Book Review: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Book: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Published April 2014 by Balzer + Bray|111 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling

A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia’s father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they’ll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn’t believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What’s the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she’ll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn’t believe in love. Anax can’t help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can’t help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother’s deadly bargain?

HarperTeen Impulse is a digital imprint focused on young adult short stories and novellas, with new releases the first Tuesday of each month.

I really liked GIlded Ashes.  It’s been ages since I’ve read Cruel Beauty, which is in the same world as this book, but you don’t need to read that one in order to read this one.

It’s a really interesting and different take on Cinderella, and I liked that her mother was still around, even though it was in spirit.  This is a lot darker than I thought it would be, but I liked it.  It wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, and it was definitely creepy at times, but it worked for this book.

I liked that I didn’t need to remember anything from Cruel Beauty in order to understand this book.  It stands on its own pretty well, and a novella length was perfect for this book.  Part of me wishes it were longer, and I’d love more details about the characters and the world.  It would be really interesting as full-length story.  But at the same time, I like how condensed it is.  It’s not bogged down in details and it gets right to the point.  Plus, there are other (full-length) stories in the same world for something that has a little more detail to it.  I guess I have some mixed feelings about the length, but either way, I still liked Gilded Ashes.

I liked the relationship between the sisters.  They weren’t constantly fighting, though they did have their moments.  Something about their relationship makes me think of the relationship Cinder has with her step-sisters and stepmother in the Lunar Chronicles.

If you like fantasy, re-tellings and Cinderella, this is definitely worth checking out.

3 stars.  I liked Gilded Ashes, especially Maia and the world she lives in.

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Book Review: A Spark Of White Fire by Sangu Manadanna

Book: A Spark Of White Fire by Sangu Manadanna

Published September 2018 by Sky Pony|320 pages

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

Series: The Celestial Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Re-Telling

Named one of the best 25 space opera books by BookRiot!

The first book in a scifi retelling of the Mahabrahata. When Esmae wins a contest of skill, she sets off events that trigger an inevitable and unwinnable war that pits her against the family she would give anything to return to.

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back. 

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali. 

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart. 

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

I really liked this one!  I’m not familiar with the Mahabharata at all, so I’m not at all familiar with the stories that inspired this book.  But I want to know more about them because I am curious about the stories that inspired this book.

I really liked the setting, and you can’t go wrong with a book set in space.  It was an interesting setting for the story, and I kept picturing planets, but it seemed like everything was set on space ships.  Maybe I’m wrong on that one, but that was my impression.  It was a little bit fuzzy for me, since nothing was really described or explained.  I wish there had been a little more world-building, but it’s also possible I missed those details.  It wouldn’t be the first time that happened, and it probably won’t be the last.

I also had a hard time keeping track of who was who and how they were all related, especially at the beginning.  I managed to keep up by the end of the book, but at first, it wasn’t clear to me what was going on.  We were definitely thrown into this world, which is fine but it took a while to get my bearings straight.

Fate, free will and prophecies are pretty important in this book.  There’s definitely the sense that certain events were put in motion because certain characters did everything they could to avoid it.  Esmae is definitely the lost princess no one knows about who comes out of the woodwork to claim her throne and her crown.

I really liked Esmae, and there were a lot of beliefs she had to reconcile and loyalties she had to deal with.  I wish we had more with her and Titania, and I feel like there’s a lot of potential there.  I know Titania is a warship but I’m definitely intrigued by their relationship.  Something about that made me think of the Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor.

I can’t speak to how well it does as a re-telling but based off a quick read of the Mahabrahata wikipedia page, it seems like it sticks to the overall story…but in space.  Again, I could be way off, because I skimmed the Wikipedia page, but it seems like it sticks to the overall story.  I don’t know if we’ll continue to see that, but we’ll find out in the books to come.  I’m sure someone much more familiar with these stories could talk about this aspect a lot better than I ever will.

I really enjoyed this one.  There’s a lot of political intrigue, and I’m curious to see where things go, especially with how things ended.

4 stars.  I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars, but I really liked the setting, the story and Esmae.

Book Review: The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Book: The Rules Of Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Published May 2013 by Disney-Hyperion|320 pages

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

Series: The Rules For DIsappearing #1

Genre: YA Contemporary

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival. 

This book has been on my TBR for what feels like years and I figured now was a great time to read it.  I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.

There’s definitely a mystery/thriller vibe to the book, as Meg tries to figure out why her entire family is in Witness Protection.  Obviously, I don’t know how accurate the portrayal is, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it’s not completely accurate.  The book was definitely a fast, entertaining read and I don’t mind any inaccuracies that may be in the book.

I definitely felt for Meg and her sister.  It couldn’t have been easy, changing identities all the time, and dealing with a father who’s working all the time, or dealing with a mother who’s there physically but not mentally.  There’s a lot of danger since since Meg doesn’t know what’s going on.  I get why her parents, especially her dad, didn’t want to tell her what was going on.  Thankfully, we don’t see anything where things could have been avoided had the characters had all of the information.

Still, given the danger they were all in, I think Meg knowing would have been a good idea.  She still does some incredibly stupid things, and drags other people into it, and things seem to be mostly resolved, but I still think actually communicating would have been a good idea.

There wasn’t a lot of romance, but I think there is a lot more potential for it in the next book.  I get why Meg doesn’t want to get close to anyone, and I don’t blame her for wanting to protect herself.  I was expecting more romance, and to me, it seemed like it headed that way.  Maybe it’ll be more of a thing in the sequel.

I felt like I was right there with Meg as she learned more about the events that led to her being in Witness Protection.  I wasn’t actively trying to figure anything out and it’s not that I was necessarily surprised, but I was along for the ride.  She’s been through a lot, but considering she didn’t know why they were on the run, I don’t blame her for acting the way she did.  She was doing the best she could for herself and for her sister, and I might have done the same thing had I been in her shoes.  I loved the relationship she had with her sister.

3 stars.  I liked The Rules For Disappearing but I didn’t love it.  I felt for Meg and her family, and I’m hoping things are better for them in the next book.

Book Review: Come November by Katrin Van Dam

Book: Come November by Katrin Van Dam

Published October 2018 by Scholastic Press|373 pages

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

It’s not the end of the world, but for Rooney Harris it’s starting to feel that way. It’s the beginning of senior year and her mom just lost her job. Even worse, she isn’t planning to get another one. Instead, she’s spending every waking moment with a group called the Next World Society, whose members are convinced they’ll be leaving Earth behind on November 17. It sounds crazy to Rooney, but to her mother and younger brother it sounds like salvation. As her mom’s obsession threatens to tear their lives apart, Rooney is scrambling to hold it all together. But will saving her family mean sacrificing her dreams—or theirs?

Come November was a book that I picked up on a whim at the library recently.  I wasn’t sure if I’d like it (and I was expecting to not like it) but I was intrigued enough to give it a try.  I’m glad I did, because I ended up really liking it.

Rooney has a lot on her plate, and I’m not the hugest fan of a teen being completely responsible for her family because mom has checked out for any number of reasons.  But it didn’t bother me in this book and that surprised me.  I think it’s because her mom is in this environmental cult-like group.  That part was really interesting.  It’s like Heaven’s Gate meets Greenpeace, and I was wondering how dark this book was going to go.

Rooney’s mom does talk about how she ended up in Next World Society, and it was pretty easy to see how she ended up being involved with them.  There was a wide range of people in Next World, but there was one girl in particular that I really felt for.  I’m drawing a blank on her name, but she was one of the younger people involved, and it seemed like she lost a lot during her time with them.  You could say that about a lot of the people in Next World, and I really felt for Rooney as she tried to rebuild after things didn’t go the way everyone expected it to go.

I wasn’t surprised and I don’t think Rooney was surprised either.  It took a lot for her to call her dad, and I felt so much anger towards her mom.  It definitely seemed like she kept him from Rooney and her brother but I was glad she reached out to him for help.  At the end of the book, it really seemed like they were trying to heal things and move past how horrible things were.

She was living in such a bizarre situation, and while she was able to ask for help, I felt for her brother.  I really want him to be okay, and there’s definitely a lot of healing that needs to happen.  For everyone, not just Rooney and her dad.  It seems like they’re all headed in the right direction, and I hope everything works itself out.  I don’t blame Rooney for not wanting to be in contact with her mom after everything that happened, but it seems like she’s trying.

Her mom made a lot of choices that had a huge impact on her marriage and her relationship with her kids, and the choices she makes for most of the book are these really insane choices.  Again, given her mom seemed pretty fragile, I could understand how she’d end up with a group like Everett’s.  And she does find a way to get past it and move on.  A lot of people might not have that opportunity, and even though I didn’t like Rooney’s mom, I was glad that she had the opportunity to change things and get better.

4 stars.  I really liked Come November, and I’m glad I picked it up.

Audio Book Review: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner

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

Published November 2018 by Macmillan Audio|Length: 14 hours, 33 minutes

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

Series: Renegades #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Part thriller, part superhero fantasy, here is the fiercely awaited sequel to the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Are Nova and Adrian each other’s worst nightmare?

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.

I really liked Archenemies!  With how Renegades ended, I knew I had to read this one, just to see what happen.

I was surprised that the cliffhanger wasn’t a huge part of this book.  It’s there, throughout the book, but I really thought it would play a larger part in the book.  I’m a little disappointed with the lack of follow up on the cliffhanger, and it really makes me wonder how the cliffhanger in this book is going to be handled.  I mean, is it going to be hovering in the background, or is it actually going to be a plot point in the next book?

Like Renegades, I thought Nova’s story was much more interesting.  Adrian’s story was a nice contrast to Nova’s, but his story just isn’t one I particularly care about.  As much as I love Nova, I was getting a little tired of how she needed revenge because the renegades didn’t save her family in time.  It was fine in the first book, but it was repetitive in this book.  I feel like it’s going to get a lot worse in the last book, with how this one ended.

Nova has a lot of conflicted feelings in this one- as much as she wants revenge on the Renegades, I also feel like it’s possible she won’t be able to follow through after getting to know at least some of the renegades.  We’ve been building to her revenge for the last two books, and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get it.

Also like Renegades, it seemed like the Renegades were a lot worse than the villains.  I just don’t like them, especially where Agent N is concerned.  I hated that they used Max for it, especially because he’s just a child.  I’m glad that Nova wasn’t the only one who was concerned about it’s use and that she wanted regulations put in place.  Its use can go both ways, and it certainly doesn’t seem like they realize that it could fall into the very hands they want to use it against.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of Adrian or his story, it does show why they think the way they do.  I understand their point, but I also get Nova’s point.  Like I said earlier, Nova and Adrian are a nice contrast to each other, and it does show both sides.  Still, I’m not feeling anything warm and fuzzy towards the Renegades, and I’m having a hard time feeling any sympathy for them.  It’ll take a lot for me to change my mind about them, and I can’t see myself changing my mind in the last book.

It’s an interesting mix of superhero story and thriller and maybe even dystopia.  I really like what she’s done with the superheros, even if it is cheesy and cliche.  It’s fun and entertaining, but it does have its serious moments.

And since I listened to the audio book, I should probably talk about the narrators.  Once again, we have Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner narrate the book.  They did a great job narrating, and I could picture them as Nova and Adrian.

4 stars.  I really liked Archenemies, and I can’t wait to listen to the next one to see what happens next.

Book Review: Shatter by Aprilynne Pike

Book: Shatter by Aprilynne Pike

Published February 2018 by Random House|378 pages

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

Series: Glitter #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Danica planned to use beauty, blackmail, and a glittering drug to control her own fate. Her escape from the twisted world of the Palace of Versailles was perfectly orchestrated and paid for. Or so she thought. 

Betrayed by the man who had promised her freedom, Dani is now married to the murderous King. It’s a terrifying position to be in…and yet it’s oddly intoxicating. Power may be an even stronger drug than Glitter–a drug Dani can’t resist, in the form of secrets, manipulation, and sabotage.

In her new position at the head of the court, Dani must ask herself who she really is. Can she use her newfound power to secure her real love, Saber’s freedom and a chance at a life together outside the palace? Or is being Queen too addictive to give up?

After reading Glitter last year, I figured I’d pick up the sequel to see how things turned out for Danica.  Shatter was just okay for me, and I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first book.

I’m still not sure why they’re re-enacting Versailles and Marie Antoinette, and like Glitter, I’m not sure what Pike was going for with this series.  The setting is interesting, but I wanted more backstory.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get it in this book, though we did learn a few things about the world that we didn’t know in Glitter.  Still, it wasn’t enough for me.  I had some questions on the outside world, and they weren’t answered in this one.

Danica is still trying to escape Versailles (and take Saber with her) but being Queen really changes her.  And not in a good way.  She does do some good at the very end of the book, but for me, it was too little, too late.  I didn’t particularly care for Danica in this book, but she is surrounded by some horrible people, and I can understand why she changes into someone who’s terrifying and manipulative.

I don’t remember Saber at all from the first book, but he was barely around in this one, it seemed like.  If he had completely disappeared, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have noticed.  It felt like there was nothing between him and Danica.

As for Danica and Justin, I didn’t particularly like them together.  I know it’s just a way for Danica to get what she wants, which is freedom, but Justin was pretty terrible.  Honestly, it seemed like pretty much everyone was terrible, and I didn’t particularly like anyone.

2 stars.  I had a hard time getting into this one, and I really do prefer her Wings series to this one.  Maybe this series isn’t for me, though the idea behind it is pretty cool.

Book Review: Smoke And Iron by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Smoke And Iron by Rachel Caine

Published July 2018 by Berkley|368 pages

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

Series: The Great Library #4

Genre: YA Steampunk/Alternate History

To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

I really liked Smoke And Iron!  Overall, I’ve really liked this series, and this book was no exception.

I was slightly surprised by how things ended, and I can’t wait for the next book to see how it’s all going to end.  There are a lot of changes in store for the Library, and I just really want to know how everything is going to go.

I was wondering what would happen in this book with the plan that Jess had in place.  We definitely find out but considering what the plan was, I had to remind myself of who was who and what was going on.  I think if people had been made aware of what the plan was, some things could have been avoided, and maybe even turned out differently.  But maybe not.  We’ll never know.  Either way, there were a lot of twists and turns in this book, and I liked seeing how the plan actually worked out.

I really liked seeing so many people narrate, especially because our band of fugitive scholars are split up.  It worked really well because we saw what was going on with everyone and it was great once everyone was together.  Hopefully, it will stay that way for the next book, but we shall see.

I really liked seeing more of the Obscurists, especially since this is the most we see of them.  Morgan just wants to be free, and while she wants that for the other Obscurists, I also like the perspective that it would be hard for a lot of the Obscurists because they don’t know anything outside the tower.

Khalila was amazing in this book and she’s just awesome.  I want good things for her- well, I want good things for everyone- but she’s pretty amazing.  She’s grown into someone who would make a great leader, and she’s strong and one of my favorite characters in the series.  She really wants the library to be the best version it could be, and she really believes in the library and what it can do.  It was really obvious in this book that she wants the library to exist, but not in it’s current form.

There’s a lot of action, and the book moves along pretty quickly.  There are some unexpected deaths, and one in particular was really hard.  I’m actually surprised that our main group of characters have survived so long, and I’m terrified that one (if not more) will die in the last book.  As long as it’s not Wolfe, Santi or Khalila, I think I’ll be fine.  I hope so, anyway.

4 stars.  I really liked Smoke And Iron, and while there’s a lot of resolution in this book, things are still hanging in the balance.  I can’t wait to see how Caine wraps everything up.

ARC Book Review: A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Book: A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Published January 2019 by Bloomsbury YA|489 pages

Where I Got It: I got an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: A Curse So Dark And Lonely #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

I was really intrigued by this book when I saw it on Netgalley, and I knew I had to request it.  Unfortunately, it was just okay for me, and I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

I had a really hard time getting into it, especially at the beginning.  It was about a quarter of the way in that I started to like the story a little more.  The dual POV didn’t work for me, and it was hard to tell who was narrating because Rhen and Harper’s chapters were really similar, and they sounded pretty much the same to me.  I could only read a few chapters at a time before needing to put it down.  I just really struggled with it.

I think a lot of my struggles with A Curse So Dark And Lonely come from me being bored.  I really liked the idea of a modern day re-telling where Belle ends up in a magical land to break the curse.  It just took a while to get there.  I couldn’t completely root for Rhen and Harper, and I felt like they had no chemistry.  I had a hard time with the fact that they basically abducted girls, hoping they would be the one to break the curse.  And for a while, it seemed like she would end up falling for Grey.  I was surprised it didn’t go that way.

Speaking of Grey, I was surprised by everything that happened with him at the end of the book.  I know there’s a sequel, and while I don’t think I’ll pick it up, I am curious to see where things go for him.  It’s strange, because this book read like a stand-alone, but with how things ended, there is room for more story.

I wish we had more of Harper’s life before Emberfall.  All we really know about her is that her mom’s dying of cancer, her dad’s not in the picture, and her brother has taken up her dad’s work because of the debt he left them in.  I honestly couldn’t tell you anything else about her and her life.  Still, it was interesting to see her get settled into life at Emberfall.

It did get a lot more exciting at the end, and it was nice to actually have some action, as opposed to all of the traveling that happens in the book.  I don’t mind a bit of traveling but I needed something to break it up a little bit.  It was too bad we didn’t get more of it throughout the rest of the book.

2 stars.  I liked Grey, and Harper was a really thoughtful, kind character but I really struggled to get through it.  It’s a cool take on Beauty And The Beast, though.

Book Review: Dance Of Thieves by Mary E Pearson

Book: Dance Of Thieves by Mary E Pearson

Published August 2019 by Henry Holt & Co|508 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: Dance Of Thieves #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

I really liked this one!  When I heard that there was going to be another book set in the same world as the Remnant Chronicles, I knew I had to read it.

I didn’t love Jase and Kazi the way I love Lia, but I still really liked both of them…though if I had to pick a favorite from Dance Of Thieves, I think it would be Kazi.  Her story was really interesting, and it’s hard not to like her.  I like Jase and I definitely understood where he was coming from.  It’s a part of the world that we never saw in the Remnant Chronicles, and since it’s been awhile since I’ve read that series, I can’t remember if his family was even mentioned in those books.  It might be time for a re-read.

At any rate, it was really cool to see this world grow.  I loved seeing the Ballenger family and how hard things were for them.  Their part of the world is definitely different, and it really added to the world.  This book also had the little bits of history we saw in the Remnant Chronicles.  We also saw the addition of writings/histories from Jase’s family and I really liked that.  It’s always fun to see this world through these histories, and I’m really glad that those histories continued in this book.

I feel like I’m talking more about the Remnant Chronicles than I am about this one.  I mean, some of the things we saw in that series are in this book, and it does add to that world.

Since I’m starting to repeat myself a little…let’s talk about about Dance Of Thieves.  I liked the cat-and-mouse game, and since both Jase and Kazi are narrating, we know what’s going on, but they don’t know what the other one is doing.  There wasn’t a lot of communication between them, which I understand, considering what they were both trying to do.  Still, a lot of what happened may have been avoided if they hadn’t lied to each other.

It did take a while for me to get into it, and I think it’s because we’re getting backstory for both Kazi and Jase.  Once we got past that, I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next.  I’m curious to see where things are headed with how the book ended.

If you haven’t read the Remnant Chronicles, but are thinking about picking this one up…just know that you don’t need to read it in order to know what’s going on in this book.  While it’s set in the same world, and some of the characters from that series make an appearance or two, it’s not necessary to read it before reading this one.  There are some things that happen in that series that will be spoiled, and there is some world building you get in that one that you don’t necessarily get in this one.  That series is amazing, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should.  But this series is completely separate, so don’t worry about not knowing the world or some of the characters.

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, but I still really enjoyed it.  It is Mary Pearson, after all, and she’s pretty amazing.

ARC Book Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Book: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Published January 2018 by Wednesday Books|368 pages

Where I Got: I got an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: Permafrost #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

White Stag, the first book in a brutally stunning series by Kara Barbieri, involves a young girl who finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home. 

A Wattpad break out star with over a million reads! Now expanded, revised and available in print and eBook.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

When I saw this book on netgalley, I was intrigued enough to request it.  The cover is beautiful but unfortunately, I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to.

One of the things I didn’t like was how bored I was.  The world didn’t make a lot of sense to me, and it’s not really clear how the humans and goblins came to be.  The Stag and it’s importance to the Goblin King wasn’t clear, and the hunt didn’t make a lot of sense.  It’s an interesting idea, but I just needed more details.

The mythology was a little odd to me.  It seemed like a mix of different mythologies, which could have been cool but didn’t work because it made things more confusing than they should have been.  It felt like the goblins weren’t really goblins- they felt more like faeries to me than actual goblins.

The book was also pretty forgettable and even though I finished the book pretty recently, I also couldn’t tell you most of what happens in the book.  It felt like a blur, and I think I kept reading in the hopes I would end up liking it more.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and while I can see why people really like it, I just needed more from it.

I also wish I had more to say about White Stag, but I really don’t.  Unless I want to start repeating myself, of course.

1 star.  The cover is beautiful and I liked the premise of the book.  But I was bored, and thought there needed to be more world-building.  We get too little about the world, and what we do get is too confusing.