can’t wait to read the next one to see where things are going to go.  There was a point where I wanted Zera to the opposite of what she actually did, but at least for now, I’m curious to see how it will play out, even though she didn’t do what I really hoped she would do.  My rating is 4 stars.

That’s all for today, and I’ll definitely be back with more reviews!

Book Review: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Book: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Published October 2018 by HMH Books For Young Readers|376 pages

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

Series: Grim Lovelies #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.

I really liked this one!  I definitely liked it a lot more than I thought I would, especially since I didn’t like it at the beginning.

I had a hard time getting into it, and I’m not sure why.  I did end up really liking it, and I thought the world was interesting and different.  It did feel pretty slow at the beginning of the book, and once Mada Vittora dies, I did get a lot more interested.  There’s this racing against the clock feel to the book, but at the same time, it seemed like not a lot happened, even when they were happening.  It could have felt a lot more action-packed, considering it’s told over the span of a couple of days,

I really liked the world, and the idea of an underground magical society, and witches being territorial.  That was really cool, and I’m hoping we see more of it in the rest of the series.  I did want more of the Haute and the magic, and Paris did seem like a great backdrop for everything going on.  And yet, it wasn’t as used as much or as well as I thought it would be.  It felt like a missed opportunity, and I wanted it to come together a little bit more.

It’s so odd too, because the book seems to be set in current time, but the vibe of the book is something a lot older than that.  It threw me every time something like a car was mentioned, because it took me out of the book a little bit.

It did feel like the magic was just there- and in general, I feel like that describes the book.  I think I wanted more explanation for what was going on, and I didn’t really get that from the book.  It might be wishful thinking on my part, but I really want more of how everything came to be, but I’m doubting it will actually happen.  Still, one can hope.

I did expect something a lot darker and more twisted.  There was a lot of potential for that, and while the book was not as dark as I thought, I still enjoyed reading it.

3 stars.  I liked Grim Lovelies, and there’s a lot of potential.  Hopefully, the next book will expand on the world more.

Book Review: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Book: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Published September 2018 by HarperTeen|464 pages

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

Series: Three Dark Crowns #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake returns with the highly anticipated third book in the Three Dark Crowns series! And while Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine all have their own scores to settle, they aren’t the only queens stirring things up on Fennbirn Island.

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.

Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn. 

Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.

This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure about it at all.  And while I liked it, it was also my least favorite book in the series so far.

Like the first two books in the series, it took a while to get used to all of the narrators.  There were a few, and we followed Jules, Katherine, Arsinoe and Mirabella as we see what happens after Katherine is crowned Queen.  I don’t know why I always have a hard time with getting used to the narrators but it seems like I really struggled with that in this book.  Considering everything going on, it makes sense, but it still would have been nice to have it more clear when we’re switching perspectives.

I wasn’t sure about this book going into it because the 2nd book was pretty resolved.  It seems like this series was maybe originally intended to be a duology, but a few more books were added…and while I finished the 2nd book feeling like there was more to the story, it also felt like a really good ending to the series.  I was nervous this book wouldn’t have the same magic that the other books did.

It did, to a point, and I’m glad we learned more about Fennbirn and the mist…and even the Blue Queen.  I wanted to know more about that, and how it will come into play (assuming it does at all, and I admit that it could be wishful thinking on my part).

Katherine’s interesting, and she is trying to do the right thing, but I kind of wanted her to embrace what happened to her.  There were points where I felt like it focused too much on that- it would have been cool to see her embrace it, but I don’t think that’s in the cards for her.  Unless Blake decides to surprise us, but I don’t think that’s what will happen for her.

I didn’t particularly care for the visions of Daphne and the Blue Queen.  While it was interesting, I think maybe I wasn’t happy with how it was done.  At least we get more backstory on Fennbirn, though it would have been nice to get that for the Mainlands as well.  With the expansion we see of this world, I wanted more on everything, not the main setting we’ve had for the series.

Still, I’m curious to see how it will all end, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book.

3 stars.  I like the world, but I wanted more world building for some parts of the world, and less for other parts.

Book Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Book: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Published September 2017 by HarperTeen|448 pages

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

Series: Three Dark Crowns #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

The battle for the crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, the elemental sister once thought to be the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must confront the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

I really liked this one! It’s an interesting series, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It’s dark and twisted and it’s interesting to see how these girls are fighting for a throne. Especially when some aren’t doing what you thought they would.

I didn’t like this one at first. Even though I read the first book pretty recently, I had a hard time keeping up with the characters and places and what each queen could do. It took a while to get into it, and even the list of characters at the beginning of the book didn’t do much to help. It is more action-packed, and there’s a lot going on.

I do have a soft spot for Mirabella, even though I’m not sure why. And I really liked Arinsoe as well. To be as powerful a poisoner as she is, and with no training…she’s pretty powerful. Don’t get me wrong, Katherine’s pretty powerful as well. At this point, it would be disappointing if she wasn’t. But it also makes me wonder what her gift is. She had a lot of training as a poisoner, so she’s obviously a strong poisoner, but it always seemed like it wasn’t terribly strong. Especially when you compare her abilities to Arsinoe. So is there a stronger ability we don’t know about that will be revealed?

As much as I don’t want to like Katherine, for everything she’s done, I’m still curious to see where her story goes, and if there’s more to her than what we’ve seen with her so far.

There is something else I wanted to talk about! It wasn’t until after I had read this book, that I learned it was originally going to be a duology, before the series got extended for 4 books. There was a lot of closure in this book, more than what I would have expected, knowing it was a series, and not knowing it was originally going to be a duology. It makes me nervous and hesitant to read the rest of the series, because I am slightly nervous about how the rest of the series is going to go.

I’m still going to continue with the series, because I think there’s a lot of story to tell in this world, particularly with how things ended in this book. With Katherine, and what happened with Arsinoe and Mirabella, I really want to know what’s going to happen next. It’s definitely a dark, twisted world, and I do want to know how it’s all going to end. Even though I’m nervous to see where it’s going to go, it’s not going to stop me from continuing on with the series.

4 stars. I really liked it, and I liked seeing more of the relationships between the characters. You really see the politics behind everything too, and that made what was going on interesting. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Audio Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, Narrated by Casey Turner

Book: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, Narrated by Casey Turner

Published March 2018 by Audible Studios|Length: 8 hours, 59 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

I really liked this one! I ended up reading it pretty close to Halloween, which was the perfect time to listen to it. It was also great as an audio book, and I’m really glad I decided to take a listen.

The whole time I was listening to it, I was reminded of Hocus Pocus, which is one of my all-time favorite Halloween movies. It doesn’t feel like Halloween until I watch it, and if you love Hocus Pocus, this is a great book to check out. It had a really similar vibe to it, but it is pretty different.

For one thing, the book takes place in the summer, not on Halloween. And it’s set in Oregon, not New England- which is where I thought the book was taking place. I was surprised when I realized the book was set in Oregon, because there were things I didn’t expect, but I thought worked well for the story.

I liked the idea of the sisters coming back to possess three girls and lure boys to their death. I wish we saw a little more of that, because I thought it was interesting. Especially with one of the sisters (whose name I unfortunately cannot remember) and how she was involved. You get such a good sense of who each sister is, and while we see one more than others, I still wish we saw more of the other two sisters as well. I get why we see the one sister, but still. I just really would have liked seeing the other three.

It wasn’t until after I finished the book that I realized the book was described as Hocus Pocus meets Practical Magic. The Hocus Pocus vibe is very strong with this book, but I do see the comparison to Practical Magic. Granted, the last time I read Practical Magic was in high school, so it’s been a good 14-ish years since I’ve read it. From what I vaguely remember about it, though, it’s a good comparison as well. Take that one with a grain of salt, though.

I also really liked the narrator! She was a great narrator and I can’t see anyone else narrating Penny’s story. I’m definitely going to have to see if Casey Turner has narrated anything else, and I’d definitely listen to other books she’s narrated.

4 stars. I didn’t love it (and I can’t exactly say why) but I did really like it. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves Hocus Pocus, and it’s a great book to read in October.

Book Review: Shadow Of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

Book: Shadow Of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

Published October 2018 by Harlequin Teen|409 pages

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

Series: Shadow Of The Fox #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

This is a book I’ve been excited about for a while.  I’ve loved Julie Kagawa since I read the Iron Fey series years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  I really liked her Talon series and her Blood Of Eden series, so I figured I’d like this one.

This series and I did not get off on the right foot.  Like the first book in her Talon series, I thought it was okay.  If it had been most any author, I probably would have given up on it completely.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this series and I are having a rocky start, and that I’ll end up liking the series more in the 2nd book.  I’ve been in a weird reading mood lately, so that might be part of why I didn’t love this book.

Part of it, unfortunately, is the book.

I thought a lot of it was confusing, and I had a hard time keeping up with the 3 perspectives.  It wasn’t clear to me who was narrating what chapter, and it took a while to figure out that 3 people were narrating the book.  I did like the 3 different perspectives, and maybe, when I’m not in this weird reading mood, I’ll re-read this book.  I really did like the idea and the mythology, thought I’m not at all familiar with the mythology we see in the book.

That was another thing I found confusing.  I felt like a like of names were thrown at me, and while I’m not completely sure how much she was drawing from real mythology (or what mythology was her inspiration), it was hard to keep up.  I did like the glossary at the end of the book, but by then, I didn’t particularly care.  And honestly, the names didn’t stick with me at all, so it didn’t really do me any good.  I still appreciated it though, and it’s good to know for when I pick this book up again.  I really do want to give this book another chance, and I’m hoping I’ll like it a lot better on the 2nd read- with my current mood, though, I’m half-tempted to try the audio book, since the idea of listening is much more appealing than reading.  At least, that’s where I’m at right now, but that could change.

Anyway, back to the book.  I like the idea of a scroll that grants a wish to whoever holds it.  I like the idea of it being hidden by monks, and while it’s horrible that Yumeko’s home was burned, I also like the idea that she’s the Great Hope of the future.  Like I said, the idea is really cool, even if I found things confusing and muddled when I read it.

Is it predictable?  Of course it is.  Her series are pretty predictable, and they do have the same tropes.  I don’t mind it, because her series all have different enough story lines, so it doesn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of her books.  But sometimes, like with Shadow Of The Fox or Talon, it takes a while to warm up to the series.

2 stars.  I’m definitely going to keep reading this series, even though this book was okay for me.  My love for the author, and the fact that it’s a cool idea is why it’s getting 2 stars instead of 1, and I’m hoping that I’ll like the rest of the series better.

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.

Book Review: Heart Of Thorns by Bree Barton

Book: Heart Of Thorns by Bree Barton

Published July 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books|438 pages

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

Series: Heart Of Thorns #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Inventive and heart-racing, this fiercely feminist teen fantasy trilogy from debut author Bree Barton examines a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.

Mia Rose wants only one thing: revenge against the Gwyrach—feared, reviled, and magical women—who killed her mother. After years training under her father’s infamous Hunters, Mia is ready. She will scour the four kingdoms, find her mother’s murderer, and enact the Hunters’ Creed: heart for a heart, life for a life.

But when Mia is thrust into the last role she ever wanted—promised wife to the future king—she plots a daring escape. On her wedding night, Mia discovers something she never imagined: She may be a Huntress, but she’s also a Gwyrach. As the truth comes to light, Mia must untangle the secrets of her own past. Now if she wants to survive, Mia must learn to trust her heart . . . even if it kills her.

I liked this one! I didn’t love it, for a few reasons, but there were also some things I really liked as well.

So…what didn’t I like about Heart Of Thorns?

For one thing, it’s pretty predictable. I mean, Mia is set to get married at the beginning of the book, but it’s not something she wants. And of course, Mia is the very thing she hates, especially after what happened to her mom. It’s predictable in the sense that she has to learn how to accept the thing she’s been trained to hate. I didn’t mind the predictability of Heart Of Thorns, but I can’t say I’m surprised by pretty much anything that happens in the book.

Wanting to protect her sister, I get. Finding out that her sister wasn’t who she thought wasn’t a surprise. Her dad maybe trying to help her out even though he doesn’t seem to care about her? A dead mother who had a secret, but left behind information Mia needed? None of that was surprising.

And I skimmed over the parts where Mia was reading what her mother had left behind. I don’t mind cursive/the handwriting-type font, and I get needing to differentiate between what her mother wrote and the rest of the book, but I found it a little bit hard to read, so I sort of skimmed and got bits and pieces. I wish it had been a little easier to read, but that’s just my preference.

I was curious to find out what happened to her mom, but I wasn’t really interested in that part as much as I wanted it to be. Maybe it’s because I pretty much skipped over that part of the book, and I did like everything with her sister…well, all of the stuff towards the end of the book. I was definitely surprised by the end of the book, which was less predictable than I thought it would be. Was it still predictable? Of course if was. But it was less predictable than I thought it would be, considering everything that had happened for most of the book. It’s took bad the rest of the book wasn’t like the ending. I hate it when books only get interesting at the end, and this book was no exception.

Mia definitely learns that everything she knew about the Gwyrach is not necessarily the case, and that was something I really liked about the book. It definitely highlighted how something that only women could do became twisted into something terrible- I did expect something more as far as a sisterhood goes, and it was that part of the book that really shows why the blurb describes this book as a feminist fantasy. I didn’t love it, and it wasn’t enough to warrant stronger feelings but it was something that’s giving the book a higher rating than what it would have received otherwise.

3 stars. I liked it but I don’t know if I’ll continue on with the series. I’m not dying to know what happens next, even if I am slightly intrigued. It’s was entertaining but predictable.