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.

Book Review: Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older

Book: Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older

Published September 2017 by Arthur A Levine Books|368 pages

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

Series: Shadowshaper Series

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

The extraordinary sequel to the New York Times bestseller Shadowshaper is daring, dazzling, defiant.

Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a beast called the Hound of Light — an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.

Thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new, Sierra and Shadowhouse are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers lead the fight against systems that oppress their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds …or risk losing them all.

 

I really liked Shadowhouse Fall!  I do wish I had re-read Shadowshaper first, because I didn’t remember anything from it, but I still managed to follow what had happened.  There were times where I was slightly confused about what was going on, and that was mainly with keeping up with the characters and the Deck Of Worlds.  I’m not sure if it was not remembering anything from the first book, or if maybe it had to do with the series.  A little bit of both, I think, thought it seems to be more of not remembering much of anything from Shadowshaper.

I did like the relationships Sierra had with her friends and her family, and she really worried about their safety.  Her relationships really gave her strength, and I liked seeing how much they relied on each other.  It really is about the group, and how they’re stronger together than they are apart, and I think that’s a really nice change from a lot of other characters who might try to handle things themselves.  And characters who seem to accept help but would rather not have it.

Some of the moments that really stand out to me, however, have nothing to do with shadowshaping and the Deck Of Worlds.  The interactions Sierra and her friends have with the police are all too real, and it didn’t take away from the novel at all.  In fact, it added to it, because while Sierra and her friends are a part of this world that honors their culture and heritage, they also have to deal with people who don’t, and who would do everything in their ability to take their power and voice away.

The magic really is expanded in this world, and I liked seeing that there’s more to it than we thought.  It really added to the book, because it makes the world come alive in a way I didn’t think was possible.  We see how music and art really come alive, and there’s something about it that really drew me in.  Shadowshaping is so unique, but I love how the characters are able to use art in a really cool way.

4 stars.  Even though I didn’t completely fall in love with this book, I still think this series is amazing and a must-read.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Book: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Published September 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire|324 pages

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

Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

I really loved the magic, traditions and culture in Labyrinth Lost.  When I first heard about it, I knew I wanted to rea it, because it seemed really different.

Los Lagos was a really vivid setting- it had this Wonderland feel to it, and I think, if it were to be adapted into a movie or t.v. show, that Los Lagos would be really pretty to look at.  I thought things were pretty interesting leading up to Los Lagos, and as pretty and vivid at it seems, it was also the point where I started to lose a little bit of interest.

I think it’s mostly because the stakes never felt really high.  I know Alex is trying to get her family back, but there was never the sense of urgency that she would never get them back if she didn’t comply with the Devourer’s wishes.  It was pretty predictable that she’d be reunited with them, and I kind of felt like the book never really made me feel like it was a distinct possibility.

There were also a lot of the tropes you’d see in a book like this.  The girl who’s the most powerful in a while, but doesn’t want it and would do anything to get rid of it.  There’s the best friend who has no idea her best friend is a bruja but goes after her anyway, and the bad boy with a troubled past who, in the end, does the right thing by trying to help our heroine.  It wasn’t annoying enough to make me dislike it, but just annoying enough for me to bring it up. So keep that in min if you’re thinking about reading it.

The magic and folklore were really different, and I liked the idea of a Deathday celebration.  There was something very old and traditional about the magic, like it was passed down from generation to generation.  I also really liked the contrast between Brooklyn and Los Lagos and Brooklyn and the magic we see in the book.

I did think Alex was a little bit on the bratty side- her family really cared about her, as did a lot of other people, and it seemed like she threw it right in their faces at her Deathday celebration.  I am curious about why her mom didn’t really put her through their magical training a little more.  I wonder if maybe that’s part of Alex’s problem.  Maybe not, but I do wonder if it would have made a difference.

And the cover!  It’s really unique and I’d definitely pick it up based off of the cover alone.

4 stars.  I can’t wait to read the next book, because I am curious to see where things go.  Especially with how the book ended.  It is really unique, and worth checking out!

Book Review Round-Up: Burn Out, The Shadow Queen And This Savage Song

I’ve read quite a few books recently, so I thought I’d do some shorter reviews about some of them!

Burn Out CoverBook #1: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

Published April 2015 by EgmontUSA|288 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Burn Out #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Post-Apocalyptic

What It’s About: New in paperback! A science fiction tale of survival full of action, adventure, and intrigue. Perfect for fans of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe and Lenore Appelhans’s The Memory of After.

Some people want to save the world. Seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to stay alive long enough to escape it. Now that the sun’s become a “red giant,” burning out far faster than scientists could ever have predicted, Earth is barely habitable and almost everyone is gone.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora’s only comforts are her dreams of a planet with a plentiful water supply and the bio-energetic weapons her father lost his life for. The ones that only she can fire.

When family friend Markus arrives with mercenaries to take her weapons by force, Tora must decide if trading the guns for safe passage to a new livable planet is worth the price of betraying her father’s wishes. But when she discovers the government’s true motives, her bargaining chip may be nothing more than smoke.

Burn Out combines high-stakes action, adventure, and a hint of romance in a thrilling science fiction debut.

What I Thought: I liked Burn Out!  I thought the idea of an asteroid hitting the sun, causing the sun to burn out at some point in the future to be really interesting, and different, as far as post-apocalyptic novels go.

I thought Tora to be an interesting, but semi-unreliable character.  She has her suspicions about what happened to her father, but as a reader, I was never completely sure about what happened to him, or to Tora’s mother or sister. We only get glimpses of them and the Consulate that’s now in charge, plus there are some untrustworthy characters we meet along the way.  It’s hard to know who to trust, and what’s really going on because you’re never sure who’s telling the truth or who’s lying.  And she seems to be the only female on earth, but as it turns out, there is another survivor, which makes me wonder if there are other people still on Earth, or if everyone else really has left.

I really liked the characters, though, and Tora’s pretty tough.  I also have so many questions about the other characters, and they are a big mystery to me.  What they really up to?

I can’t speak to the accuracy of the science we see in the book, and as someone who doesn’t know, well, much of anything about science…I was going to say it seemed plausible enough, but now I’m not sure.  I do get the comparison to Across The Universe, but having never read The Memory Of After, I’m not sure how it compares to that book.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it enough to read the sequel, but I didn’t love it.  It did end a little abruptly, and I’m hoping the next one doesn’t end that way.

The Shadow Queen CoverBook #2: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Published February 2016 by Balzer+ Bray|387 pages

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

Series: Ravenspire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

What It’s About: Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

What I Thought: The Shadow Queen seemed right up my alley- I do like fairy tale re-tellings, but this one was just okay.  I liked the idea of a dragon huntsman, and the use of magic to help out neighboring kingdoms.  And the magic that Irina used to make the kingdom hers, even though it clearly wasn’t.  I had a hard time getting into it, though, because I feel like I’ve read this story before.  It just wasn’t different enough to make it stand out against other books in the genre, and I’ve read my share of fantasy/fairy tale re-tellings.  I think people might like it, but it wasn’t for me.

I did like Kol, but not as a love interest for Lorelei.  I think they’re better off as allies, and they didn’t work as a couple for me.  I thought they had no chemistry, and I had a really hard time believing in their romance.  I didn’t care for Lorelei, and even though I felt for her, something about her character fell flat for me.

My Rating: 2 stars.  This one wasn’t for me, but I did like the idea of a dragon huntsman.

This Savage Song CoverBook #3: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Published July 2016 by Greenwillow Books|427 pages

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

Series: Monsters Of Verity #1

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Horror

What It’s About: There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

What I Thought: I’ve heard a lot of really good things about This Savage Song, and I know it’s received a lot of rave reviews, but unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me.

I thought the world-building was really confusing and not very clear.  I knew there were monsters and they were born from really horrible things, but for me, the book made that concept seem a lot more confusing than it really was.  And the differences between the different kinds of monsters was also really confusing.   I wasn’t sure what the differences between them were, and it seemed like they were different, but it wasn’t really explained how they came to be or how they were different.

And the city of Verity, and it being closed off also seemed really confusing.  Sometimes, it seemed like the things going on in Verity were happening elsewhere around the country.  Other times, it seemed like Verity was the only city affected.  I ended up feeling really confused about it, because the history and how Verity got to that point wasn’t explained very clearly.  Not that we get much, because we don’t.  It’s hard to tell how much backstory there is on Verity and the monsters, because I thought the things we do get were confusing and not explained well.

I didn’t like Kate at all, and she seemed to be intentionally horrible and destructive- she seems to act that way to get attention and prove she’s like her father.  She sets a school on fire because she didn’t want to be there, and I wouldn’t have minded it, except it seemed random and for no reason.  As much as I know that people do act that way for no apparent reason, I also wanted something more from her.

As for August, I didn’t really care for him either.  He’s very much a tortured soul that’s supposed to be poetic and romantic and swoon-worthy, but in his case, it was just unappealing and annoying.  They live in a bleak world, but I wanted something more from them.  Maybe some hope or something?  I’m not really sure, but something was missing from both of them.  Maybe it’s because of the world they live in, which is really dark and hopeless and not a world I’d want to live in.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s definitely not for me, but I can sort of see why people love the book.