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Book Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara

Release date: October 1st 2017

4.5 stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

I was really excited to get my hands on this book. It was one of my most anticipated to come out and I will definitely be buying a hardcover when it hits shelves. This book had an interesting world, plenty of interesting characters, and dragons. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think after the first chapter with Asha being a dragon slayer but the plot turned into directions I enjoyed.

Asha was the only daughter of the king, the youngest child, and had been declared the Iskari, a title that made people fear her and a way for her to atone for the destruction she caused as a child. She was the kingdom’s dragon slayer and each dragon she killed was one step closer to making up for breaking the law she had when she was younger. The Asha at the beginning of the book was so different from the Asha by the end. There was so much character development that it will be interesting to see where the character goes in the sequel. She was very protective of the people she cared about, though she counted few among that group, and I loved seeing her open up to knowing more people and questioning the laws and her beliefs as the story went on.

There were a few main dynamics in the book. The most prominent was the one between Asha and Torwin, a slave belonging to Asha’s betrothed. Torwin challenged her to think for herself and was a great partner through the book. Secondary was the dynamic between Asha and Jarek, the jerk she was supposed to marry and I loved seeing Asha finding ways to show her independence even as Jarek tried to control her. There was also great dynamics between Asha and her cousin Safire, and Asha and her older brother. They both showed glimpses that they were not exactly who Asha thought they were so I’m excited to see more of that developing.

I loved all the old stories that broke up a lot of the chapters. It was a great way to show some backstory and historical content without feeling like an info dump. It was reading folk lore for this kingdom and learning why the people had their beliefs. The book started off a little slow but not in a bad way. The pace picked up the more Asha found herself outside the walls of the kingdom, hunting, and by the end, I had to finish the book even though I should have been asleep hours before. It really was a book I just couldn’t put down.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows

Release date: August 29th 2017

3 stars

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.
Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

I was really excited for this book when I first heard about it. A fantasy book with a gender-fluid main and an assassin competition? Yes please. The idea of the competition to find a new assassin to join the Queen’s group, with the competitors killing each other off, was reminiscent of Throne of Glass and The Hunger Games. I loved both of those books so if felt like I should have fallen in love with this one. But I didn’t.

Sal was an orphan who worked as a thief but when they found a flyer saying there would be a competition looking for a new Opal, part of the Queen’s assassins, they decided to drop everything and hurry to prove themselves. They wanted to serve the Queen. Sal could definitely be likeable. I enjoyed their interactions with Maud, the servant assigned to them during the competition, and their interactions with some of the other competitors. Sal showed how determined they were to become Opal, it was almost all they thought about, but revenge was also on their mind. Revenge against the people they felt had abandoned them and their people during the war, who’d betrayed them and left thousands to die. Becoming Opal would make their revenge easier.

All the competitors were identified by numbers and they all wore masks. It made it more difficult to get attached to any of them and only the ones who Sal either made a connection with or spoke of a lot made any kind of an impact. Very few of them stuck out and were just faceless numbers in the way of Sal’s end goal.

One of my biggest issues with the book was that Sal told everyone that they dress as they are on any given day and to address them as such, which is fine, but when combined with a first person POV, I, as a reader who couldn’t see what they were wearing, had no idea how to think of the character unless it was said how they were dressed. It was also something that was accepted by most of the characters unless the character was a jerk so did that mean gender fluidity was something that was accepted in this universe or did Sal just happen to join a competition with a lot of really accepting people? I did like that gender fluidity did seem like it was accepted as just a part of who Sal was but I would have liked more context in regards to the universe they were in.

I read through the book pretty quickly. The competition and Sal’s quest for revenge felt a little repetitive after a while, almost formulaic. It wasn’t often I felt the need to slow down my reading pace in fear of missing vital information because it didn’t feel like a whole lot was being revealed. I do want to know more about the world, the shadows, and to see what will happen to Sal next, so there was enough interest in the book that I will read the sequel. It’s just not one I can see myself re-reading.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: a Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

Poison Dark and Drowning

A Poison Dark and Drowning

Release date: September 19th 2017

4 stars

In this seductive and explosive second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, Jessica Cluess delivers her signature mix of magic, passion, and teen warriors fighting for survival. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.
Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.
Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own. So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

This sequel picked up pretty soon after the first book left off. It felt like everything I loved from the first book, the darkness, the magic, the relationships between characters, the interesting society, was amplified in the sequel and it was great. I loved the little moments where the characters still tried to go on with their everyday lives even though they were sorcerers being called to battle monsters. The book was fast paced and ended up being a quick read because of it.

Henrietta was even more determined in this book to prove that she can handle herself as a woman with powers. She may not be the chosen one but she was still very badass and it was easy to see why her group of friends would follow her. Her strength was in her belief in herself and her friends, in her determination to save people even if it meant going against her vows and using the “wrong” magic. The dynamics between the group was great, just like in the first book. I did find myself missing a couple of the boys who had lesser roles in this sequel but hopefully the next book will have lots of scenes with the whole original group. If they all survive because the fight scenes were very intense and brutal.

The new characters introduced were great and it added to the dynamic of the group. I really liked Maria, a witch they found during a journey and who was more badass than all of them combined. Her addition to the group changed the dynamics a bit and it gave Henrietta another female character to interact with, which was nice.

There were many twists in the plot, some easier to predict than others, but all the twists made sense, which I liked. There was a lot done to set up the third book without sacrificing development of the plot and characters in this one so it didn’t feel like it suffered some middle book syndrome. It definitely has me excited for the third book(last one?) but with a big battle looming I do worry about losing some of my favourite characters.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne

Release date: October 4 2017

4 stars

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, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

This sequel picked up soon after Three Dark Crown’s left off and, in very typical Kendare Blake fashion, built on everything the first book delivered and added even more darkness, blurred lines, and engaging plot details. I liked that this series so far balances the big shock moments with little reveals that can be just as surprising. A lot of times I find myself more surprised by the little reveals since I’m not looking for them as much as I am the big twists. I really like the moral greyness of so many of the characters. They can be brutal but it would usually be for their survival or the survival of a loved one.

After this second book, I would say my favourite sister is a toss up between Mirabella and Arsinoe. Katharine was very interesting and I can’t wait to see where her story arc goes but so far, I feel more of a connection to the other two sisters. Mirabella, the original favourite to win who now seemed like the underdog, and Arsinoe, the one no one thought had a chance. We can see how devoted and loyal these girls are to the ones they love and they would have been the best of sisters if they’d been given the chance instead of being pit against each other. All three girls had a lot of development through this second book and it set up the last book so well.

Jules was a character who also got quite a bit of POV time and we see her dedication to Arsinoe through her arc. She discovered a lot more about herself and her family and I can’t wait to see where the third book takes her.

I loved that this sequel retained the elements I loved from the first book and pushed them even further. The magic, the dynamics between the sisters, the battle for the throne, all of it was more intense and darker. I’m excited to see just how dark it will get in the last book.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Before She Ignites

Before She Ignites

Release date: September 12th 2017

4 stars

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland. But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect. No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

 

I love Jodi Meadows so I was really excited to see a new book by her coming out. And this one involved dragons! I really liked the world Jodi Meadows created and can’t wait to see more of it in the second book. I also very much enjoyed reading about Mira and all the people surrounding her. It was a very strong cast of characters and it was fun to read.

Mira was a very interesting character. She had anxiety and her struggle with it was very relatable. With always being told her looks were her best asset, it was great to see Mira finding herself and her voice through the book. I really enjoyed her whole journey through her growth arc. And the dynamics between her and the supporting cast were so amazing that I could have read about them all just hanging out together.

The setting was another thing that was great. Dark and a little scary but perfect to set up the whole story. It was broken up by flashbacks. These flashbacks worked well within the story and didn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative, which was great.

Dragons! There were dragons in this book and not just some passing-by mentions. They were heavily important to the story and it was great. I’m very excited that this is a trilogy because I can’t wait to see where Jodi Meadows takes us all.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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June Wrap-Up/July TBR

How did it get to be halfway through the year already?

June Wrap-Up:

Words in Deep Blue Words in Deep Blue – Cath Crowley. 3/5 stars. This was a really cute story with some angst. A good option for a summer read. I did find it a little predictable though.

Internet Famous Internet Famous – Danika Stone. 3.5/5 stars. Review. I loved how this one had some elements of All the Feels but showed the darker side of fandom.

lucky-in-love Lucky in Love – Kasie West. 4/5 stars. Review. Super cute but it is Kasie West so I expected that:)

Furthermore Furthermore – Tahereh Mafi. 3.5/5 stars. It was enjoyable but I did find I had a hard time getting into it. I think it was more me and the timing than the book. Will probably try re-reading to see if I can get more into it during the Fall.

Warcross Warcoss – Marie Lu. 4/5 stars. Review. I love Marie Lu and this book shows why. It’s addicting and has some amazing characters.

Our Broken Pieces Our Broken Pieces – Sarah White. 3/5 stars. It was a good read but the characters weren’t my favourite. I had a hard time relating to them

Dress Codes for Small Towns Dress Codes for Small Towns – Courtney C Stevens. 4/5 stars. Review. I love Courtney C Stevens. Saying this book was my least favourite of her three doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, just that I really loved the first two I read. This was more character driven and just friends hanging out and discovering who they were.

The Beautiful and the cursed The Beautiful and the Cursed – Page Morgan. 3.5/5 stars. I was really hoping to be blown away but I wasn’t. I had a hard time getting into this one as well.

Roar Roar – Cora Carmack. 4/5 stars. I enjoyed this one. The main girl was sassy, I liked the world that was created, and the supporting cast was great.

Dazzling Heights The Dazzling Heights – Katharine McGee. 4/5 stars. Review. This sucked me in just as much as the first one did. I can’t wait to see where this is going.

The Glass Spare The Glass Spare – Lauren DeStefano. 3.5/5 stars. Review. This one went to places I wasn’t expecting and I liked that. And amazing sibling bonds!

Frigid Frigid – Jennifer L Armentrout. 4/5 stars. Might not be my favourite by her but it was still great.

Genuine Fraud Genuine Fraud – E Lockhart. 3/5 stars. I had high hopes after We Were Liars but this one was very predictable.

This Darkness Mine This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnis. 4/5 stars. This seemed to be the month for reading books by favourite authors and being a little disappointed. This one was still great, loved the darkness and the characters, but not as great as The Female of the Species.

If there's no tomorrow If There’s No Tomorrow – Jennifer L Armentrout. 4/5 stars. Really enjoyed this one, especially the main character.

Laney big Laney – Joann I Martin Sowles. 3.5/5 stars. I was in the mood for some vampire and hadn’t read this series yet. It’s interesting so far.

Darkness Darkness – Joann I Martin Sowles. 3.5/5 stars. I was in the mood for some vampire and hadn’t read this series yet. It’s interesting so far.

July TBR:

One Dark ThroneBefore She IgnitesArt of FeelingEven the Darkest Stars

 

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Everless

Everless

Release date: January 2nd 2018

Goodreads: In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

Why I’m excited: Do you see this cover? This cover screams “Trista, buy me!”. Plus the plot with time as currency intrigues me.

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Book Review: The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

Glass Spare

The Glass Spare

Release date: October 24th 2017

3.5 stars

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.
Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.
But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.
With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

The synopsis of this book reminded me a lot of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. It was a bit of a steampunk/fantasy hybrid plot and had some very interesting sibling dynamics that I really enjoyed. They felt so realistic, coming from someone with siblings. The characters and the relationships between them were definitely the best parts of the book for me. The plot was interesting, though there were a few times I found it a little predictable.

Wil, our main character, was a “spare”, a child of the King who was not the heir. I liked that instead of turning against each other, she and two of her siblings were very close. There were times I got vibes of the “Always and Forever” bond of the siblings from The Originals. The discovery of her powers changed things for her and added a new dynamic to the story by introducing Loom, a prince from a rival kingdom. There did seem to be a bit of instalove between them but it wasn’t enough for me not to feel like they could work together.

I am hoping for more world-building in the next book. There was some in this one but it felt very incomplete and left me with some questions. The world-building and predictability has been where I’ve struggled in past Lauren DeStefano books but I am being hopeful for this one. I enjoyed what we got from this first one and it is a very intriguing set-up.

Overall, I enjoyed this first book in her new series and am very hopeful that I will continue to enjoy the rest, when they come out in way too long from now.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is a Top Ten books from X genre I’ve recently added to my TBR list. I chose fantasy. There’s probably a few that don’t even have covers yet.

10. Allied – Amy Tintera. This is the third book in the Ruined series and after the second one, I need this one soon!

9. The Half King – Melissa Landers. I’ve really enjoyed Melissa Landers books so far. Here’s hoping this new series is just as good.

8. The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi. I’ve only read one of this author’s books so far but I liked it and this one really intrigues me.

7. The Nameless Queen – Rebecca McLaughlin. This one really intrigues me. A thief inherits a Kingdom? Yes please.

6. Black Rose – Bree Barton. Graceling meets Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t know I needed this.

5. A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer. It’s Brigid Kemmerer. Enough said.

4. Honor Among Thieves – Rachel Caine. I really loved the Morganville Vampire series so I’m intrigued by this one.

3. Poison Dark and Drowning A Poison Dark and Drowning – Jessica Cluless. Really enjoyed the first one and really need this sequel.

2. The Broken World The Broken World – Lindsay Klingele. The first one surprised me with how much I liked it so I am definitely excited for this one.

  1. Even the Darkest Stars Even the Darkest Stars – Heather Fawcett

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Book Review: Avenged by Amy Tintera

avenged

Avenged

Release date: May 2nd 2017

4 stars

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister, Olivia, from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.
But just because Em and Olivia are out of Lera doesn’t mean they are safe. Their actions over the past year have had consequences, and they are now targets of retaliation. Olivia will destroy everyone who acts against Ruina. Em isn’t as sure.
Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. Lera may have destroyed the Ruined for decades, but Em knows that Cas is different. And now that he’s taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.
Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, she faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.

Picking up where Ruined left off, Avenged showcased the bond between Em and Olivia, their struggle to lead the Ruined, their battle between each other in regards to their very different strategies in how to handle the people of Lera, and all that was just in their two POVs. We also got some POVs from Cas as he tried to maintain control of his kingdom and of Aren, who was a personal favourite so him getting more page time is always an added bonus.

As a reader who is always huge on the dynamics between characters, I loved the four separate POVs and seeing how all the characters were interacting with each other. Each character had their own story arc and the romance that was brewing between Em and Cas was still present but stayed in the background for a lot of the plot. Instead the focus was on rebuilding and revenge. We got to see a lot of different strategies in different groups playing out and loyalties being tested with surprising alliances being made. I really enjoyed trying to determine who to trust, who would make which move, and what would happen in the end.

I actually found myself enjoying this book even more than Ruined, so if that continues that can only mean great things for the third book. Since it is a sequel, I don’t want to give away too much. This is a great fantasy series with amazing characters and very addicting to read.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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